Kerry: Time to focus on the war, not the White House

Bowing out of the presidential race, Kerry says he'll work to end the war instead.

By Tim Grieve
Published January 24, 2007 8:23PM (EST)

Saying that he doesn't want the next president to inherit "a nation still divided and a policy destined to end, as Vietnam did, in a bitter and sad legacy," John Kerry just said that he'll spend the next two years working to end the war in Iraq rather than waging another campaign for the White House.

His voice cracking with emotion, Kerry said that what the Senate does now may determine the future of Iraq, the Middle East and the United States. Kerry recalled the question he asked after returning from Vietnam -- "How do you ask a man to be the last man to die for a mistake?" -- and said he "never thought" he'd be "reliving the need to ask that question again."

"We are there," he said. Kerry acknowledged that one of the reasons we're there is that he and other senators voted to authorize George W. Bush to use force in Iraq. Because of that vote, he said, members of the Senate now have a "moral obligation" to bring the war to a close.

After Kerry spoke, Ted Kennedy and Harry Reid both rose to praise him and the decision he has made. Recalling the negative and nasty 2004 presidential campaign, Reid said: "I love you John Kerry, and I'm sorry that things didn't work out for our country."

Tim Grieve

Tim Grieve is a senior writer and the author of Salon's War Room blog.

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