Clark told his senior staff that he had talked to Kerry and that he intended to back his former competitor. Clark never spoke to other Democratic hopefuls Sen. John Edwards and former Vermont Gov. Howie Dean.
Perhaps the most stung by Clark’s decision was his senior adviser Chris Lehane, who prior to joining Clark’s staff had briefly advised Kerry’s campaign.
Lehane is now the focus of a media whirlwind over negative stories about Kerry he is said to have spun to reporters over the past few weeks.
Clark’s staff was made up of a number former Bill Clinton adviser and campaign employees, many of whom were led to believe that Clark would stay in the race through Super Tuesday. “It was obvious he wasn’t going to win the nomination, but we were given every indication that he was going to stay in this. The timing is just surprising, that’s all,” says a now former Clark staffer.
Lehane was vocal in his opposition to Clark’s endorsement of Kerry, says the former Clark staffer. And some believed that the rumors about alleged Kerry extracurricular activity that hit the Internet on Thursday came from angry Clark staffers seeking to scuttle the endorsement.
In reality, though, stories about Kerry’s behavior behind closed doors appear to be coming off of Capitol Hill, where Kerry is probably known best.
“Everyone up here talks, and in the case of the stories that are now developing, we’ve known about this stuff for years. It was only a matter of time,” says one staffer for a Democratic Senator from a mid-Atlantic state. “Reporters have been feeding off this stuff for months up here.”