January 12, 2014, 09:00 pm
Kerry, Kennedy top Clinton's traitor list
By Niall Stanage
Aides on Hillary Clinton’s 2008 presidential campaign kept a detailed list of party colleagues who staffers believed had betrayed her during the long and bitter primary battle with President Obama, a new book reveals.
The list included rankings, with those who were considered the most egregious traitors by Clinton loyalists receiving the worst possible score of 7 on a point scale.
Then-Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.), who would ultimately succeed Clinton as Secretary of State in the Obama administration, was among those receiving the blackest of black marks, according to the book HRC: State Secrets and the Rebirth of Hillary Clinton by The Hill’s Amie Parnes and Politico’s Jonathan Allen.
So too was Kerry’s Senate colleague from Massachusetts, Edward Kennedy, who died in 2009. Also on the political hit-list were Sens. Jay Rockefeller (D-W.Va.), Bob Casey (D-Pa.) and Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) as well as Reps. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), Rob Andrews (D-N.J.) and Baron Hill (D-Ind).
The book makes clear the depth of the wounds inflicted during the primary struggle.
“Years later,” Parnes and Allen write, Clinton aides “would joke about the fates of folks who they felt had betrayed them. ‘Bill Richardson: investigated; John Edwards: disgraced by scandal; Chris Dodd: stepped down,’ one said to another. ‘Ted Kennedy,’ the aide continued, lowering his voice to a whisper for the punch line, ‘dead.’”
Kerry was the Democratic Party’s standard-bearer in the 2004 presidential election and President Clinton had campaigned hard for him in the final stretch of that campaign, even though he was recovering from major heart surgery at the time.
In 2008, however, Kerry did not merely endorse Obama; he did so at a very vulnerable time for the then-senator from Illinois. Having won the first-in-the-nation Iowa caucuses, Obama then lost the New Hampshire primary to Clinton despite holding a large lead in almost all opinion polls.
Two days later, Kerry appeared at a rally with Obama in South Carolina. “Who better than Barack Obama to turn a new page in American politics so that Democrats, independents and Republicans alike can look to the leadership that unites to find common ground?” he said.
The reference to a “new page” was most obviously a criticism of the administration of President George W. Bush, who had vanquished Kerry in 2004. But it was also seen by some as a jab at the Clintons, whom the Obama campaign was trying to paint as synonymous with politics as usual.
Leahy endorsed Obama approximately one week later. Rockefeller would do so at the end of February and Casey at the end of March. Casey’s endorsement came amid a full-court press from the Clinton campaign to win the April primary in his state of Pennsylvania by a convincing margin. They accomplished that goal, but it was not enough to halt Obama’s momentum on his way to the nomination.
HRC will be published by Crown on Feb. 11. It will tell the inside story of Clinton’s relationship with Obama, and of how she recovered after the bruising 2008 campaign and restored her political standing.