DES MOINES, IA - Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry said the United States must change course in Iraq in order to "be stronger abroad."
"I believe that to be stronger abroad, we must in fact change our course in Iraq," said Kerry, who panned President George W. Bush's "unilateral" foreign policy.
"Even if we maintain the most powerful military on the world, we need some friends and allies on this earth," Kerry told supporters at a rally in this rural state.
"I will restore America's influence and respect," the Massachusetts senator said as he promised to reach out to the world community if he beats Bush, a Republican, in the November 2 presidential election.
"We can make America safer, we can make the world safer," Kerry said. "We need a president who understands how to do that."
"But you cannot do it by stating a unilateral position all of the time," said Kerry, who was making his first trip to Iowa since winning the state's Democratic caucuses January 19.
Kerry, a decorated Vietnam war veteran who was injured in battle, said "the troops who are in Iraq deserve the commander in chief who understands that this is not about pride."
Kerry touched on a controversy over an Internet site's publication of photographs of US soldiers' coffins draped in US flags.
Since 1991, the Pentagon has barred media from taking pictures of US soldiers' remains being transported.
The soldiers' pictures, Kerry said, should not be hidden and are useful "to understand their sacrifice they are making and to honour it.
"If they are good enough to go and fight, they are good enough to be received home with honours in America."