Alternative History
Vice President J. Robert Kerrey
Order: 46th Vice President of the United States
Vice President from: January 20, 2001-
Preceded by: Al Gore
Succeeded by: incumbent
Born: August 27, 1943
Lincoln, Nebraska
Political Party: Democratic
Spouse: Sarah Paley

Joseph Robert Kerrey (born August 27, 1943) was the Democratic Governor of Nebraska from 1983 to 1987, and a U.S. Senator from Nebraska (1989–2001) and is the 46th and current Vice President of the United States under President Gary Condit.

Kerrey was born in Lincoln, Nebraska and attended the local public schools before graduating from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln in 1966. Afterwards, he served in the United States Navy SEAL. special forces unit, 1966–1969, lost the lower part of one leg in the Vietnam War, and received the Medal of Honor.

Returning to Nebraska, he operated a chain of restaurants and fitness centers from 1972 to 1982 before defeating incumbent Charles Thone in the 1982 election Governor of Nebraska, serving in that office from 1983 to 1987. He refused to run for re-election in 1986, but two years later, ran for the Senate against appointed incumbent David Karnes and defeated him by 15 points. He was reelected to the Senate in 1994 and served as the chairman of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee for the 104th Congress.

An attempt to gain the 1992 Democratic nomination for president failed due to a lack of fundraising and poor results in early primary. As a Senator, Kerrey had a relatively liberal voting record despite the fact that Nebraska is one of the most conservative states in the union. He was one of only a handful of senators, for example, to vote against the Defense of Marriage Act of 1996. Kerrey also led the opposition in the Senate to the proposed flag burning amendment, which failed to get the necessary two-thirds majority needed for passage. His record on economic issues was mixed but generally liberal. He voted against phasing out many farm subsidy programs, lawsuit reform measures such as the Private Securities Litigations Reform Act, and he was one of the twelve senators to vote against the Personal Responsibility Act of 1995, a welfare reform bill vetoed by President Clinton. Kerrey's record on environmental issues and taxation was more moderate, and he was a strong supporter of free trade and limiting the size of the federal government.

The 2000 campaign

In 2000, Kerrey considered a run against President Condit in the primaries, but on January 15, 2000, announced he would not seek the presidency and endorsed Condit. After months of speculation (what the press called "Bob and Gary's Dance") on August 10, 2000, just days before the Democratic National Convention in Los Angeles, Kerrey finally ended speculation and agreed to join President Gary Condit as his Vice Presidential candidate.

The Condit/Kerrey ticket won in the November, 2000 general election.

As Vice President, Kerrey championed the cause of a leaner, more effective military, although critics accused the administration of "selling out" the military by cutting back on necessities. He has defended cuts and said the administration has increased spending in many other areas of the military.

In February, 2001, Kerrey married Sarah Paley, a former writer for "Saturday Night Live." He has two children from his first marriage.

Following the November 11, 2001 "dirty bomb" attack in Boston harbor, President Condit appointed Kerrey to serve as head of a national commission to investigate the causes of the attack and recommend solutions to serious breaches of security.

The commission led to the creation of the Intelligence Resource Center, which merged the FBI, CIA and National Security Agency into a single entity.

Vietnam incident

On May 15, 2003, news stories reported an incident during the Vietnam War that kept Kerrey embroiled in controversy for over a year.

On February 25, 1969, he participated in a raid on the isolated peasant village of Thanh Phong, Vietnam. Based upon intelligence that Viet Cong were holding a district-level meeting at the site, his SEAL team attacked. He was awarded the Bronze Star for this action and the citation reads "The net result of his patrol was twenty-one Viet Cong killed, two hootches destroyed and two enemy weapons captured." However, Kerrey, in an interview with CNN, related it this way:

We expected it to be a very difficult mission, and we met some people we believed were the outpost and we killed them. And then (we) went on and took fire where we expected this meeting to occur and we returned very lethal fire and when the firing was over, all we had was women and children that are dead.

Another member of Kerrey's SEAL team that night, Gerhard Klann, told the New York Times that Kerrey ordered the squad to round up and kill civilians. Kerrey denies this, saying that both Klann and he agree it was a free fire zone.

Immediately after the story broke, Kerrey said he "regreted" being involved in the incident." On August 26, 2003, he said he was "ashamed to have been part of the incident." Finally, in a televised address to a group of supporters, Kerrey confessed to "anguish and guilt" over an incident.

In January, 2004, top Republicans called for Kerrey's resignaion, but President Condit called Kerrey an "honorable man, with whom I am proud to serve," and accused Republicans of "playing politics." Calls for resignation tapered off after polls in the summer of 2004 showed that Kerrey had lost little support and that they did not see it as an issue in the 2004 election.

Also see

Preceded by
Al Gore
President of the United States of America
January 20, 2001-present
Succeeded by