Senator John Kerry refused to apologize for his remarks telling a group of college students they could either work hard in school or “get stuck in Iraq.” CNN reports on President Bush’s response, “Even in the midst of a heated campaign season, there are still some things we should all be able to agree on, and one of the most important is that every one of our troops deserves our gratitude and respect.”

Kerry was unapologetic, “The White House’s attempt to distort my true statement is a remarkable testament to their abject failure in making America safe,” the Massachusetts senator said. “It’s a stunning statement about their willingness to reduce anything in America to raw politics.”

Former U.S. Senator Max Cleland defended Kerry, “John Kerry is a patriot who has fought tooth and nail for veterans ever since he came home from Vietnam. He has stood with his brothers in arms unlike this administration, which exploits our troops to make a political point and divide America,” Cleland said in a statment.

Kerry fired back in a pointed statement. “I’m not going to be lectured by a stuffed-suit White House mouthpiece standing behind a podium, or doughy Rush Limbaugh, who no doubt today will take a break from belittling Michael J. Fox’s Parkinson’s disease to start lying about me just as they have lied about Iraq.” He further criticized “Republican hacks who have never worn the uniform of our country.”

“If anyone owes the troops in the fields an apology, it is the president,” Kerry said.