Kerry: Bush policies fuel terrorist recruitment
President says Democrat has 'misunderstanding' of war on terror
GRAND RAPIDS, Michigan (CNN) -- Democratic presidential nominee Sen. John Kerry on Monday accused the Bush administration of doing too little in the fight against terrorism and of instituting policies that encourage "the recruitment of terrorists."
President Bush responded to Kerry's comments by saying that he had done as much as possible to protect the nation from terrorist attacks and by implying that his opponent doesn't understand the seriousness of the U.S. war on terrorism.
Kerry said the Bush administration has not moved rapidly enough on a "long, long list" of recommendations from the independent, bipartisan commission that investigated the September 11, 2001, attacks.
"I believe this administration, in its policies, is actually encouraging the recruitment of terrorists," Kerry told CNN's "American Morning."
"We haven't done the work necessary to reach out to other countries," Kerry said. "We haven't done the work necessary with the Muslim world. We haven't done the work necessary to protect our own ports, our chemical facilities, our nuclear facilities.
"We shouldn't be limping along from one piece of information to the next. We should be doing everything necessary to protect our country."
Bush touts reforms since 9/11
Bush, speaking at a Rose Garden news conference Monday to reveal new details of his national security plan, said Kerry's remarks show "a fundamental misunderstanding of the war on terror. Obviously, we have a clear difference of opinion, a clear difference of opinion, about the stakes that face America."
Bush said he disagreed with Kerry's assertion that his administration has done too little after the 9/11 attacks.
"We have implemented significant reforms since 9/11," Bush said. "The FBI is reformed, and Director [Robert] Mueller has done a fabulous job. The communications between the FBI and the CIA have been enhanced by the creation of what's called TTIC, the Terrorist Threat Integration Center.
"We moved quickly to make sure there is a seamless spread of information throughout our government. We created -- called for and worked with Congress to create the Department of Homeland Security."
Kerry disagrees with Dean
Kerry said Monday that he takes seriously the reported terror threats to key U.S. financial targets. He also said said he disagrees with former Democratic rival Howard Dean on the issue.
In an interview Sunday on CNN's "Late Edition," Dean said he was "concerned that every time something happens that's not good for President Bush, he plays this trump card, which is terrorism."
"His whole campaign is based on the notion that 'I can keep you safe, therefore, in times of difficulty in America, stick with me,' " Dean said. "It's just impossible to know how much of this is real and how much of this is politics, and I suspect there's some of both."
When asked about Dean's comments, Kerry said: "I haven't suggested that, and I won't suggest that."
Kerry said Dean is entitled to his views, but "I do not hold that opinion."
"I think people of good conscience are working on these issues," Kerry said. "I respect the men and women in the threat reduction effort. I respect the people who are in the Homeland Security Department. I don't question them. I question the leadership."
Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge announced Sunday that the color-colded terror threat level would be raised from yellow, or elevated, to orange, or high, for the financial services sector in New York, Washington and Newark, New Jersey. (Full story)
Kerry and his running mate, Sen. John Edwards, received a classified briefing on the terror threats.
"You take any threat seriously," Kerry said. "What's important, however, is not to sort of bounce along from threat to threat, it's to win the war [on terror]."
Kerry was campaigning Monday in Michigan, while Edwards was in Florida. The candidates began a 21-state tour Friday after the end of the Democratic National Convention.
Their campaign released a 252-page paperback Monday called "Our Plan for America: Stronger at Home, Respected in the World." (Full story)
The book "offers a comprehensive look at the optimistic Kerry-Edwards plan to build a stronger, more secure America and the values and experiences at the heart of it," according to a statement from their campaign.
The first half of the book discuss the candidates' views on security, opportunity and family issues.
The book's second half is a reprint of their speeches between 2002 and 2004. It does not include convention speeches.
Kerry said that the book also offers a "positive vision for how we can put people back to work."
CNN's Phil Hirschkorn contributed to this report.