Shrum: Bill Clinton urged Kerry to reject gay rights in '04

This post, written by Ben Smith, originally appeared on The Politico

Bob Shrum's book has already caused its share of trouble for John Edwards, in part from Shrum's recollection that Edwards wasn't comfortable with gay people in 1998.

But the book is really sort of a pile of unexploded ordnance, and the person who comes off as most indifferent to questions of gay rights isn't Edwards, but Bill Clinton.

A version of this story is already in print. In 2004, Newsweek reported, without a named source, that Bill Clinton had suggested Kerry "to back local bans on gay marriage."

Shrum has more, and different, detail:

"Clinton, Kerry reported at the time, did suggest blunting Bush's appeal to cultural conservatives with a reprise of Clinton's Sister Souljah moment in 1992 when he'd denounced her call for violence against whites -- and done it as conspicuously as possible in front of Jesse Jackson's Rainbow Coalition.

"Kerry, Clinton ventured, should consider defying Democratic interest groups by endorsing the Bush proposal for a federal constitutional amendment banning gay marriage."

Shrum reports that "this was a flip-flop too far for Kerry."

It's also worse in Shrum's version -- the federal amendment, versus state amendments -- than in Newsweek's telling. And Bill Clinton does, reportedly, continue to play a small role in Hillary's campaign.

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