Join Date: Dec 2002
Location: Moses Lake, WA
Even Reuters is beginning to understand
What caught my eye was the headline and comment that Kerry is dodging the issue and just trying to censor the SBVT.
Kerry, Dodging Charges Over Vietnam, Returns Fire
Sun Aug 22,12:54 PM ET
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A veteran who has disputed Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry (news - web sites)'s Vietnam war record admitted on Sunday he did not have "a single document" to prove Kerry fabricated reports of enemy fire that won him two medals.
Van Odell, a member of the group Swift Boat Veterans for Truth that has spearheaded a campaign against Kerry's service record, said his was one of seven eye witness accounts and he was not being directed by the campaign of President Bush (news - web sites).
"Our message is our message and no one tells us what to say," Odell told "Fox News Sunday."
Odell said he had met with Republican strategist Merrie Spaeth, a public relations consultant to his group, and once bought a home from Bob Perry, a large Republican donor from Texas and close associate of Karl Rove, the president's chief political adviser.
He acknowledged he had no proof of his charge that then Navy Lt. Kerry, a Swift boat commander, fabricated the "after-action" report saying he faced enemy fire on March 13, 1969, for which he was awarded the Bronze Star and his third Purple Heart for being wounded while pulling a fellow soldier to safety.
"I do not have a single document," Odell said. "I have the fact that I wasn't wounded in that 5,000 meters of fire that he wrote about."
"There was no enemy fire from either bank," he added.
The assertion was another broadside in a debate that has been raging for weeks, and with at least one CBS poll showing the issue cutting into Kerry's support among veterans, the Massachusetts senator has accused the group of collaborating with the Bush campaign and demanded Bush repudiate the ads.
Democratic Sen. Carl Levin (news, bio, voting record) of Michigan added his voice to that of Republican Sen. John McCain (news, bio, voting record) of Arizona, a Vietnam veteran who has also unsuccessfully urged Bush to denounce the ads.
'CHARACTER ASSASSINATION' DECRIED
"The president should do the responsible thing and take that ad off," Levin told CBS's "Face the Nation."
Republican Sen. Pat Roberts (news, bio, voting record) of Kansas, chairman of the Senate intelligence committee, said that while the group had "every right" to express their opinion, "we ought to get out of the character assassination business."
Kerry says his Republican critics are trying to sabotage growing voter support for his strategy to fight the war on terror.
At a pair of fund-raisers outside New York late Saturday, Kerry renewed his call for Bush to pull the ads.
"We're at war," he said. "But this is a different kind of war from any kind of war we've fought before, and it's because in the last months they have seen me climbing in America's understanding that I know how to fight a smarter and more effective war, that's why they are trying to attack."
Kerry received the Bronze Star, a Silver Star and three Purple Hearts for his Vietnam service, which is central to his challenge to Bush. The two candidates have been running neck and neck in key polls.
Kerry on Friday asked the Federal Election Commission (news - web sites) to force the group to withdraw its ads.
The Bush campaign has denied any collaboration with Swift Boat Veterans for Truth and other such groups. Bush campaign manager Ken Mehlman, on NBC's "Meet the Press," played down the connection between the group and the campaign, including Rove.
"Karl Rove is friends with lots of different people," he said.
On Saturday, the Bush campaign said Ken Cordier, a Vietnam veteran who worked with it on veterans issues, would no longer do so after appearing in a Swift Boat Veterans for Truth commercial.
Bush spent the war in the United States serving in the Texas Air National Guard. Some Democrats accuse him of going absent without leave, citing gaps in his attendance record.
(Additional reporting by Carol Giacomo and Adam Entous)