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Posted by Tony from dsc04-lai-ca-6-9.rasserver.net ( on Thursday, October 10, 2002 at 11:21PM :

Wednesday, Oct. 9, 2002 10:25 p.m. EDT
Kerry Jumps Ship on Iraq

First it was Dick Gephardt, D-Mo., crossing party lines last week to offer President Bush support for a congressional resolution on the use of force against Iraq.

Now Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., has gone over the fence, saying Wednesday he's ready to vote to grant Bush the authority to use force "if we have exhausted all other options."

Kerry laced his endorsement with repeated digs at the White House, complaining, "The administration's decision to engage on this issue now, rather than a year ago or earlier, and the manner in which it engaged has politicized and complicated the national debate and raised questions about the credibility of its case."

Still, at the end of the day, the Kerry comment that will matter most is "I will be voting to give the president of the United States the authority to use force if necessary to disarm Saddam Hussein because I believe that a deadly arsenal of weapons of mass destruction in his hands is a real and grave threat to our security."

More than a few Democratic congressmen have already expressed support for the president, but a defection by such a prominent senator - not to mention presidential candidate - only exacerbates the problem for Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle.

Kerry, one of the most liberal anti-war senators, has stood with Daschle on Iraq for months, urging caution and carping that Bush may be dragging the U.S. into war for political reasons.

That makes Kerry's announcement all the more important for the White House. Not only does it strengthen Bush's mandate for war, it spotlights the continuing disarray of the Democratic Party as its candidates head into the midterm elections.

-- Tony
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