Throughout this past election year, Kerry skewered Obama’s Republican rival, Mitt Romney, at nearly every opportunity and was a vocal booster for the president’s re-election. Kerry memorably told delegates at the Democratic National Convention in August: “Ask Osama bin Laden if he’s better off now than he was four years ago.”
Kerry and McCain, defeated presidential candidates who returned to the Senate, have joined forces repeatedly during the past few decades. In July 1995, the two decorated Vietnam War veterans provided political cover to President Bill Clinton when he normalized U.S. relations with Vietnam. Clinton had been dogged by questions about his lack of military service.
Kerry, the Yale graduate who enlisted in the Navy, was an appealing presidential nominee in 2004 for his Vietnam War service. Three years after the Sept. 11 terror attacks, national security credentials were critical against Bush.
But Kerry was pounded by the Swiftboat Veterans for Truth, a group that made unsubstantiated claims challenging Kerry’s war record of a Silver Star, a Bronze Star for combat valor and three Purple Hearts. His candidacy also was dogged by his anti-war stance in April 1971 when he testified before the committee he would later chair and famously asked, “How do you ask a man to be the last man to die for a mistake?”
Kerry’s move to the State Department will spark yet another special election in Massachusetts — the third Senate contest since a 2010 special election following the death of Sen. Edward M. Kennedy in 2009.
Republican Sen. Scott Brown, who won the 2010 special election but lost last month to Democratic challenger Elizabeth Warren, is seen as a front-runner on the GOP side if he chooses to run again.
Possible Democratic candidates include Reps. Michael Capuano, Edward Markey and Stephen Lynch, and Ted Kennedy Jr., son of the late senator. Gov. Deval Patrick must name an interim senator to serve until the special election. Former Gov. Michael Dukakis and Victoria Kennedy, Edward M. Kennedy’s widow, have been suggested as possible interim senators although Patrick hasn’t publicly confirmed any names.