GOP assails Kerry over Bush remark

Democrat called for `regime change' in U.S.

April 04, 2003|By NEW YORK TIMES NEWS SERVICE

WASHINGTON - Sen. John Kerry of Massachusetts, a Democratic presidential candidate, suggested in a speech Wednesday that "we need a regime change in the United States" as well as in Iraq, drawing angry responses from Republican leaders who accused him of ill-timed and inappropriate remarks.

Kerry told an audience in Peterborough, N.H., that President Bush had lost the trust of many international leaders with his handling of the Iraq conflict and that those relations could not be restored while Bush remained in office, according to a report in The Boston Globe yesterday.

Republican leaders assailed Kerry for a political attack against the president as the fight for Baghdad neared.

"Senator Kerry's remark, equating regime change in Iraq with regime change in the United States, is not what we need at this time," said House Speaker Dennis Hastert.

The House majority leader, Tom DeLay, who noted that Kerry had said a few weeks ago that he would temper criticism of the administration during the war, was more succinct in his criticism. "America before New Hampshire," DeLay said.

A spokesman for Kerry said the senator meant no disrespect. "But the point of this campaign is, obviously, to change the administration of this government," the spokesman, Robert Gibbs, said.

Noting that Kerry served in the military in the Vietnam War, Gibbs said, "The Republican right wing, particularly those who have never worn the uniform, are picking the wrong fight with the wrong Democrat."

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