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John Kerry says he flubbed his lines; meant no insult to troops
Posted by David Postman at 2:22 PM
Sen. John Kerry was in Seattle today holding an unannounced fundraiser for Sen. Maria Cantwell — just as he's in the national spotlight for comments he made in a speech that the White House says was insulting to U.S. troops.
Speaking in Los Angeles yesterday, Kerry said:
"You know education, if you make the most of it, you study hard and you do your homework and you make an effort to be smart, you can do well. And if you don't, you get stuck in Iraq."
Kerry says it was a joke gone bad. He was trying to make fun of President Bush's intellect and found himself in the middle of a controversy a week before the election.
At Huffington Post, Taylor Marsh says the line from Kerry's stump speech was supposed to go like this:
"I can't overstress the importance of a great education. Do you know where you end up if you don't study, if you aren't smart, if you're intellectually lazy? You end up getting us stuck in a war in Iraq."
The White House, Republican Sen. John McCain and the American Legion all called on Kerry to apologize. The White House clearly wants to make Kerry's comments a campaign issue for Democratic candidates. Press Secretary Tony Snow said today:
What Senator Kerry ought to do first is apologize to the troops. The clear implication here is if you flunk out, if you don't study hard, if you don't do your homework, if you don't make an effort to be smart and you don't do well, you "get stuck in Iraq." But an extraordinary thing has happened since September 11th, which is a lot of people — America's finest — have willingly agreed to volunteer their services in a mission that they know is dangerous, but is also important. And Senator Kerry not only owes an apology to those who are serving, but also to the families of those who have given their lives in this.
In Seattle, according to a transcript released by his Senate office, Kerry said:
"Let me make it crystal clear, as crystal clear as I know how: I apologize to no one for my criticism of the president and of his broken policy.
CNN is reporting that President Bush will also join in the criticism of Kerry.
"Even in the midst of a heated campaign season, there are still some things we should all be able to agree on, and one of the most important is that every one of our troops deserves our gratitude and respect," Bush will say in a speech, the text of which was released by the White House.
UPDATE: Here's the KING 5 video of Kerry's Seattle press conference.