May 10th, 2010
01:35 PM ET
12 years ago

Kerry endorses in PA despite spectre of 'swift boat' tactics

[cnn-photo-caption image= caption="Sen. John Kerry is endorsing his Senate colleague Arlen Specter for re-election."]Washington (CNN) – Sen. John Kerry, D-Massachusetts, used his endorsement Monday of Sen. Arlen Specter, D-Pennsylvania, to call for the retirement of the term "swift boat" from the political lexicon.

After Kerry's office released a statement praising Specter, who switched from the Republican Party a year ago, Kerry Press Secretary Whitney Smith confirmed to CNN that the Massachusetts Democrat was endorsing Specter.

"I want to insist on a reality check about my colleague, Arlen Specter. I have known Arlen for 25 years and I know his character and the quality of his service to Pennsylvania," Kerry said in a statement.

But Kerry also said that he would not serve as referee in a hostile Democratic primary battle in which the term "swift boat" has once again become an issue.

The Pennsylvania primary race between incumbent Sen. Arlen Specter and challenger Rep. Joe Sestak has become increasingly bitter in recent weeks, with both candidates slinging accusations as Election Day approaches. But Kerry's statement is likely a reference to the fallout from a political ad released in April, in which Specter questions Sestak's military record.

The Specter ad alleged that Sestak, a former three-star Navy Admiral, was "relieved of duty in the Navy for creating a poor command climate," a charge that in turn caused Sestak to accuse Specter of employing "swift boat" tactics.

The accusations have prompted Kerry, who was the target of the initial "swift boat" salvo during the 2004 presidential campaign, to weigh in on the race.

"I've been reluctant to get involved in a primary between two friends, and even more reluctant to be drawn into arbitrating the definition of the term Swiftboating." Kerry said in his statement.

But the carefully worded statement does not push back against Specter's original ad, or refer directly to Sestak's use of the term "swift boat." Instead Kerry calls for a general halt.

"I'd like to see us get to a better place in politics where the word Swiftboating is retired from the political vocabulary," said Kerry.

A recent poll indicates that Sestak, who once trailed Specter by a significant margin, is narrowing the gap in Pennsylvania's Democratic Senate nomination battle.

–CNN Senior Congressional Correspondent Dana Bash contributed to this report.

Filed under: 2010 • Arlen Specter • Joe Sestak • John Kerry • Pennsylvania • Popular Posts
soundoff (89 Responses)
  1. Allen in Hartwell GA

    On June 22, 2008, a group of Vietnam veterans who previously served with and now work with Kerry accepted the challenge and sent a 12-page letter β€” with a 42-page attachment of military records to support their case β€” to rebut several of the accusations of the Swift boat group.] Pickens has responded with a message stating "In reviewing your material, none of the information you provide speaks specifically to the issues contained in the ads,” he wrote, β€œand, as a result, does not qualify for the $1 million.
    Guess that if you don't mind lying no amount of evidence or facts will cause you to admit the truth about whether Obama was born in the USA or not.

    May 10, 2010 03:17 pm at 3:17 pm |
  2. FatSean

    So when a bunch of nuts make a crazy claim, you have to disprove their crazy claim or they are correct?

    I've got a dragon living in my house. It's invisible and can't be detected but I can communicate with it.

    Prove me wrong.

    Also, Kerry actually served in that terrible war...Bush never quite made it. That speaks volumes.

    May 10, 2010 03:18 pm at 3:18 pm |
  3. usualone

    Both candidates have terrible ads and fearfully I believe the Republican will win. One think I like about Senator Spector, he will look out for us on health issues and that is a big issue for certain.

    May 10, 2010 03:20 pm at 3:20 pm |
  4. Brian

    This thread exposes the precise problem with today's political climate. Who cares if Spector is a Democrat or a Republican? They should care what the man stands form then vote him in or out. The label should not matter.

    This is especially germane with the recent SCOTUS retirement of Justice Stevens. When he was nominated, he was universally regarded as a moderate conservative, and a clear Republican. Virtually any scholar will tell you that his written opinions have gone unchanged, over the decades. Yet today, he is considered one of the 4 liberal judges – the Liberal Lion, in fact. The characterization changed, The man did not. The same may well be true of Spector.

    Would I want Spector representing me? Possible. While our ideologies are not a match, he does seem to do well by this constituents. When people speak of a candidate as a Repub or Dem, they are doing the entire system an injustice.

    May 10, 2010 03:20 pm at 3:20 pm |
  5. capt snarky

    Jeez – what a pathetic, cheesy headline......not unlike the home town rag –

    "Fertile woman dies in Climax"

    Spector needs to be tossed out on his arse........

    May 10, 2010 03:23 pm at 3:23 pm |
  6. George in Jersey

    Hey John, did you ever disprove the claims the swiftboaters made about you? Did you ever collect the money that T. Boone Pickens offered up if you could prove them wrong?

    I believe the answer to those questions are NO. Lying hypocrite.

    Actually John Kerry offered to meet with him and prove it too T. Boone Pickens but Pickens then refused.

    May 10, 2010 03:25 pm at 3:25 pm |
  7. Chas in Iowa

    John, you better come up with a new term quick then cause you are going to see a lot, lot more of those types of tactics with the recent supreme court decision.

    May 10, 2010 03:31 pm at 3:31 pm |
  8. Stay Informed

    Actually, Kerry, and several sailors who served with him, did rebut Pickens' Swiftboat lies, and offered to donate the $1 million to charity. Pickens reneged on his deal. Lying hypocrite, as you say.

    May 10, 2010 03:31 pm at 3:31 pm |
  9. Rush

    "Kerry and his workers were offered $1M to factually refute anything put forth on television, in print, or any other media by the "Swift Boat Veterans for Truth".

    Not one item was ever factually refuted."

    Liar! They WERE refuted..they just wouldn't pay up!


    May 10, 2010 03:33 pm at 3:33 pm |
  10. Gary

    The current crop of politicians in congress have run up the deficit and spent money wildly (that includes republicans and democrats!). We need new blood in congress and I would encourage everyone to vote against Spector. There are reasonable candidates who are both republican and democratic who we can vote for to replace spector. We need to get responsible people in congress or we'll never get out of this cycle of economic disaster and corruption. VOTE NO TO SPECTOR!!!!

    May 10, 2010 03:34 pm at 3:34 pm |
  11. Rush

    Also, the Swiftboaters THEMSELVES were the final it's not like they had any intention of paying up. They have no honor.

    Get it?

    May 10, 2010 03:34 pm at 3:34 pm |
  12. Joe

    "i wonder if kerry thoght so much of arlen when he was a republican,,, dought it..."

    I doubt you can spell.

    May 10, 2010 03:35 pm at 3:35 pm |
  13. Honorsoldiers

    The Republicans smeared and dishonored an American hero when they started the "swift boat" lies. I see from some of the comments here there are still some people who are ignorant to that fact.

    May 10, 2010 03:35 pm at 3:35 pm |
  14. Matt

    @calcman10, motruth:

    Why would Kerry bother trying to disprove things to teabaggers like you? Go back to whining about how Obama's a Muslim socialist fascist communist liberal racist born in Kenya.

    May 10, 2010 03:37 pm at 3:37 pm |
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