Magazine article Newsweek

Politics: Why Kerry and Blair Have 'Scheduling Problems'

Magazine article Newsweek

Politics: Why Kerry and Blair Have 'Scheduling Problems'

Article excerpt

Byline: Richard Wolffe

After last month's flap about which foreign leaders support him, you'd think John Kerry would jump at the chance to get a few words of support from George W. Bush's closest ally. But when British Prime Minister Tony Blair tried to meet the Democratic presidential candidate this week, Kerry said he was just too busy.

Both sides insisted they wanted to meet the other and blamed scheduling difficulties. But the cool response from the Kerry campaign is an unusual twist in what should be an easy relationship. Both leaders are liberals at home and internationalists abroad. Both were lawyers in their early careers and both play the guitar in their downtime. Both have even shared an adviser in Bob Shrum, Kerry's media guru who helped Blair's team during its 2001 re-election.

So why the scheduling problems? "With the prime minister, every minute is accounted for and I'm sure that is absolutely the same when you are running for president of the United States," said one British official. But the problems seem easy to solve. Blair flies from his vacation in Bermuda to New York on Thursday--the same day Kerry leaves Manhattan, after a campaign stop with Hillary Clinton the day before.

Blair built a close personal and political bond with Bill Clinton, modeling his New Labour party on Clinton's New Democrats. The two men mused so much on the future of their parties that British officials openly fretted when George W. …

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