Disgruntled Kerry shipmate claimed others thought Kerry was

Steven Gardner, the only one of Senator John Kerry's swift boat crewmates from the Vietnam War who has come out in opposition to Kerry's presidential campaign, claimed on the August 16 edition of the nationally syndicated radio show The Glenn Beck Program that three of Kerry's other crewmates -- James Wasser, Drew Whitlow, and Steven Hatch -- “felt the same way that I felt about John Kerry” before they joined the Kerry campaign. Comments from Wasser directly contradict Gardner's claim, however.

In a conversation with Wade Sanders, a former crewmate who supports Kerry, and radio host Denny Schaffer (who was filling in for Beck), Gardner alleged that he had a telephone conversation with Wasser in which “Wasser told me ... that he thought John Kerry was just as despicable as I thought he was for 35 years” before purportedly changing his position after a private meeting with Whitlow, Hatch and Kerry. According to Gardner, Wasser told him that “all three [Wasser, Whitlow, and Hatch] felt the same way that I felt about John Kerry for the 35 years prior to them meeting him in his [Kerry's] office.”

But according to a March 9 article in TIME magazine written by Kerry biographer Douglas Brinkley, James Wasser remembers the conversation that Gardner was apparently referring to differently.

From the article “The Tenth Brother” by Douglas Brinkley:

Jim Wasser telephoned me last week with the news that Gardner had “rung him up out-of-the-blue” to discuss their shared days together in Vietnam. “It was great,” Wasser told me. “You know he fought bravely in Vietnam. He is still a brother. I miss him. I would like to see him.” He then hesitated and went on. “But he has developed a strange, negative assessment of Lieutenant Kerry. It shocked me. His memory is dead wrong. He remembers things so differently. ... He has some kind of weird grudge against Lieutenant Kerry.”

Steven Hatch and Drew Whitlow have also disputed Gardner's recollections of Kerry's service. When Gardner -- who described himself to Brinkley as someone who “had no trouble shooting gooks” in Vietnam -- asserted that Kerry “always tried to park it [the PCF-44 swift boat] away from the action and hide,” Whitlow said Gardner's claim was “false”; Hatch called it “a falsehood.” Hatch recently told a reporter that he joined the Kerry campaign “because people were saying things about him that we knew weren't true.” Wasser, Hatch, and Whitlow all appeared onstage with Kerry when he accepted the Democratic nomination in Boston on July 29.

From the August 16 edition of The Glenn Beck Program:

GARDNER: Jim Wasser called me, or actually I called Jim Wasser, to talk to him just when Mr. Kerry was putting his campaign together, and Jim Wasser told me right there that he, Drew Kerry [sic], and Steven Hatch, all three felt the same way that I felt about John Kerry for the 35 years prior to them meeting him in his office, wherever that happened to be; I don't actually know where his campaign headquarters are.

SANDERS: Were you there at that meeting, Steve?

GARDNER: Uh, no, but I have direct contact with Jim Wasser. Is that not enough for you?

SANDERS: Well, let's get Jim Wasser here because I'm not comfortable with -- I'm not comfortable with hearsay.

GARDNER: That's fine, Jim Wasser would be happy to tell you that, because he doesn't have a lot of choice in the matter.

SANDERS: I'm not comfortable with hearsay.

GARDNER: The very essence of what Jim Wasser told me was that he thought John Kerry was just as despicable as I thought he was for 35 years.

SANDERS: Well, see, Jim Wasser has told me that he didn't say that at all.

GARDNER: But once -- let me finish, you didn't -- I didn't interrupt you, don't interrupt me. So, in the process of all this conversation, Jim said he, John Kerry, Drew Whitlow and Steven Hatch sat somewhere, and John Kerry talked them into his way of thinking. Now, what they did at that point in time I don't have any idea about, but that is a direct quote from Jim Wasser.