Bush admits making Iraq mistake.
In a six-day tour of battleground states ahead of the Republican National Convention, Bush wants to demonstrate his ambition to reach beyond his conservative base and appeal to undecided voters.
In doing so, he is advancing the argument that the country will be safer with him in charge because he makes the tough decisions and sticks with them.
In an interview with The New York Times, Bush said for the first time that he made a 'miscalculation of what the conditions would be' after US troops went to Iraq and toppled the regime of President Saddam Hussein in May 2003.
The insurgency, he maintained, was the unintended result of a 'swift victory' that led to Iraqi troops disappearing into the cities and mounting a rebellion.
Separately, he said he did not believe Kerry had lied about his service in Vietnam.
The group Swift Boat Veterans for Truth has aired advertisements challenging Kerry's account of his service, and claiming Kerry lied about circumstances surrounding his war medals. Kerry has accused Bush of using the group as a front to run a smear campaign.
'I think Senator Kerry should be proud of his record,' Bush said. 'No, I don't think he lied.'
The president carries his message about the war in Iraq and the other big issue in the campaign, the economy, to seven states before the convention.
Ohio, with its spotty economic recovery, is such an important part of his re-election strategy that he is visiting it twice between now and his arrival in New York City.
After several Midwestern campaign stops through until Wednesday, Bush will head east for New York.
He will speak at the convention on Thursday night and then go back to the campaign trail.