Kerry Fails to Back Up Foreign 'Endorsements'; Records Show No Trips Abroad since 2002

The Washington Times (Washington, DC), March 12, 2004 | Go to article overview

Kerry Fails to Back Up Foreign 'Endorsements'; Records Show No Trips Abroad since 2002


Byline: Charles Hurt and Stephen Dinan, THE WASHINGTON TIMES

Sen. John Kerry refuses to provide any information to support his assertion earlier this week that he has met with foreign leaders who beseeched him to prevail over President Bush in November's election.

The Massachusetts Democrat has made no official foreign trips since the start of last year, according to Senate records and his own published schedules. And an extensive review of Mr. Kerry's travel schedule domestically revealed only one opportunity for the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee to meet with foreign leaders here.

On Monday, Mr. Kerry told reporters in Florida that he'd met with foreign leaders who privately endorsed him.

"I've met with foreign leaders who can't go out and say this publicly," he said. "But, boy, they look at you and say: 'You've got to win this. You've got to beat this guy. We need a new policy.' Things like that."

Aides and supporters of Mr. Kerry have said providing names of the leaders or their countries would injure those nations' ongoing relations with the current Bush administration.

"In terms of who he's talked to, we're not going to discuss that," spokeswoman Stephanie Cutter said yesterday. "I know it would be helpful, but we're not going into that. His counsels are kept private."

Mr. Kerry has made other claims during the campaign and then refused to back them up, including statements that Mr. Bush delayed the deal with Libya to give up its weapons of mass destruction program for political reasons.

Republicans have begun calling Mr. Kerry the "international man of mystery," and said his statements go even beyond those of former Vice President Al Gore, who was besieged by stories that he lied or exaggerated throughout the 2000 presidential campaign.

"I think it's beyond that level. The results of this week, I think he's going to have a very serious credibility problem with the American people," said Rep. Deborah Pryce, Ohio Republican and chairman of the House Republican Conference.

The Kerry campaign declined to say where or when Mr. Kerry met with foreign leaders and discussed his presidential campaign, which officially began Sept. 2 last year. They refused to give any hints about the leaders such as what region, what continent or even which hemisphere they're from. The Kerry aides also have refused to say how many foreign leaders privately have endorsed their boss.

According to travel records kept by the Secretary of the Senate, Mr. Kerry's last official trip abroad was in early 2002 when he visited the United Kingdom, Jordan, Egypt and Israel. The only other trip noted in Senate records since that time is an October 2002 domestic trip to Charleston, S.C., to appear on MSNBC's Hardball program.

The Washington Times also scoured White House, State Department and other public records for all official trips made to the United States by foreign leaders since the start of last year. During more than 30 such trips, Mr. Kerry was out of town campaigning, at home or in the hospital for a prostate-cancer operation, according to his travel schedules from this year and last.

The only instance found when Mr. Kerry was in the same town as a foreign leader was Sept. 24, when New Zealand Foreign Minister Philip Goff was in Washington meeting with State Department officials. On that day, according to his schedule, Mr. Kerry received the endorsement of the International Association of Fire Fighters in Washington.

Meanwhile, Mr. Bush was in New York meeting with the leaders of Germany, India, Pakistan, Ghana and Mozambique on that same day.

Pressed about the lack of evidence for any such meetings, Ms. Cutter said world leaders are weary of Mr. Bush's "go-it-alone" handling of the war in Iraq.

"After September 11, we had an enormous amount of good will from around the world for helping us seek out who was responsible" for the terrorist attacks on New York and Washington, she said.

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