Washington (CNSNews.com) - Sen. John Kerry's votes for and against the $87 billion funding bill for U.S. troops in Iraq last year "made perfect sense," said liberal billionaire George Soros, who delivered a wide-ranging speech Thursday at the National Press Club.
"John Kerry has presented a cogent and coherent case, but the Bush campaign managed to define him before he could define himself," Soros said. "They made fun of his explanation of the various votes he cast on the $87 billion appropriation for Iraq, although those votes made perfect sense."
Soros, who vowed to spend $25 million of his fortune to defeat Bush, didn't explain why Kerry's votes "made perfect sense." But he said Kerry's inability to get his message across earlier this year hurt him badly because his ideas were reduced to "snippets."
Kerry voted against the $87 billion funding bill that Congress ultimately approved in October 2003. It paid for body armor, increased combat pay and provided health benefits for troops. But before casting that vote, Kerry voted for another version repealing President Bush's tax cuts.
Trying to explain his decision last March, Kerry remarked, "I actually did vote for the $87 billion before I voted against it."
President Bush's campaign seized on the comment and has used it repeatedly to chide Kerry. Republicans have also suggested Kerry's vote was politically motivated because at the time he trailed anti-war candidate Howard Dean among Democrats seeking the party's nomination.
Both Kerry and his running mate, Sen. John Edwards, voted to authorize the use of force in Iraq in October 2002 and then against the $87 billion appropriation one year later.
"There is nothing funny about John Kerry's vote against providing funding for our troops," said Jim Dyke, a spokesman for the Republican National Committee. "Only someone who has spent $26 million to elect John Kerry would think it makes sense to be one of four senators who voted to send our troops to fight and then against the resources they need to win."
Soros' speech concluded a month-long tour of battleground states, where his stated goal was convincing Republicans to vote for Kerry. The billionaire spent about $3 million on the venture, which he indicated was partially successful.
"It was hard to find them," Soros said of the Republicans he was trying to reach. "I think the Republican National Committee made a great effort to deny or discourage a forum where these people would be. But I think I managed to reach them through my advertisements and my direct mailings."
The speaking tour took Soros to cities in Florida, Iowa, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Ohio and Pennsylvania. He ran ads in the Wall Street Journal and local newspapers in addition to mailing anti-Bush information to 2 million homes.
Earlier Thursday, Soros was accused of violating federal election law as a result of his trip. The National Legal and Policy Center filed a complaint with the Federal Election Commission against Soros and two non-profit organizations that hosted his speeches.
"The expenses connected with this tour should be disclosed to the public," said Peter Flaherty, the NLPC's president. "Mr. Soros has filed two independent expenditure reports with the FEC to date and they do not cover the tour."
Flaherty and another NLPC employee, John Carlisle, the group's director of policy, followed Soros on his tour to different locations. During the trip, Soros spoke before two non-profit organizations, which Flaherty said amounted to an illegal corporate contribution.
Soros' lawyer, Steven Ross, was present at the NLPC's press conference, held across the hall from where Soros later spoke.
"George Soros has conducted himself in an entirely legal fashion throughout this past year," Ross said. "All disclosures that have been required to be made have been made. He has been exemplary in making sure that all of his activity is fully disclosed to the public as required under the law."
Following his speech, Soros also responded to the complaint, telling the audience, "I believe I'm well within my rights under the First Amendment."
See Earlier Story:
George Soros Resurfaces to Bash Bush, Boost Kerry (Sept. 28, 2004)
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