The Command Post
2004 US Presidential Election
July 31, 2004
Kerry | Kerry Campaign Stops Includes Awkward Moment With Marines

John Kerry, stopping at a Wendy’s fast food restaurant, talked to a few Marines who happened to be Bush supporters:

Spotting a group of US Marines, Kerry, who has made his Vietnam War service a cornerstone of his campaign, went over to chat. The Marines, who all turned out to be staunch Bush reporters, were not impressed.

“He imposed on us and I disagree with him coming over here shaking our hands,” one of them told reporters afterwards. “I’m 100 percent against” Kerry, he said. “We support our commander-in-chief 100 percent.”

Said another:

A sergeant with 10 years of service under his belt said, “I speak for all of us. We think that we are doing the right thing in Iraq,” before saying he is to be deployed there in a few weeks and is “eager” to go and serve.

Posted by Jay Caruso at July 31, 2004 12:14 PM | TrackBack

Now that’s FUNNY ! I’d have given anytbing to have seen that. Those guys know the difference between a phony liberal terrorist appeaser and a great leader.

Posted by: No Party [TypeKey Profile Page] at July 31, 2004 12:41 PM

I was glad to see someone ‘beat me to it’ the other day. I always buy the meals for anyone in uniform when I’m out and about. I was at a restaurant the other day and there were about 5 Rangers sitting around a table. Before I could summon a waitress to retrieve their tab, she walked up to their table and said, “That gentleman over there is picking up your meals” and pointed to a man about 30 years old that was having dinner with his wife and 2 kids.

I love this country.

Posted by: No Party [TypeKey Profile Page] at July 31, 2004 12:48 PM

More info.

The Marines — two in uniform and two off-duty — were polite but curt while chatting with Kerry, answering most of his questions with a “yes, sir” or “no, sir.”

Notice they didn’t shriek, didn’t call him Kerryhitler etc. See the difference?

The article then says:

“But they turned downright nasty after the Massachusetts senator thanked them “for their service” and left. “

Nasty? Where is the nasty?

Posted by: jones [TypeKey Profile Page] at July 31, 2004 01:27 PM

This is the military we are talking about, it is NOT a democracy.

Military doctrine on the press says basically the only right thing to say to any reporter is “i support my chain of command 100%”

they arent allowed by military law to say they dont support the war, or the president. if they do they risk harsh UCMJ action.

Posted by: DietCheese [TypeKey Profile Page] at July 31, 2004 02:37 PM

jones: Parse the sentence. It says “after he left”. The “He imposed on us” quote in the original posting happened when they were no longer talking to Kerry, and they felt freer to speak their minds.

DietCheese: When it comes to a particular candidate who is not the sitting CiC, they are allowed to speak their minds, or not, as they wish. So, they could say something like, “I think he would make a good President.” They can’t say, “I think he would make a better President.”

Posted by: gus3 [TypeKey Profile Page] at July 31, 2004 02:45 PM

French Cheeze,

As far as I know they still have the right to remain silent. If they supported Kerry why wasn’t that their response?

For once the dog that barked is the clue.

Posted by: M. Simon [TypeKey Profile Page] at July 31, 2004 04:06 PM

The military is also part of a democracy. These men can pretty much say what they want in a polite and respectful manner. They can say that they disagree with their Commander in Chief and that they support the challenger. They are not allowed to wear their uniform while on an active duty status or otherwise participate in any political rally where their presence may be construed as their branch or the DOD is supporting a particular candidate or party. They can participate in an off-duty status in civilian clothes.

It has been my experience that most military personnel and especially enlisted are a pretty good judge of character and leadership… it is part of their nature to be skeptical of leaders or officers.

Another fact is that a majority of career military are conservatives and very pro-defense and pro-military. Many come from small Southern towns and rural areas. These areas do not share the traits or characteristics of the current Democratic party faithful. These men are merely reflecting the fact that in their opinion as with a significant plurarity of the current polling responses, President Bush in general is preferred as a military commander and leader. The challaenge to Kerry is to somehow reverse that perception and allegiance to Bush by most of the military.

No surprises should be seen in this.

Posted by: steve [TypeKey Profile Page] at July 31, 2004 04:40 PM

Quoth steve:

it is part of their nature to be skeptical of leaders or officers.

And if it isn’t, it will be within a year of Basic Training.

Posted by: gus3 [TypeKey Profile Page] at July 31, 2004 05:12 PM

Kerry was endorsed by a whole gaggle of generals at the convention. His swift boat crew certainly supported him. He does not have to win the military vote to win the election, just hold his own. That he would have a polite random encounter with some Bush supporters in uniform is, as the man said, totally not surprising.

Posted by: rdelephant [TypeKey Profile Page] at July 31, 2004 05:35 PM

rdelephant: If the man wants to use a Wendy’s for a campaign photo op, let him get it shut down for the duration so he can control what happens. If he’s not willing to do that, then he can either let the public (including these soldiers) come and go, and say what they will, or else take his opportunism elsewhere.

By the way, regarding the generals at the convention: Were they retired or active-duty?

Posted by: gus3 [TypeKey Profile Page] at July 31, 2004 06:56 PM

Jones makes a good point. The reporter characterized the response of the Marines as “nasty”.

It wasn’t.

This incident demonstrates how Kerry callously uses opportunity as a media event. He came upon some military personnel and took advantage of the circumstances for a photo op with the reporters in his entourage. It also demonstrates how Kerry just assumes that people are willing to be used for his gain.

They were polite but curt.

Evidently, the reporter asked them about there choice of Bush vs Kerry or the conversation would not have happened.

And Cheese, to suggest that the Marines only spoke in support of their CiC George Bush because they are bound by some code, is absolutely delusional.

Posted by: TexasGal [TypeKey Profile Page] at July 31, 2004 07:08 PM

“His swift boat crew certainly supported him.”

Do you have any idea how many men crew a SwiftBoat?

I didn’t think so.

The italicized portion Posted by: rdelephant at July 31, 2004 05:35 PM

Posted by: Cap'n DOC [TypeKey Profile Page] at July 31, 2004 07:12 PM

And evidently the vast majority of those who served beside him (as peers) and those who were his commanders DON’T SUPPORT HIM.

Posted by: TexasGal [TypeKey Profile Page] at July 31, 2004 07:27 PM

The normal crew of a swift boat was six.

I don’t see how walking up and shaking hands with someone in public (in or out of uniform) is anything other than a politician’s job. Claiming that he was using these guys is ridiculous.

Posted by: rdelephant [TypeKey Profile Page] at July 31, 2004 08:11 PM

Do any Bush supportors really want to talk about explointing a photo op with military personnel?

Mission Accomplished.

Remember? Anyone?

Posted by: Todd [TypeKey Profile Page] at July 31, 2004 08:13 PM

It is ridiculous to claim Kerry used the soldiers. It is perfectly sensible to claim Kerry tried to use them for his photo-op, and was promptly smacked down.

Posted by: gus3 [TypeKey Profile Page] at July 31, 2004 08:26 PM

rde, you are being purposely obtuse. Oh course Kerry tried to use them for a photo op, it fit right in with his theme as a better CiC than Bush, war hero and more experienced to lead the troops into battle.. all that propaganda.

He made a stupid mistake that he won’t make again and I have no doubt his strategists will be put on task to get in front of him on future impromptu stops to prevent this embarrassment from happening again.

But the tell-tell here is how Kerry assumed those Marines would welcome him. Either Kerry is purely led by his ego or he is truly deluded that he is a part of this generation of BROTHERS.

He just doesn’t get it or doesn’t want to get it. Personally, I think it’s both.

Posted by: TexasGal [TypeKey Profile Page] at July 31, 2004 09:27 PM

Most of the “generals” supporting Kerry are “retired” Clinton, Clark era generals. Do you think they’re a little peeved?

Bush just made their whole careers pretty much obsolete, as well as much of Clintons “foreign policy”.

I agree with TG. I don’t think Kerry understands how the majority of active duty and Veterans really feel. I don’t know a single veteran out of cyberspace who supports him. And most of the active duty I’m aquainted with actively despise him. He would have been much better off to drop the whole, “I served in Vietnam” thing years ago. There are people in my town that flew B-29’s over Germany and I never knew it till they died.


Posted by: Chads [TypeKey Profile Page] at July 31, 2004 10:16 PM

Surely this shows more how somewhat naive the front people are for Kerry or what dangers lurk in unplanned or uncontrolled meetings with the public.

This would have been just as embarrasing if the President had walked to a group of African Americans in one of the major urban areas. Chances are any follow up by a reporter would have generated a similar response as Kerry got from the Marines at this Wendy’s.

The generals rounded up by the Kerry camp are all retired… active duty officers, especially general officers, are prohibited from endorsing or otherwise becoming actively involved in endorsing any political candidate.

While I can not vouch for all of them, I have served with a number of them (18 or so I believe signed an open letter several weeks back endorsing Kerry) and I know that even while on active duty they were considered more liberal than most of their peers and subordinate staff.

Kerry will attract a sizeable number of the military vote, similar or slightly more than Gore did, however the truth is that the majority of the military tend to support conservatives and true moderates who are drawn from the ranks of like minded political parties and organizations. This is true in most of the Western democracies, but there are fewer conservative parties overseas of the statue as in the U. S. Based upon my experience and observation of the military for over 36 years, the continuing stigma that the Democrats have to overcome in regards to only having a relatively small amount of military support has to do more with who they are than what they say they will do in the war on terrorism. With the large and almost exclusive support the Democrasts get from the anti-war activists, pacifists and left leaning liberals who are not overly fond of the military, most career military personnel feel that this is a party where they are not welcome. It is the activists rethoric and theatrical antics that tend to drive a wedge between the Democrats and the military. The “big tent” theory may work with progressives and other like minded souls, but it does not cary much weight in the military ranks.

Posted by: steve [TypeKey Profile Page] at July 31, 2004 10:24 PM

Let me dispell some of this, speaking as a former Marine who served under Clinton and Bush.

We can speak our minds on political matters, as long as we remain respectful and tactful. I once explained to a congressman why I felt Clinton wasn’t a good president, but I remained clinical and tactful. He didnt like what I had to say and took it up with my CO, who asked him if I had been combative or disrespectful, and when he answered no, my CO basically told him to get lost.

We are American Citizens too, we are just held to a higher standard of behaivior.

Posted by: HullBreach [TypeKey Profile Page] at July 31, 2004 10:31 PM

I’m no Kerry supporter, but I think it’s only fair to point out that George Bush has often used the military as a backdrop for blatantly political purposes. At least Kerry didn’t make everyone eating at Wendy’s sign a pledge of support to get into the place. To me, this is a non-story. I want to hear about real issues.

Posted by: Scott [TypeKey Profile Page] at July 31, 2004 11:13 PM

Just playing devils advocate, if Kerry had went into Wendys, saw guys in uniform while shaking hands, and hadn’t went over to them, then the headline would have been “Kerry ignores Marines”
If he talks to them, then he’s looking for a photo-op. I don’t like him, either, but he’s a politician. He’s going to act like one.

Posted by: Mona B. [TypeKey Profile Page] at August 1, 2004 09:19 AM

I think the story is that Kerry overestimates his appeal among the military. However, Kerry doesn’t really need the militarty vote. What he needs to do is convince moderates the military likes him so he can get their vote.

I wonder how many of those “veterans for Kerry” signs at the Dem convention were actually held by veterans.


Posted by: Chads [TypeKey Profile Page] at August 1, 2004 09:26 AM


I think it should be pointed out that the military has always seemed enthusiastic to be “used” by Bush. The truth is past admins have almost treated them as pariahs.

What I’d like to see is Kerry give a speech at a military base or major installation. That would be very informative.


Posted by: Chads [TypeKey Profile Page] at August 1, 2004 09:30 AM

This is not surprising at all. I agree with Mona—had he not approached them, the headline would be “Kerry Snubs Marines”.

I know several Marines, both before and after Parris Island. They become very gung-ho and results-focused. The goal of the leader becomes the intensely focused goal of the follower. I do not fault them in any way: those men volunteered and were turned into focused efficient Marines.

Thinking and critical judgment is something that civilians have the luxury AND THE RESPONSIBILITY of doing. Let’s get back to the real issues of Campaign 2004 rather than asking “Do you want fries with that?”

Posted by: Kevin L [TypeKey Profile Page] at August 1, 2004 11:02 AM

I agree with Kevin and Mona to a point.

Still, Kerry has been a politician long enough to read body language as to who will react favorably and who will not. Perhaps a simple hello and move on would have been the better approach.

As to Kevin’s point…I’m not quite sure what it is..?
Are you saying that the other Marines simply went along with the one or two who were speaking or what?
If you’re attempting to say that Marines lose the ability to use critical thinking or judgement upon completing their training, then I would disagree vehemently with you.

The bigger picture here is that it is not really a big story but it is damned amusing.

Posted by: Carrie [TypeKey Profile Page] at August 1, 2004 01:02 PM

Carrie -

You’ve got the story right.

Kerry had to at least say hello, so I’d cut him some slack there. Nonetheless, the body language says it all.

Well done, Marines!

Posted by: Jim [TypeKey Profile Page] at August 1, 2004 01:11 PM

One of the things I respected the MOST about members of the military, while serving with Bill Clinton as C in C, is the restraint they used in avoiding criticism of a man who thoroughly deserved criticism. (I tried to make up the slack by NOT using restraint…)

I teach high school in an inner city, the students who return to visit after joining the military are a delight in the changes that are immediately evident.

If we look at the most liberal institutions in our nation, education, we see a disaster for minorities. The teachers’ unions have destroyed the opportunities for advancement in society for our young inner city children with their inferior schools.

Inner city minority families deserve VOUCHERS!! Many of the finest black churches are starting their own schools to educate their own children because the teachers’ unions refuse to do it. Teachers and liberal black leaders send their children to Private Schools.

If we look at one of the most conservative institutions in our nation, the military, we see true opportunity based upon talent and effort.

I think this election will be a break in the Democratic Party treating Blacks as their House Slaves. Sorry, Jesse, Maxine Waters, Al Sharpton and the other hucksters, you will need to go out and get a real job, now.

Posted by: JoeS [TypeKey Profile Page] at August 1, 2004 07:33 PM


With respect, I believe in most cases the military has dutifully followed orders to serve as props by their Commander-in-Chief. I grant you that many are probably very happy to comply. On the other hand, more than a few not currently under orders and even a few more who are are speaking out against Bush.

I say again that I don’t support Kerry, but it’s not a stretch to point out that Bush plays politics with soldiers, too, and that Kerry is competitive with that constituency becayse he has stronger military credentials and support than the typical Democratic presidential candidate.

My point was that I don’t see any value in hearing that four Marines disagreed with Kerry at a Wendy’s from CNN. Maybe for folks attuned to the reality-TV scene there is some profound meaning in this that I’m missing. To me, it’s a small banal story that is a profound misuse of irretreivable broadcast time.


Posted by: Scott [TypeKey Profile Page] at August 2, 2004 02:27 AM

As others have pointed out, this is largely a “gotcha” type of story, but is relevent for a couple of reasons:
1. Throughout his efforts, and especially during the convention last week, Kerr has tried very hard to project himself as a military man for the military vote. The stark contrast of his obviously intended image and the reality of this exchange is important as an indication of campaign success (or lack thereof). Contrary to an earlier comment, a similar snubbing of Bush be African-American voters is not the same, since Bush is not claiming any special status or relation with that demographic.
2. The presence of absence of the Marines from specific sources and stories serve to indicate a decision on behalf of the news source as to the worthiness of the incident. As I said above, I find the event interesting because of the justaposition of image and response, while many major news sources apparently either think it is a non-event or want to down-play it. While the latter plays into the “liberal media helping Democrats” line of thought, I think the former is probably more likely, that the reporters and editors, in their insulated echo chamber, believe the event to be an isolated incident of no import rather than an indicator of a failure to communicate. They watched Kerry et. al. preach to the choir all last week and seem to have lost sight that there are many others who haven’t drunk the Kool-Aid. I think they may be surprised again, just like in 2000 and 2002, and still not know why.

Posted by: submandave [TypeKey Profile Page] at August 2, 2004 11:11 AM

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