Kerry gets caught in another “I voted for x before I voted against it” waffle, this time involving his stance against Castro:
John Kerry had just pumped up a huge crowd in downtown West Palm Beach, promising to make the state a battleground for his quest to oust President Bush, when a local television journalist posed the question that any candidate with Florida ambitions should expect:
What will you do about Cuba?
As the presumptive Democratic nominee, Kerry was ready with the bravado appropriate for a challenger who knows that every answer carries magnified importance in the state that put President Bush into office by just 537 votes.
”I’m pretty tough on Castro, because I think he’s running one of the last vestiges of a Stalinist secret police government in the world,” Kerry told WPLG-ABC 10 reporter Michael Putney in an interview to be aired at 11:30 this morning.
Then, reaching back eight years to one of the more significant efforts to toughen sanctions on the communist island, Kerry volunteered: “And I voted for the Helms-Burton legislation to be tough on companies that deal with him.”
It seemed the correct answer in a year in which Democratic strategists think they can make a play for at least a portion of the important Cuban-American vote — as they did in 1996 when more than three in 10 backed President Clinton’s reelection after he signed the sanctions measure written by Sen. Jesse Helms and Rep. Dan Burton.
There is only one problem: Kerry voted against it.
Asked Friday to explain the discrepancy, Kerry aides said the senator cast one of the 22 nays that day in 1996 because he disagreed with some of the final technical aspects. But, said spokesman David Wade, Kerry supported the legislation in its purer form — and voted for it months earlier.
The confusion illustrates a persistent problem for Kerry as Republicans exploit his 19-year voting history to paint the Massachusetts senator as a waffler on major foreign-affairs questions such as the Iraq war, Israel’s security barrier and intelligence funding.
You just can’t make stuff like this up. No wonder Kerry keeps wanting everyone to forget about those years between getting back from Vietnam and running for President – I’m sure he’s got plenty of waffles to go around…