Skip to comments.John Kerry Plots Presidential Run
Posted on 05/07/2002 10:57:31 AM PDT by Teacup
WASHINGTON (AP) - Considering a run for the presidency, John Kerry is trying to assure voters that he's more than just another Democrat from the liberal state of Massachusetts.
He is a decorated Vietnam veteran, a former anti-war activist, a one-time prosecutor and a senator with what he calls an independent and balanced record in Congress.
Even as he lists his credentials, Kerry suggests the Massachusetts label isn't a problem. Fellow Massachusetts politician Michael Dukakis won the Democratic nomination in 1988, he said, and the last president from Massachusetts "was pretty well regarded."
Kerry whose middle name is Forbes happens to share the same initials and a background of heroic military service with that president, John Fitzgerald Kennedy.
In the four decades since Kennedy served, Democrats have turned to another part of the country the South to find winning presidential candidates.
Dukakis, a longtime associate and friend who served as governor when Kerry was Massachusetts' lieutenant governor, was soundly defeated 14 years ago by President Bush 's father.
Dukakis was pigeonholed as a northeastern liberal by aggressive Republican strategists that year. But Dukakis, now a political science professor at Northeastern University, said his background in heavily Democratic Massachusetts was not to blame. Instead, it was his decision "to blow off the Bush attack campaign."
Like other Democrats considering the 2004 presidential campaign, Kerry is careful to say he's focused now on doing his job as senator and on elections in 2002, when he is seeking re-election to what would be a fourth Senate term. He faces only nominal opposition.
He's more forthright than most about acknowledging he's also looking at 2004.
"My first priority is my re-election effort and respecting the voters in my state and doing my job," Kerry said in an interview. "But while I go out to various places in the country, which I do to raise money and to speak for fellow Democrats, I'm exploring the possibilities of a candidacy."
Kerry has shown his skills at raising money and has $3.2 million on hand in his Senate campaign account. He and his wife, Heinz foods heiress Teresa Heinz, consistently have said they don't plan to use personal money in his political campaigns.
Kerry was in South Carolina Friday to talk to Democrats and to test his appeal in a region crucial to the party's success in presidential races. George W. Bush swept the region in 2000.
South Carolina Democrats have moved their presidential primary to early February, closely following Iowa and New Hampshire as a key early test.
"The issues that matter to people in Massachusetts, matter to people in South Carolina," he said, mentioning affordable health care, quality education, a strong economy. He also says the nation needs to play more of a leadership role internationally, especially in the Middle East.
"What people care about is who you are, what you care about, and what you fight for," Kerry said.
Kerry says he has a balanced approach. He's opposed to the death penalty and a fierce advocate for the environment, but he also cites a record of fiscal conservatism, support for strong defense and backing for law enforcement.
The 58-year-old Kerry has worked closely with the centrist Democratic Leadership Council on a variety of issues over the years, said the council's founder and chief executive, Al From, a frequent advocate of moderate leadership for the party.
"He is going to have to define himself by his beliefs and ideas," From said. "He can't let his region define him."
Kerry frequently defines himself through his distinguished military service. He was awarded a Silver Star, three Purple Hearts and other honors for his service in Vietnam before returning home to fight for the war's end.
The former Navy officer appeared before Congress three decades ago and made the statement that gave him his first national prominence:
"How do you ask a man to be the last man to die in Vietnam? How do you ask a man to be the last man to die for a mistake?"
He said he's proud of his work with the Vietnam Veterans Against the War both to end the war and to improve veterans' benefits. He eventually quit that veterans' group to protest their widening political agenda, he says.
As Kerry considers his political future, he says his decision whether to run will hinge on the direction of the country, not whether 2000 Democratic nominee Al Gore decides to run or whether President Bush still has lofty support in the polls.
He admires the candor and plainspoken 2000 presidential campaign of close friend and fellow Vietnam veteran John McCain, a Republican senator from Arizona. Kerry says surviving hazardous military service "frees you to let the chips fall where they may."
"What are they going to do," he says, "send me to Vietnam?"
DOUBLE BARF !!
URP ! URP ! URP !
MEGA BARF ALERT!
I think he thinks, Hillary won't mind.
Kerry was Michael Dukakis' Lt. Governor during the "Massacheusetts Miracle". There is so much dirt on him it's not funny. See Howie Carr (WRKO - Boston and Boston Herald)
Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass. is interviewed by the Associated Press in his Capitol Hill office Tuesday, April 30, 2002, in Washington. Considering a run for the presidency, Kerry is trying to assure voters that he's more than just another Democrat from the liberal state of Massachusetts. (AP Photo/Terry Ashe)
HA! HA! HA! HA! "Honest! I'm not a liberal. I'm not a Ted Kennedy butt kisser, HONEST!"
Some Miracle! LOL,LOL.