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Edwards: Bush comments highlight key differences

Democrat accuses president of flip-flopping on terror war

Sen. John Edwards tells a crowd in Wilmington, North Carolina, "this war is winnable."
George W. Bush
John Edwards

WILMINGTON, North Carolina (CNN) -- Democrats spent the first day of the Republican National Convention making sure the nation heard President Bush.

Just in case you missed them, there were two quotes in particular that Democrats want you to hear.

The first came from an interview Monday morning with NBC's "Today" show. Bush was asked whether the war on terrorism can be won.

"I don't think you can win it," Bush responded. "But I think you can create conditions so that those who use terror as a tool are less acceptable in parts of the world. Let's put it that way."

Sen. John Edwards, the Democratic vice presidential candidate, said Bush's comment underscores a key difference between the two tickets.

"We believe -- John Kerry and I -- that this war is winnable; they don't," Edwards said.

Edwards made the remarks during a speech to a receptive audience in his home state at the University of North Carolina at Wilmington.

The Kerry-Edwards campaign said Bush flip-flopped on the issue, and released previous comments from the president saying that the war on terror could indeed be won.

The Republicans have attempted to pin the flip-flop label on Kerry.

Edwards also took aim at another comment Bush made recently.

In an interview published in this week's editions of Time magazine, Bush acknowledged that there was at least one mistake made during the invasion of Iraq.

"Had we had to do it over again, we would look at the consequences of catastrophic success -- being so successful, so fast, that an enemy that should have surrendered or been done in, escaped and lived to fight another day," Bush told the magazine.

Edwards criticized Bush's comments.

"After months of saying he'd done everything right on Iraq and foreign policy, the president acknowledged just the other day that he miscalculated the way in which he waged the war in Iraq," Edwards said. "He believes that he may have won the war too quickly -- and that was a miscalculation."

Edwards said Bush has miscalculated in other ways, too.

He then rolled off a list of allegations that included "rushing to war without a plan to win the peace;" "deciding to go it alone without strong allies;" "turning its back on Afghanistan;" "failing to listen to the 9/11 commission;" and "standing on the sidelines while North Korea and Iran advanced their nuclear programs."

Responding much like the Republicans did during the Democratic convention in Boston, Democrats have rapid-response teams -- which they're calling "truth squads" -- in New York to address the media all week long.

Kerry spent the day resting in Nantucket, Massachusetts.

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