During a campaign stop in eastern Iowa today, Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry questioned President Bush’s truth-telling abilities. Kerry spoke to a crowd of about 2,000 at Tipton Middle School, and while the event was billed by the campaign as a discussion of Kerry’s domestic agenda, Kerry spent most of his time talking about Iraq. “When you go to war, it’s not the rhetoric of war that makes you a leader,” Kerry said. “It’s the action you take, the leadership you show, the things you do and we need a war-time leader.” Kerry also offered a response to President Bush, who said again in Iowa on Monday that Kerry can’t lead in Iraq if he calls it the wrong war at the wrong time for the wrong reason. “When I hear these other people say to me ‘Well, how (are) you going to lead those troops and things when you say there’s been a mistake here or there?'” Kerry said. “Folks, I learned in Vietnam if you’re not willing to admit mistakes and you can’t see them, you can’t lead the troops to victory properly. These troops deserve the real leadership.” Kerry cited recent statements from the first American who was in charge of the provisional government in Iraq. Ambassador Paul Bremer has said there weren’t enough troops on the ground at the beginning, and the U.S. should have provided more security to prevent looting, which created a climate of lawlessness. “I don’t know if the President is constitutionally incapable of acknowledging the truth,” Kerry said. “I don’t know if he’s just so stubborn that he’s going to go down, but you know this is what you’re thinking about as you sit here to make a judgment about who can and should be President of the United States.” Kerry also responded to Bush’s assertion that Kerry would not be able to get other countries to join the mission in Iraq. Kerry said he knows other countries will not “trade their young for our young in body bags.” Kerry said other countries should be helping in other tasks, like patrolling Iraq’s borders to ensure “weapons of mass destruction” in the form of a terrorist strapped with a suicide bomb, don’t infiltrate the country. Kerry also offered his own take on the importance of the debates. He said the debates aren’t about who’s winning or losing. “These debates are about an opportunity for the American people to kind of look into our souls a little bit and check our guts. and I like that because all I’m doin’ in going in there and telling the truth, and the truth is what makes a difference to the American people.” There’s a debate tonight featuring Kerry’s running mate, John Edwards, and Vice President Dick Cheney. Kerry said he hopes Cheney “can acknowledge” the mistakes that have been made in Iraq.
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