John Kerry Not Liberal, 'Centrist' Democrats Insist

By Susan Jones | July 7, 2008 | 8:30pm EDT

( - Democrats are stepping up their efforts to cast Sen. John F. Kerry as a moderate.

The "centrist" Democratic Leadership Council issued an email message on Tuesday, saying the "liberal" label that clings to Sen. John F. Kerry and his running mate John Edwards is bogus.

"Earlier this year, when Sen. John Kerry began to nail down the Democratic presidential nomination, the Republican Party launched a massive negative advertising and conservative-media talking-points campaign designed to define him as an old-fashioned, pre-Clinton liberal," the DLC said in an email message sent to supporters on Tuesday.

According to the DLC, "Kerry is no Michael Dukakis, and his lifelong record of service to America in war and peace has been difficult for Republicans to fit into the old stereotype of Democrats as weak on national security and values."

The group says the Bush-Cheney campaign - "lacking any other electoral strategy" - keeps hollering "liberal" at swing voters.
The Republican National Committee this week accused Democrats of issuing a party platform that seeks to hide or downplay the "very liberal record of the people on the ticket."

In fact, the RNC planned to hold another conference call on Wednesday to "debunk the Kerry-Edwards extreme makeover."

Rating method flawed

The DLC says the National Journal's vote rating, which anointed Kerry the most liberal senator in 2003, is a "bad joke."

"National Journal's methodology for rating Senators in 2003 is so suspect that the magazine has already announced it will change it next year," the DLC said.

The DLC notes that the National Journal did not account for the fact that Kerry missed many votes in 2003 because he was out campaigning. Instead, the National Journal labeled him "most liberal" based on only 19 out of 62 votes.

The DLC says it agrees with most of Kerry's votes -- and "nobody's ever accused the DLC of representing a conspicuously liberal point of view in the Democratic Party," the group said.

The DLC email offers votes that it considers more representative of Kerry's ideology -- including votes for some issues that a majority of Democrats opposed.

"History aside, Kerry and his running mate, John Edwards, today strongly advocate a New Democrat agenda for the country," the DLC said.

That New Democrat agenda includes "a stronger and smarter military; a more aggressive effort to defeat terrorists; a greater commitment to homeland security; a tough series of policies to cut federal budget deficits; an attack on corporate and other special interest subsidies; a decisive stance in favor of private-sector strategies for universal health care, environmental protection and energy independence; and a clear identification with mainstream cultural views and middle-class economic aspirations.

But other liberal groups have given Kerry high marks for voting the way they want him to.

Americans for Democratic Action gives Kerry a lifetime average of 92 -- two points higher than Democrat Walter Mondale's lifetime ADA rating, Republicans have noted.

Looking at Kerry through the conservative lens, the American Conservative Union gives Kerry only a 13 percent rating for 2003 -- based on issues such as abortion, taxes, marriage, malpractice reform, and a host of other cultural issues.

The National Taxpayers Union gives Kerry a 14 percent rating for the current year, based on his actual votes on issues involving taxes, spending, debt, and regulatory burdens on consumers and taxpayers.

According to the 2004 Almanac of American Politics, Kerry -- in 2002 -- voted against the Bush tax cuts; for campaign finance reform; against oil drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge; against a bill barring homosexuals in the Boy Scouts; for overseas military abortions; and for money to fund hate-crime prosecutions.

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