- The Washington Times - Monday, March 15, 2004

Kerry’s fib

John Kerry misrepresented his voting record on Cuba during a recent visit to Florida, the Miami Herald reports.

Here’s how reporter Peter Wallsten put it in a story published Sunday: “John Kerry had just pumped up a huge crowd in downtown West Palm Beach, promising to make the state a battleground for his quest to oust President Bush, when a local television journalist posed the question that any candidate with Florida ambitions should expect:

“What will you do about Cuba?

“As the presumptive Democratic nominee, Kerry was ready with the bravado appropriate for a challenger who knows that every answer carries magnified importance in the state that put President Bush into office by just 537 votes.

“‘I’m pretty tough on Castro, because I think he’s running one of the last vestiges of a Stalinist secret police government in the world,’ Kerry told WPLG-ABC 10 reporter Michael Putney. …”

“Then, reaching back eight years to one of the more significant efforts to toughen sanctions on the communist island, Kerry volunteered: ‘And I voted for the Helms-Burton legislation to be tough on companies that deal with him.’

“It seemed the correct answer in a year in which Democratic strategists think they can make a play for at least a portion of the important Cuban-American vote — as they did in 1996 when more than three in 10 backed President Clinton’s re-election after he signed the sanctions measure written by Sen. Jesse Helms and Rep. Dan Burton.

“There is only one problem: Kerry voted against it.

“Asked Friday to explain the discrepancy, Kerry aides said the senator cast one of the 22 nays that day in 1996 because he disagreed with some of the final technical aspects. But, said spokesman David Wade, Kerry supported the legislation in its purer form — and voted for it months earlier.”

Both sides now

John Kerry says he was opposed to and in favor of returning Elian Gonzalez to Cuba in 2000.

The presidential candidate took both sides of the issue when asked about the Clinton Justice Department sending the little boy back to Cuba, which angered Cuban-Americans and may have cost Al Gore the White House.

Here’s how Miami Herald reporter Peter Wallsten put it in a story published Sunday: “Asked in the Herald interview last year about sending Elian back to Cuba, Kerry was blunt: ‘I didn’t agree with that.’

“But when he was asked to elaborate, Kerry acknowledged that he agreed the boy should have been with his father [in Cuba].

“So what didn’t he agree with?

“‘I didn’t like the way they did it. I thought the process was butchered,’ he said.”

Those lying crooks

New York Times columnist William Safire says he was surprised that John Kerry would describe Republicans last week as “the most crooked, you know, lying group I’ve ever seen,” and then refuse to back away from the remark.

Mr. Safire wondered whether it was “wise for a candidate for president to characterize Republicans — tens of millions of American voters, including even veterans — as thieves and liars?”

“If his blunderbuss slander of Republicans as ‘the most crooked, you know, lying group’ had been merely the irritated effusion of an exhausted speaker, I reasoned, Kerry would take care of it gracefully. To make lemonade out of his lemon, all he would have to say was something like ‘I was speaking of the vicious GOP attack machine, not the legions of honest, truthful Republicans whose support I seek — especially those being outsourced by free-traitorous Benedict Arnold companies.’

“But then something revealing happened. Kerry chose not to brush it off easily. On the contrary, in full macho mode he declared to a news conference that ‘I have no intention whatsoever of apologizing for my remarks.’

“Obviously, the day after his overheard slander, the decision was made to strike a defiantly nonapologetic pose. Maybe Kerry-Kennedy-Soros masterminds in Boston passed the word to the candidate: Apologies are for wimps. Don’t even think of flip-flopping with an ‘I meant’ — on the contrary, ram ‘crooked and lying’ down Republican throats.”

Those lying crooks II

Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, New York Democrat, said Sunday that presumptive Democratic presidential nominee John Kerry was right when he branded Republicans as “the most crooked, you know, lying group I have ever seen.”

Calling Mr. Kerry’s comment “quite descriptive of reality,” Mrs. Clinton told an audience at Boston’s Kennedy Center that the senator from Massachusetts had been targeted by the same “vast right-wing conspiracy” that impeached her husband, Newsmax.com reports.

In quotes picked up by the Boston Herald, the former first lady urged Mr. Kerry to “counterpunch” with more attacks on President Bush.

“That’s important because that is the way that you convey the strength, to take on this particular network of forces that stand behind the president,” she said.

Jackson’s complaint

“U.S. Rep. Jesse L. Jackson Jr. blasted the media’s coverage of black lawmakers in a recent interview,” Robert Redding Jr. writes at www.reddingnewsreview.com.

“‘The media have ignored the [black] voice more often than not,’ the Illinois Democrat told the One Hundred Magazine. ‘Members of Congress are not covered as much as white politicians.’

“Jackson was referring to the lack of minority voices allowed on political talk shows to voice opposition against the Iraq war,” said Mr. Redding, who is also a reporter for The Washington Times.

“‘Our voices are loud, but why don’t you see [Rep.] Barbara Lee on “Meet the Press” or on ABC’s “This Week”?’Jackson asked.

“Jackson’s criticism of the media comes after the Rev. Al Sharpton, a Democrat running for president, said the media has treated him unfairly.

“‘I think we’ve seen some very blatant racial insensitivity in the coverage of this race so far,’ Sharpton told the Associated Press in August.”

Expecting a switch

“Some GOP insiders are predicting that Mayor [Michael R.] Bloomberg will revert to earlier form and switch back to the Democratic Party after this summer’s Republican National Convention,” the New York Post’s Fredric U. Dicker writes.

“While Bloomberg denies any plans to abandon the GOP, the insiders expect a switch because the mayor could easily lose a Republican primary next year and, most importantly, being a member of President Bush’s party isn’t exactly a major plus in New York City.”

Statistical tie

The latest Rasmussen Presidential Tracking Poll shows President Bush essentially tied with Sen. John Kerry, Massachusetts Democrat.

The survey of 1,500 likely voters nationwide conducted between March 12 and 14 has Mr. Bush ahead with 46 percent to Mr. Kerry’s 44 percent, a lead that falls within the poll’s margin of error of three percentage points.

The survey also showed Mr. Bush’s job-approval number at 53 percent.

Greg Pierce can be reached at 202/636-3285 or gpierce@washingtontimes.com.

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