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Snow: 'We didn't raise' issue on Kerry's 'botched joke;' Up to media to 'end it'

Ron Brynaert
Published: Thursday November 2, 2006

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A day after Senator John Kerry (D-MA) apologized for the "botched joke" that critics alleged was an attack on US troops, White House spokeman Tony Snow said that the Bush Administration "didn't raise" the issue, and that it was up to the media to "end it."

At a press briefing Tuesday morning, Snow insisted that "Senator Kerry not only owes an apology to those who are serving, but also to the families of those who've given their lives in this." At a campaign event later that day, President Bush said that Kerry's remarks were "insulting" and "shameful."

Appearing on MSNBC this morning, former Fox News Channel pundit Snow was asked by interviewer Chris Hansing if President Bush and other Republican leaders would stop criticizing the 2004 presidential nominee who isn't running for reelection, since he has already offered two apologies after his comments on Monday about the president's intelligence were misinterpreted by many to be directed at U.S. troops.

"I don't know," Snow said. "It's sort of up to you guys. I mean, we didn't raise it, and --"

Jansing noted that "you certainly have been talking about it a lot."

"Well, we've talked -- you know, the president has made a couple of comments on it, but look, it's been all the rage in the news the last couple of days," Snow said.

Echoing pundits on Fox all morning Thursday, Snow suggested that Kerry's "Internet apology" may not be good enough.

"You know, at some point I'm sure he'll come out and, you know, do it on camera as well," Snow said. "But that's the kind of thing you need to do."

Kerry released a written apology on the Internet after 4 PM yesterday, after some Democratic candidates expressed unhappiness and cancelled planned campaign events with the Massachussetts senator, but had delivered his first apology in person on Don Imus' nationally syndicated radio program yesterday morning.

"Of course I'm sorry about a botched joke," Kerry had said on Imus' show. "You think I love botched jokes?"

Earlier today, White House deputy press secretary Dana Perino said that Kerry's apology "came late" but was "the right thing to do."

Responding to Democratic charges that the Republicans are trying to divert attention away from issues that "American people really care about," Snow said that the "'smear and fear' thing is getting a little bit old because all the president said was you need to apologize."

At a Republican rally in Georgia, Bush called Kerry's comments "insulting and shameful."

"That's not a smear," Snow said. "John Kerry is the guy who came out started calling me names, called the -- although I kind of like my name."

Snow said he enjoyed the "stuffed-suit White House mouthpiece" nickname so much that he might print up a t-shirt with the inscription.

"That's kind of cool," Snow said of the nickname.

Excerpts from MSNBC interview:

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MS. JANSING: President Bush and other Republican leaders have been very critical of remarks made by Senator Kerry. He's now issued two apologies. Will that be the end of it?

MR. SNOW: I don't know. It's sort of up to you guys. I mean, we didn't raise it, and --

MS. JANSING: But you certainly have been talking about it a lot.

MR. SNOW: Well, we've talked -- you know, the president has made a couple of comments on it, but look, it's been all the rage in the news the last couple of days. Senator Kerry did what common sense would dictate. You say something; even if you don't mean the way it came out or -- what you have to do is say, "Look, I'm sorry; I'm sorry I offended you; I didn't mean it; please forgive me." You know, at some point I'm sure he'll come out and, you know, do it on camera as well. But that's the kind of thing you need to do. So you know, I mean, I said it yesterday in the briefing. It's pretty much common sense and so I think he's probably glad he did it, and I think a lot of people in the military probably are as well.

MS. JANSING: He does say that the comments by the president and others have been unfair. He says in fact this has been a campaign of "smear and fear" against him. Democrats are charging that the Republicans are trying to divert attention away from the issues that the American people really care about.

MR. SNOW: There are two things. Number one, the "smear and fear" thing is getting a little bit old, because all the president said was you need to apologize. That's not a smear. John Kerry is the guy who came out started calling me names, called the -- although I kind of like my name. I'm the "stuffed-suit White House mouthpiece." That's kind of cool.

MS. JANSING: You think that's good?

MR. SNOW: Yeah, it's not bad. I think I might make a T-shirt. But in terms of -- you know, Senator Kerry's the one who started doing personal insults. When it comes to dealing with the issues, it's an interesting contrast because the president is talking specifically about the stakes in the war on terror, the importance of winning in Iraq, and the importance also of protecting the homeland. And when you take a look at what Democrats have done in this political season, that's all they've done is smear the president, knock down his approval ratings and try to make him an albatross. It's not going to work because you know what? American people want to know what Democrats have to offer when it comes to winning this war.

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