MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) _ Democratic presidential contender John Edwards argued on Thursday that President Bush has made the nation less safe and the Republican candidates are trying to become ``a bigger, badder George Bush.''
Edwards' remarks came one day after he challenged the idea of a global war on terror, calling it an ideological doctrine advanced by the Bush administration that has strained the U.S. military and emboldened terrorists.
Bush told reporters Thursday that Edwards' view was naive.
A short time later, during an appearance in Montgomery, Ala., Edwards answered back: ``George Bush has made America less safe and less respected in the world. What we are seeing now in this campaign is John McCain, Rudy Giuliani and the other Republicans running for president of the United States are trying to be a bigger, badder George Bush. Is that really what America wants over the next four years?''
Edwards, who supports a timetable for withdrawing from Iraq, said he would keep the country safe by going ``after terrorists where they are.''
``There is an entire new generation of young people in the Islamic world sitting on the fence,'' he told reporters, and their status as adults ``depends on whether America can change this dynamic that George Bush has created that America is a bully, that we are selfish and that we don't care anything about what is happening in other parts of the world.''
At least one Republican presidential candidate, Mitt Romney, scoffed at Edwards' comments on the global war on terror.
``Remember that old Edmund Burke quote, it's a famous quote, 'The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.' And that, I am afraid is the boiled down version of what John Edwards said, is that good men should do nothing. Put their head in the sand and hope it all goes away,'' Romney told an audience in Jacksonville, Fla.
The Edwards campaign later issued a statement, saying: ``We don't need more political huffing and puffing, we need a smart strategy that uses American power to stop terrorists from hurting us and to stop people from becoming terrorists in the first place.''
Edwards was making his first campaign trip to Alabama since entering the race. He met privately with several prominent Democrats at the Alabama Education Association headquarters, including Lt. Gov. Jim Folsom Jr., and veteran civil rights lawyer Fred Gray of Tuskegee. He also attended a $1,000-per-person fundraising reception hosted by the plaintiff law firm of former Lt. Gov. Jere Beasley.
Alabama has moved its presidential primary to Feb. 5, an increasingly crowded date with about a dozen states planning to vote.