Kerry To Seek World's Help In Iraq

Harry Reid headshot, as US Senator of Nevada and Senate Majority leader CBS

Democratic presidential nominee John Kerry said he plans to use private negotiations to persuade other heads of state to assist in reconstructing Iraq, but he does not envision sending more U.S. troops there.

Kerry said on CBS News' Face the Nation that a new president can make a "fresh start" with world leaders who opposed the war. He is running against President George W. Bush in Nov. 2 elections.

"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 said. "We're not only not going to put additional troops there, that's the way to bring our troops home."

In a separate interview broadcast Sunday, Kerry declined to specify a precise timetable for withdrawing the 140,000 U.S. in Iraq. But he did say, "I would consider it an unsuccessful policy if I hadn't brought significant numbers of troops back within the first term."

Kerry and running mate John Edwards did separate taped interviews with CBS, CNN, ABC and Fox, all of which were broadcast Sunday.

With Edwards sitting by his side, Kerry said he is convinced that a Kerry administration could get NATO involved in Iraq. The interview was taped earlier in Greensburg, Pennsylvania.

"We can make sure that other countries in the region — and this is critical — Iran, Syria, are not interfering with trying to establish a democratic Iraq and bring other countries like France and Germany and Russia to the reconstruction effort so that the Iraq economy can get off the ground and we can get some debt forgiveness," Edwards said.

Kerry said he has a plan to approach other world leaders, "and I'm not negotiating it publicly."

Kerry also defended himself from Bush's charge that the Democrat would raise taxes. Kerry said most Americans would get a tax cut under his plan.

"This administration has had a problem with truth for some period of time," Kerry said. Pressed on whether he is saying Bush lied, Kerry said he would never use that word.

Kerry also said he disagrees with lawmakers from both parties who are questioning the Sept. 11 commission's recommendation to create a Cabinet-level intelligence chief.

"I believe it belongs there and I'm very comfortable with that decision," Kerry said. "... If you're really going to lead a war on terror, I think it's critical to have the kind of direct accountability to the president, and I think the American people want that."

President Bush and Kerry scoured the Rust Belt for support over the weekend in battleground states such as Ohio, where the candidates offered conflicting messages about the economy.

"The economy is strong, and it's getting stronger," Mr. Bush said to enthusiastic applause in Canton as the general election campaign began in earnest after Kerry claimed the Democratic nomination this week at the party's convention in Boston.

The president acknowledged the economy is lagging in eastern Ohio and elsewhere. In fact, he rode into the city on a campaign bus with 10 workers from the Timken Co., which said in May that declining production was behind its decision to close three bearings plants in Canton area, potentially idling 1,300 employees.

"I just traveled on the bus with workers who told me they were nervous about their future," Mr. Bush said. "They're concerned. I am, too, and therefore we must have a president who understands that if we're to keep jobs at home, America must be the best place to do business."

Kerry, on a two-week coast-to-coast trip with running mate John Edwards, told supporters in Greensburg, Pa., "The president said to America that we're turning the corner, referring to the economy.

"Let me ask you: if you're one of those 44 million Americans who doesn't have health insurance, and you have no prospect of buying it, are you turning a corner?"

"No!" the crowd yelled.

"If you're one of those people that has a job that pays $9,000 less than the jobs that we lost overseas, are we turning the corner for those folks?"

"No!" again was the response.

Mary Lynn Harden, 26, Wheeling, W.Va., drove and hour and a half to see Kerry speak, along with her friend Ben Mack, 27, of Morgantown, W.Va.

Harden said the Democrats share their concerns about issues such as education and the environment. "The other party sometimes forgets we exist," she said.

Edwards' wife, Elizabeth, noted that her father grew up in Fayette County and still lives there. "I'm home, too," she told the crowd in Greensburg.

The Democrats wrapped up Saturday in Zanesville, Ohio, about 25 miles along Interstate 70 from Cambridge, Ohio, where Mr. Bush stopped after Canton before crossing the Ohio River into Wheeling, W.Va. Less than two hours later, Kerry was staging an event in Wheeling before setting out for Zanesville. And Mr. Bush was headed toward Pittsburgh.

Pennsylvania is a battleground state with 21 electoral votes, one more than Ohio.

"You only need a map to decipher the Bush strategy," notes CBS News Correspondent Mark Knoller. "His campaign believes the election will be decided by a dozen or so battleground states that Mr. Bush either won or lost four years ago by narrow margins. And those are the must-win targets, even in July."

No Republican has captured the White House without carrying Ohio, which he did in 2000 when he defeated Democrat Al Gore by 3.6 percentage points to win the state's 20 electoral votes.

Stark County, home to Canton, is an area that Ohio political analysts say is a bellwether for the state in presidential elections.

Ohio has lost thousands of manufacturing jobs, and the county's unemployment rate was 6.4 percent in June, compared with 5.6 percent nationally. The federal deficit is at a record high, and economic growth slowed this spring.

Still, Mr. Bush struck a positive tone during the 19th visit to Ohio of his presidency.

"After four more years, there will be better paying jobs in America. After four more years, there will be more small businesses. After four more years, the American economy will continue to be the strongest in the world," the president said.

Later, in Cambridge, Mr. Bush offered a new stump speech with the phrases, "We've turned the corner, and we're not turning back" and "Results matter."

Mr. Bush traveled on a seven-bus motorcade - a caravan called "the Heart and Soul Moving America Forward" tour - that rolled south out of Cleveland in the early morning.

In Canton, Bush supporters lined the streets, but protesters were present, too. "Where are the jobs, George," one sign said. "Protect my future, vote Kerry," said a second.

Thousands of people, overwhelmingly supporters of the president, lined the streets of Dover when the buses came through town.

One woman raised a sign that said, "Dover apologizes for the idiots ahead." It was a reference to demonstrators a few blocks ahead where Kerry supporters chanted "No more Bush!" and held signs that said "War is not healthy."

At a candy store downtown, Mr. Bush bought six chocolate-covered caramels - "150 calories a bite," he joked - six marshmallow candies and a bag of caramel corn. Total bill: $1.50.

As evidence of the conflicted race for the White House, a man at the counter told the president, "Four more years." Earlier, in Canton, a boy held up a sign along the bus route that said, "Bush's last tour."
  • Joel Roberts

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