WASHINGTON — House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi lashed out at President Bush on Thursday, saying his Iraq policies show incompetence and that the only conclusion to draw is that "the emperor has no clothes."
"I believe that the president's leadership and the actions taken in Iraq demonstrate an incompetence in terms of knowledge, judgment and experience," the San Francisco Democrat said at a Capitol Hill news conference.
Republicans swiftly responded by defending Bush and accusing Pelosi of crossing the line for political gain.
Marc Racicot, chairman of the Bush-Cheney campaign, described Pelosi's comments as a "reprehensible attempt to blame America for the actions of terrorists," and called on Sen. John F. Kerry (D-Mass.), the likely Democratic presidential nominee, to repudiate her remarks.
Democrats, including Kerry, have been critical of Bush's stewardship of Iraq, but Pelosi's comments were the strongest to date.
"When you decide to go to war you have to know what the consequences of your action are and how you can accomplish the mission," Pelosi said. "There was plenty of intelligence to say there would be chaos in Iraq following the fall of Baghdad."
House Speaker J. Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.) said, "If we followed Mrs. Pelosi's advice, Saddam Hussein would still terrorize the citizens of Iraq."