Patricia Wilson / Reuters – 2004-08-01 21:39:47
DUBLIN, OHIO (August 1, 2004) — Democratic presidential nominee John Kerry said on Sunday he did not anticipate sending more American troops to Iraq and hoped to bring “significant numbers” home during his first term. Promising a fresh start with US allies “burned” by President Bush, Kerry said, “I would consider it an unsuccessful policy if I hadn’t brought significant numbers of troops back within the first term. And I will do that.”
Kerry made the rounds of the Sunday talk shows with his running mate, Sen. John Edwards of North Carolina, while on a two-week, 3,500-mile trip through battleground states. He was seeking to capitalize on momentum generated by last week’s Democratic convention as a new CNN-USA Today Gallup poll showed he had gained only 1 percentage point over Bush.
The poll of registered voters showed Kerry leading 50 percent to 47 percent for Bush, compared to a larger lead last month, 49 percent to 45 percent. A Newsweek poll on Saturday gave Kerry a four-point jump, or “bounce” from the convention among registered voters.
The four-term US senator from Massachusetts, who voted for the congressional resolution authorizing Bush to use force in Iraq, criticized the president’s policy in his speech on Thursday accepting the Democratic nomination. But Kerry did not offer the exit strategy many Americans are looking for and rejected suggestions his plans were vague.
“No, not at all,” Kerry told CBS’ Face the Nation. “The problem is that this administration has lost credibility, they’ve pushed countries away.”
He told CNN’s Late Edition he was “not going to go into numbers” of troops he wanted to return home from Iraq by 2008, which would mark the end of his first term if he is elected Nov. 2.
He tied the withdrawal of American soldiers to his effort to win greater international participation in Iraq, citing increased roles in the reconstruction effort and decision-making process.
“I know how to bring these countries to the table, and there are some very powerful cards we have to play,” Kerry told Fox News Sunday. “The truth is, this president has failed in his conduct of diplomacy.”
On the CBS program, he added: “A fresh start changes the equation, particularly changes it for leaders in other countries who have great difficulty right now associating themselves with our policy and with the United States because of the way this administration has burned those bridges.”
“If we demonstrate an America that has a foreign policy that is smarter, more engaged … and more respectful of the world, we’re going to bring people to our side,” Kerry added. “We’re not only not going to put additional troops there, that’s the way to bring our troops home.”
In the past, Kerry has not ruled out sending more Americans to join the 140,000 US troops already in Iraq but has said he would encourage other countries, particularly Arab nations, to contribute forces.
‘Real Partnership’ with Allies
“I don’t envision it,” he said when asked if he would send more U.S. soldiers. “I believe that my leadership and my plan to approach these countries – and I’m not negotiating it publicly – I know what I want to do. I know what I believe can be achieved.”
Opinion polls suggest a majority of Americans now believe the decision to invade Iraq last year was a mistake. Kerry and Edwards, who also voted in 2002 to authorize the invasion, have refused to call their votes a mistake.
“We believed that the president needed the authority to deal with Saddam Hussein and that him being gone is a very good thing,” Edwards said. “We did not know that the president would not use his authority the way he should use it.”