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Inside Politics

Cheney: Kerry win risks terror attack

Edwards says Cheney 'crossed the line' with comment

• The Candidates: Bush | Kerry
America Votes 2004

DES MOINES, Iowa (CNN) -- A November win by Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry would put the United States at risk of another "devastating" terrorist attack, Vice President Dick Cheney told supporters Tuesday.

Kerry's running mate, Sen. John Edwards of North Carolina, responded by calling Cheney's comments "un-American."

Cheney told Republican supporters at a town hall meeting in Des Moines that they needed to make "the right choice" in the November 2 election.

"If we make the wrong choice, then the danger is that we'll get hit again -- that we'll be hit in a way that will be devastating from the standpoint of the United States," Cheney said.

"And then we'll fall back into the pre-9/11 mindset, if you will, that in fact these terrorist attacks are just criminal acts and that we're not really at war. I think that would be a terrible mistake for us."

Edwards told reporters that "Dick Cheney's scare tactics crossed the line."

"What he said to the American people was that if you go to the polls in November and elect anyone other than us, and another terrorist attack occurs, then it's your fault," Edwards said during a stop in Chillicothe, Ohio.

"This is un-American. The truth is that it proves once again that they will do anything and say anything to keep their jobs."

Edwards said a Kerry administration "will keep the American people safe, and we will not divide the country to do it."

Cheney's comments were stronger than previous attacks on the Democratic ticket. But Cheney's spokeswoman, Anne Womack, downplayed the line, saying it reflected "a difference in policy."

"This is nothing new. This is nothing inconsistent with his views," Womack said. "This is an overreaction to something we have used repeatedly and consistently. This is something that both the president and vice president have talked about consistently, the need to learn the lessons of 9/11. He was not connecting the dots."

Later, Womack commented further.

"The vice president stands by his quote in context," she said. "Whoever is elected in November faces the prospect of another terrorist attack. The question is whether or not we have the right policies in place to best protect our country. That's what the vice president said."

Womack went on: "As the president and vice president have both said, John Kerry has a fundamental misunderstanding of the war on terror.

"If you take the whole quote, the vice president stands by his statement. But if you just take a chunk, that's not what he meant."

Iowa has seven electoral votes. Bush narrowly lost the state to Al Gore in 2000.

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