WASHINGTON – One of the authors of a new anti-John Kerry (search) book frequently posted comments on a conservative Web site describing Muslims and Catholics as pedophiles and Pope John Paul (search) II as senile.
But as he prepared to launch the book, "Unfit for Command," Jerry Corsi (search) apologized for the remarks in an interview with The Associated Press Tuesday, saying they were meant as a joke and he never intended to offend anyone.
In chat room entry last year on freerepublic.com, Corsi writes: "Islam is a peaceful religion — just as long as the women are beaten, the boys buggered and the infidels are killed."
In another entry, he says: "So this is what the last days of the Catholic Church are going to look like. Buggering boys undermines the moral base and the lawyers rip the gold off the Vatican altars. We may get one more Pope, when this senile one dies, but that's probably about it."
Corsi, who described himself as a "devout Catholic," said the comments are being taken out of context. "I considered them a joke," said Corsi, who owns a financial services company and has written extensively on the anti-war movement.
In a March posting, Corsi discussed Kerry's faith, writing: "After he married TerRAHsa, didn't John Kerry begin practicing Judaism? He also has paternal grandparents that were Jewish. What religion is John Kerry?"
Kerry and his wife, Teresa Heinz Kerry, are Catholic.
"I don't stand by any of those comments and I apologize if they offended anybody," Corsi said.
The Kerry campaign called Corsi's Web chat postings disgusting.
"President Bush should immediately condemn this sleazy book written by a virulent anti-Catholic bigot. It says something about the smear campaign against John Kerry that it has stooped to enlist a hatemonger," said campaign spokesman Chad Clanton.
Terry Holt, a spokesman for the Bush-Cheney campaign, said neither the president nor his campaign has ever questioned Kerry's military service. "It's shameful for the Kerry campaign to suggest so by falsely associating us with this effort," Holt said.
"Unfit for Command," which goes on sale Wednesday, accuses the Democratic presidential nominee of lying about his decorated wartime record and betraying comrades by returning from Vietnam and alleging widespread atrocities by U.S. troops.
The book claims that Kerry earned his Silver Star not in a barrage of enemy fire, but rather by killing a fleeing Viet Cong teenager. It also questions the three Purple Hearts that Kerry earned, saying that none was for serious injuries and two wounds were self-inflicted.
According to medical records from his naval service, Kerry still has shrapnel in his thigh from a war injury.
"I think it's important the country have the facts about John Kerry so that they can reach a reasonable decision," said co-author John O'Neill, who succeeded Kerry in command of a swift boat. O'Neill also is spokesman for Swift Boat Veterans for Truth, which began airing an anti-Kerry ad last week.