WASHINGTON –Senator Edward M. Kennedy Monday dropped his public commitment to support Senator John F. Kerry in a 2008 presidential race, saying that he won’t wait “indefinitely” for Kerry to declare his intentions while the Democratic primary field takes shape.
Kennedy said he doesn’t currently plan to endorse another candidate and still might support Kerry if Kerry decides to run. But in an hourlong interview with the Globe’s Washington bureau, Kennedy offered strong praise for two of Kerry’s possible presidential rivals: senators Barack Obama of Illinois and Hillary Rodham Clinton of New York, calling them “formidable figures” who are connecting with rank-and-file Democrats.
Kennedy said his oft-stated commitment to support Kerry again was based on the assumption that Kerry would state his intentions by early 2007. Since Kerry pushed back his decision in the wake of following an election-eve “botched joke” that damaged his public standing, however, Kennedy said he has informed Kerry that he may get behind another Democrat for president.
“I was under more of the impression before that he was going to run and was waiting in time [to declare his candidacy], but now he’s deferred that decision,” Kennedy said. “I have no plans of supporting anyone else at this juncture. I’m also not going to just wait indefinitely until he’s made a judgment or a decision.”
Later in the day, Kennedy’s office issued a statement clarifying that Kennedy will support Kerry if he declares his presidential candidacy “in the near term,” though Kennedy aides declined to define that schedule.
LOL! Translation: “I supported Kerry before I maybe didn’t before I maybe will again.”
I’m reminded of what Senator Zell Miller said about the two Massachusetts Senators during the 2004 Republican National Convention:
And no pair has been more wrong, more loudly, more often than the two Senators from Massachusetts, Ted Kennedy and John Kerry.
Except in this case I think Kennedy’s right – for once – even though he won’t say what the suspected real reason is that he’s reconsidering his support for his fellow Mass. Senator. Dean Barnett sums it up:
I have a different interpretation for Kennedy’s move, “the first public fissure between the two Massachusetts Democrats on the issue of Kerry’s presidential aspirations,” as the Globe puts it. Let’s face it – Kennedy knows a sinking Oldsmobile when he sees one.
Update: Love the Kerry picture quote here