Democratic presidential candidate Sen. John Kerry says that alhough he always has opposed the death penalty, the Sept. 11 attacks made him realize that he would want to “blow Osama bin Laden’s brains out.” The Chicago Tribune says that Kerry excludes terrorists from his opposition to capital punishment.
Kerry’s opponents have tried to use the subject of capital punishment against him over the past two decades, to little effect. In 1988, Democratic presidential candidate and former Massachusetts Gov. Michael Dukakis suffered political damage when he said in a televised debate that he would not want to impose capital punishment even if his wife were raped and murdered. Bill Clinton favored the death penalty.
The Gallup Organization says that about 70 percent of Americans favor the death penalty. “The public likes the death penalty for psychological revenge reasons,” said Frank Newport, editor in chief of the Gallup Poll. “Kerry is out of sync with mainstream America on that, no question about it.”
President Bush’s campaign says Kerry’s position on the death penalty is just one more in a string of flip-flops. Kerry told the Tribune that he has not He said of the criticism: “I think it’s silly. It’s just not true, like many of the things that they say. I’ve never changed. If I was going to change, I would have changed entirely. But terrorism is war. And I have always understood the law of justifiable homicide in the context of war–self-defense.”