Washington Prowler

Wearing Out His Unwelcome

Kerry bombs at WWII Memorial. Plus: The book on Clinton. GOP Senate race woes.

By 6.1.04

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KERRY CRASHES
Presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Sen. John Kerry was briefed by his campaign staff before Saturday's World War II memorial event last week, and they recommended that he not play up his presence at what was supposed to be a nonpartisan event.

But Kerry ignored the suggestions and insisted that his people be in full campaign mode for his appearance, which was the first time he shared the limelight with the President George Bush in such a public setting.

Kerry showed up with a larger retinue of staffers and hangers on than the president did, including several World War II veterans, one of whom served in the famous Easy Company of the 101st Airborne, who parachuted behind enemy lines on D-Day and who were immortalized in historian Stephen Ambrose's book, Band of Brothers. Kerry has since appropriated the nickname for his own small group of comrades from the Vietnam war.

"It was unseemly," says a major fundraiser for the memorial who was present on the dais with the president, his father, and other dignitaries. "The president and the White House went out of their way to make sure that the people this day was intended for didn't lose the spotlight. Then Kerry shows up with his film cameras and veterans groups and puts people out. It just didn't play well, as far as I'm concerned."

Kerry's behavior of late has been at the very least annoying some of his more vocal supporters. Two weeks ago, Sen. Edward Kennedy was overheard openly mocking Kerry for his highhanded manner in dealing with the senior senator from Massachusetts. Kennedy was said to be angered by Kerry's micromanaging of his scheduled appearances on behalf of the candidate. He was also embarrassed by Kerry's very public consideration of delaying the acceptance of the party nomination.

BOOKED
Former president Bill Clinton apparently plans on running up quite a tab on his upcoming junket in Chicago to promote his memoir due out later this month. Clinton will make the keynote address at the Book Expo convention there, speaking before thousands of independent booksellers, librarians, and publishing industry executives.

Clinton is using the release of his book to crisscross the country on publisher Alfred Knopf's dime to promote Democratic issues and the tout the candidacy of Sen. John Kerry. "We know there is a political aspect to his promotion schedule," says a Knopf public relations specialist. "But this is our biggest book of the year. He is going to sell a ton of books for us, and if he can help his party, then I guess everybody wins."

The American taxpayer is footing part of the tab for Secret Service security on the book tour, as well as advance work to secure various sites. Knopf is covering most of the other costs associated with what will be a six to eight week PR blitz.

ONE BRIGHT SPOT
Republicans remain hopeful and upbeat about former Rep. John Thune's Senate campaign against current Democratic leader Sen. Tom Daschle. Thune outraised Daschle in the latest reporting period, and the incumbent has failed to gain any appreciable distance between himself and Thune in the polls.

Thune's performance is one of the few bright spots for Republicans right now, where they continue to see ongoing soft numbers in such states as Florida (where there is a hotly contested Republican Senate primary), Illinois, North Carolina, Oklahoma, and Colorado, all states that are critical to GOP hopes to retaining the White House, as well as the Senate.

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