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Monday, May 24, 2004

VandeHei Watch 4.24.04: Giving the GOP Ammo

VandeHei and Balz were on the front page of the Post yesterday with an article on how Kerry is trying to reach out to centrists and disaffected Republicans while also maintaining a liberal base. The reporting will probably help to further the impression on the right that Kerry is a flip-flopper without convictions, as if the rumblings over possibly not officially accepting the nomination at the convention weren't enough. Observe:

"'Don't judge me by the people who preceded me,'" Kerry told Nader, according to a Kerry aide who briefed reporters on the condition of anonymity. "'You may have had a disagreement with Bill Clinton, or Al Gore, or the Democratic leadership in Congress... but that's not me. I have fought with you, I have been with you on a range of issues.'"

Earlier this year, Kerry told audiences that on economic policy, he would follow in Clinton's tradition: "If you liked what Bill Clinton gave you in eight years, you'll love what John Kerry will give you in the first four."

What is more remarkable to many Democrats is how Kerry is catching little flak from the party's base even when he strays from liberal orthodoxy. Abortion rights groups, for example, defended Kerry this past week when he told the Associated Press he would consider nominating antiabortion judges. Even so, Kerry sent a clear message to the base hours later when he issued a statement saying he would never appoint an abortion rights opponent to the Supreme Court.

The abortion statement is something I covered last week, and it looks like a case of Kerry making contradictory statements. He tells the AP he's willing to consider anti-abortion judges if he's sure it won't lead to Roe being overturned, then he backtracks to his original pro-choice litmus test in a later clarifying statement. Of course, this is partly conjecture since the statement he gave to the AP was so damn convoluted to begin with. I suggested it for Slate's Kerryism of the Day, and today it was selected. Clearly, Saletan reads the blog.