April 3, 2007

Kerry's Magic Veep

Jonathan Singer at MyDD published an interview with John Kerry today that has sent ripples through the blogosphere. In the interview, Kerry claimed that John McCain approached him about being Kerry's running mate in the 2004 election, contrary to a number of published reports at the time:

Jonathan Singer: There's a story in The Hill, I think on Tuesday, by Bob Cusack on the front page of the paper talking about how John McCain's people -- John Weaver -- had approached Tom Daschle and a New York Congressman, I don't remember his name, about switching parties. And I was wondering if you could talk a little bit about what your discussions were with him in 2004, how far it went, who approached whom... if there was any "there" there.

John Kerry: I don't know all the details of it. I know that Tom, from a conversation with him, was in conversation with a number of Republicans back then. It doesn't surprise me completely because his people similarly approached me to engage in a discussion about his potentially being on the ticket as Vice President. So his people were active -- let's put it that way.

Singer: Okay. And just to confirm, you said it, but this is something they approached you rather than...

Kerry: Absolutely correct. John Weaver of his shop... [JK aswers phone]

Jonathan notes that McCain's loyalty has long been questioned by Republicans, and this on top of The Hill story last week could doom his presidential bid. If the story was true, it would certainly put an end to McCain's leadership in the party -- and deservedly so. Jonathan is certainly correct in his analysis of the situation.

However, Jonathan gives far too much credit to Kerry for honesty. Kerry has a long track record as a fantasist. One only need recall the stories about Christmas in Cambodia and the Magic Hat to recall his sometimes distant relationship with reality. He has a habit of rearranging the truth to shine the best possible light on himself. McCain has many faults, but not this one, and one can expect more personal honesty from him than from his erstwhile running mate.

Matt Lewis interviewed John Weaver today about this subject, and Weaver categorically denies it -- and gives detail on why McCain rejected any notion of teaming with Kerry on a unity ticket, especially after Kerry offered to allow McCain to also act as the Defense Secretary:

According to Weaver and Salter, each time, McCain rejected the offers, and each time, the offer got sweeter.

As Salter told me, “In our minds (the offer to run the Defense Department and be VP) was constitutionally dubious.” Weaver described it as “beyond the pale.”

According to Weaver, Kerry personally called him, begging for McCain to change parties, saying it would, “change the country.” Weaver noted that it would be ridiculous for McCain to join the Kerry campaign because they disagreed on foreign policy.”

Kerry’s overtures did not end with approaching McCain. According to Salter, one night: “Kerry woke me up from bed, pleading with me to get McCain to change his mind.” Salter says that Kerry told him: ‘Everything is hypothetical, so that if I’m ever asked about this, I’ll have plausible deniability.” Salter says he answered: “Well then hypothetically, I don’t think it will work.”

That runs much closer to the reporting at the time, as Newsweek explained it in November 2004:

Kerry was too cautious, too set in his ways, to fundamentally change his speech patterns and delivery. But in one important area, he was willing—even desperate—to try something bold. He badly wanted Sen. John McCain to be his running mate. As far back as August 2003, Kerry had taken McCain to breakfast to sound him out: would the maverick Republican run on a unity ticket with Kerry? In the mid-'90s, the two Vietnam combat vets had forged a friendship, a brotherhood, while trying to calm down veterans groups obsessed over rumors about POWs and MIAs still alive in Vietnam. Kerry knew that McCain was still bitter over the dirty tricks played on him during the 2000 campaign by Bush mudslingers, who spread rumors that McCain had fathered a black child by a prostitute. Here was a chance for payback against Bush that would change history—not just a chance to get even, but much more grandly an opportunity to bridge the Red State/Blue State divide, break the Washington logjam and bring the country together.

McCain batted away the idea as not serious. But Kerry was intent, and after he wrapped up the nomination in March, he went back after McCain a half-dozen more times. "I can't say this is an offer because I've got to be able to deny it," Kerry told his friend. "But you've got to do this." To show just how sincere he was, he made an outlandish offer. If McCain said yes, he would expand the role of vice president to include secretary of Defense and the overall control of foreign policy. (The deal was reminiscent of the so-called co-presidency offered to Gerald Ford by Ronald Reagan at the 1980 Republican convention; the suggestion fell apart of its own weight.) McCain exclaimed, "You're out of your mind. I don't even know if it's constitutional, and it certainly wouldn't sell."

So why have the Democrats tried so hard to sell this notion? Jonathan Singer got a good scoop out of it, but one has to wonder why Kerry went to the blogs with this tale. If he wanted to tell the truth about this famous incident, he has a number of sympathetic media outlets to publicize it. Why not appear on Don Imus, or Bill Maher, or Chris Matthews? Keith Olbermann would have killed for the exclusive, and one has to believe that Katie Couric would have committed at least one of the other mortal sins. It could have reached millions and completely buried McCain.

I'm not a McCain supporter (although I'm still keeping all my options open), but this is hardly believable even it came from the best of sources -- and John Kerry absolutely does not qualify. This sounds like a contrived fantasy designed to work as a low-level smear against John McCain, perhaps intended to boost the fortunes of two has-beens like John Kerry and Tom Daschle.


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Here are a few posts from around the blogosphere that I found interesting: Captains Quarters has a couple of posts that should both be must reads.. The First is Kerry’s Magic Veep: Remember the rumors and speculation in 2004 about John McCain bec... [Read More]

Comments (16)

Posted by David2 [TypeKey Profile Page] | April 3, 2007 8:19 PM

McCain would make a lousy president but he doesn't deserve this. Kerry is just applying a little payback because McCain rejected him. Kerry is always looking for this kind of opportunity. Look what he did recently when that nomination for ambassador to somewhere came up. The guy had given some money to the Swift Boat Vets. Kerry showed up and starting quizing him about it. And the nomination was withdrawn.
What a lowlife. He is a despicable character. He would last about half a day as president taking the kind of heat Bush takes every moment. He would be so busy taking care of all the people who have mistreated him he would never get anything done. He's the only democrat even the democrats want to just go away.

Posted by Lew [TypeKey Profile Page] | April 3, 2007 8:28 PM

Somebody in the Democratic Consultancy Swamp thinks that John McCain is the Republican Party's strongest link to the political center, and that eliminating him from viability will severe that connection and leave that part of the spectrum to the Democrats. They grossly miscalculate and reveal themselves - as they always do!

Posted by Rod [TypeKey Profile Page] | April 3, 2007 8:32 PM

"...perhaps intended to boost the fortunes of two has-beens like John Kerry and Tom Daschle."
Or a third North Eastern candidate - Rudy, who was double digits behind Hill when he droped out late in the race in 2000. I am sure the Dems would love to see a Rudy - Billary race.

Posted by atmx [TypeKey Profile Page] | April 3, 2007 8:37 PM

That's a silly argument Rod. That was pre 9/11, and that is NYC, a state that I am not sure is even in play with Rudy. What Rudy would bring is some of the less militant NE states.

Posted by RBMN [TypeKey Profile Page] | April 3, 2007 8:54 PM

Kerry: "...and then Sen. McCain and I sneaked across the Mexican border, on a secret military mission, and John gave me this sombrero...."

Posted by Bill M [TypeKey Profile Page] | April 3, 2007 9:08 PM

Kerry: "...and then Sen. McCain and I sneaked across the Mexican border, on a secret military mission, and John gave me this sombrero...."

"...and I still have the hat........"

Yet another fantasy brought to you by John Kerry.

Jeez, if it was any other source, at least you'd have to think about it for about five seconds before you started to laugh. With Kerry as the source, no hesitation is necessary. It's absurd on the face of it.

I just cannot believe anyone takes anyhing John Kerry says seriously.

Posted by Bennett [TypeKey Profile Page] | April 3, 2007 9:57 PM

I have no idea who's zooming who here but I do know this. I don't care. The 2004 election is over (duh!). And John McCain, as I remember it, campaigned diligently for the Bush/Cheney ticket.

When the North Vietnamese offered to release John McCain from his Hanoi prison cell he declined because it would be a violation of the code (leaving before other officers who had been captured before him). He refused to dishonor himself or provide the enemy with this easy propaganda victory (his father being the head of the Pacific fleet as I remember it). I find it hard to believe that such a man considered switching parties so he could be John Kerry's wingman on the 2004 Democratic ticket.

I think John McCain is wrong about some things but he is not a fool.

Posted by coldoc [TypeKey Profile Page] | April 3, 2007 10:16 PM

And so the "Swift-Boating" of John McCain begins...

Posted by Rose [TypeKey Profile Page] | April 4, 2007 1:28 AM

Why should the DIMS want to smear McCain - who has done more for their cause???

They may be hoping their attack on him now, as he is ALREADY sliding down the polls, will cause a BACKLASH of GOP support for him, thinking if they have to lose to SOME GOP member, they'd rather have McCain than anyone else!

THAT makes more sense than taking McCain's word over the word of HIS RUNNING COMPADRES.

Remember, this is the same McCain who once said HANOI JOHN would make an excellent President!

As far as I am concerned, it doesn't matter which of them is telling the truth or lying - none of them come out smelling like anything more than the dirty rotten conniving skunks they have always been.

McCain included!

Posted by Adjoran [TypeKey Profile Page] | April 4, 2007 1:50 AM

Just look at the "accusers" for a minute: Daschle, Downey, Edwards, Kerry. Not an honest man among them.

However the statement "Kerry knew that McCain was still bitter over the dirty tricks played on him during the 2000 campaign by Bush mudslingers, who spread rumors that McCain had fathered a black child by a prostitute." is utterly false. ONE upstate fundamentalist preacher, his wife, daughter, and son-in-law made under 200 calls in their own "push poll." They had NO connection to the Bush campaign or the Republican Party in SC, and Bush immediately condemned the calls.

The whole brouhaha helped McCain a lot more than the few actual calls could have hurt him, but it was his own bald-faced lying in claiming his campaign was not engaging in negative attacks which cost him the SC primary after Bush produced a McCain campaign hit piece in the televised debate in response to the Senator's categorical denial.

This is a myth which just won't die.

Posted by Harleycon5 [TypeKey Profile Page] | April 4, 2007 6:53 AM

I am not a McCain supporter, but something just doesn't sit right about this story. Unless my memory is faulty, I never saw a time when McCain even seemed in the slightest way interested in running with John Kerry as a Dem. I mean if her were the one pursuing a run with Kerry, and Kerry was himself eager, then why would it not have been a done deal? Ceartainly Kerry did seem to be pursuing McCain.
I tend to think that this is indeed a Dem smear. I always knew that the Left's love affair with McCain would end with any real threat to a Democrat, but this seems pretty premature. Perhaps they feel that they will weaken anyone they can, to thin the pack. However, a weakened McCain could slide to number 3, replaced by Mitt Romney. And Romney is one of the Dem's worst nightmares, along with New Gingrich and Fred Thompson.

Posted by NoDonkey [TypeKey Profile Page] | April 4, 2007 7:30 AM

I wouldn't believe John Kerry if he told me he married his wife for her money.

Oh wait, I would believe that.

What is it with the Democrat Party that they seemingly have no one in it that is the least bit normal? The last two individuals they nominated for President are the kind of people who (if they weren't trust fund heirs) wander around with glassy eyes, carrying signs in Lafayette Park and shouting at strangers.

The only one of their Presidential candidates who seems the least bit normal, is Bill Richardson and he doesn't have a chance at getting the nomination.

Posted by patrick neid [TypeKey Profile Page] | April 4, 2007 7:30 AM

this is the first in a long line to follow as the dem slime machine oozes out completely bogus tales about everything republican. think dan rather on steroids. and yes, a large percentage of folks will lean towards believing them. the goebbels myth lives on--tell a big lie often enough and people will believe it.

Posted by rbj [TypeKey Profile Page] | April 4, 2007 8:10 AM

If Kerry told me that the sky was blue, I would still look up. Probably McCain has thought about switching or running as an independent -- no reason not to look at all your options. Still, I do not believe this story. And I would find it very hard to support John "No Free Speech" McCain.

I think the Dems feel he would be the most credible pro-war candidate, and want to sink him from the start.

Posted by Monkei [TypeKey Profile Page] | April 4, 2007 9:29 AM

I think the truth is probably somewhere in the middle ... from both John's, McCain and Kerry. There are two john's that definitely need to be flushed often and regularly,

I do find it funny that we call Kerry dishonest and don't believe him when week in and week out it is McCain who is losing his credibility and slipping further and further behind the liberal Rudy G.

Posted by capitano [TypeKey Profile Page] | April 4, 2007 11:28 AM

JFKerry is just upset that Al Gore has upstaged him in the I-can't-believe-that-guy-was-this-close-to- being-President Sweepstakes.