Washington Prowler

Traveling Man

Kerry is dying to get to Madrid. Will it be another Florida fiasco? Also: Terry’s proud tower.

By 3.15.04

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THE GOING GETS CREEPY
Sen. John Kerry's presidential campaign reached out Monday morning to Spain's prime minister-elect, Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero, requesting the opportunity for the two men to meet.

Kerry, who has a vacation planned in the coming weeks, is said to be eager to travel and to meet some of the world leaders he claims support him.

"You're going to see him meet with some of the people he has built relationships with over the years," says a Kerry adviser in Washington. "This is a man who has always cared about international relations, and he knows some of these leaders better than the president does. The fact is many of the leaders of other countries in Europe, Asia, South and Central America, do not like our president. There is more of a cultural and intellectual affinity with Senator Kerry, and the American public is just beginning to see it."

Actually, what they were seeing was a candidate running away from yet another exaggeration of his record. Kerry over the weekend denied that he ever said that he had "met" foreign leaders who said they wanted him to win the presidency. Instead, he claimed he "spoke" to leaders. He refused to give any names, and made a fool of himself in front of an audience in Pennsylvania when he bullied a Republican the audience for even asking him about it.

Then, in a TV interview for a Florida TV station, Kerry, attempting to woo Cuban American voters there, said, "I'm pretty tough on Castro, because I think he's running one of the last vestiges of a Stalinist secret police government in the world. And I voted for the Helms-Burton legislation to be tough on companies that deal with him."

In fact, Kerry voted against it.

Advisers scrambled to defend Kerry's remarks, except that Kerry prior to the interview didn't even know how he voted on the issue. Instead, he used a one-sheet briefing document to bring him up to speed on his own record on Cuba.

"We're still working some of the kinks out of the campaign," says the Kerry adviser in Washington. "It's when he gets a little desperate, and wants to make a good impression that we end up with these gaffes. We're working on it."

THE NEW LUBYANKA
Chairman Terry McAuliffe will cut the ribbon next week on the DNC's new renovated and expanded office space in Washington, D.C. The space, which cost the DNC more than $25 million (costs would have been more, but about 40 percent of the work was performed by nonunion labor), features new radio and TV studios to further the party's propaganda efforts.

McAuliffe would like to have the new building bear his name, but donors and the DNC board have balked at that move until after seeing what happens in the 2004 election.

"Terry did great things for Bill Clinton, but he hasn't won a thing for the party since becoming chairman," says a DNC donor from Ohio. "He's got one last shot."

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