NEW YORK – Former Vice President Al Gore's presidential campaign heard but did not pursue allegations about George W. Bush's Air National Guard service, similar to the information in discredited documents aired by CBS News this month, a former campaign official said Tuesday.
Tony Coelho (search), who ran the campaign for several months in 2000, said he did not follow up on the claims because they were not serious enough to demand further attention.
"Of everyone I talked to, no one had anything that rose to the level that we should get ourselves into," Coelho said.
CBS and anchor Dan Rather (search) apologized Monday for a "60 Minutes" segment that quoted documents purported to be from one of Bush's commanders in the Texas Air National Guard.
The documents say the commander, Lt. Col. Jerry Killian (search), ordered Bush to take a medical exam, which he did not, and felt pressured to sugarcoat an evaluation of then-1st Lt. Bush.
Rather said the network could not determine if the memos were authentic.
White House officials and other Republicans suggested that Democrat John Kerry's presidential campaign was behind the CBS report. Kerry campaign officials denied that.
Lockhart and Burkett said they only discussed how Kerry could respond to a group of Republican veterans who accuse Kerry of exaggerating his Vietnam War record.
Coelho said he remembered taking phone calls in 2000 from several Texans with allegations about Bush's Guard service. He said he did not remember if any were from Burkett, a former Texas Army National Guard officer and longtime Bush critic.
"I never felt there was anything substantive for us to try to deal with or not, so we never pursued it," Coelho said. "We never had any documents given to us. That would have been something different. We would have had to check it out."