In an interview this morning, Sen. John Kerry dismissed allegations of infidelity published yesterday by the Drudge Report.
Sen. John Kerry (Photo: Boston Globe)
Radio talk-show host Don Imus, who has endorsed Kerry for the Democratic presidential nomination, asked the Massachusetts senator if anything in the Drudge allegations or in his past should cause him to withdraw support.
“Well, there is nothing to report,” said Kerry on the “Imus in the Morning” show. “So there is nothing to talk about. I’m not worried about it. No.”
Yesterday, Drudge reported several major news outlets are engaged in a serious investigation of Kerry’s relationship with a former Associated Press reporter.
The AP, Time magazine, ABC News and the Washington Post have been working on a story about a woman who began a two-year relationship with the Massachusetts senator in the spring of 2001, Drudge said.
The woman reportedly was approached by a top news reporter, prompting Kerry to urge her to leave the country. Drudge reported last night the woman fled to Africa, where she remains.
The London Sun identified the woman as Alex Polier, 24, a former New York-based reporter for the AP who now is in Kenya, refusing to comment.
Her parents, Terry and Donna of Malvern, Pa., told the paper there is no evidence of an affair, but Mrs. Polier said Kerry was “after” her daughter.
Kerry had invited Alex to Washington two or three years ago to work on the senator’s re-election campaign, they said.
She declined, said the father, who had harsh words for Kerry, according to the Sun.
“I think he’s a sleazeball. I did kind of wonder if my daughter didn’t get that kind of feeling herself,” he said.
“He’s not the sort of guy I would choose to be with my daughter.”
AP stories filed by Polier were published with a New York dateline beginning in Oct. 22, 2002, and ending March 31, 2003, on subjects such as entertainment, AIDS and health insurance. None were related to politics or Sen. Kerry.
Late last year, the relationship was revealed to a reporter by a close friend of the woman “claiming fantastic stories,” said Drudge, “that now threaten to turn the race for the presidency on its head.”
On Feb. 6, a weblog of “2004 U.S. election news and opinion,” called WatchBlog, ran an item indicating awareness of the media probe.
The site is run by Cameron Barrett, who has worked for the presidential campaign of Gen. Wesley Clark, setting up the Clark Community Network at clark04.com, according to an AP story in December.
The Feb. 6 entry on Watchblog said: “Rumor has it that John Kerry (D) is going to be outed by Time Magazine next week for having an affair with a 20 year old woman who remains unknown. The affair supposedly took place intermittently right up to Kerry’s Fall 2002 announcement of candidacy.”
Earlier this week, according to Drudge, Clark told a dozen reporters in an off-the-record conversation, “Kerry will implode over an intern issue … .”
Just two hours after the report was posted, Clark aides said the candidate, who dropped out Wednesday, would endorse Kerry.
According to Drudge, former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean sees the “Kerry commotion” as a chance to revive his dying campaign. The allegation is why Dean “has turned increasingly aggressive against Kerry in recent days, and is the key reason why Dean reversed his decision not to drop out of the race after Wisconsin,” top campaign sources told Drudge.
After Dean built a seemingly insurmountable lead in polls, Kerry became the front-runner for the party’s nomination three weeks ago by winning the Iowa caucuses and 11 of 13 contests since then.
He is scheduled to join Clark today at a campaign event in Wisconsin.
Drudge said “reporters who witnessed Clark making the stunning comments marvel at the general’s reluctance to later confirm they were spoken – only to later endorse Kerry for the nomination.”
Clark’s press secretary Bill Buck refused to comment on the allegations.
“We do not respond to right-wing Internet postings in any way, shape or form,” he said.
The national media in the U.S. virtually have ignored the report, but a number of local television newscasts mentioned it. The Philadelphia Daily News and the Chicago Sun-Times each had an article, and it was covered in several papers overseas in addition to the Sun, including the Scotsman, Daily Telegraph of London and the Times of India.
The Times of London had a story on the front page.
The news-industry magazine Editor & Publisher contacted the Associated Press to see if the wire service would report the story.
“We simply don’t comment on stories we are pursuing or not pursuing,” AP spokesman Jack Stokes said.
Hard to prove
Drudge said unlike the Monica Lewinsky drama with President Clinton, which he first revealed, Kerry’s situation has posed a challenge to reporters investigating the claims.
“There is no lawsuit testimony this time [like Clinton with Paula Jones],” a top source told Drudge tonight. “It is hard to prove.”
The Kerry allegation grabbed the attention of talk radio shows across the nation yesterday where there was considerable speculation that associates of former President Clinton and Sen. Hillary Clinton could be behind the leak of the story.
In an article about Kerry rival John Edwards, AP cites recent encouragement the North Carolina senator has received from Bill Clinton.
Clinton told USA Today, “A lot of times things happen late in the race” which may or may not make a difference. “Look at the elections of the last 30 years. And ask yourself, is this election the same or different?”
Commenting on the Drudge story, Craig Crawford of the Congressional Quarterly said the allegation is something Wesley Clark campaign secretary and former Al Gore adviser Chris Lahane “has shopped around for a long time.
“It was one reason the Gore vetters in 2000 shied away from Kerry as a running mate choice,” Crawford said in an e-mail to colleagues.
Gore’s staffers concluded the news wasn’t bad enough to disqualify the Massachusetts senator, he continued, “except for the fact that they couldn’t risk it as they were trying so hard to distance themselves from Clinton’s personal failings.”
Crawford notes that in addition to working for Gore, Lehane briefly advised Kerry during the current campaign.
“The Kerry camp has long expected to deal with this, and have assured party leaders they can handle it,” Crawford said.
Lehane strenuously denies the charge, according to Crawford.
A week ago, the Boston Herald’s Inside Track column discussed a National Enquirer investigation on Kerry which claimed the senator is “an admitted pot smoker who had an eye for Hollywood honeys, namely Morgan Fairchild, Michelle Phillips and Catherine Oxenberg. In fact, Morgan and Michelle were so turned off by him, they both contributed to the other candidates seeking the nomination,” the Herald stated.
According to the column, the Enquirer story also mentioned a “22-year-old blonde who was spotted around midnight ‘dropping off her resume’ at Kerry’s Louisburg Square home while wife Teresa Heinz was in Nantucket.”
In an interview last year with Elle magazine, Kerry’s wife gave an indication of how she might respond to any indiscretions by her husband.
Referring to the effect of President Clinton’s affairs on Hillary, Heinz Kerry said, “I don’t think I could have coped so well. I would’ve been like psheww!,” she said, making a gunshot noise.
“I used to say to my husband, my late husband, ‘If you ever get something, I’ll maim you. Not kill you, just maim you.’ And we’d laugh, laugh, laugh.”
Meanwhile, the London Telegraph said diehard Dean supporters exulted at the news on Internet forums, where there has been considerable bitterness about what they perceive as the media’s destruction of their candidate.
The Kerry campaign Internet forum, in contrast, was seething with anger over “Republican dirty tricks.”
On a popular conservative forum, Lucianne.com, one post reads: “Watch out boys, those hoof prints you are hearing is Hillary running in for the rescue of her party!”