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Tuesday, February 07, 2023

The way to successfully end the war in Iraq is with intelligence gathering and law enforcement, said Sen. John Kerry on Monday.

"I believe before you take military action you ought to take diplomatic action to the greatest degree possible," said Kerry, who represents Massachusetts.

The Democrat and former presidential candidate spoke at a town hall forum at noon at the University Auditorium.

Close to 700 people were in the audience, said Steven Blank, chairman of Accent Speaker's Bureau. As an acting senator, Kerry spoke for free, Blank said.

Rodney Margol, a former Accent chairman who introduced Kerry when he spoke at UF 35 years ago, called the senator an "American patriot and hero."

There is a better way to make America stronger, Kerry said.

"The so-called war on terror is a public relations agenda," Kerry said.

Dennis Jett, dean of the International Center, moderated a discussion with Kerry after the speech.

In a slew of questions, Jett asked Kerry whether he would endorse any candidates for the 2008 presidential election while at the forum, his opinion of the Democratic and Republican parties and the upcoming presidential primaries.

"That's a lot of questions," Kerry responded. "I'm surprised you didn't ask me about Paris Hilton."

The audience later asked Kerry questions.

A student from SFCC asked how the U.S. can regain the world's trust. "I believe the next president, whoever he or she is, or whatever party, is going to have an unbelievable opportunity to change global dynamics," Kerry answered.

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Kerry was expected to speak at UF in March but said he had to reschedule because he "was stuck at The Swamp doing beers around the world." His senate agenda also interfered, he said.

The last question of the forum was interrupted when the student's microphone was cut off for use of profanity, and he was shot with a Taser gun and arrested by the University Police Department.

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