Kerry: ?I Was Wrong' On Iraq

By Nathan Burchfiel | July 7, 2008 | 8:31pm EDT

Washington, D.C. ( - U.S. Sen. John Kerry of Massachusetts on Tuesday told an audience at the liberal Take Back America conference that he was sorry for voting to authorize the war in Iraq, calling the entire mission "a mistake."

"We were misled, we were given evidence that was not true," Kerry said. "It was wrong, and I was wrong to vote [for it]."

Kerry, who led an unsuccessful bid for the presidency in 2004, said it was necessary to admit mistakes because "you cannot change the future if you''re not honest about the past." He criticized supporters of the war, who label anti-war activists and politicians as unpatriotic and pessimistic.

"The true pessimists are those who will not accept that America''s strength depends on our credibility at home and around the world," Kerry said. "The true pessimists are those who do not understand that valuing our principles is critical to our national security and it is as critical to our national security as our military power itself."

He said questioning the war and fighting in it are "two sides of the very same patriotic coin" and compared the modern anti-war movement to the anti-war movement in the Vietnam War. Kerry, who served in Vietnam, returned to the United States and offered testimony to Congress, opposing the war and describing horrific war crimes he said soldiers committed there.

He said opposing the war is "a right and an obligation" because it was "founded on a lie [and] can never be true to America''s character."

Kerry also lashed out at war supporters who accuse anti-war activists of not supporting the troops. "The best way to support the troops is to oppose a course that destroys their lives," he said.

Kerry renewed his call for a withdrawal of troops from Iraq, saying that he supports setting a timetable for the removal in Iraq that is not "cut and run." Without saying when he would like troops removed from the war zone, Kerry said he believes "we need a hard and fast deadline."

Kerry made his comments during a speech at the annual Take Back America conference in the nation''s capital. Organized by the liberal Campaign for America''s Future, the conference has also feature U.S. Sen. Hillary Clinton and U.S. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi. U.S. Sens. Russ Feingold and Barack Obama are scheduled to appear Wednesday.

A spokesman for the Republican National Committee was not immediately available for reaction to Kerry''s comments.

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