April 28, 2004


Kerry's Cuban Problem: How the Democratic nominee is blowing Florida. (Ann Louise Bardach, April 26, 2004, Slate)

John Kerry looks terrified when he talks about Florida—and not without cause. The state remains firmly in the hands of a Republican governor who happens to be the president's brother, an autocratic Republican legislature, and a new secretary of state who may prove more partisan than Katharine Harris.

But what Kerry should be most worried about is the Cuban vote. If he handles his Florida campaign right, Kerry could win a much larger share of this exile constituency than the paltry 18 percent Gore won in 2000 and do as well as Clinton's 39 percent, which would make victory in the state likely. But if he keeps going the way he has been, Kerry will get fewer Cuban votes even than Gore did and in all likelihood lose the state.

Kerry's approach so far has been pandering to hard-line Cuban exiles—ineptly. In March, Kerry told a Miami TV reporter that he had voted for Helms-Burton, the 1996 legislation that further tightened the U.S. embargo on Cuba. In fact, he had voted against it. [...]

Last Sunday, on his third trip to the state, Kerry used Miami as the backdrop for his appearance on Meet the Press. Tim Russert lost no time reminding him that in 2000 he had said that the United States' Cuba policy was the woeful result "of the power of the Cuban-American lobby." Quoting Kerry, Russert said, "We have a frozen, stalemated counterproductive policy. … There's just a complete and total contradiction between the way we deal with China, the way we deal with Russia, the way we have been dealing with Cuba. … The only reason we don't re-evaluate the policy is the politics of Florida."

Mr. Kerry is an inept candidate, but he was never going to beat George Bush in any state south of Maryland.

Posted by Orrin Judd at April 28, 2004 11:07 PM

Kerry's best hope is that the actuary tables catch up with Fidel within the next 5 1/2 months. But even if that did happen, a considerable percentage of the Democratic Party would demand that the Florida Cuban community be barried from interfering in Cuba's post-Castro affairs and sully the worker's paradice with American capitalism.

Posted by: John at April 29, 2004 12:53 AM

Not to mention his inability to motivate the black community.

Posted by: Robert Schwartz at April 29, 2004 10:36 AM

Considering that Sharpton didn't get much over 20% in South Carolina, do the Democrats have anyone in their roster to excite the African-American vote? Their talent pool is at least as shallow as it was in the Mondale/Dukakis 'Eighties; if they had a candidate who could rate a C+, nobody'd be talking about John Kerry.

Posted by: John Barrett Jr. at April 29, 2004 12:10 PM