ABC News' The Note: First Source for Political News

The BC04 camp finds itself in a bit of a quandary today, walking back a bit from Vice President Cheney's comments yesterday at a town hall meeting in Des Moines IA, that "[i]t's absolutely essential that eight weeks from today, on November 2nd, we make the right choice. Because if we make the wrong choice, then the danger is that we'll get hit again."

Cheney continued: "That we'll be hit in a way that will be devastating from the standpoint of the United States, and that we'll fall back into the pre-9/11 mind set if you will, that in fact these terrorist attacks are just criminal acts, and that we're not really at war."

The Vice President's initial remark is the strongest suggestion from the Bush-Cheney '04 ticket that a vote for John Kerry is the wrong choice that would make America less safe, a charge the Kerry/Edwards team strongly challenged.

Sen. Edwards responded: "Dick Cheney's scare tactics crossed the line today."

The Media Division of the Gang of 500 to a person found the Vice President's words way over the line.

ABC News' Karen Travers reports that aboard Air Force Two on the way back to Washington last night, Cheney spokeswoman Anne Womack explained the Vice President's remarks by saying, "Whoever is elected in November faces the prospect of another terrorist attack. The question is whether or not we have the right policies in place to best protect our country."

Womack said that the Vice President stands by his whole statement which provides the context for what he was saying about John Kerry's policies. Womack used the phrase "right policies" at least six times in a briefing that lasted less than five minutes.

"Both Vice President Cheney and the president Bush have both said that John Kerry has a fundamental misunderstanding of the war on terror," Womack said. "George Bush demonstrated over the past three and a half years that he will fight an aggressive war on terror. John Kerry's 20 year record in the Senate demonstrates vacillation and indecision so again the question is whether or not we're going to have policy in place that best protect America and that's what the Vice President was talking about."

When asked if Cheney was saying that electing Kerry will result in a terrorist attack, Womack repeated again "The Vice President is saying that we need to ensure the right policies are in place to protect America. That's the choice."

When asked specifically about Sen. Edwards' response, Womack declined to comment further.

ABC News' Jonathan Karl report other attempts by the Cheney camp continued to try to back Cheney's comments down last night, Noting that one top adviser said via e-mail, "AP overwrote. Bigtime."

Karl reports that another Cheney confidant told him, "It was not a calculated decision to make that statement." Cheney, according to this source, was simply going through his oft-repeated lines about the different views the president and Sen. Kerry have about the war on terror, and "It just came out a little different."

So, if the he had a chance to do it again, would he choose his words more carefully?

"Sure. If he had it to do over, he'd do it more clearly."

The Los Angeles Times' story on the to and fro over Vice President Cheney's remarks include Ann Womack's walkback while aboard Air Force Two. LINK

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