Kerry uses Bush's own words to fire back at the commander-in-chief

Democratic challenger John Kerry turned President George W. Bush's own words into a weapon yesterday, saying it was Bush who had jumped to conclusions in Iraq, disqualifying him from being commander-in-chief.

The Massachusetts senator - energised by his beloved Boston Red Sox' long-awaited win in baseball's World Series and a joint appearance with rocker Bruce Springsteen - launched a withering attack on Bush over 344 tonnes of missing explosives in Iraq and chided his rival for invoking the memory of President John Kennedy.

Kerry said the weapons were not "where they were supposed to be - you were warned to guard them, you didn't guard them. They're not secure, and, guess what, according to George Bush's own words, he shouldn't be our commander-in-chief and I couldn't agree more". With the election deadlocked, Kerry took aim at the president's perceived strength - national security - and hammering him for a fourth consecutive day on the missing explosives.

Bush had earlier accused Kerry of opportunism, saying: "A political candidate who jumps to conclusions without knowing the facts is not a person you want as commander-in-chief ... that is part of a pattern of a candidate who will say anything to get elected."

Kerry threw the words back at the president 24 hours later, saying he was going "to apply the Bush standard" and declaring: "Mr President, I agree with you.

"George Bush jumped to conclusions about 9/11 and Saddam Hussein," he said. "George Bush jumped to conclusions about weapons of mass destruction and he rushed to war without a plan for the peace.

"George Bush jumped to conclusions about how the Iraqi people would receive our troops. He not only jumped to conclusions, he ignored the facts he was given."

Almost drowned out by a thunderous wave of foot-stomping from thousands of supporters packed into a University of Toledo arena, Kerry said: "I hope George Bush can hear that. That is the rumble of change coming at him."

Meanwhile, Bush said Kerry lacked the conviction to lead during a war and borrowed his rival's own words to call him "the wrong man for the wrong job at the wrong time".

Campaigning in the battleground state of Michigan four days before the election, he sought to portray Kerry as a political opportunist whose "lack of conviction" would undercut US troops in Iraq and embolden America's terrorist enemies.

"Senator Kerry would say anything to get elected," Bush told cheering supporters in a hockey stadium in Saginaw.

"John Kerry is the wrong man for the wrong job at the wrong time," he said, playing on a frequent Kerry criticism of Iraq as "the wrong war in the wrong place at the wrong time".

The president was emphasising leadership themes, praising his own consistency compared with Kerry's political calculations.

Bush later went to Ohio and then to Pennsylvania.

Reaching out to his religious conservative base, Bush described the role of family and faith.

"I have been strengthened by my faith and humbled by its reminder that my life is part of a much bigger story," he said.

- REUTERS


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