In addition to tying the controversy to the Bush campaign, the Kerry camp was busy looking for Vietnam veterans to denounce the Swift Veterans' ads. ABC World News Tonight featured Patrick Runyon, who "was with John Kerry the night in 1968 when Kerry won his first Purple Heart." In June, Runyon "told the story of that night to a private investigator who said he worked for a Vietnam veterans' group. The investigator wrote up the conversation in this affidavit and asked Runyon to sign it. Runyon refused. . . . The investigator it turns out, worked for the anti-Kerry veterans group sponsoring this latest ad the group says there was a miscommunication between Runyon and the investigator. John O'Neill, a leader of the anti-Kerry veterans, characterizes the incident when John Kerry won his Silver Star this way." ABC also mentioned veteran Jim Rood, an editor with the Chicago Tribune, who in Sunday's newspaper disputed the charges against Kerry. On CBS Evening News, "Del Sandusky, described as a "Kerry shipmate," was shown saying, "I was there when he got wounded. I saw the blood." The Washington Post says the Kerry camp organized "a conference call with reporters" in which "three Navy Swift boat officers who served with Kerry 35 years ago but who said they have not been in touch with him for years defended his service and his bravery. Rich McCann, Jim Russell and Rich Baker said Kerry served honorably and took issue with questions raised by the group Swift Boat Veterans for Truth about his commendations." The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports on Baker, who said: "Every Swift boat officer gave his all in Vietnam, but Kerry stood above the rest of us," while the Denver Post features Russell, who "said he watched Kerry pull a crewmate from the Bay Hap River in Viet Cong-controlled territory. 'I saw him grab the guy from the water,' Russell, 60, told The Denver Post. . . . While the retired bar owner and caterer does not recall Rassmann and Kerry's boat being fired at specifically, Russell said that his boat and the other Swift boats were taking small arms fire from the beach at that time and that two mines blew up in the river."
Fox News Sunday Host Casts Doubt On Anti-Kerry Charges.
Fox News' The O'Reilly Factor, Fox News Sunday host Chris Wallace was asked to comment on allegations that Kerry's rescue of Jim Rasserman was misrepresented because there was no enemy fire, and on charges that Kerry exaggerated the scenario that qualified him for the Silver Star. Wallace said, "It certainly does appear that there was enemy fire," and "to the degree. . .that you look at the documentary evidence, it all favors Kerry."
Bush Campaign's Response To Ads Called "Disingenuous."
In an editorial, the Washington Post calls the Bush campaign's response to the ads "disingenuous," adding that the GOP campaign is "resurrecting a tactic wielded against Arizona Sen. John McCain (R) four years ago," when "Bush surrogates. . .irresponsibly suggested that Mr. Kerry is dangerously rattled by the controversy, flinging about terms such as 'wild-eyed' (Bush campaign chairman Marc Racicot) and 'losing his cool' (White House press secretary Scott McClellan)."
WPost Says Kerry Statements On Cambodia "Troubling," Raise An "Issue Of Candor."
In the same editorial, however, the Washington Post says "Kerry's conflicting statements about where and when he was in Cambodia remain troubling. He has backed away from repeated claims that he spent Christmas Eve 1968 in Cambodia, a memory that, he said in a 1986 Senate speech, is 'seared seared in me.' This does not undermine Mr. Kerry's military bravery, but it does raise an issue of candor."