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Kerry gets turn in Fulton

The Democratic candidate will speak at Westminster College on Friday.
Wednesday, April 28, 2004 | 12:00 a.m. CDT; updated 4:29 p.m. CDT, Saturday, July 19, 2008

Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry will speak at Westminster College on Friday just four days after being sharply criticized by Vice President Dick Cheney in his campaign speech in Fulton.

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SEN. JOHN KERRY’S staff promises an upbeat address Friday.

On Tuesday, Kerry accepted Westminster College President Fletcher Lamkin’s invitation to speak after Cheney thrashed Kerry’s political record as part of a campaign address originally billed as “a major foreign-policy announcement.”

Westminster College spokesman Mike Odneal said members of Kerry’s advance team arrived on campus Tuesday evening to arrange the time and place of Kerry’s speech. Odneal said Kerry’s address will probably be set for late morning on Friday and be in a different location because of the short time to prepare for Kerry’s arrival.

Bill Burton, a Kerry campaign spokesman, said Kerry’s campaign speech will focus on his “positive vision for America,” will be written “especially for the Westminster College community” and will not directly rebut Cheney’s attacks.

“I think that Missourians are sick of nasty politics,” Burton said. “There’s going to be no surprises come Friday.”

In the place where Winston Churchill in 1946 warned of an Iron Curtain dropping across post-World War II Europe, Cheney on Monday attacked Kerry’s record of voting to cut intelligence and defense spending and his refusal to name foreign leaders who Kerry said support his presidential campaign.

Although advertised as a major announcement on U.S. foreign policy, Cheney rehashed large sections from an address he gave March 17 at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library and Museum in Simi Valley, Calif.

Danny Diaz, a Bush-Cheney campaign spokesman, said he had not compared the two speeches but said Bush and Cheney will, in future appearances, “continue to put the war on terror into this historical context.” Diaz said the speech on Monday was always billed as a campaign event.

“It is my understanding that all entities understood that Sen. John Kerry’s differing views on foreign policy would be mentioned throughout the event,” Diaz said.

Bill Benoit, a communication professor at MU, said White House candidates commonly lift and reorganize passages from their own previous speeches, depending on the speaking venue.

“They don’t want to take the time to write a new speech every time,” Benoit said. “They have a clear message they want to send, and if they wrote a new message every time, the message would get muddled.”

Before Monday’s address, Lamkin said the Bush-Cheney advance team “made it very clear” that Cheney’s speech would focus on foreign policy, which is why the college publicized it that way.

After Cheney’s address, Lamkin sent an e-mail Monday afternoon to students, faculty and staff expressing his surprise and disappointment in Cheney’s “political stump speech.”

“We welcomed Vice President Cheney on this campus and had we been told that Mr. Cheney wanted to give a political speech, we would have welcomed it,” he said. “But we also would have billed it as a campaign speech.”

Security for Kerry’s speech on Friday will match that of Cheney’s, said Callaway County Deputy Sheriff Dennis Crane.

At least 60 on- and off-duty police and fire officials from the Missouri State Highway Patrol, the Boone and Callaway sheriff’s departments, Columbia and Fulton police departments and the Boone County Fire Protection District assisted Cheney’s motorcade from Columbia Airport to Westminster College, officials said.

Historically, White House candidates on the campaign trail do not cover the costs of escort security. Crane said taxes have always covered security costs for Fulton’s high-profile speakers, including Cheney’s 2000 visit to Fulton.

“It has stretched us,” Crane said. “At the same turn, I’m sure it will be the same way with Mr. Kerry.”

Fulton’s history of visits from big-name leaders started with Churchill’s “iron curtain” speech in 1946. Other famous visitors to Fulton include former Vice President Hubert Humphrey in 1967, former President George H.W. Bush in 1986; former President Ronald Reagan and former Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev in 1992; former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher in 1996; and former Polish President Lech Walesa in 1998.

The speech Vice President Dick Cheney delivered in Westminster College’s gymnasium Monday was originally touted as a “major foreign-policy announcement.” Yet several sections of Cheney’s address were identical to passages in his March 17 speech at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library and Museum in Simi Valley, Calif.

In both speeches, Cheney reviewed global terrorist activities during the last decade, praised President George W. Bush and sharply criticized Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry. Here are some excerpts that appeared in both of Cheney’s speeches.

On terrorism:

“The attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, signaled the arrival of an entirely different era. We suffered massive civilian casualties on our own soil. We awakened to dangers even more lethal — the possibility that terrorists could gain chemical, biological or even nuclear weapons from outlaw regimes — and turn those weapons against the United States. We came to understand that for all the destruction and grief we saw that day, Sept. 11 gave only the merest glimpse of the threat that international terrorism poses to this and other nations. If terrorists ever do acquire weapons of mass destruction — on their own or with help from a terror regime — they will use those weapons without the slightest constraint of reason or morality. Instead of losing thousands of lives, we might lose tens of thousands or even hundreds of thousands of lives in a single day of horror. Remembering what we saw on the morning of 9/11, and knowing the nature of our enemies, we have as clear a responsibility as could ever fall to government: We must do everything in our power to protect our people from terrorist attack, and to keep terrorists from ever acquiring weapons of mass destruction.”

On President Bush:

“These past three years, as our country experienced war and national emergency, I have watched our commander in chief make the decisions and set the strategy. I have seen a man who is calm and deliberate, comfortable with responsibility, consistent in his objectives, and resolute in his actions. These times have tested the character of our nation, and they have tested the character of our nation’s leader. When he makes a commitment, there is no doubt he will follow through. As a result, America’s friends know they can trust — and America’s enemies know they can fear — the decisive leadership of the president of the United States, and I am honored to be part of his team.”

On Democratic candidate John Kerry:

“A neutral observer, looking at these examples from Sen. Kerry’s record, would assume that the senator actually supported military action against Saddam Hussein. The senator himself now tells us otherwise. In January this year, he was asked on TV if he was ‘one of the anti-war candidates.’ He replied, ‘I am.’ He now says he was voting in October 2002 only to, quote, ‘threaten the use of force,’ not actually to use force. Even if we set aside these inconsistencies and changing rationales, at least this much is clear: Had the decision belonged to Sen. Kerry, Saddam Hussein would still be in power, today, in Iraq. In fact, Saddam Hussein would almost certainly still be in control of Kuwait, as well.”


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