BOSTONEnding months of speculation, presidential hopeful Sen. John Kerry announced Tuesday that he has selected the young, vibrant, recently decorated war hero John Kerry as his running mate.
"In my search for a vice-president, I considered many qualified men and women," Kerry said, announcing his decision at Boston University. "But one man stood apart from the madding crowd as brave, honest, and full of life. One man displayed a true desire to change America for the betternot through political maneuvering, but through hard work. That man was me, 35 years ago."
Kerry said he was inspired to nominate John Kerry of 1969 by, of all things, a photo in a magazine.
"I was paging through Time and I came across a picture of a very proud, and, might I add, handsome 25-year-old man in full military uniform, just returning from the conflict in Vietnam," Kerry said. "He was strong, fit, and in the flower of youth. I couldn't look away. It was as if there was a light shining from within him. I knew that this man was destined for the White House."
Kerry said his newly chosen running mate graduated from Yale University in 1966, after which he volunteered for the Navy, serving as a swift-boat officer on a gunboat in the Mekong Delta in Vietnam. For his exemplary service, the young soldier was awarded a Silver Star, a Bronze Star, and three Purple Hearts.
"My running mate is a natural-born leader," Kerry said. "He was born at Fitzsimons Military Hospital in Denver, where his father was recovering from tuberculosis after volunteering for the Army Air Corps in WWII. He continues to uphold a belief instilled in him from a young age: that you must always fight for what you believe in, no matter the cost. Man, to be 25 again."
Kerry spoke of the "exemplary character" of the man with whom he now shares the Democratic ticket.
"My running mate is smart, hard-working, and, above all, unsullied by compromise," said the four-term senator from Massachusetts. "The more I learn about this man, the more I admire him."
"To tell you the truth, sometimes I wish I were more like him," Kerry added.
According to many party insiders, a Kerry/Kerry ticket carries a host of advantages.
"It's a perfect match," said John Podesta, head of the left-leaning Center for American Progress. "John Kerry has the experience older voters look for, but the 1969 Kerry has the freshness, idealism, and hope that inspires younger voters."
"After spending 20 years in the Senate, I have the know-how to lead America to better jobs, quality health care, and greater opportunities for our children," the Massachusetts senator said. "My running mate has the courage to keep our administration honest to itself and its beliefs. Together, we possess much more than either of us alone could bring to the ticket."
According to senior sources within the Kerry campaign, the decision was made last week, but kept quiet until campaign staffers could finish a background check on the potential vice-presidential candidate.
"We had to finish vetting him," Kerry advisor Jim Johnson said. "When picking a VP, you've got to examine his whole life, from childhood on. The last thing we wanted was to have some surprise about his past turn up after he'd already been put on the ticket."
Campaign manager Mary Beth Cahill expressed her support for Kerry's new vice-presidential partner.
"This bright young star is a national treasure," Cahill said. "He's earnest and true to himself. It's been years since I've met anyone in politics that I respect anywhere near as much as I do young John Kerry."
Kerry appeared unsurprised when reporters asked him to comment on statements his running mate made about the Vietnam War.
"Yes, my running mate has made remarks that have been critical of certain decisions made in Washington," Kerry said. "He and I do not agree on every point. But may I remind you that this man voluntarily enlisted to serve in Vietnam? He didn't have to go to war, but he chose to go, to serve his country. He got shot at and wounded. He could have died. Some nights he was scared, but he just kept on going, kept fighting with his fellow soldiers, fighting for America."
Added Kerry: "Now, I'll admit that he still has some unresolved feelings about some aspects of his military service. But, as far as I'm concerned, there's no doubt about one thing: The man is a hero."