Edwards, Taylor Respond to Kerry Remarks

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The candidates for District 17 both spoke out against Massachusetts Senator John Kerry's comments Tuesday.

Republican challenger Van Taylor and his camp released a statement around 4:30 p.m. “This is an outrage to every man and woman who has ever worn the uniform," the former Marine said in the release. "To say that only the stupid and uneducated serve their country is an insult and untrue. I am proud to say that I not only did my homework, but I also earned two Harvard degrees, and I am just as proud to have volunteered to serve in Iraq.

“Chet Edwards may wish that Sen. Kerry was the Commander in Chief," Taylor continued, "but Chet Edwards should condemn his fellow Democrat’s insult to our brave soldiers.”

About 25 minutes later, a statement came from the incumbent Edwards. His statement read, "As Co-Chair of the bipartisan House Army Caucus and as someone who has represented over 40,000 U.S. Army soldiers who have served in Iraq, I think Sen. Kerry's comments were at worst deeply offensive, if intended for our troops serving in Iraq, or at the very least, a tasteless and inappropriate criticism of the president.

"I would continue to urge elected officials on both sides of the aisle not to play politics with our War in Iraq or our War on Terrorism," Edwards continued.

At a speech in California Monday, Kerry told a crowd, "You know, education -- if you make the most of it, you study hard and you do your homework and you make an effort to be smart, you can do well. If you don't, you get stuck in Iraq."

Representatives for Kerry said his comment was "mangled in delivery" and supposed to be a joke aimed at President Bush. An aide for Kerry said he was supposed to say, "I can't overstress the importance of a great education. Do you know where you end up if you don't study, if you aren't smart, if you're intellectually lazy? You end up getting us stuck in a war in Iraq."

At a speech on Tuesday, President Bush fired back. "The senator's suggestion that the men and women of our military are somehow uneducated is insulting and shameful," he said. "The men and women who serve in our all-volunteer armed forces are plenty smart and are serving because they are patriots -- and Senator Kerry owes them an apology."

The response was similiar from a number of high-ranking Republicans, including Arizona Senator John McCain and House Speaker Dennis Hastert.

But Kerry shot back at his critics. "If anyone thinks a veteran would criticize the more than 140,000 heroes serving in Iraq and not the president who got us stuck there, they're crazy," he said at a Tuesday speech. "No Democrat will be bullied by an administration that has a cut-and-run policy in Afghanistan and a stand-still-and-lose strategy in Iraq."

Information from CNN was used in this article.