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Tuesday, October 26, 2004
Bush Aide Visits N.M. for Boss
By Michael Coleman
Journal Washington Bureau
White House Chief of Staff Andrew Card was in Albuquerque on Monday calling reports of missing explosives in Iraq an "old story," and saying Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry is exploiting the issue for political purposes.
"I don't know why it's been drug up now," Card told reporters during a campaign swing in New Mexico. "I don't give a lot of credibility to the story. The story is out there, it's not new. It's an old story rehashed."
On Monday, The New York Times reported that 380 tons of explosives are missing from a weapons cache in Iraq.
Kerry, campaigning in Dover, N.H., on Monday said the revelation of missing explosives from a former Iraqi military facility demonstrated "incredible incompetence" on the part of the commander-in-chief.
"Yesterday's news over and over again, that's John Kerry's role," Card said. "He hasn't talked too much about the future. He's spent a lot of time dwelling on the past."
Card, the top administrator in the Bush White House, said he would spend the final week before the election helping to run the White House and informing voters about the work the president has done during the past four years.
"The role I am playing for him is completely consistent with the role I've seen other chiefs-of-staffs play, including Democrats," Card said.
Card said he doubts that the emergence of President Clinton in the Kerry campaign will be a factor in the closing days of the presidential race.
The former president is expected in Albuquerque this weekend, although the Kerry campaign on Monday could not confirm a date.
"I had anticipated his participation in this campaign from the very beginning," Card said. "I don't think there is much of an impact on the campaign."
Card predicted a "comfortable victory" for the president, but said the Bush campaign is well-prepared for legal challenges or other election snags if the race is too close to call on election night.
The president's top administrator said Bush has tried to make good on his campaign pledge in 2000 to be a "uniter not a divider."
"He's tried hard," Card said, exhaling loudly as he spoke. "If there is one great disappointment that the president has it's that the partisanship in Washington made it hard to unite."
Card said he worries that terrorists are plotting an attack on America before next week's election, but he said there is no significant intelligence that indicates an attack will happen.
"There is a lot of chatter but can I say I woke up this morning and read intelligence that suggests there is a march toward Albuquerque right now? No," Card said.
He said if the president is re-elected, two of his primary domestic objectives will be to simplify the U.S. tax code and address a looming Social Security crisis.
Card said the president will push a proposal to partially privatize Social Security, allowing workers to invest a portion in private investment accounts.