Kerry back-tracks after "joke" furor - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Kerry back-tracks after "joke" furor

November 1, 2006

Albany -- Senator John Kerry apologized Wednesday for making a statement he calls a "botched joke." It happened in California as the senator addressed a group of college students.

Critics say Kerry insulted American troops. Some Albany students say an apology is called for.

Senator Kerry insists he was criticizing the Bush Administration, not U. S. forces. With the national debate about when troops should pull out of Iraq, many feel Senator Kerry's comments just came at the wrong time.

At a campaign stop in California, Senator John Kerry says he was just making a joke when he said students should do well in school or the could end up "stuck in Iraq".

These Darton college students aren't laughing.

"I don't feel like politicians should joke about a matter like that," says Tocara Wilcox.

Some say the joke is un-patriotic and makes our troops look bad.

"What he's saying is all the solider's are dumb and lame. That's what he insinuated to me. There are people with college degrees in the military now," says Alonzo Chattmon.

"It's something that only certain Americans are qualified to do. It takes a lot of work, boot camp. Not very many people can do that," says Kara Maples.

President Bush said Kerry owes the nation an apology. Kerry, a decorated Vietnam War veteran, says he would never insult American troops.

Wednesday, he said he's sorry the joke went bad. Some folks say cut the senator some slack.

"I don't think he was actually meaning for them to take it as he said it. I really don't," says Kenneth Hunter.

"It's a free country, you can say whatever you want," says Anna Watson.

"He just shoulda used better words," Chattmon adds.

Kerry says his comment about getting "stuck in Iraq" was meant to criticize President Bush's failed policy in Iraq. He says he did not mean to imply that students could get stuck in Iraq if they didn't do well in college and joined the military.

The senator was planning to attend another campaign rally in Philadelphia Wednesday. He canceled making that appearance, saying he didn't want to be a "distraction."


Senator John Kerry unexpectedly called into the Imus in the Morning Show Wednesday On MSNBC.

Kerry spoke about comments he made at a campaign rally on Monday, when he
said, "You know, education, if you make the most of it, you study hard, you do
Your homework and you make an effort to be smart, you can do well. If you
don't, you get stuck in Iraq."

Several Democratic candidates joined Republicans in pushing for an apology from John Kerry for his remark that critics say was disrespectful of U.S. troops. Tennessee Senate candidate Harold Ford says Kerry "was wrong to say what he said," while Montana Senate candidate Jon Tester called the remarks "poorly worded and just plain stupid."

Wednesday Kerry said his comment was a botched joke, and called on the bush
Administration to apologize for their policy in Iraq.

  • Here is what was said on the Don Imus Show:


    "I'm not going to let these guys distort something completely out of its
    context solely for the purpose of avoiding responsibility, which is what
    they're doing. Look, everybody knows I botched a joke. It's not the first time
    anybody's done that, Don. Am I right?" said Kerry.

    (CROSSTALK)

    DON IMUS: ... The first time you've done it?

    KERRY: "Not the first time I've done it. But on the other hand, it's just a
    disgraceful thing when people try to assert that somebody like me, who has
    spent 35 years of my life fighting for veterans, standing up for veterans,
    fighting for their combat pay, fighting for Agent Orange recognition, fighting
    for their armor, fighting for their up-armored Hum Vees, fighting for them to
    have a strategy that wins, fighting to honor them that the notion that this
    comment was directed at them is an insult by these guys, and they know it. I
    mean, that's really the bottom line here."


    Kerry:


"This comment couldn't have been directed at them, because you can't get into
the military by doing badly in school. This was directed at the people who
didn't do their homework, didn't listen to history, didn't listen to their own
advice, and they owe the American people an apology. Now, I'm coming back to
Washington today so that I'm not a distraction, because I don't want to be a
distraction to these campaigns. And the point is simply: They owe America an
apology for this disaster in Iraq. And I hope they're going to provide it."



Kerry:


"Well, I did. I said it was a botched joke. Of course, I'm sorry about a
botched joke. You think I love botched jokes? I mean, it's pretty stupid. But
on the other hand, here's what's culpable and here's what's really
unconscionable: The White House knows it. They know I wasn't -- you
cannot get into the military today if you do badly in school. You can't do it.
It wouldn't make sense. What they're saying to people doesn't make sense
because it's an impossibility. But they've taken those words, just like they
take words all the time, and they distort them on purpose in order to distract
America from their policy. A hundred young Americans died last month.

These guys don't have a policy. Dick Cheney is saying that things are, you know, going fine in Iraq. They're sitting around pretending that they've got a
policy. And I think families ought to be far more outraged about the fact that
their kids don't have a state-of-the-art armor. They ought to be far more
outraged about the fact that they're still, years later, pursuing a strategy
that just doesn't work. And these guys owe America an apology. That's what
ought to be the issue."

 

About 4:30 Wednesday, the AP reported:
There's a new apology from John Kerry, directed at U.S. troops and others.
In a brief statement, Kerry apologizes to "any service member, family member or American who was offended" by remarks he made earlier this week, in which he suggested that those who don't do well in school could "get stuck in Iraq."

In the statement, Kerry says he sincerely regrets that his words
were, as he put it, "misinterpreted to imply anything negative
about those in uniform." In the statement, Kerry also attacks
President Bush for what he calls a "failed security policy."


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The AP contributed to this report