Cheney seeks to 'clean up' quote controversy

Published September 10, 2004 12:00PM (EDT)

GREEN BAY, Wis. (AP) -- Vice President Dick Cheney sought to "clean up" a controversy he ignited this week, saying that the country must brace for a potential terrorist attack no matter who is elected president.

Electing Democrat John Kerry does not mean the United States will be hit again, he said in a newspaper interview published Friday.

On Tuesday, Cheney told supporters in Iowa that there's a danger the United States will be attacked again "if we make the wrong choice" on Election Day.

Democrats and others pounced, with Democratic opponent John Edwards calling Cheney's comments un-American, undignified and divisive. President Bush declined to respond when he was asked whether he agreed with his running mate.

In an interview Thursday with the Cincinnati Enquirer, Cheney sought to clarify those remarks, saying he wanted to "clean up" the controversy surrounding his remarks.

"I did not say if Kerry is elected, we will be hit by a terrorist attack,'' Cheney told the newspaper. "Whoever is elected president has to anticipate more attacks. My point was the question before us is: Will we have the most effective policy in place to deal with that threat? George Bush will pursue a more effective policy than John Kerry."

On Tuesday, campaigning in Iowa, Cheney said: "It's absolutely essential that eight weeks from today, on Nov. 2, we make the right choice, because if we make the wrong choice then the danger is that we'll get hit again and we'll be hit in a way that will be devastating from the standpoint of the United States."

Cheney was in Cincinnati for a "town hall" meeting with about 500 invited supporters. In the public forum, Cheney did not address his earlier remarks, though he offered some of the same context he'd given Tuesday, saying that the United States cannot view terrorism as it views ordinary crime.

He was campaigning Friday on a bus tour through Wisconsin and planned two more "town hall" sessions with supporters.

By Laura Meckler

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