A few Web sites (scroll down to "Kerry's Dumb Comment") have noted that Dowd's column was the first print reference to "Who among us doesn't like NASCAR?" All subsequent quotes, including four in the Times, seem to stem from it. Dowd wasn't at the event where Kerry supposedly said "Who among us ... " She learned about it in a casual conversation with Times reporter Sheryl Gay Stolberg, who said Kerry said it on Feb. 17 at a union rally in Milwaukee.
What Kerry actually said at that rally was "There isn't one of us here who doesn't like NASCAR and who isn't a fan." Because of the roundabout way in which the quote got into print, it didn't get the normal vetting, i.e., playing back the tape. Stolberg now says it's possible that she made a mistake and that Kerry never said "who among us."
The Kerry campaign, though, can hardly cry foul, having helped create the intense competition over the "First Fan" title. Once you get the full context, Kerry seems to know more about sports than the Football Fans for Truth would have you believe, but less than a seasoned candidate should. For instance, Kerry's full NASCAR line might not have included "who among us," but it wasn't nearly as sharp as the president's cheesehead barb:
This president went to Florida just the other day to start the NASCAR races. There isn't one of us here who doesn't like NASCAR and who isn't a fan, but I'll tell you what. Instead of just saying "Gentlemen start you engines," and during that race listening and looking at a race while 350 manufacturing jobs were lost, $171 million was added to the deficit of our country. ...
I'll stop there. The only way that paragraph evokes NASCAR is how it circles around and around, begging for a caution flag. Kerry can show off that he knows his way around a ski slope or a gun range, but Bush has the vernacular and the stats to prove that he's a true team-sports aficionado. Kerry should give up and let Bush retain the title of Armchair Quarterback in Chief. Or maybe he could just end the debate with "one of us traded Sammy Sosa, please vote accordingly."
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