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. Bob in PA

    Swiftboating ? I thought only Republicans were capable of such a horrendous attack.

    Anyway, I thought the only skeletons in Arlens closet were just his poor voting record and personal greed for power. Are you saying we should dig deeper Mr. Kerry ?

    May 10, 2010 12:04 pm at 12:04 pm |
  2. Monrob

    . . . that's why he didn't win over Idiot Bush. He is just stupid.

    May 10, 2010 12:05 pm at 12:05 pm |
  3. Bob Dog

    Was John Kerry "swiftboated," or "Karl Roved?"

    Either way, the way he was treated in 2004 was ugly, and I'm surprised Mr. Kerry didn't have conditions from Mr. Specter, before endorsing him.

    Mr. Kerry should be a little less nice.

    May 10, 2010 12:11 pm at 12:11 pm |
  4. Mary H. Secor

    It seems to me that the Court will benefit from having a person of great skill and knowledge on the bench. She has a most amazing background, is extremely intelligent, was highly regarded at Harvard and by the Harvard Law Review. As a woman, I am very pleased by the President's choice.

    May 10, 2010 12:14 pm at 12:14 pm |
  5. Steve- Illinois

    The best ad in this race should merely say, "Anybody but Specter!!!"
    This guy cares about nothing more than getting himself reelected. If 2012 looks like it will be better for Republicans than Dems, Specter will suddenly be born again as a Republican.
    These career politicians have to go!!!

    May 10, 2010 12:16 pm at 12:16 pm |
  6. gt

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

    May 10, 2010 12:17 pm at 12:17 pm |
  7. Chessnutz of Liverpool NY

    These crooks have no shame, both of these Senators need to FIRED!
    Vote Congress out, “you are fired” if they are in. Vote them out this fall no matter what party they belong to, and in the next election and every election going forward until they become the servants of the people once more.
    This November tell Congress "You Are Fired!"

    May 10, 2010 12:24 pm at 12:24 pm |
  8. marcus (seattle)

    every democrat who endorses arlan spector, loses my respect.. how on earth can we respect you for endorsing a man whose sole political ambition is to stay in politics.. spector was a proud republican.. let him leave a proud republican.. it is definitely time for some fresh, true democratic blood in the senate, and spector does NOT represent that.. dems are costing themselves a lot of votes by these spineless actions..

    May 10, 2010 12:30 pm at 12:30 pm |
  9. Glennis

    I don't like either Sestak or Specter, but if I were going to vote for either, it sure in heck wouldn't be that self-serving, useless hack Specter. That cat has used up all his nine political lives.

    May 10, 2010 12:36 pm at 12:36 pm |
  10. Lets expose Rush Limbaughs staff.

    Lets hope Spector takes a swiftboat to his own country soon.

    May 10, 2010 12:36 pm at 12:36 pm |
  11. calcman10

    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.

    As for Arlen, I go back to your citation of Scotish law during the impeachment hearings. You had no backbone then, and you have only reaffirmed that recently.

    May 10, 2010 12:38 pm at 12:38 pm |
  12. motruth

    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.

    "Swiftboating" may be used as a derogative term, but in the case of "reporting for duty Kerry", it meant laying bare the facts of his military service and his subsequent false testimony before the US Senate upon his leaving the military.

    May 10, 2010 12:43 pm at 12:43 pm |
  13. A Kickin' Donkey

    Retire the tactics not the term. Shame on Kerry

    May 10, 2010 12:58 pm at 12:58 pm |
  14. sonny chapman

    Hey motruth–dispute this: John Kerry's service in Vietnam was more "honorable" than George W. & Cheney's.

    May 10, 2010 01:07 pm at 1:07 pm |
  15. PA Democrat

    As a PA democratic voter (which most of you on here aren't so your opinions really don't matter), I'm kinda surprised how quickly all these Democrats are falling in line with Arlen Specter. Did they forget that this man was Republican just 1-2 years ago? Who's to say he doesn't jump ship back if that serves his best interests better? Don't get me wrong though I'll vote for Specter if he wins the Democratic nomination, but I hope that's not the case.

    VOTE JOE SESTAK ... the real Democrat in the race

    May 10, 2010 01:38 pm at 1:38 pm |
  16. ProudRepub

    Face it Specter is headed out to the pasture!

    May 10, 2010 01:38 pm at 1:38 pm |
  17. ME

    Loser backing a loser!

    May 10, 2010 01:38 pm at 1:38 pm |
  18. Chipster

    I will not vote out every incumbent, simply because they are an incumbent. That's a lazy person's voting method. I will be informed on the issues and vote for the person I believe is the better candidate. Voting good people out of office to avoid doing your homework is irresponsible.

    Sen. Kerry, I'm sorry you chose to support Sen. Specter. He is not a Democrat and, although his record is quite good on women's issues, he has done great harm to our nation by support the Bush Administration's disastrous policies.

    May 10, 2010 01:47 pm at 1:47 pm |
  19. jim

    The Departmant of the Navy awarded this man a Silver Star. If you have a problem with that, take it up with the pentagon. Otherwise, quit smearing a combat vet.

    May 10, 2010 01:49 pm at 1:49 pm |
  20. Bubba

    They do stuff like that because it works. People want to be told a story, not shown facts. "Kerry is an evil man" is a better story than "He's a bore whose wife is in ketchup."

    May 10, 2010 01:51 pm at 1:51 pm |
  21. Get A Grip

    No surprise here, now is there.

    May 10, 2010 01:54 pm at 1:54 pm |
  22. DaveM

    Not only should the term "swift boating" be retired, but also the practice. It represents politics at its worst, where character assasination becomes more important that stances on real facts and policy. I will vote against anyone who practices this political shooting gallery...

    May 10, 2010 01:55 pm at 1:55 pm |
  23. ac

    Look who is talking?
    What a nerve.

    May 10, 2010 01:55 pm at 1:55 pm |
  24. Ryan

    What a complete incompetent Loser that guy is. Say what you want about Bush and the left said plenty, but I will take him 8 days a week over this guy.

    May 10, 2010 01:56 pm at 1:56 pm |
  25. Dave Harris

    Why not just call it what it is, lying? Republicans will lie to destroy someone's reputation, lie to perpetrate some self-serving fraud, lie because it's so easy for them to lie, lie for no reason at all. We never needed a new word for it, the old one is just fine.

    May 10, 2010 01:57 pm at 1:57 pm |
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