I didn’t mean to do it.
That’s the gist of former Nebraska Senator and Hillary Clinton supporter Bob Kerrey’s written apology to Democratic Senator Barack Obama for raising the issue of Obama’s Muslim background — an issue many believe is a) bogus b) raised to drive up Obama’s negatives.
Kerrey insists that was not the case but the fact is: whether it was by design or not, Kerrey managed to shove this issue into local, regional and national news cycles to get the attention of voters who are anti-Muslim:
Former Nebraska Sen. Bob Kerrey has apologized to Barack Obama for any unintentional insult he committed by raising the Democratic presidential candidate’s Muslim heritage while endorsing rival candidate Hillary Rodham Clinton.
Kerrey sent a letter to Obama on Wednesday, lauding the Illinois senator’s qualifications to be president and saying that he never meant to harm his candidacy. Kerrey told The Associated Press in a telephone interview that he sent the letter on his own and had not spoken to Clinton or her campaign about the comments he made Sunday in Iowa.
“What I found myself getting into in Iowa – and it was my own fault – it was the wrong moment to do it and it was insulting,” Kerrey told the AP. “I meant no disrespect at all.”
Obama spokesman Bill Burton said the senator accepted Kerrey’s apology, sent to the campaign in the mail and via e-mail.
But the damage is done. And in these days when voters increasingly can be assured that people in politics, who have been in politics or who are connected to political campaigns may have agendas beyond that which formally comes out of their mouths, some analysts will conclude: the damage (to Obama AND to Clinton’s campaign) is DONE:
–IF YOU TAKE HIM AT HIS WORD then Kerrey who has spent a lifetime in politics and knows how it works was naive in saying what he did to the Washington Post, coming on the heels of another Clinton bigwig in New Hampshire trying to get press coverage of Obama’s admitted youthful drug usage. If Kerrey is that naive, the Democrats should thank their lucky stars he never got their party’s Presidential nomination.
–IF YOU DON’T TAKE HIM AT HIS WORD then this is part of a pattern. He wound up apologizing, just as the official in New Hampshire did, after successfully injecting info and innuendo into the press and key news cycles. Even by sending out this letter he keeps the Muslim tie reference in the news. If the campaign had tried to raise the issue in a paid, unabashedly intentional ad, it would have faced a virtual firestorm.
In the end, only Kerrey will know what Kerrey really meant. But even if it helped Ms. Clinton with some voters, his comments are sure to leave a rancid taste in the mouth of many voters — particularly independent voters.
To some voters, the image of the Clintons as political victims is being replaced by the image of the Clintons as political predators.
If there’s another “mistake” by a major Clinton supporter, it will mean there is a clear-cut strategy to hit hot-button issues and drive up Obama’s negatives no matter what the risk is to the campaign.
Read our earlier post on the Kerrey comments HERE.
–Michelle Malkin doesn’t believe this was an error.
The hapless Hillary Clinton campaign strikes out again..Kerrey’s “apology” is as dunder-headed as his initial remarks were…He never meant to harm his candidacy? He “meant no disrespect at all?” He used the phrase “Islamic Manchurian candidate” and he “meant no disrespect?…”
–Comments From Left Field sees a pattern (read the entire post this is just excerpt):
The Mea Culpa: While it is important for the Clinton camp to let the story stew for a news cycle or two, she can’t afford to let it go unanswered for fear of looking as though she endorses the attacks. Thus a couple of days afterwards, after the initial attack was made, it’s time to start “damage control”. Apologies. Mark Penn tried to claim the kindergarten thing was a joke. Billy Shaheen quit the Clinton campaign, and Bob Kerrey apologizes to Obama.
The really clever part of the Mea Culpa phase of the pattern is that it reinvigorates the original attack against Obama, and then puts Clinton’s face right there as condemning the attack. It’s the best of both worlds, you get the negative out about your opponent, and you look like the good guy taking the higher road.
Here’s the only problem; I don’t think anyone’s really buying it.
Do you need one more “mistake” to convince you that it’s a Clinton campaign strategy?