Senator and former presidential candidate John Kerry (D-MA) lashed out in a press conference today, stating that he would "apologize to no one" for what he contends was criticism of President George W. Bush. A video of Kerry's remarks may be viewed below.
Bush is expected to respond at a 5 PM press conference.
The White House had earlier demanded Kerry apologize to US soldiers for implying that they ended up in Iraq because they were uneducated. Kerry said his remarks were not intended to be interpreted as an attack on troops, and were intended as a humorous insult to Bush's leadership.
"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 told reporters.
During a campaign rally in Pasadena, California, ahead of the November 7 congressional elections, Kerry was making comments Monday on the importance of education when, according to a spokesman, he misspoke while trying to make fun of Bush.
"You know, education, if you make the most of it, you study hard, you do your homework and you make an effort to be smart, you can do well. If you don't, you get stuck in Iraq," Kerry said.
White House spokesman Tony Snow seized on the remarks, demanding that Kerry issue an apology for the "absolute insult."
"What Senator Kerry ought to do first is apologize to the troops," Snow said. "The clear implication here is, if you flunk out, if you don't study hard, if you don't do your homework, if you don't make an effort to be smart, and you don't do well you, quote, 'Get stuck in Iraq,'" Snow said.
"This is a classic GOP textbook Republican campaign tactic," Kerry said at the press conference. "I'm sick and tired of a bunch of despicable Republicans who will not debate real policy, who won't take responsibility for their own mistakes."
War of words
Kerry earlier released a statement claiming that right-wingers were "desperately distorting" his comments about President George W. Bush to "divert attention from their disastrous record."
"If anyone thinks a veteran would criticize the more than 140,000 heroes serving in Iraq," stated Kerry in a statement released earlier today, "and not the president who got us stuck there, they're crazy.
"Iím sick and tired of these despicable Republican attacks that always seem to come from those who never can be found to serve in war, but love to attack those who did," the statement continues.
"I'm not going to be lectured by a stuffed suit White House mouthpiece standing behind a podium, or doughy Rush Limbaugh, who no doubt today will take a break from belittling Michael J. Fox's Parkinson's disease to start lying about me just as they have lied about Iraq," rails Kerry, in the statement. "It disgusts me that these Republican hacks, who have never worn the uniform of our country lie and distort so blatantly and carelessly about those who have."
"These Republicans are afraid to debate veterans who live and breathe the concerns of our troops, not the empty slogans of an Administration that sent our brave troops to war without body armor," the statement continues. "Bottom line, these Republicans want to debate straw men because they're afraid to debate real men. And this time it wonít work because we're going to stay in their face with the truth and deny them even a sliver of light for their distortions."
He concluded his statement, "No Democrat will be bullied by an administration that has a cut and run policy in Afghanistan and a stand still and lose strategy in Iraq."