From Jim Gilliam's blog archives
Kerry is exaggerating his role in key Senate fights

January 30, 2004 6:00 PM

In last night's debate, Dean challenged Kerry's effectiveness in the Senate:


Senator Kerry is the front-runner, and I mean him no insult, but in 19 years in the Senate, Senator Kerry sponsored nine -- 11 bills that had anything to do with health care, and not one of them passed.

Kerry responded by schooling Dean in the nuance of legislating:

Well, one of the things that you need to know as a president is how things work in Congress if you want to get things done. And one of the things that happens in Congress is, you can in fact write a bill, but if you're smart about it, you can get your bill passed on someone else's bill and it doesn't carry your name.

That's an interesting new spin, because he has frequently touted his leadership in key Senate fights which don't quite square with the facts. Here's a summary of FactCheck.org's findings:

CLAIM #1: "I have led the fight for deficit reduction in 1985 with Fritz Hollings and Senator Gramm of Texas." (1/25/2004, CBS Face the Nation)


FACT: Hardly the lead, he was one of about 40 co-sponsors and was clear to point out that he only supported the measure after he was sure Social Security wouldn't be cut.

CLAIM #2: "I led the fight to stop Newt Gingrich from undoing the Clean Air and Clean Water Act." (12/9/2003, New Hampshire Debate)

FACT: Environmental activists credited Sen. John Chafee of Rhode Island, chairman of the Environment and Public Works Committee, for stopping Gingrich by not letting his amendments out of committee.

CLAIM #3: "There is a special interest feeding frenzy going on in Washington. A $130 billion dollar giveaway to the drug companies. John Kerry led in the fight against it." (12/2003, Iowa campaign ad)

FACT: The Washington Post credits Sen. Kennedy with leading "the fight against the measure." Kerry was only one of several presidential candidates to participate in a filibuster against the bill. And in the end, Kerry was one of just two Senators to miss the final, albeit ceremonial, vote.

More from the archive in John Kerry, Legislation.

Kerry is exaggerating his role in key Senate fights (01.30.2004)

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Jim Gilliam
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