ABC News' Rick Klein reports: Rep. Joe Sestak's contention that Sen. Arlen Specter's campaign was engaging in "Swift-boat politics" drew a harsh rebuke this week from Sen. John Kerry – who knows a thing or two about Swift boating. On “Top Line” today, Sestak, D-Pa., said he has “great respect for John Kerry” – but said he isn’t backing down from his charge. A Specter TV ad states that Sestak was “relieved of duty in the Navy for creating a poor command climate” – a charge Sestak called an “attack on the honor of a veteran.” “John Kerry is from Massachusetts, and I respect what his opinion is. This is Pennsylvania. I'm a 31 year veteran who went to war,” Sestak told us. “There's nothing I've ever said that I regret,” he added.
Sestak also pointed out that he was among the few Democrats to publicly defend Kerry in 2006, when he was widely attacked for what he said was a “botched joke” that if you don’t get an education, “you get stuck in Iraq.” “I have great respect for John Kerry,” Sestak, who won his seat in Congress with Kerry’s backing in 2006. “In fact, he called me when I guess I was the only person who stood up and defended him. In the closing days of my first election when he made a joke, a bad joke, that he said. And I said. this is a man who served his country — I've got the cut of his jib, I would stand with him today. And I was in the closing days of my campaign. I still respect him.”