"I'm pretty tough on Castro, because I think he's running one of the last vestiges of a Stalinist secret police government in the world,'' Kerry told WPLG-ABC 10 reporter Michael Putney in an interview to be aired at 11:30 this morning.
Then, reaching back eight years to one of the more significant efforts to toughen sanctions on the communist island, Kerry volunteered: "And I voted for the Helms-Burton legislation to be tough on companies that deal with him."
—Peter Wallsten, "Kerry Stances on Cuba Open to Attack," in the March 14 Miami Herald
It seemed the correct answer in a year in which Democratic strategists think they can make a play for at least a portion of the important Cuban-American vote—as they did in 1996 when more than three in 10 backed President Clinton's reelection after he signed the sanctions measure written by Sen. Jesse Helms and Rep. Dan Burton.
There is only one problem: Kerry voted against it.
(Thanks to reader John Giorgis.)
Discussion. Kerry aides told Wallsten that Kerry voted against the final bill because he disagreed with some technicalities added at the last minute, but that he voted for an earlier version of the bill. But every piece of legislation that comes before the Senate is subjected to a succession of votes, many of them tactical in nature. The only vote that counts is final passage. If it were otherwise, any legislator could claim to have voted for or against almost any bill, depending on the audience, and there would be no accountability at all.
There is no dishonor in saying, "I supported that bill initially, but some items were added to it that made it impossible for me to continue that support." Instead, Kerry lied, as is his wont.
Got a whopper? Send it to firstname.lastname@example.org. To be considered, an entry must be an unambiguously false statement paired with an unambiguous refutation, and both must be derived from some appropriately reliable public source. Preference will be given to newspapers and other documents that Chatterbox can link to online.