Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry described the disappearance of 350-metric tons of explosives in Iraq as a growing scandal for the Republican Bush administration Wednesday. Senator Kerry campaigned in two critical Midwest battleground states, Iowa and Minnesota.
Senator Kerry says the Bush White House continues to, in his words, "bob and weave" in an effort to avoid responsibility for the missing explosives in Iraq. "As more information was revealed in the press, the White House switched to their most comfortable position, the situation was bad but it was not their responsibility," he said during a speech in Sioux City, Iowa. " Vice President (Dick) Cheney, who is becoming the Chief Minister of Disinformation, echoed that it is not the administration's fault and even criticized those who raised the subject. This is a growing scandal and the American people deserve a full and honest explanation of how it happened and what this president is going to do about it."
President Bush, campaigning in Pennsylvania, accused Senator Kerry of jumping to conclusions on the missing weapons and said Mr. Kerry was, "denigrating the actions" of U.S. troops in Iraq without knowing the facts.
The Kerry focus on Iraq in recent days is part of an effort to convince the dwindling pool of undecided voters that he would be a capable commander in chief, one area that public opinion polls say is an advantage for the president. "And when I am president, I will fight a tougher, smarter, more effective war on terror that makes America safer," he said.
The effort to convince undecided voters that Senator Kerry is capable of leading the war on terror paid off with this voter. Vicky Casino attended a Kerry rally in Las Vegas. "I think we need to get a grip on Iraq and we need to do what he (Kerry) says, find (Osama) bin Laden and hunt down the men that work for him and make our country safer," he said. "They are all out for us over there and we need someone who is going to do what he says and not lie."
Democratic U.S. Senator Herb Kohl, who been campaigning for Senator Kerry in his home state of Wisconsin, told VOA that winning over voters on the issue of Iraq and terrorism takes time. "I think it is a question of trust, you know," he said. "People need to be comfortable (with Kerry), which I think they will be on November 2nd (even) if they are not quite there yet. They may be there, yet, that Senator Kerry is a person who you can trust with respect to the major decisions about the future of our country."
With less than a week to go until Election Day, both campaigns are calling on celebrities to help drive voter turnout later this week. Rock stars Bruce Springsteen and Jon Bon Jovi will campaign with Senator Kerry while President Bush will be joined by California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger.