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Kerry hires former Clinton spokesman

Then White House press secretary Mike McCurry talks with reporters at an Oct. 1997 briefing.Ruth Fremson / AP file
/ Source: The Associated Press

Sen. John Kerry on Tuesday hired Bill Clinton’s former press secretary Mike McCurry, adding yet another adviser who worked for the two-time Democratic presidential winner.

McCurry will travel with Kerry as a senior adviser for the final weeks of the campaign.

One senior Kerry aide said McCurry will help keep the candidate’s comments focused on his daily message. Another said his role will be to make sure the traveling press corps knows what Kerry is doing and why. Either way, the hiring is an acknowledgment that Kerry and his team have failed to communicate a concise, persuasive argument. McCurry starts Wednesday.

Kerry also has recently hired Clinton’s legislative strategist, Joel Johnson, and another Clinton press secretary, Joe Lockhart.

Kerry is trailing Bush in national presidential polls and in surveys of many key battleground states. The Clinton advisers bring experience in working for the only Democrat to serve in the White House in the past two decades.

“We are truly bringing on the best of the party to add to a very strong team,” said Kerry communications director Stephanie Cutter. “The party is united and is determined to beat George Bush.”

McCurry was a veteran operative when he went to work as a State Department spokesman in the Clinton administration, becoming the president’s second press secretary in January 1995. He helped Clinton through several storms, including a fund-raising controversy and the Monica Lewinsky affair.

He became known as a sharp-witted spokesman who would deflect questions with a humorous aside. After leaving the job in October 1998, he said the president had misled him during the Lewinsky controversy.