miércoles, 19 de mayo de 2010

Kerry Attacks Bush Officials Who Received Draft Deferrals Local boy makes good

New York Times, published: April 17, 2004

PHILADELPHIA, April 16 — Campaigning here in the swing state his wife still calls home, Senator John Kerry on Friday made some of his most pointed and personal attacks yet on the Bush administration, raising questions about top Republicans' lack of military service while highlighting his own.

Mr. Kerry did not specifically attack President Bush, whose service in the National Guard has been the subject of much debate, but he called Vice President Dick Cheney as well as Karl Rove, Mr. Bush's political guru, people "who went out of their way to avoid their chance to serve when they had a chance."

Mr. Kerry also referred to the "twisted ethics and morality" of "these people in the White House today," citing attacks on his fellow Vietnam veterans John McCain, the Republican senator from Arizona, and Max Cleland, the former Democratic senator from Georgia.

"I'm tired of these Republicans, who spend so much time denigrating Democrats and other people's commitment to the defense of our nation," Mr. Kerry, the Democrats' presumptive presidential nominee, told thousands of students at the University of Pittsburgh.

"I went," added Mr. Kerry, a decorated Navy combat veteran. "I'm not going to listen to them talk to me about patriotism and how asking questions about the direction of our country somehow challenges patriotism, because asking questions about the direction of our country is patriotism."

The sharp words came a day before Mr. Cheney was expected to attack Mr. Kerry when the vice president delivered the keynote address at the National Rifle Association convention in Pittsburgh..

Mr. Cheney received a student deferment from the draft in 1963, when he was attending Casper College in Wyoming, and another when he went to graduate school in 1965. As an expectant father the next year, he received a hardship deferment.

Mr. Rove's Christmas birthday gave him a draft lottery number of 84 in 1969. A spokesman for the Bush re-election campaign said Mr. Rove received a student deferment upon enrolling in the University of Utah in late 1969.

Mr. Rove lost the deferment when he transferred to the University of Maryland in 1972, the spokesman said, and was classified as "extended priority," which put his name atop the draft list. But no one was called up the next quarter.

The Bush campaign circulated comments Mr. Kerry made a decade ago criticizing Republicans for criticizing President Bill Clinton over his draft deferrals, and said the suggestion that Mr. Rove or Mr. Cheney had skirted service was outrageous.

"It's simply outrageous that John Kerry is questioning people's patriotism and then claiming that his patriotism is being questioned," said Steve Schmidt, a Bush spokesman. "Nobody has ever questioned John Kerry's patriotism. His lashing out is really based on the fact that he has no record."

As he flew here from Pittsburgh on a day when he collected $1.5 million at fund-raisers across the state, Mr. Kerry said he did not know the details of Mr. Rove's experience with the draft. He implied that his attack was a response to a Bush advertisement that criticized him for voting against the $87 billion authorization to reconstruct Iraq and Afghanistan.

"I'm just not going to be accused by any of these people of not being strong on defense, period," Mr. Kerry said.

At the rally, where the crowd that turned out for the candidate and his friend Jon Bon Jovi was estimated by university officials at 10,000, Mr. Kerry said President Bush "has to distort someone else because that's the only way they can survive."

"See that great Stars and Stripes back there?" he asked. "I fought under that flag, I fought under that flag and saw that flag draped over the coffins of friends."

Mr. Kerry added, "The bombs, the political bombs may be bursting in air today around us as they try to distort the truth, but when I look up, that flag is still there, and it belongs to all Americans, not to them."

The day in Pennsylvania, which both parties consider crucial, suggested that while Mr. Kerry searches for a running mate, his wife may be equally important. The rally was near the Heinz chapel, not far from where Teresa Heinz Kerry's first husband, Senator John Heinz III, was buried. The hotel where Mr. Kerry's entourage stayed sold Heinz ketchup T-shirts and magnets in the gift shop.

"It's good to be home," Ms. Heinz Kerry who votes in Pennsylvania, told the crowd. "It's a little eerie, all of this, as you can imagine, coming back to Pittsburgh with the Secret Service and the motorcade."

Mr. Kerry, who is from Massachusetts, made a weak effort to claim Pittsburgh as home, too, saying the former football players Lynn Swann and Franco Harris had persuaded him to cheer a bit for the Steelers at a New England Patriots playoff game here a few years ago. He also paid homage to Mr. Bon Jovi, calling the pop star, who kicked off the rally with three songs, "buff."

"He plays the guitar — I play the guitar," Mr. Kerry said.

"He wears a leather jacket — I wear a leather jacket," he added, though he was wearing a suit.

"He was one of the most 50 beautiful people in People magazine," Mr. Kerry continued. "I read People magazine."

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