NBC News reported Sunday that one of its analysts overheard John Kerry on a phone call discussing what he’d have to do to enter the 2020 Democratic presidential race to avoid “the possibility of Bernie Sanders taking down the Democratic Party — down whole.”
Kerry, who is in Iowa campaigning for Joe Biden, told NBC he was “absolutely not” considering a late bid, and later said the report was a misinterpretation of a discussion he had with a friend who “watches too much cable.” Kerry also fired back on Twitter in a statement that initially included an expletive.
“As I told the reporter, I am absolutely not running for President. Any report otherwise is [expletive] (or categorically) false. I’ve been proud to campaign with my good friend Joe Biden, who is going to win the nomination, beat Trump, and make an outstanding president,” Kerry wrote. He quickly deleted that tweet and re-posted it without the expletive.
As I told the reporter, I am absolutely not running for President. Any report otherwise is categorically false. I’ve been proud to campaign with my good friend Joe Biden, who is going to win the nomination, beat Trump, and make an outstanding president.— John Kerry (@JohnKerry) February 2, 2020
The former Massachusetts senator was the 2004 Democratic nominee and served as secretary of state under President Obama. Kerry has endorsed Biden, his former Senate colleague, and has made numerous campaign appearances in Iowa in support of the former vice president’s bid. Biden is locked in a tight race with Sanders and two other candidates in Iowa and the Vermont senator has been surging recently in early state and national polls.
Some national Democrats are worried that Sanders, a self-professed Democratic socialist, will win the nomination.
NBC said its analyst overheard Kerry talking on his phone in the lobby restaurant of the Renaissance Savery Hotel in Des Moines. Kerry reportedly said “maybe I’m [expletive] deluding myself here” and said that to run for president, he’d have to step down from Bank of America’s board of directors and no longer make paid speeches. NBC said Kerry was heard saying that donors would have to “raise a couple of million,” adding that they “now have the reality of Bernie.”
Later Sunday, Kerry said in a written statement that “This is a complete and total misinterpretation based on overhearing only one side of a phone conversation. A friend who watches too much cable called me wondering whether I’d ever jump into the race late in the game if Democrats were choosing an unelectable nominee. I listed all the reasons I could not possibly do that and would not — and will not under any circumstances — do that.”
Wendy Harris, 55, a Sanders supporter who came to hear him speak at a crowded canvass kick off in Newton, Iowa, on Sunday, said she wasn’t surprised that some prominent Democrats want to stop him.
“We’ve seen evidence of that before,” Harris said. She described any effort to stop Sanders as “too little too late.”
“I hope he’s just talking. I mean, how could anyone want to enter the campaign now when there’s so much momentum behind these candidates?” Harris said of Kerry.