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Kerry Defends Democrats’ Wartime Service With A Passion

by Pamela Leavey

John Kerry has made it a personal mission to defend veterans who are running as Democrats in this year’s congressional mid-term elections from attacks by Republican’s and their pack of smear spreaders. “His efforts on behalf of veterans” Rick Klein of the Boston Globe says, “could leave him with a corps of fiercely loyal supporters in Congress,” if he does decide to run in ’08 and it very welll “could help erase memories of the “Swift Boat Veterans for Truth” attacks that he acknowledges he let stand for too long.”

Last week when the the military record of a Democratic House candidate Patrick Murphy. Kerry was swift to venture into the Phily suburbs to defend him…

Attacking Patrick Murphy for his service is a little bit like Jessica Simpson attacking Albert Einstein’s IQ,” the Massachusetts Democrat proclaimed Thursday at a chilly outdoor rally at Bucks County Community College.

“A lot of these people in the GOP, the Republican Party — they think somehow that they served because they played with GI dolls when they were little,” Kerry said. “The guys who really served understand what it means, and we’ve had enough of these lies.”

Whether Kerry runs again remains to be seen, but it has not gone unnoticed that he’s made a lot of changes since ’04. Right now he’s focused on one thing and only one thing however — “his work on behalf of congressional candidates — including 15 veterans who are running for House and Senate seats.”

After the 2004 campaign, he said, he vowed to use his political celebrity and campaign infrastructure to help Democrats win control of Congress.

Last week, he sent another $500,000 to the Democrats’ House and Senate campaign arms, on top of the more than $11 million he had already raised or given to candidates for Congress.

Sure the “2008 overtones of his efforts are unmistakable,” as Rick Klein notes — but we’re still focused on one thing right now – the ’06 mid-terms. And each day he’s on the campaign trail for Democratic candidates, Kerry shows a passion that is unmistakable as anything but ensuring that Democrats will clean house a week from Tuesday.

His stump speech is “notably more liberal,” Klein says and it has “evolved into a concise recitation of longstanding Democratic priorities: energy independence, universal healthcare for children, even an assertion that President Bush was “selected” over Al Gore in 2000.”

After a campaign in which he struggled to articulate his differences with the president on Iraq, he has become a full-throated war critic, calling for the United States to set a deadline of July 2007 to remove nearly all combat troops from the country.

“The war in Iraq is not making America safer. It’s making America more exposed,” Kerry said in Newtown. “What you have in Washington today is a house of lies, and we need to sweep that house clean.”

Earlier in the year, Republican pollster Frank Luntz conducted some focus groups in New Hampshire and Iowa, where he “showed clips of the latest campaign-style appearances of nine Democrats who are thinking about running for president.” Kerry, Luntz said, “came across as the best of the bunch, except for lingering resentment that he had not displayed the same fire two years ago.”

John Kerry’s a new guy, a new man, a new candidate,” he said. “He’s got an agenda, he’s got passion. He’s an articulate critic of the administration. Their only complaint is, ‘Why didn’t he say these things two years ago?’ The response is, ‘Wow, that’s not the John Kerry I remember.’ It’s a challenge for him to show that he should have a second chance.”

Kerry now talks regularly of mistakes he made in the presidential campaign. He was never clear enough in communicating his message on Iraq, he says. He mocks Republican flip-floppers for supporting issues before they were against them, in self-defacing homage to his infamous statement that he voted for a war-funding bill before voting against it.

He said he realizes now that he should have used television advertisements to push back at the Swift boat group, whose claims of Kerry’s war-service exaggerations were rebutted by most of those who served alongside him.

“Until they get bitten for doing it, they’ll try to do it, and that’s why we have to fight back so hard,” Kerry said in the interview. “I just am tired of these guys. They’re a bunch of frauds. They’re bullies.”

We’re all tired of the bullies, Senator — so just keep doing what you’re doing and keep that fire and that passion revved up to full throttle. After the Newtown, PA event, Kerry “stopped by another Philadelphia suburb to appear on behalf of Joseph A. Sestak, the Democrat candidate who is taking on Republican Representative Curt Weldon,” and there, he “got the kind of advice that he gets all the time these days.”

If you do run for president — and I do hope you do — fight like hell,” one person at the fund-raiser told him.

“I’m in a fighting mood,” Kerry responded. “We — together — lost to two lies: the lie about the war in Iraq, and the lie about me personally. And if you don’t think that puts me in a fighting mood, you don’t know John Kerry.”

I’ve seen that fighting mood up close and personal a few times in recent months, including today here in Los Angeles when Kerry was on the stump for Phil Angelides (more on that to come). He’s a man on fire and Republican bullies and their ilke had best slither back where they came from — we (the big “D”emocrats) won’t be taking their crap any more.

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