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“It was really one of the episodes in American political history that seems to have the longest legs of any that I know of,” said Gordon Adams, who teaches foreign policy at American University. “Vietnam brings out really strong feuds and it still does particularly for a certain generation.”

While Mr. Adams said his personal view was that Mr. Kerry had “committed an entirely responsible act” in standing up against the war, others saw his actions as “a vile betrayal of America.”

“Those guys didn’t forget, so when the opportunity came 35 years later, they jumped on it because that anger is still sharp,” he said.

Democrats charged that the Swifties were being exploited by political operatives eager to profit monetarily from an election-year controversy. But group members and the political operatives themselves disputed that claim.

“It wasn’t born from money or from political operatives,” said Chris LaCivita, a Virginia-based consultant who helped organize the group’s public relations campaign along with a series of biting anti-Kerry television ads in 2004.

“They came to me,” Mr. LaCivita said. “It was a very organic movement that came together on its own from a network that had stuck together for 30 years.”

Adm. Hoffman said the short time frame of the confirmation process would make it “very difficult” to launch a major opposition campaign to the State Department nomination.

Still, he said that wasn’t the chief reason the group decided against taking a stand, saying members “really didn’t get into the financing of it.”

“With a website and all of the Twitter and all of that, we could probably get some movement going on,” he said.

“Certainly we’re not backing off any of our positions,” Adm. Hoffman added. “My opinion hasn’t changed that John Kerry is a cunning and habitual liar.”