Doubts about Kerry lurk just beneath professions of respect. Some Democrats [at a recent party event] wonder how a nominee, particularly one who had warned opponents not to question his patriotism, could have been caught so flat-footed when the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth attacked his military record. Although most said they weren’t ruling Kerry out, they also stressed that 2008 is a whole new race, and said they planned on giving all the candidates a hard look before making any decisions.
When I asked Kerry about the concerns over his laggardly response to the Swift Boat mugging, the senator called that “a miscalculation,” but one he insisted shouldn’t disqualify him from being president. He also had this challenge for his skeptics: ‘‘Who would have come closer to beating a sitting president in time of war who had an enormous fear card to play?“
But the battle over Kerry’s wartime service continues, out of the limelight but in some ways more heatedly - because unlike then, Kerry has fully engaged in the fight. Only those on Kerry’s side, however, have gathered new evidence to support their case.
Swift boat message boards and anti-Kerry Web sites still boil with accusations that Kerry fabricated the military reports that led to his military decorations.
Kerry, accused even by Democrats of failing to respond to the charges during the campaign, is now fighting back hard. His supporters are compiling a dossier that they say will expose every one of the Swift boat group’s charges as a lie and put to rest any question about Kerry’s valor in combat.
Kerry has signed forms authorizing the Navy to release his record-something he resisted during the campaign-and hired a researcher to comb the naval archives in Washington for records that could pinpoint his whereabouts during dates of the incidents in dispute. Another former crew member has spent days at a time interviewing veterans to reconstruct every incident in question.
Some of Kerry’s friends and former Swift boat crew members made advertisements during the race to try to shoot down the group’s charges. But the campaign declined to air them widely because some strategists said that directly challenging the charges would legitimize them.
Of course, plenty of disappointed & angry Democrats would like to know why Kerry did not defend himself so strenuously before the election. Kerry and his defenders say that they did not have the extensive archival material, and that it was too complicated to gather in the rapid pace of a campaign. He was caught off guard, he says; he had been prepared to defend his antiwar activism, but he did not believe that anyone would challenge the facts behind his military awards.
The above quotations are from Speculation about the 2008 Presidential race.
Click here for other excerpts from Speculation about the 2008 Presidential race.
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