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Kerry says Iraq war leaves no money for costs at home

September 20, 2004
Associated Press

WASHINGTON -- Democrat John Kerry links the cost of the Iraq war to problems at home and vows in a new television ad to both ''defend America and fight for the middle class.''

''Two hundred billion dollars. That's what we are spending in Iraq because George Bush chose to go it alone,'' Kerry says in the ad, to start airing today in 13 competitive states where he is on the air. ''Now the president tells us we don't have the resources to take care of health care and education here at home. That's wrong.''

The $200 billion estimate reflects the campaign's calculation of funds already spent on combat and reconstruction in Iraq, and money anticipated to be spent through next summer, based on congressional reports. The war has cost about $120 billion, according to the White House Office of Budget and Management.

Bush has never said there's no money for education or health care. Kerry's campaign bases the claim on its interpretation of Bush's budget proposals for education and reports of rising medical premiums.

Bush's campaign said the ad was another Kerry flip-flop, noting that in August 2003 on NBC's ''Meet the Press'' Kerry said war spending should be increased ''by whatever number of billions of dollars it takes to win.''

''After attacking the president for not spending enough on Iraq, John Kerry is now attacking the president for spending too much,'' said Bush campaign spokesman Steve Schmidt. ''John Kerry's hypocritical attacks and continually shifting positions on Iraq are costing him the trust of the American people.''

Kerry spent Sunday in Boston, off the campaign trail. AP




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