updated 4/14/2004 3:54:19 PM ET 2004-04-14T19:54:19

John Kerry, Young Republican? Or has the Democratic candidate for president been punk’d after nearly 40 years?

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Among the many activities listed under Kerry’s photo in the Yale University yearbook of 1966 is membership in Yale Young Republicans. Both the Kerry campaign and the club’s president at the time think the listing was a prank.

“My bet is it’s a joke, because John was very careful about what he did and didn’t do,” says Renny Scott, the president of the Yale Republicans that year. “Everything was with a mind to the future.”

Kerry’s college roommate, Dan Barbiero, also doubts the yearbook’s accuracy. “I can’t imagine that,” Barbiero says.

'A college prank'
Kerry was not a member of the club, campaign spokesman Bill Burton says. “This is, of course, a college prank,” he says.

Kerry earned a degree in political science at Yale in 1966. He was the head of the Yale Political Union, a college debating club, and led the Liberal Party, one of several political parties in the union that hosted events and debated issues.

Kerry also was the treasurer of the Yale Young Democrats in 1962-63. It was an overwhelmingly Democratic campus in the 1960s, and the Republican club was all but defunct — until it signed up nearly half of the freshman class in 1965 with an offer to hear speakers, drink free beer and meet girls brought to the all-male campus as part of a $3 membership.

One bona fide Republican was not a member of Yale Young Republicans either: George W. Bush. A history major who graduated in 1968, Bush decided not the join the club, Scott recalls.

“He was in with the fraternity crowd,” Scott says. “He was not interested in politics at that stage of his life.”

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