Kerry: On second thought, don't count me in for 2020

Fresh off his new memoir, Every Day Is Extra, John Kerry seemed to position himself for another national run at the presidency. Today on CBS This Morning, however, Kerry backs away from suggestions that he’s re-entering the electoral scrum. “I doubt very much I’ll be running for office again,” Kerry told John Dickerson, explaining that his book is more personal memoir than “a policy book.” Not that Kerry was shy about sharing his feelings about Donald Trump, whom he said could be called “Agent Orange” if he wanted to get into a Twitter war:

“I’ve said again and again it’s hard to get away from it, but I doubt very much I’ll be running for office again,” Kerry said when asked about his intentions for 2020 on “CBS This Morning” on Tuesday. “But I’ll say this, no one should be focused on 2020 right now, they should be focused on 2018.”

Kerry instead suggested the country needs “people to engage and make a difference and in 2018 we have a chance to have a course correction.”

Kerry’s latest comments on his future in politics comes after he did not explicitly rule out a potential bid an in interview with CBS’ “Face the Nation” on Sunday. He said talking about the race is a “distraction” and a “waste of time.” In response, Mr. Trump tweeted that she should “only be so lucky” if Kerry decided to run, adding “the field that is currently assembling looks really good FOR ME!”

I’ve always doubted that Kerry would make another run. For one thing, if he wanted to run, the memoir would have been timed for early spring or late winter in 2019, not the middle of the summer doldrums in 2018. Kerry himself makes note of the timing in his argument that we need to be focused on the midterms more than the next presidential election. Furthermore, the logical choice for a throwback candidate is the much-more-personable, much-more-sympathetic Joe Biden. Kerry’s stentorian delivery and affectations practically scream “ELITE!”, while Biden’s much better at connecting with the kind of working-class voters that Hillary Clinton snubbed in 2016.

It’s highly likely, however, that the next nominee won’t be a septuagenarian from the Vietnam era at all. It won’t be Bernie Sanders, whose record on midterm endorsements has been mixed and who doesn’t identify as a Democrat in the first place. With the Clintons out of the way, the field opens up for all sorts of candidates to find funding from major donors, most of whom are a lot younger and less part of the establishment that stiffed rank-and-file Democrats two years ago. Kamala Harris and Cory Booker spent today burnishing their La Résistance cred in the Brett Kavanaugh hearings, while Democratic governors from far outside Washington DC will soon begin sharpening their rhetoric and raising their national profiles. Old war horses like Kerry and Biden will fall far out of favor, if they haven’t already.

Kerry seems to realize that now. He’s turning 75 in December, which is probably the most significant reason for positioning himself for an elder-statesman role in American politics, rather than trying to seize the podium in an election. When one of the members of the Democratic youth movement takes up the reins, Kerry wants to help navigate. Given the tenor of the activists, however, even that may prove impossible for Kerry to pull off.

Jazz Shaw Jul 05, 2022 12:31 PM ET