Sen. John F. Kerry yesterday plagiarized from a speech given by the man he so desperately seeks to be compared to.
On Thursday, at the conclusion of his speech in Seattle, Kerry said, “We do not have to live in fear or stand alone. We don’t have to be a lonely watchman on the walls of freedom.”
In a speech that his staff had billed as a “major” policy address, but which broke no new ground and read like Kerry’s stump speech, the watchman line is the most evocative and stands out.
But it turns out that Kerry — or his speechwriters — lifted it from a speech President John F. Kennedy was to give on the afternoon of November 22, 1963, at the Trade Mart in Dallas –on the day Kennedy was shot and killed on his way to the event.
The transcript of that speech includes this line: “We, in this country, in this generation, are — by destiny rather than by choice — the watchmen on the walls of world freedom.”
Kerry never attributed the line to Kennedy in his remarks, nor does the transcribed version of the Kerry’s speech.
“He’ll probably blame it on his speechwriters, the way he blames them for everything else,” says a former staffer for Wesley Clark.
IT’S BEEN AN INTERESTING time for Democratic speeches. On Wednesday, senior campaign staffers for Kerry were laughing at the draft text of former vice president Al Gore‘s remarks when he sent them to Kerry as a courtesy.
Gore had shared them, perhaps believing his rant against the Bush Administration would be viewed favorably.
“It was like “Oh, my God, what medication is he on,” says a political consultant who has been doing work for Kerry and formerly did work for Gore. “Then the Kerry folks realized the speech would actually help them. After Gore, anything Kerry said would seem downright substantive and moderate.”
Kerry’s Seattle speech, though, was neither. “He’s not going to get any more specific than he already has,” says a Kerry campaign staffer. “Especially on Iraq, what can he say? We’re not boxed in like the New York Times would have everyone believe. We’re just not going to set ourselves up to be held accountable.”
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