Bush’s speech last night had this little zinger, which most would find amusing:
“The other party’s nomination battle is still playing out. The candidates are an interesting group with diverse opinions – for tax cuts and against them, for NAFTA and against NAFTA, for the Patriot Act and against the Patriot Act, in favor of the liberation of Iraq and opposed to it.
“And that’s just one senator from Massachusetts,” Bush said, getting a roaring response from the Republican crowd.
A fair shot- and aimed at the record, and not the man- in other words, about the issues. Which brings up an important question- ‘What exactly is John Kerry’s voting record?”
This AP write-up highlights some of the cuts that Kerry supported:
he AP review of Kerry’s votes in the Senate for more than a decade show that he often has backed or spearheaded targeted cuts in the Pentagon budget.
In the early 1990s, he voted to limit funding for the B-2 stealth bomber, which for years was plagued by cost overruns and had an eye-popping pricetag of $2 billion per plane. Under the direction of then-Defense Secretary Dick Cheney, the Pentagon decided to buy fewer planes.
Kerry also voted to trim $3 billion to $4 billion from the defense bill in 1991-92. And in 1995 and 1996, he voted against both major defense spending and authorization bills.
“In the early stages of his (Senate career) he looked to squeeze the fat out of some of the big defense budgets,” said Michael Meehan, senior Kerry campaign adviser. “We had enormous deficits and he would oppose big ticket weapons systems that were very expensive.”
Kerry, a longtime member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, at times argued for spending restraint and on other occasions was at odds with the first Bush administration, the Clinton White House and even some Democrats on the Senate Armed Services Committee, which is responsible for the annual defense authorization bills.
In one 1990 debate, Kerry pushed for cuts in an anti-satellite weapons system, which had increased in cost from $73 million to a proposed $208 million in a single year. He said the funding should stay at the $73 million level, but that any savings should go to other defense programs.
In other instances, Kerry:
–Voted to eliminate the B-2 bomber program in 1992.
–Voted on several occasions to reduce funding for long-range missile defense programs. Derisively referred to as President Reagan’s “Star Wars” program by some in Congress, missile defense was a constant source of controversy in the 1990s as lawmakers questioned the feasibility of a missile shield, especially after the collapse of the Soviet Union and the end of the Cold War.
Christine Iverson, spokeswoman for the Republican National Committee, said Kerry voted against spending on weapons systems that have proven valuable in the Persian Gulf, including the F-16 and F-15 fighter aircraft.
“There is a canyon of difference between his voting record in the Senate and his rhetoric on the campaign trail,” Iverson said.
Meehan said that early on, officials questioned whether some of the aircraft, such as the B-2 bomber, would be successful in the Gulf wars.
My question- do these votes reflect actual up and down votes on weapons systems, or are they merely procedural votes on amendments that Kerry objected to and seem to look as if he was voting against the weapons systems, but later he voted in favor of different versions of the authroization bills?
*** Update ***
Jim taranto raises a good point when he notes that the Democrats are shooting themselves in thefoot when they try to pretend that questioning Kerry’s voting record is questioning his patriotism:
This is what Democrats call “fighting back,” and as we’ve noted many times before, it is an utterly self-defeating approach. Republicans are arguing that Kerry is weak on defense. By raising the question of his own patriotism, Kerry has changed the terms of the debate. Now it’s: Is Kerry just weak on defense, or is he unpatriotic too? For the record, we say he’s a patriot who’s weak on defense.