Bob Kerrey Apologizes To Obama Over Raising Muslim “Issue”

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.

UPDATE:

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.

Ann Althouse:

Do you need one more “mistake” to convince you that it’s a Clinton campaign strategy?

11 Comments

  1. 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.

    I disagree. This is an intra-Democratic Party slugfest for the party’s most passionate (the primary voters). What independent voters think now doesn’t really much matter since in most places this isn’t our horse race. Beyond for the commentariat who hand-wring over this kind of stuff, I’d be shocked if it’s more than a minor footnote in the campaign for the White House — especially come the general election, when no Democrat is going to vote for a Repub against Hillary just because of some Bob Kerrey innuendo.

  2. “no Democrat is going to vote for a Repub against Hillary just because of some Bob Kerrey innuendo.”

    I disagree. Lots of democratic supporters of Obama white and black are watching the slurs accumlate and are truly ashamed and horrified by our party for its silence. The Clinton campaign has gained a reputation as being racist — if not overtly so, its glaringly apparent they are spreading the disease behind the scenes and getting feckless surrogates to do their dirty work. On some african-american blogs I have read many comments that lead me to believe that Hillary will lose the black vote over this stuff, not only in the primary, but in the general if she is the nominee. I am still waiting for someone in the democratic establishment — AL GORE ARE YOU READING THIS? — to publically repudiate the Clinton campaign’s tactics and tell Hillary, that for the good of the party and the country that she needs to stop this disgusting behavior NOW. If it doesn’t happen and she is allowed to prevail by these means, this lifelong democrat will not vote for her, nor will I vote for any democrat that endorses her. Believe me — there will be a boycott.

  3. I can’t believe that I actually agree with Michelle Malkin.

  4. I’m not buying it — anybody who thinks we need a regime change without a political cultural change is whistlin’ Dixie….. Thanks for your posts on this.
    Nancy

  5. While I agree that this was an intended campaign slur, I don’t see that what the Clintons did via Bob Kerrey is any worse or better than Huckabee’s questioning whether Mormons believe that Christ is the devil’s brother, or conservative commentators mentioning Obama’s middle name constantly last fall, to tie him to Saddam. Its the nasty season. When caught in the act, the candidate just apologizes as though it never occurred to them that their remarks would spark any outrage. But, of course, by then the damage is done. But I don’t believe the Clintons are racists- that’s a bit extreme, and quite unfounded. They are just playing dirty pool, just like everyone else in the chase.

  6. No, Hillary isn’t racist. She’s attacking Obama because he’s her biggest obstacle. If Edwards were her major obstacle, she’d launch attacks against him too (i.e., she’d be calling him an “ambulance chaser”, or something of the sort).

  7. I can’t believe people can be so silly as to overreact like this, while failing to grasp the (obvious) essence at once:

    It was said. The damage has been done, even though the apology came later. The psychological seed has been planted.

    [sigh]

    Don’t be surprised if this becomes routine in the next several months.

  8. Ditto Ann Althouse.

    Wake me up when the Swift Boaters and the George Soros moneys arrive back on the scene.

    This grade school level of mudslinging is so ignorable.

  9. Bob Kerrey is just a pawn in the whole scheme of things. The Clintons announced early on that “the fun begins”. If Bill could walk the streets and be taken seriously after doing blowjob in the white house, the Clintons know that they can weather the backlash from the Kerrey comments overnite. The damage to the image of the opponents is done in such a way that the Clintons hands are kept clean, but the dirt is smeared by the surrogates. Hillary often talks about how the Clintons are experienced at warding off mud from the right wing conspiracy. If Hillary’s mom was running for the post in the place of Obama, still Hillary would use the same tactics she is using against Obama. That is how cold she is. It is all about herself, for herself. The only thing not about herself is when answering questions, throwing mud and taking the hit. Then she has the surrogates doing it for her.

  10. Hillary Clinton, by her dissasociation (transparent as it is), can claim the (poor, sweet, female) victim role if she’s criticized later in this election for whatever she has her goons say or do to the other candidates.

  11. Part of the problem is the word “madrassa”. It just means a school in a muslim country and can be religious or secular. But the damage will be done to Obama, regardless of how the word was intended– (not saying here that it wasn’t intended to give voters the impression that it was meant in the religious sense)

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