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Kerry questions Bush's wartime leadership
Points to his 9/11 response
By Patrick Healy, Globe Staff | August 6, 2004

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. -- Challenging President Bush's "maturity" as a wartime leader, Democratic nominee John F. Kerry said yesterday that he would have excused himself from the Florida classroom on the morning of Sept. 11, 2001, where Bush continued reading to children after learning about the attacks on the Twin Towers.

Kerry, responding to a question at a journalists' conference, seized on one of the most controversial images of Sept. 11 for many liberals and Democrats -- Bush reading "My Pet Goat" for seven minutes as the terrorist attacks were underway -- as part of a broader attack on Bush as out of his depth on even the simplest matters of military decision-making. Kerry said his "rare" background as a candidate who fought in Vietnam -- and who understands not only the concerns of US soldiers and their families, but also the loss of Americans' faith in war -- made him better suited than Bush to lead the nation in an age of terrorism.

"Had I been reading to children and had my top aide whispered into my ear, 'America was under attack,' I would have told those kids very politely and nicely that, the president of the United States had something he needed to attend to," Kerry said, citing the photographs of White House chief of staff Andrew Card whispering to Bush about the Sept. 11 attacks and then Bush reading the picture book for several minutes.

- from here

Earlier, addressing minority journalists in the nation's capital, Kerry was asked what he would have done as president the moment he received word of the World Trade Center attacks. Bush spent seven minutes at a Florida elementary school after his chief of staff, Andrew Card, whispered, ''America is under attack,'' as TV cameras recorded the anxious scene.

''I would have told those kids very politely and nicely that the president of the United States had something that he needed to attend to,'' Kerry said. ''And I would have attended to it.''

- from Kerry: I wouldn't have waited 7 minutes on 9/11

One of the most powerful voices we heard from at the roundtable yesterday was that of Peter Chernin, President and COO of News Corporation and CEO of the Fox Group. Here is some of what Peter had to say:

The deficit is just plain bad for the country and bad for business. I don't think you can fight two wars, one internationally and one domestically, and at the same time cut taxes for the wealthy.

The next issue is health care. I think improving health care and supporting health care is not only good public policy, it's also good business policy. Health care costs are choking American business -- clearly small businesses -- but also big businesses like my own where health care costs tend to rise by double to triple the rate of inflation.

Third is help for small businesses. Small businesses are the job creation engines of America. And I think the Kerry-Edwards plan, which calls for a tax credit for the creation of new jobs and helps share the burden of health care costs, will be a real boost to small businesses.



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