Saturday, September 6, 2008

Kennedy renounced earlier positions

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by Jan Moller, The Times-Picayune

BATON ROUGE -- Republican U.S. Senate candidate John Kennedy on Tuesday repudiated his 2004 endorsement of Democratic presidential nominee John Kerry as he moved to align himself with his new party.

"I was miserable the whole time, and I made a mistake, " said Kennedy, the state treasurer who ran unsuccessfully for the Senate in 2004 as a liberal Democrat but bolted for the GOP last summer.

Kerry, the Massachusetts senator, lost Louisiana by 15 points that year to President Bush while Kennedy finished a distant third. Kennedy said his likely opponent in the November general election, Sen. Mary Landrieu, D-La., would similarly regret her endorsement of her party's presumed standard-bearer in the fall election, Illinois Sen. Barack Obama.

He said Landrieu is making a "huge mistake" by embracing Obama, who Kennedy called "the embodiment of old Europe liberalism."

Landrieu spokesman Scott Schneider said Kennedy's repudiation of Kerry is in keeping with other positions that he's backed off since switching parties, such as his 2004 support for filibustering President Bush's judicial nominees and his one-time criticism of the president's tax cuts.

"He's going to have to deal with this problem throughout the campaign, " Schneider said in an e-mail.

In a speech to about three dozen supporters in Baton Rouge as part of a four-day, 11-stop statewide tour, Kennedy reeled off a string of policy positions popular with GOP audiences. They include support for the war in Iraq, a hard-line stance on illegal immigration and a vow to support conservative nominees for the federal courts.

After the speech, Kennedy said he also supports a controversial White House plan to let people divert part of their Social Security payroll taxes into private accounts - an idea that failed to gain traction in Congress despite a strong push from President Bush in 2005.

A three-day sign-up period for candidates begins today. The first party primary is Sept. 6, and the general election is Nov. 4.

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