Candidates on the Issues: Homeland Security

Parties at Odds over Defense Against Terrorist Attacks

A Coast Guard patrol monitors container ships at the Los Angeles and Long Beach port complex.

hide captionA Coast Guard patrol monitors container ships at the Los Angeles and Long Beach port complex, one of the nation's busiest harbors.

Reuters/Corbis
A Coast Guard patrol monitors container ships at the Los Angeles and Long Beach port complex.

hide captionA Coast Guard patrol monitors container ships at the Los Angeles and Long Beach port complex, one of the nation's busiest harbors.

Reuters/Corbis

One of the larger questions hanging over the presidential election is whether the country is safer from another terrorist attack because of steps the Bush administration has taken since Sept. 11. NPR'S Pam Fessler reports it's an issue that President Bush and Democratic Senator John Kerry have only begun to debate.

The Candidates on Homeland Security
ListenPresident Bush on Changes Made (from a March 2, 2004 speech in Washington, D.C.)

ListenBush on Air Security (from a March 2, 2004 speech in Washington, D.C.)

ListenBush on Protecting Infrastructure (from a March 2, 2004 speech in Washington, D.C.)



ListenSen. Kerry on Lack of Homeland Preparedness (from March 15, 2004 remarks made in Washington, D.C.)

ListenKerry on Lack of Port Security (from a Dec. 17, 2003 speech in Portsmouth, N.H.)

ListenKerry's Priorities (from March 15, 2004 remarks made in Washington, D.C.)

Democrats say that more money needs to be spent to equip and train fire, police and emergency workers who might be the first to respond to a terrorist attack. And they criticize the White House for not acting more aggressively to protect such facilities as ports and chemical plants.

On a tour of an operations center at the Homeland Security Department last week, Vice President Dick Cheney defended the administration's measures. He cited a tripling in the Homeland Security budget to $30 billion, saying "The terrorist threat to America remains. That's why the president and I will continue working to do everything we can to improve the government's capability to protect the American people."

But it's a dicey political issue. Barring another attack, no one really knows how safe the country is, says Fessler.

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