updated 2/15/2005 10:44:23 AM ET 2005-02-15T15:44:23

Former Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry, who lost decisively to President Bush in an election focused on national security, said Tuesday the country would be “far better off” with his proposals for Iraq and the military.

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“I think my security proposals for the country were smack on, dead on,” Kerry said. “I think that had they started to do the things I proposed on Iraq when I proposed them, we would be far better off today. And they are in fact now trying to do some of the things that I proposed.

The Massachusetts senator, meeting with defense reporters, discussed legislation he plans to introduce to permanently increase the size of the military and boost benefits for military families. It’s largely the same proposal that Kerry put forth during the campaign. Several similar proposals also are being floated in Congress.

Reflecting on the presidential campaign, Kerry said he had proposed “a far more effective way to make America safer.” And, he said, he was “way ahead of the curve” on several areas — like the position of an intelligence chief, the creation of the commission to investigate the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks and an increase in the military death gratuity — while “the president dragged his feet.”

“Americans accepted that I could be the commander in chief,” he said. “What they were unwilling to do was shift commanders in midstream.”

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