Tribune editor claimed Kerry's remark was "about soldiers in Iraq"

››› ››› MEDIA MATTERS STAFF

In a November 4 online posting, Greeley Tribune editor Randy Bangert claimed U.S. Sen. John F. Kerry made a controversial comment "about soldiers in Iraq" without noting Kerry's explanation that the remark was actually a "botched joke" about President Bush.

In a November 4 online posting about President Bush's visit to Greeley to campaign for Colorado Republican candidates, Greeley Tribune editor Randy Bangert claimed that a controversial comment by U.S. Sen. John F. Kerry (D-MA) was "about soldiers in Iraq." Bangert made no mention of Kerry's explanation that his comment was a "botched joke" aimed at President Bush, not at U.S. troops.

Reporting on a speech by Republican gubernatorial candidate Bob Beauprez at the event, Bangert wrote that Beauprez asked the crowd, "You have to love John Kerry. He's there when we need him, isn't he?" Noting that Kerry's comment was "a theme of the day," Bangert added, "It's clear that Kerry's comments about soldiers in Iraq will be a common them [sic] as Republicans try to build support for Tuesday's election."

As Colorado Media Matters noted, the Associated Press reported on November 1 that, during an October 30 campaign rally for California Democratic gubernatorial candidate Phil Angelides, Kerry "stirred controversy when he told a group of California students that individuals who don't study hard and do their homework would likely 'get stuck in Iraq.' " According to an October 31 AP article:

Kerry opened his speech at Pasadena City College with several one-liners, saying at one point that Bush had lived in Texas but now "lives in a state of denial."

He then said: "You know, education, if you make the most of it, you study hard, you do your homework and you make an effort to be smart, you can do well. If you don't, you get stuck in Iraq."

As The Boston Globe reported on November 1, "President Bush joined prominent Republicans yesterday in blasting Senator John F. Kerry for comments they said demeaned the intelligence of US troops, after Kerry gave a speech at a political rally where he said that students who don't perform well 'get stuck in Iraq.' " Kerry later said that his comment was a "botched joke" aimed at President Bush, not the troops. In response to the controversy, members of Kerry's staff provided reporters with what they said were Kerry's prepared remarks for the speech. Those remarks appear to support Kerry's explanation. The Globe reported:

According to Kerry's prepared text, as provided to reporters, Kerry intended to reference Bush in that portion of the speech.

"Do you know where you end up if you don't study, if you aren't smart, if you're intellectually lazy?" Kerry was to say. "You end up getting us stuck in a war in Iraq. Just ask President Bush."

In a November 1 statement, Kerry said, "As a combat veteran, I want to make it clear to anyone in uniform and to their loved ones: my poorly stated joke at a rally was not about, and never intended to refer to any troop." Kerry added, "I sincerely regret that my words were misinterpreted to wrongly imply anything negative about those in uniform, and I personally apologize to any service member, family member, or American who was offended."

From Bangert's November 4 posting on The Greeley Tribune's website:

9:15 a.m.

[...]

On Nov. 7, "there will be a Bitter Ritter" in Colorado, Beauprez predicted.

"You have to love John Kerry. He's there when we need him, isn't he?" Beauprez asked the crowd, continuing a theme of the day. It's clear that Kerry's comments about soldiers in Iraq will be a common them as Republicans try to build support for Tuesday's election.

"This is a watershed election," Beauprez said in his concluding remarks. "This nation is in better hands when it's in Republican hands.

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