Vice President Dick Cheney on Wednesday harshly criticized Democrats’ attempts to thwart President Bush’s troop buildup in Iraq, saying their approach would “validate the Al Qaeda strategy.” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi fired back that Cheney was questioning critics’ patriotism.
“I hope the president will repudiate and distance himself from the vice president’s remarks,” Pelosi said. She said she tried to complain about Cheney to Bush but could not reach him.
“You cannot say as the president of the United States, ‘I welcome disagreement in a time of war,’ and then have the vice president of the United States go out of the country and mischaracterize a position of the speaker of the House and in a manner that says that person in that position of authority is acting against the national security of our country,” Pelosi said.
The quarrel began in Tokyo, where Cheney in an interview criticized Pelosi and Rep. John P. Murtha (D-Pa.) over their plan to place restrictions on Bush’s request for an additional $93 billion for the Iraq war to make it difficult or impossible to send 21,500 more troops to Iraq.
“I think if we were to do what Speaker Pelosi and Congressman Murtha are suggesting, all we will do is validate the Al Qaeda strategy,” the vice president told ABC News. “The Al Qaeda strategy is to break the will of the American people ... try to persuade us to throw in the towel and come home, and then they win because we quit.”
Pelosi, at a news conference in San Francisco, said Cheney’s criticism of Democrats was “beneath the dignity of the debate we’re engaged in and a disservice to our men and women in uniform, whom we all support.”