Vice President Dick Cheney, in a newspaper interview published this morning, sought to clarify his much-criticized remarks earlier this week that the U.S. could "get hit again" if American voters make the wrong choice in the presidential election.

"I did not say if Kerry is elected, we will be hit by a terrorist attack," Cheney told the Cincinnati Enquirer. "Whoever is elected president has to anticipate more attacks," he said.

"My point was the question before us is: will we have the most effective policy in place to deal with that threat?" Cheney said. "George Bush will pursue a more effective policy than John Kerry."

Cheney suggested to the Enquirer that an Associated Press story about his original remarks, made in Des Moines on Tuesday, had "cut a sentence in half," though he was not specific about which story and how his meaning was altered.

In his Des Moines comment, which was carried on television, Cheney said: "It's absolutely essential that eight weeks from today, on Nov. 2, we make the right choice, because if we make the wrong choice, then the danger is that we'll get hit again and we'll be hit in a way that will be devastating from the standpoint of the United States."

The remark brought widespread condemnation from Democrats and newspaper editorialists. While it was not disowned by the Bush-Cheney campaign, others in the campaign avoided endorsing it.

National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice was asked on NBC's Today show this morning whether she agreed with Cheney's original remarks. "I think that the vice president has been very clear on what he meant with that statement.. . . . Americans do have a choice between strategies. This is not an issue that should be personalized."