Former President Carter criticizes Bush at campaign stop for son |

Former President Carter criticizes Bush at campaign stop for son

Brendan Riley
Ross Andreson, Elko Daily Free Press / The Associated Press / Former President Jimmy Carter speaks at Terrace Elko Senior Center while campaigning with his son, Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Jack Carter, right, on Wednesday.

FALLON (AP) – Former President Jimmy Carter, campaigning with his son, Democratic U.S. Senate nominee Jack Carter, said Wednesday the Bush administration made a “terrible mistake” by invading Iraq and diverting troops from Afghanistan.

During a three-day campaign tour that began in Elko earlier Tuesday and will end Friday in Las Vegas, the former president said major policy changes are needed because the Iraq war has divided the nation “almost as much as Vietnam resulted in division. That’s a setback.”

Jack Carter also spoke out against the war, criticizing the Bush administration’s leadership and the support that Bush has received from Carter’s opponent, Sen. John Ensign, R-Nev. Both Carters also said Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld should go. “I think he’s one of the worst secretaries of defense we’ve ever had,” the former president said of Rumsfeld. “Almost every decision he has made has aggravated his military subordinates and has also proved to be a mistake.”

Jimmy Carter also called for release of a secret intelligence assessment that depicts a growing terrorist threat as a result of the Iraq war. The Bush administration, trying to quell election-season criticism about its anti-terror policies, has refused to make the full document public.

The intelligence assessment confirms that “we made a terrible mistake in leaving Afghanistan, abandoning the search against al-Qaeda and against Osama bin Laden and moving into Iraq and getting bogged down there,” Jimmy Carter said.

“So there’s no doubt that our country is in much more danger now from terrorism than it would have been if we would have done what we should have done and stayed in Afghanistan,” he added.

Jack Carter said he agreed with his father’s views on the Iraq war, saying, “We took our eye off Afghanistan, which should have been the focus.”

He also said that Sen. Ensign has “done a lousy job of representing veterans” by voting several times against bills that would have helped both veterans and active members of the military.

Jack Carter, who served in the Navy in Vietnam, said in an interview that U.S. troops should be pulled out of combat areas in Iraq but left in the Mideast in a “quick response mode.”

The candidate also described Rumsfeld as “part of the problem,” adding, “I would not tell the administration to get rid of him – but I think they should.”

Asked whether the war has prevented the threat of terrorism in the United States, Jack Carter said, “There’s not doubt about it that it has not – unless you’re in the administration. They’re still not sure.”

In his comments in Fallon and Elko, Jack Carter also criticized the Bush administration for ignoring the concept of three branches of government. Jack Carter said Ensign has done the same, adding, “I believe in the three branches, he believes in one – and it isn’t the one he’s in.”

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