Charge: Kerry delivered this joke at a business breakfast shortly after the election of President George H.W. Bush and Vice President Dan Quayle. The co-chairman of the Bush-Quayle campaign in Massachusetts called it "an extraordinarily reckless comment" that was "very clearly in bad taste."
Context: The Secret Service hadn't really been told to shoot Quayle. Kerry was joking. Moreover, the joke had been going around Washington for some time.
Defense: Kerry immediately issued a statement saying: "I shouldn't have repeated the story. It was inappropriate and I apologize for doing so." He later told the Boston Globe that he was "kicking himself" for his "bad taste."
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