BOSTON – Sen. Edward Kennedy (search) said Wednesday he would back fellow Massachusetts Sen. John Kerry for the Democratic presidential nomination in 2008 — even if Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton also pursues a White House bid.
"If he runs, I would support him," Kennedy told The Associated Press in an interview at his Boston office.
While Kennedy has frequently entertained the New York senator and her husband, former President Clinton (search), he said his loyalty is to Kerry. Early polling shows Clinton and Kerry among the favorites for their party's nomination in 2008, but neither run.
Kennedy called Kerry, the 2004 nominee, an "able, gifted and talented political leader."
He criticized President Bush's leadership and said of the American people: "Every day, I think they regret that John wasn't elected."
"We haven't had accountability and we haven't had real leadership in dealing with these issues and problems," he said, "and that's what I hear more than anything else."
The White House had no immediate comment.
There was friction between Kennedy and Kerry in 2000, when Kennedy appeared to favor then-Sen. John Edwards as Al Gore's running mate, even though Kerry was also under consideration. Yet Kennedy campaigned vigorously for Kerry last year, especially before the candidate staged a come-from-behind victory in the Iowa caucuses.