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For The Record

Giuliani Charges Lack Context

By Glenn Kessler
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, August 31, 2004; 6:44 PM

Former New York mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani made a number of specific attacks based on statements allegedly made by Democratic presidential nominee John F. Kerry in his speech to the Republican National Convention Monday night. But Giuliani's description of those comments often lacked context.

For example, Giuliani said: "In October of 2003, he told an Arab American institute in Detroit that a security barrier separating Israel from the Palestinian territories was a barrier to peace. Okay. Then a few months later, he took exactly the opposite position."

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The context: When Kerry made his statement about a "barrier to peace," he was referring to, as he put it, the "Israeli government's decision to build the barrier off of the Green Line [the de facto boundary between Israel and the West Bank] -- cutting deep into Palestinian areas."

Kerry's stance was similar to the position taken by President Bush a few months earlier, in July 2003, when he said in the Rose Garden: "I think the wall is a problem, and I discussed this with [Israeli Prime Minister] Ariel Sharon. It is very difficult to develop confidence between the Palestinians and Israel with a wall snaking through the West Bank."

The Bush administration has spent months negotiating with the Israelis the precise route of the fence. Both Kerry and Bush opposed involvement of the International Court of Justice in the matter.

Giuliani: "I quote John Kerry: 'I actually did vote for the $87 billion before I voted against it.' "

The context: The administration's request for the funding was controversial, even among Republicans, and various attempts were made to split off $67 billion for the troops from the $20 billion for reconstruction, or to turn the $20 billion grant into a loan, or to fund some of the spending by raising taxes on incomes greater than $312,000. Kerry voted for a different version of the bill, just as Bush had vowed to veto a version that originally passed in the Senate that would have converted half of the Iraq rebuilding plan into a loan.

Giuliani: "Just a few months ago, John Kerry kind of leaked out that claim that certain foreign leaders who opposed our removal of Saddam Hussein prefer him."

The context: The reporter who provided a pool report on Kerry's comments at a fundraiser in March later said she had mistranscribed the comments, and Kerry actually did not use the word "foreign." He also did not refer to Saddam Hussein. Speaking to supporters who noted the opposition to Bush overseas, Kerry said: "I've been hearing it, I'll tell you. The news, the coverage in other countries, the news in other places. I've met more leaders who can't go out and say it all publicly, but boy they look at you and say, you gotta win this, you gotta beat this guy, we need a new policy, things like that."

From the full conversation, it appears clear Kerry is speaking about dislike of Bush and his policies by leaders overseas, but not necessarily the invasion of Iraq.

Giuliani: "He even, at one point, declared himself an antiwar candidate, and now he says he's a pro-war candidate."

The context: Giuliani's statement appears derived from an appearance by Kerry in January in which he was asked on MSNBC's "Hardball" if he was one of the candidates "unhappy with the war has been fought, the way it's been fought . . . are you one of the antiwar candidates?" He answered: "I am. Yes. In the sense that I don't believe the president took to us war as he should have, yes. Absolutely. Do I think this president violated his promises to America? Yes, I do, Chris. Was there a way to hold Saddam Hussein accountable? You bet there was and we should have done it right."

Chris Mathews, host of "Hardball," has protested to the Bush campaign the use of the statement that Kerry called himself an antiwar candidate, saying the remarks were taken out of context.

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