Friday, August 06, 2004

New York Daily News : Kerry raps W on 9/11

BY FERNANDA SANTOS
DAILY NEWS STAFF WRITER
Friday, August 6th, 2004

WASHINGTON - John Kerry criticized President Bush's behavior on 9/11 for the first time yesterday, saying the commander-in-chief erred when he stayed put in a Florida classroom after learning about the World Trade Center attacks.

"Had I been reading to children and had my top aide whispered in my ear that America is under attack, I would have told those kids very nicely and politely that the President of the United States has something he needs to attend to," Kerry told a minority journalists convention.

Footage of Bush's initial inaction to the terrible news is one of the centerpiece scenes of Michael Moore's Bush-bashing documentary, "Fahrenheit 9/11."

Republicans immediately accused Kerry of following the outspoken liberal's lead.

Moore's hit film shows news footage of Bush in Sarasota on Sept. 11 when chief of staff Andrew Card told him a plane had struck one of the towers.

Seemingly unfazed, the President continued a reading lesson with second-grade students for several minutes.

Moments later, Card leaned over and whispered that the second tower also had been hit.

Bush hastily left the room but reappeared at a school auditorium, where he told some 200 people of an "apparent terrorist attack in our country."

Rudy Giuliani led the charge against Kerry's surprise hit.

"John Kerry must be frustrated in his campaign if he is armchair quarterbacking based on cues from Michael Moore," New York's former Republican mayor said in a written statement issued by Bush campaign headquarters.

Kerry spokeswoman Debra DeShong insisted yesterday her boss hasn't seen Moore's film.

The terror war, tax cuts, education and health care were at the core of Kerry's half-hour speech yesterday to Unity, a gathering of 7,500 black, Hispanic, Asian-American and American Indian journalists in Washington.

Bush, who is struggling to lure minority votes, speaks at the conference today.

Kerry vowed to appoint people of color to the Federal Communications Commission to help ensure that small and minority-owned news organizations "are not consolidated into extinction."

The GOP-dominated FCC last year loosened rules to allow a company in many instances to own a newspaper, a television station and some radio outlets in the same market.

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