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Published: Saturday, 9/25/2004

Retired general leads charge for Kerry in Toledo

BY CHRISTOPHER D. KIRKPATRICK
BLADE STAFF WRITER
Kristen Breitweiser, center, and retired Lt. Gen. Claudia Kennedy, who campaigned with Sen. John Edwards on Iowa on Thursday, stumped in Toledo yesterday for the Democratic ticket. Kristen Breitweiser, center, and retired Lt. Gen. Claudia Kennedy, who campaigned with Sen. John Edwards on Iowa on Thursday, stumped in Toledo yesterday for the Democratic ticket.
CHARLIE NEIBERGALL / AP Enlarge

Retired Army Lt. Gen. Claudia Kennedy, the highest-ranking female officer ever, campaigned in Toledo yesterday for Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry.

"I think Bush/Cheney have run roughshod over our civil liberties. I'm angry about the loss of jobs, and 9/11," she said.

General Kennedy joined the Army in 1968 and rose to head of intelligence before retiring in 2000 after filing a sexual misconduct complaint the year before against another general.

The onetime CNN military analyst and author is traveling the country in support of Mr. Kerry and to speak about terrorism and against the war in Iraq.

The general and several other women, each touched by the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, traveled as a group across Ohio yesterday.

Campaigning with the general were widows Monica Gabrielle and Kristen Breitweiser, who became a national figure for her protests against government secrecy about the attacks. Their husbands were killed in the second World Trade Center tower to be hit. With them was April Gallop, a Pentagon worker who now uses a cane. She was injured in the attack on the Pentagon on her first day back from maternity leave.

The four spoke at Beaner's Gourmet Coffee, 420 Madison Ave.

The war in Iraq and its connection to terrorism has been a central issue for both sides.

President Bush, for his part, says Iraq worked with al-Qaeda members and says the world is safer because of his decision to invade.

The President says the economy has turned around under his leadership. He paints Mr. Kerry as waffling on the war because he voted for it and then later against additional funding, and as a politician fond of raising taxes.

The women were firmly against the war and were not waffling in their support of Mr. Kerry.

Ms. Breitweiser spoke with her husband just minutes before a plane crashed into the tower where he was working.

Minutes later, he would be dead, along with 2,973 others who perished that day at three sites: the trade center, the Pentagon, and a Pennsylvania field, where one of the hijacked planes crashed short of its target.

Ms. Breitweiser voted for President Bush in 2000 but said he has done little domestically to protect the country and too much internationally.

"I have a 5-year-old child who lost her father to terrorism, and my job is to make sure she has a safe and secure future. I think it's disturbing we went to Iraq. It had nothing to do with 9/11. It has made us more vulnerable to terrorism," she said.

After that fateful day in September, 2001, she was determined to find out why her husband died, she said. She was on the talk-show circuit.

"What's frustrating is my husband called me to tell me it wasn't his building and not to worry. He was told to stay in the building," she said.

"The emergency personnel knew before 9/11 that you couldn't get to the 94th floor for a rescue. There was an open stairwell, but that information never got to my husband."

Contact Christopher D. Kirkpatrick at: ckirkpatrick@theblade.com

or 419-724-6077.



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