Thursday, 4:30 PM
Kerry says he "botched joke" and lashes out at GOP
By Andrew Ryan, Globe Correspondent
An angry Senator John F. Kerry castigated Republicans at a nationally televised press conference this afternoon, accusing conservatives of twisting his words of a "botched joke" to suggest that students who do poorly in school will end up as soldiers serving in Iraq.
"My statement yesterday, and the White House knows this full well, was a botched joke about the President and the President's people not about the troops," Kerry said at a press conference in Seattle. "The White Houses attempt to distort my true statement is a remarkable testament to their abject failure making America safe.
Kerry continued: "I'm sick and tired of a whole bunch of Republican attacks, most of which come from people who never wore the uniform and never had the courage to stand up and go to war themselves."
The Democratic senator and 2004 presidential nominee has been under fire since he spoke Monday at campaign rally in California. According to the Pasadena Star-News: "Kerry then told the students that if they were able to navigate the education system, they could get comfortable jobs - "If you don't, you get stuck in Iraq," he said to a mixture of laughter and gasps."
Conservative pundits have accused Kerry of suggesting that if students don't do well in school, they could end up in Iraq. White House Spokesman Tony Snow and Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney both called on Kerry to apologize.
"I apologize to no one for my criticism of the President and of his broken policy," Kerry said this afternoon. "If anyone owes our troops in the fields an apology it is the President and his failed team and a Republican majority of the Congress that has been willing to stamp, rubber stamp, policies that have done injury to our troops and to their families."
Before Kerry's press conference, Romney issued a statement through his spokesman while he campaign from Republican gubernatorial candidates in Idaho and Oregon.
"Senator Kerry owes an apology to the thousands of men and women serving in Iraq, particularly the many patriotic soldiers from Massachusetts who come from all backgrounds to defend our freedoms," Romney said.