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Tuesday, August 31, 2004

Dole on Kerry

Interviewed Bob Dole in an elevator as the former presidential candidate headed from a Kansas reception to another event. Dole was the news at the '96 convention, and he still makes ripples -- witness his comments earlier this month questioning John Kerry's war record while defending Swift Boat Veterans for Truth, who have run ads attacking Kerry in swing states.

I asked Dole to explain his comments. Here's what he said:

"John Kerry and I are friends," he said, "but I didn't think these other guys ought to be denigrated and called liars by the liberal press -- there's a lot of that in the country. And I've talked to Kerry since, and I worked with him 14 years in the Senate.

"I defended him when Gen. (Wesley) Clark was getting on him (during the primaries). But I also I said (before the convention) John, stop pushing your Vietnam record. Not everyone served there, and two-and-a-half million other guys did. And when you left there you hated the war, and now you're something else.

"He's made it the whole campaign, and I don't think it works. I ran against a guy who evaded the draft in '96. We didn't talk about it. I think people get tired of it. There were a lot of good decent people who didn't wear a uniform. And I hope that (now) Kerry will kind of back off. Talk about education, talk about jobs."

I asked him about Bush's chances.

"I think Bush could win it. Not a big landslide, I think he could win it comfortably, with a good convention."

And has it been a good convention? " I think it's been excellent so far."

The elevator door opened, and Dole was whisked to his next appearance.