Wednesday, June 23, 2004

Another Tale From the Sandbox

From CNN:

WASHINGTON (CNN) — Sen. John Kerry jumped off the presidential campaign trail Tuesday so he could vote for a measure funding health care benefits for veterans — only to watch Republican leaders postpone the vote.

The presumptive Democratic presidential nominee denounced their move as “politics at its silliest.”

For the past month, GOP leaders have engaged in political gamesmanship with Kerry over his dual roles as senator and candidate.

Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle, D-South Dakota, charged that Tuesday’s delay — on a proposed Democratic amendment to a defense spending bill to fund veterans’ health care — was but the latest example.

Republicans insisted that they delayed the vote because a time agreement had not yet been reached with Democrats for debate on the defense bill.

But Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, R-Tennessee, noted that he was not happy about Kerry — who has missed about 80 percent of the Senate’s floor votes during his presidential campaign — deciding to “parachute” in to vote on the veterans’ issue.

Kerry, a Vietnam veteran, has made an appeal to veterans a major point of his campaign, and he has criticized the Bush administration for not adequately funding benefits and health care for veterans.

Anticipating Tuesday’s vote, he canceled several campaign events in New Mexico and returned to the capital to wait for the roll call that never came.

“It’s politics at its silliest,” he told CNN. “It speaks for itself.”

Asked for a comment, Senator Frist told reporters, “Neener, neener.”