Washington Prowler

Kerry’s Last Stand

Sunday's the day. Plus: Uneasy Rider. Also: Edwards' starvation diet.

By 8.25.04

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BLOODY SUNDAY
Rumors floating around Washington mid-day Tuesday had the Kerry campaign reaching out to a couple of media outlets -- NBC's "Meet the Press" and CBS's "60 Minutes" -- to discuss a possible appearance by candidate John Kerry this coming Sunday.

A Democratic strategist outside the campaign said the thinking appeared to be to get the candidate out to speak about the mounting Swift Boat Veterans for Truth controversy before the Republican Convention.

"I don't know if they are thinking a full-blown mea culpa from Kerry, but that seems to be the way some people are thinking," says the strategist. "He wouldn't use the words 'I'm sorry' in speaking about his actions after Vietnam here at home. But he would seek to try to put this thing to rest."

Swift Veterans for Truth have pointed to Kerry's antiwar activities as a reason for their campaign. But they have also pointed to Kerry's use of a fancified military record.

Kerry appeared on "Meet the Press" earlier this year, and at the time made a statement that appeared to be an indirect apology to veterans he might have offended with his activities in 1970. During that appearance he said he might have allowed his anger and frustration to get the best of him. But he stopped short of making any formal apology or admission that he was wrong for taking such a public stance against the war.

Kerry advisers are said by some to be alarmed at how quickly the Swift Boat story has spun out of their control. Not only is campaign staff now furiously trying to keep up with the Swift Boat story, but there are mounting inquiries coming into the campaign about Kerry's Purple Heart awards and the citations for his two other medals, one of which was re-written and expanded by then-Secretary of the Navy John Lehman around 1986.

"As long as Kerry wouldn't be followed by a Swift Boater on the show my guess is that the campaign would like to try to get this thing dead and buried before the convention. The New York speech today [Tuesday] doesn't appear to have done much to help them," says the strategist.

HELL'S ANGEL
Could Sen. John Kerry be getting a bit shy around the media cameras?

In Boston on Monday preparing for his Cooper Union speech Tuesday in New York, Kerry was asked by the campaign to make one photo-op appearance for reporters camping out.

A ride on this bicycle was ruled out, but a photo of Kerry on his Harley might do the trick. (Kerry, by the way came by his Harley out of political expedience. Before he decided to run for President, his hog of choice was an Italian made Ducati.)

Cameramen and reporters gathered at the designated photo-op spot near the Charles River, but Kerry was a no-show. After riding his Harley for a block or so, aides say his heart wasn't in it and he returned home.

TWO DINERS
What is it with Sen. John Edwards and down home diners? Recall that several weeks ago, Edwards and advance staffers for the Kerry/Edwards ticket staged an "impromptu" appearance in an Arkansas BBQ joint.

Only problem was there were no customers for the candidate to meet and greet, so pool reporters willingly allowed themselves to be used as photo-op fodder.

On Monday, Edwards was in Wisconsin for several appearances, one of them being at the Delta Family Restaurant in Oshkosh. The plan was for Edwards to meet and speak with local types about healthcare and the economy.

One problem: no one at the event ordered a bit of food or drink for the event, leaving the diner -- a family-run restaurant that counts on people actually eating and buying things to survive -- flat for the day's take. Apparently attendees to the event were miffed, expecting they might be served free food for appearing with Edwards.

The vice-presidential candidate is said by some advance staffers to be frustrated with his role in the campaign. He has not been garnering the headlines or the national attention he expected, and has been pushing for more high profile appearances.

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