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March 15, 2004

I DON'T BELIEVE THIS BACKTRACK by Boston Globe reporter Patrick Healy on the Kerry "Foreign Leaders" story:

"Listening to the audio recorder now, in the quiet of my house, I hear 'more leaders' and I am certain that 'more leaders' is what Senator Kerry said."

But if that's true, how do you explain this Kerry statement:

Kerry declined to name any leaders who have voiced support for his candidacy, but said it's clear to even casual observers of foreign policy issues that this country's standing has sagged internationally.

"I'm not going to betray a private conversation with anybody," he said Sunday. "I have heard from people, foreign leaders elsewhere in the world who don't appreciate the Bush administration and would love to see a change in the leadership of the United States."

Pressed on the campaign trail and by reporters to name the leaders, Kerry declined, although he said they were U.S. allies.

"I'm talking about people who were our friends nine months ago," said Kerry. "I'm talking about people who ought to be on our side in Iraq (news - web sites) and aren't because this administration has pushed them away."

(Emphasis added.) But Kerry wasn't talking about foreign leaders? Something sure sounds funny here.

UPDATE: Then there's this story, courtesy of Henry Hanks:

The Bush administration cast doubts on John Kerry's credibility Monday, strongly suggesting that the presumptive Democratic nominee lied when he said some foreign leaders privately backed his presidential bid. Kerry denied the White House's assertion, saying "I stand by my statement."

"I'm not making anything up at all," Kerry told The Associated Press. "They're just trying to change the subject.

(Emphasis added.) Looks like he's talking about foreign leaders to me. What's Healy about here?

MORE: Fritz Schranck is reminded of 1968.

And here's more:

"If Senator Kerry is going to say he has support from foreign leaders, then he needs to be straightforward with the American people and say who it is that he has spoken with and who it is that supports him," White House spokesman Scott McClellan told reporters on Monday.

If not, the spokesman added, "Then the only alternative is that he is making it up to attack the president of the United States."

Kerry refused on Sunday to name names. "No leader would obviously share a conversation if I started listing them," Kerry told reporters.

If Kerry hadn't said "foreign leaders," wouldn't he just be saying "Er, I said 'more leaders,' you know, not 'foreign leaders'?" I find Healy's claim very hard to understand.

Hugh Hewitt has some thoughts on why this issue is so damaging for Kerry.

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