During a mid-morning confirmation hearing on the nomination of Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) for Secretary of State, a female protester started shouting from the back of the room.
Wearing a pink knit hat, she screamed, “what are American interests? We need peace with Iran!”
As security forced her out of the room, she continued shouting about friends who were dying in the Middle East.
As the hearing room settled back into stunned silence, Kerry did something even more shocking than the disruption: he defended the protester.
“I respect the woman who was voicing her concerns about that part of the world,” he said, adding that he too had come to Washington out of a desire to have a voice.
Kerry’s surprising comment is a reference to his own controversial past as an anti-war protester following a deployment as a young Navy officer to Vietnam. In one act of defiance, he threw combat medals and ribbons over a fence on the Capitol grounds.
There were no questions about Kerry’s antiwar past Thursday morning in confirmation hearings, but his history as a protester and conflicting reports about his service in Vietnam may have contributed to the failure of his presidential bid in 2004.