John Kerry last night disavowed any interest in attacking President Bush over his National Guard record: “I have suggested to some people who are my advocates who’ve gone that line of attack, it’s not one that I plan to do, it’s not one I have. I don’t plan to do that and I’ve asked them not to,” he said. “But the president has to speak for his own military record. And those of you in the news media, obviously, have asked questions about it, and that’s where I’ll let it sit.”
But according to the Washington Post yesterday, Kerry aides were furious at Terry McAuliffe for raising the Guard issue – because he was doing it too soon for their purposes and in what they thought was a clumsy way:
“When Democratic National Committee Chairman Terence R. McAuliffe went on television two weeks ago to accuse President Bush as a young man of being ‘AWOL’ in his National Guard duty, party officials quickly heard complaints from the staff of presidential candidate Sen. John F. Kerry (Mass.).
Kerry aides were not upset about McAuliffe’s negative tone, Democratic sources said. Instead, they were worried that the party chairman had raised the charge too early — preventing Kerry from making more effective use of a potent issue later this year if he is the Democratic nominee…
Impugning Bush’s patriotism with loaded terms such as ‘AWOL’ may muddy the real issue, Lockhart said. ‘I didn’t agree with the chairman of my party on that,’ he said.
A Kerry aide said campaign advisers did not agree either, and called the DNC after McAuliffe’s appearance on ABC’s ‘This Week.’ But several Democratic sources said those calls were not about the substance of the charge, but about tactical factors. These officials said Kerry’s team thought it better to have a veteran make any allegations about Bush’s service, and they preferred to keep in reserve the contrast between Kerry’s Vietnam combat duty and Bush’s alleged absenteeism until Kerry had the Democratic nomination assured.”