Although the Boston Red Sox might be regarded as “John Kerry’s team,” the president has a vocal supporter in star pitcher Curt Schilling, who endorsed Bush today in an interview on ABC’s “Good Morning America.”
Sitting alongside he wife, Shonda, Schilling unexpectedly signed off the discussion about last night’s historic World Series victory over the St. Louis Cardinals with: “Make sure you tell everybody to vote, and vote Bush next week.”
The Republican National Committee quickly seized on the quote and distributed it to its massive e-mail list.
Schilling, speaking to Gibson via a satellite feed from Fenway Park in Boston, also put in a plug for U.S. troops in Iraq.
The host referred to the 37-year-old pitcher as a “warrior” for winning his past two starts despite a serious ankle injury that easily could have sidelined him.
Schilling objected to the characterization, insisting it’s the members of the U.S. military serving the nation in Iraq who deserve that title.
The conversation that led to the endorsement went like this:
Gibson: “Well, well said, Curt and Shonda. You both have certainly lifelong membership now in the Red Sox nation. It was a great thing to watch, and I think everybody – whether they were great Red Sox fans or not – had to admire what this team did. It was extraordinary, and one of the great stories of sport. And sport always produces such great stories. Curt, Shonda, great to have you with us. Congratulations.”
Curt and Shonda Schilling: “Thank You.”
Curt Schilling: “And make sure you tell everybody to vote, and vote Bush next week.”
Clearly surprised, Gibson chuckled and shook his head, commenting, “Alright, well, something else that divides the nation … .”
Schilling also has not been shy about declaring his Christian faith. After pitching on a bloody ankle to defeat the New York Yankees in an American League Championship game, he gave credit to God, explaining that in his first, unsuccessful start of the series he relied on his own strength, while in the just-concluded outing he relied on “the Lord.”
Meanwhile, on the campaign trail, Kerry appeared at a morning rally in Toledo, Ohio, in a Red Sox cap.
Early in the campaign, he recalled, according to the Associated Press, someone phoned a radio talk show
and said, “John Kerry won’t be president until the Red Sox win the World Series.”
The Massachusetts senator exclaimed, “Well, we’re on our way!”
President Bush made a phone call to the team’s owner and president and thanked Schilling for the endorsement.
White House spokesman Scott McClellan said: “This is a long time coming and he shares in their excitement at winning the World Series.”
Kerry said he’s “been rooting for this day since I was a kid.”
“This Red Sox team came back against all odds and showed America what heart is,” said Kerry. “In 2004, the Red Sox are America’s team.”
Earlier in the campaign, however, Kerry might have lost a few votes among the Red Sox faithful.
“We’ve been waiting since 1918 for the Boston Red Sox to win the World Series,” he said in Michigan, “and … if I had a choice between the White House and the World Series this year, I’m going to take the White House. How’s that?”
During the second presidential debate, Kerry said, “The president, I don’t think, is living in a world of reality with respect to the environment. Now, if you’re a Red Sox fan, that’s OK. But if you’re a president, it’s not.”
Some also have questioned Kerry’s credentials as a fan, noting his expressed admiration for non-existent player “Manny Ortez” and his statement that Eddie Yost was his favorite Red Sox player, even though Yost never played for Boston.