Bush Uses Bin Laden Tape as Opportunity for Partisan Attack

John Kerry's campaign on Bush's use of the Osama tape as an occasion to make a mean spirited, partisan political attack on John Kerry (by email):

This is a serious issue, and it’s disturbing that the White House seems intent on making it a political issue. The president was briefed on the tape before he delivered one of his most negative and divisive attacks of this campaign.

“America deserves a national security debate on the merits rather, than a president who desperately resorts to distortions, falsehoods and untruths on a regular basis.

“John Kerry was very clear tonight that we will stop at nothing to hunt down and kill the terrorists and that all Americans - Republicans and Democrats - are united in the war on terror. George Bush wasted no time in dividing us again.”

Bush was briefed hours on the contents of the tape hours before its release. Kerry's first statement was made before his briefing. After being advised of what was on the tape, Kerry made this statement:

"In response to this tape from Osama bin Laden, let me make it clear, crystal clear. As Americans, we are absolutely united in our determination to hunt down and destroy Osama bin Laden and the terrorists. They are barbarians. And I will stop at absolutely nothing to hunt down, capture or kill the terrorists wherever they are, whatever it takes. Period.”

Bush made three statements tonight. Only the second one presented the unified spirit the country needs to hear--that both he and John Kerry are determined to beat the terrorists. The first and third statements were shameful, partisan attacks on John Kerry--made at a time when Bush knew what was on Osama's tape. (Source: Press briefing and conference call tonight led by Joe Lockhart of the Kerry Campaign -- I called in and listened to Lockhart and the reporters asking questions.)

By contrast, Kerry's earlier statement about Tora Bora was made before he was briefed on the contents of the tape. As soon as he knew Osama made a present threat, he responded by saying we are all, Republicans and Democrats, united in our goal of defeating terrorism.

Update: The timeline of Bush's day today as compared to Kerry's:

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