Washington Prowler

What’s To Like?

John Kerry’s main problem.

By 2.2.04

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Sen. John Kerry's campaign says their candidate has nothing to hide. They point out that Kerry's local paper, the Boston Globe, had recently printed a seven-part series that revealed everything embarrassing. "The man has been in the U.S. Senate for more than a decade," says a Kerry staffer on Capitol Hill. "We've seen all there is. The man is clean."

Perhaps. But despite all the fanfare and the seeming coronation as the Democratic Party's nominee, Kerry isn't very well liked.

"What you're going to see is more and more stories about Kerry is just reviled by his fellow Democratic Senators and by others," says a campaign staffer for Sen. John Edwards. "The man is genuinely disliked for just being a big phony."

As an example, the staffer pointed to the veterans from Vietnam Kerry has surrounded himself with. "Almost to a one, these guys have said that they had reached out to Kerry over the years and never heard back from him. Suddenly he's running for president and he's all hot and heavy to use them to his advantage."

Another example, Kerry's seeming total lack of interest in the legislative process of the Senate. Fellow candidate, former Vermont Gov. Howie Dean lambasted Kerry for not getting enough bills passed. Kerry countered that it wasn't the name on the bill that mattered, but getting what you wanted into the bill that passed. It isn't clear, even from some of Kerry's former Senate staff, that he did much of that.

"I remember when Kerry saw the writing on the wall for welfare reform back in 1996, he desperately tried to get his name connected to one of the reform packages or a Democratic alternative to it that was floating around," says a former staffer. "The problem was, it wasn't an issue he'd cared about, nor did he do any work on it. There wasn't a single Democrat in leadership that was going to give him a nod on the issue. The same goes for a raft of issues he now claims he played a key role shaping. The man just tries to ride other people's coattails."

Now, perhaps, he's looking to ride the biggest Democratic coattail around. According to a Kerry campaign volunteer, the campaign has been playing with a campaign button or bumper sticker that would play off the initials of the candidate.

The slogan? "A New Century. A New JFK."

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