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John Kennedy, a Politician By Any Other Name

In the hotly contested Senate race down in Louisiana, a feller's gotta do what a feller's gotta do to win. Even if that means, as a Republican, associating yourself with the Kennedys.

Actually, the Republican candidate for Senate in Louisiana is a Kennedy. Though, not one of the Kennedys. He's state Treasurer John Neely Kennedy, who is challenging incumbent Democratic Sen. Mary Landrieu in a contest political analysts say is too close to call.

The Sleuth has discovered that Kennedy has an innovative technique for luring folks, especially Kennedyphiles, to his campaign Web site. Google "John Kennedy for Senate" and the first listing you'll find is a link for "John Kennedy / US Senate." The description underneath the link reads: "Tribute to both father and son, with quotes, photographs, and profiles of both men."

Google search results page

But the Web site itself has none of that. There is no tribute to John F. Kennedy or his son. No "ask not what your country can do for you," no photos of the Kennedy family's storied football games or of John John playing at his father's feet in the Oval Office -- and no profiles.

The only photograph is of John Neely Kennedy, the Louisiana GOP Senate candidate -- not the 35th president of the United States.

A Kennedy campaign spokesman, Kyle Plotkin, tells us that the Google listing's misleading description conjuring images of Camelot was not intentional. He says the campaign's Web folks are now working with Google to "re-index" the site to change the characterization.

But Kennedy has owned the Kennedy family "tribute" site, which is now his official campaign site, since September 2003 and the misleading characterization remains.

Kennedy has been accused in the past of using his name to attract unsuspecting voters. In 2004, when he ran for U.S. Senate as a Democrat, one of his primary opponents argued that Kennedy tried to trick African American voters into thinking he was a member of the famous political Kennedy dynasty of JFK, RFK and Ted.

According to an October 2004 article in the New Orleans Times-Picayune, Kennedy the state treasurer sent a mailer to homes in predominantly black neighborhoods that read: "John Kennedy. . . Not just another election day Democrat! The Kennedy tradition! The Kennedy commitment!"

Kennedy's primary opponent, former congressman Chris John (D-La.) retaliated with his own mailer to African Americans declaring, "Just having the name doesn't make him the same."

Plotkin, Kennedy's spokesman, says his boss isn't try to fool anybody. John Kennedy is John Kennedy. "With all due respect to the great senator from Massachusetts, there is only one John Kennedy in Louisiana," Plotkins says.

But Democrats aren't buying the innocent plea. Brian Welsh, a spokesman for the Louisiana Democratic Party, tells the Sleuth, "It seems that John Kennedy's political identity crisis continues. He's got more personalities than Sybil."

By Mary Ann Akers  |  June 13, 2008; 2:23 PM ET
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