Video: Kerry on 9/11 panel

updated 7/27/2004 8:18:33 PM ET 2004-07-28T00:18:33

On the eve of his arrival at the Democratic National Convention, John Kerry is calling for the Sept. 11 Commission to keep working beyond its end date of Aug. 26 to make sure its recommended reforms are put in place.

Speaking from the hometown of the world’s largest naval base, Kerry was playing up his experience in the Navy and his plan for military leadership.

“As president, I will never forget that our security and our strength begins with those brave men and women who wear the uniform as they stand watch somewhere in the world,” Kerry said. “And we should be grateful for their service.”

President Bush has a task force reviewing the Sept. 11 commission’s recommendations and may act within days on some of them, White House spokeswoman Claire Buchan said Monday with the vacationing president at his Texas ranch. She would not say which of the more than 40 recommendations Bush was likely to adopt or if he would make his own proposals.

Kerry has endorsed all of the commission’s recommendations and urged the president to act quickly on them.

The bipartisan Sept. 11 commission issued its final report on Thursday. Under legislation that Bush signed in March, the commission is to formally dissolve on Aug. 26.

The commission’s recommendations included creating a new intelligence center and Cabinet-level intelligence director. An intelligence-gathering center would bring a unified command to the more than dozen agencies that now collect and analyze intelligence.

Kerry spokeswoman Allison Dobson said Kerry would like the commission to keep working for the next 18 months or so, regularly assessing progress on its recommendations. She said Congress could extend the commission’s authority or perhaps it could get funding from a private source.

“Either way, obviously, the president would need to show leadership to make it happen,” Dobson said.

Kerry said the release of the commission’s report was not a time for politics, but at the same time criticized the president for delaying the commission’s work and said internal administration fighting had set back reforms that could improve national security.

Bush campaign spokesman Steve Schmidt said of Kerry’s response to the report, “I think a lot of people will be suspicious that he’s engaging in political gamesmanship.”

Kerry is not scheduled to arrive in Boston until Wednesday night. Kerry also plans to campaign in Philadelphia before reaching Boston. He is to accept the Democratic presidential nomination Thursday night.

On Monday, Kerry addressed a group at the Kennedy Space Center at Cape Canaveral, Fla., and, donning light green clean room attire, toured the Orbiter Processing Facility with Democratic Sens. Bill Nelson and Bob Graham of Fla., and former astronaut and Sen. John Glenn. in Florida.

The suits are required dress for anyone coming in proximity to the orbiter Discovery, currently being prepared for flight on the next Space Shuttle mission. Republicans were quick to distribute a photo of the event packaged with a 1988 photo of a helmeted Michael Dukakis in a tank that became a subject of ridicule.

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