updated 9/25/2004 11:25:08 AM ET 2004-09-25T15:25:08

House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi on Saturday called the war in Iraq a “grotesque mistake” that has not made the United States safer.

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Giving her party’s weekly radio address, the California congresswoman said President Bush’s decision to invade Iraq has siphoned resources and attention away from the broader war on terror and the hunt for Osama bin Laden.

“We would be much safer today if President Bush had kept his focus on al-Qaida, rather than diverting crucial resources from the war on terror in Afghanistan to a war of choice in Iraq,” she said, echoing recent comments by Democratic presidential nominee John Kerry.

“This war has been a grotesque mistake that has diminished our reputation in the world and has not made America safer,” she said.

On the same note, Kerry said Friday that Bush’s policies have “let Osama bin Laden slip away.”

Bush calls Iraq the front line in the war on terror and in his re-election campaign has cast himself as the more steady leader who would keep the country safer.

Elsewhere in her broadcast, Pelosi criticized congressional Republicans who have shown support for a new national sales tax, which she said would hurt the middle class.

“Wealthy corporate interests would get a windfall, and the middle class would get the bill,” she said.

Bush has said that in a second term he would work to simplify the federal income tax, and he and other Republicans insist it is Kerry who would increase Americans’ taxes.

House Speaker Dennis Hastert, R-Ill., called for a national sales tax or consumption-based tax in a recent book. But Bush’s suggestion this summer that a national sales tax is worth serious consideration drew a backlash from Democrats and many Republicans, and the idea was quickly discarded.

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