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Bush campaign to base ad on Kerry terror quote

Democrats: GOP again taking senator's words out of context

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John F. Kerry
George W. Bush
America Votes 2004

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- President Bush's campaign announced Sunday its plans to use as the basis of a new commercial a quote from an 8,000-word New York Times Magazine article about Democratic presidential nominee John Kerry.

The parsing prompted the Kerry camp to retort that the soon-to-be-released Bush ad was another example of the president's campaign taking words out of context to create a misleading impression.

In the magazine article, a largely analytical cover story by Matt Bai, Kerry is asked "what it would take for Americans to feel safe again." (Special Report: America Votes 2004)

''We have to get back to the place we were, where terrorists are not the focus of our lives, but they're a nuisance,'' the article states as the Massachusetts senator's reply.

''As a former law enforcement person, I know we're never going to end prostitution. We're never going to end illegal gambling. But we're going to reduce it, organized crime, to a level where it isn't on the rise. It isn't threatening people's lives every day, and fundamentally, it's something that you continue to fight, but it's not threatening the fabric of your life.''

Kerry was a prosecutor before he got into politics, and made fighting organized crime a priority.

Bush campaign Chairman Marc Racicot, in an appearance on CNN's "Late Edition," interpreted Kerry's remarks as saying "that the war on terrorism is like a nuisance. He equated it to prostitution and gambling, a nuisance activity. You know, quite frankly, I just don't think he has the right view of the world. It's a pre-9/11 view of the world."

Republican Party Chairman Ed Gillespie, on CBS' "Face the Nation," used similar language.

"Terrorism is not a law enforcement matter, as John Kerry repeatedly says. Terrorist activities are not like gambling. Terrorist activities are not like prostitution. And this demonstrates a disconcerting pre-September 11 mindset that will not make our country safer. And that is what we see relative to winning the war on terror and relative to Iraq."

The Bush-Cheney campaign also announced it was releasing an ad highlighting Kerry's comment.

Reuters reported that the new Bush commercial's script asks "How can Kerry protect us when he doesn't understand the threat?"

Kerry campaign spokesman Phil Singer called the Republican charges "absolutely ridiculous."

"This is yet another example of the Bush campaign taking John Kerry's words out of context, and then blowing it up into something that is nothing," he said.

"The whole article is about how John Kerry recognizes that the war on terror requires a multipronged approach. It's not just the military aspect, but you need diplomacy to be able to enlist your allies. The Bush people have never understood that. John Kerry has always said that terrorism is the No. 1 threat to the U.S."

Kerry consistently has rejected assertions that he underestimates the threat of terrorism or views the battle against it as solely a law enforcement matter. He argues that law enforcement and intelligence are critical elements of the battle against terrorism, and that Bush has said the same thing.

New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson, who was chairman of the Democratic National Convention, where Kerry got his party's nomination in July, said on "Late Edition," "Senator Kerry has said that the No. 1 threat to America is international terrorism, al Qaeda."

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