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Thursday, August 26, 2004

Politics: Dole Speaks Out 

Today at lunch I heard Laura Ingraham discussing Bob Dole's appearance on Scarborough Country last night, and I wanted to blog about it earlier, but just didn't get the chance.

You can't accuse me of being the biggest Bob Dole fan (though I do often regret not voting for him in 1996), but I agree with everything he says in this interview.

DOLE: I don’t know. I’m not out trying to stir up a lot of trouble.

Wolf Blitzer is a friend of mine on CNN. He’d asked me three weeks in a row to come on the program. I ducked him. I finally said, “OK, I’ll go.” I knew what he wanted to ask me.

But this is after we’d had somebody called Vice President Cheney a coward. They’ve called Bush “a deserter” that he was AWOL, that he’s condoned torture, that he’s condoned poisoning of pregnant women. I mean, all these nasty, nasty, over-the-top attacks.

And they spent $65 million trying to defame President Bush. I told John Kerry on the telephone the next day. I said, “John, President Bush is my guy. And when I see all the people dumping on him, and all the misstatements and—and untruths, it kind of riles me up a little.” So maybe I expressed that on Sunday.

SCARBOROUGH: So you spoke with John Kerry. Did he call you, or did you call him?

DOLE: He called me the next day and said “I’m very disappointed.”

I said, “Well, John, I’m disappointed, too, in all these undeserved attacks on President Bush. If you want to question Dick Cheney’s deferment, that’s fine. If you want to question the National Guard, that’s fine. But John, these other guys, these swift boat veterans are a lot of them that have a different view of what happened than you have, and they have a right to speak. We live in the United States of America. It’s a free country. You may not like what they say, but they have a right to say it.”

SCARBOROUGH: And what did Senator Kerry say to you in response?

DOLE: He said, “I haven’t spent one dime in my campaign on a negative ad.”

Well, he doesn’t have to. He’s got George Soros, who put in $15 million. He’s got Harold Ickes up there cranking out millions of dollars of ads. He’s got his former campaign manager in Boston in another group called Bringing America Together.

President Bush to his credit, and I wish John Kerry would follow suit, said, “Let’s stop all these so-called 527 ads, all these soft money ads that have been so critical. Let’s talk about the issues.”

And the American people, they like to know that you’re a veteran, or not a veteran—you know, they actually don’t like some of the negatives and all this. But they also like to know what’s going to happen next year, not what happened 30 or 35 years ago.
I'm tired of hearing about the swift boat ads. Dole is absolutely right that you can't criticize this group for their message, without criticizing the other side, which has used the 527 loophole to a much greater extent.

And the point remains that as long as Kerry continues to campaign on a single issue -- his Vietnam service -- then he's going to open himself up to these types of hits. There's a simple solution to fix all of this, but that would require formulating a real vision for leading the country. Kerry has yet to do that, and it doesn't look like he's planning on it.


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