- The Washington Times - Thursday, April 22, 2004

Sen. John Kerry’s interview Sunday on “Meet the Press” has become a source of ridicule among some Republicans this week, especially the presumptive Democratic presidential candidate’s insinuation he’s received endorsements from foreign leaders when dining in New York.

House Majority Leader Tom DeLay, Texas Republican, said he enjoyed it so much he taped it, put it in his archives and used it to kick off his weekly briefing with reporters.

“I don’t know where John Kerry eats, or what restaurants he attends in New York City,” Mr. DeLay said. “But I tell you, at the Taste of Texas restaurant — it’s this great steakhouse in Houston, Texas — the only foreign leader you meet there is called filet mignon.”

Asked by host Tim Russert about The Washington Times’ review of travel records for him and foreign leaders — which found only one instance where Mr. Kerry and a foreign leader were in the same town at the same time — Mr. Kerry laughed and provided a few hints about where he might have met with these foreign endorsers.

“What I said is true,” Mr. Kerry told Mr. Russert. “I stand by my statement.”

“I mean, you can go to New York City and you can be in a restaurant and you can meet a foreign leader,” Mr. Kerry said. “There are plenty of places to meet people without traveling abroad.”

Mr. Kerry declined to elaborate further out of concern for those supporters who still must deal with the current administration.

“I just want to make sure Senator Kerry understands that just because you go into an International House of Pancakes does not mean you are meeting with foreign leaders — unless of course you are referring to their Belgian waffles, stuffed French toast or German pancakes,” said Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart, Florida Republican.

“But at least he would feel comfortable, since IHOP flips pancakes as often as he flips on issues.”

Mr. Kerry became the brunt of jokes on late-night talk shows, and the Republican National Committee pilloried him as “the International Man of Mystery” after the Massachusetts senator claimed at a March 8 fund-raiser in Florida to have met with foreign leaders who privately endorsed him.

“I’ve been hearing it, I’ll tell you, the news, the coverage in other countries, the news in other places. I’ve met more leaders who can’t go out and say this publicly,” he said. “But, boy, they look at you and say: ‘You’ve got to win this. You’ve got to beat this guy. We need a new policy.’ Things like that.”

The Boston Globe pool reporter covering the event originally quoted Mr. Kerry as saying “foreign leaders” rather than “more” leaders. The Kerry campaign immediately used the misquote to dismiss the affair.

“He was misquoted,” spokeswoman Stephanie Cutter said at the height of the weeklong frenzy. “Had he not been misquoted, this wouldn’t be a story.”

But Mr. Kerry has never personally denied saying it and did not follow his campaign team’s denials in Sunday’s interview with Mr. Russert.

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