Bob Kerrey

Bob Kerrey

WASHINGTON — If President Donald Trump wants a new pen pal, former Sen. Bob Kerrey, D-Neb., is up to the task.

Kerrey recently sent a letter to the new president taking issue with both his travel ban and his relationship with Russian leader Vladimir Putin.

“You seem to measure greatness by gross domestic product, the size of our military, or doing deals,” Kerrey wrote to Trump. “You could not be more wrong. Dangerously wrong in my strongly held view.”

The letter was posted on, which bills itself as “the largest progressive organization of veterans in America.”

Kerrey wrote that America’s greatness had little to do with economic clout or military strength when Presidents George Washington and Abraham Lincoln were in charge.

“In the case of the former, our economy and military were weak and could not compare with those of the great powers of the day,” Kerrey wrote. “In the case of the latter, our republic almost did not survive. In light of your January 27 executive order and collaboration with Russian President Vladimir Putin, I suspect if you had faced the same set of circumstances as Lincoln did after his inauguration, you would cut a deal with (Confederate) President Jefferson Davis.”

Kerrey told The World-Herald that he’s written half a dozen letters to Trump since the election on topics including trade, health care and Trump’s inaugural address.

The letter writing began in response to questions from Kerrey’s 15-year-old son about the contentious election, the incoming administration and what it all meant.

“People paid attention to this election and want to know what it’s all about. Is the world going to come to an end?” Kerrey said. “The answer is no.”

Kerrey said he finds that his answers are better if he writes them down, and he decided to share what he’d written with the president as well as his son.

He hadn’t intended the letters to be public but after he shared the last one with someone who asked him about the topic, it wound up on a website.

In that letter, Kerrey said Trump has agreed to make Putin an ally in the fight against Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria, a group frequently referred to as ISIS.

“Has it occurred to you that the men who are on the ground fighting against ISIS are Muslims and would be banned from entering the United States under the terms of your executive order?” Kerrey wrote. “Coupled with your statement that we should consider seizing Iraqi oil (something I am certain Vladimir Putin would embrace fully), your words and actions must be a bitter reminder to these Iraqi freedom fighters they would be wise not to fully trust our purpose.”

He wrote that he would expect better from an American president.

“Your executive order does not make me feel like I am living in a great country, which I know I am,” Kerrey wrote. “You have diminished us; shrunk us to a pale imitation of the real thing. I urge you to reverse yourself as quickly and as humbly as possible.”

Thus far, the correspondence has been one-sided — Kerrey has received no return mail from President Trump.

Reporter - Politics/Washington D.C.

Joseph Morton is The World-Herald Washington Bureau Chief. Morton joined The World-Herald in 1999 and has been reporting from Washington for the newspaper since 2006. Follow him on Twitter @MortonOWH.

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