"Senator Kerry, what is your position on the war in Iraq?"
Here's what I came up with...
"Jim, I support our troops and want success in Iraq. This can only be accomplished by electing a new Commander-in-Chief and immediately putting in new civilian leadership in the Vice-President's office and the departments of Defense, State and Intelligence. Once that's done, we can implement my four-part plan to win the war and help the Iraqi's establish a free, peaceful nation.
I apologize if my previous statements about the war have seemed unclear or have sounded contradictory. But I think that like many Americans, when the President began the march to war in 2002, I wanted to believe him. As a United States Senator, I wanted to support our troops and protect our country. That's why, when the resolution came up that would give him authority to use force as a last resort, I supported the President. He called it a 'vote for peace,' and in the public record, I stated that I supported force only as a last resort.
But again, like many Americans, I then felt betrayed when the President kicked out the weapons inspectors and decided to attack Iraq without UN support. That decision has blackened our image as a moral leader in the world. And while having Saddam and his sons out of power is a blessing, several of the tactical decisions our civilian leaders have made in Iraq have been disasterous to the Iraqi people and our troops.
So, while I understand that we're in Iraq and we must succeed, I think it's imperative that we hold the Commander-in-Chief accountable for the grave blunders of strategy and diplomacy that have hung our military and civilian support staff out to dry.
I want peace and democracy in Iraq. As Commander-in-Chief, and as representative of this nation at the negotiating table, I will work to put our plan into place so the Iraqi's will be able to lift themselves out of the chaos there and we can secure safe passage home for our troops when the mission is complete. Thank you.
One minute, forty-five seconds.