November 1, 2004


Is Kerry relevant to 2004 election? (ROBERT NOVAK, 11/01/04, Chicago SUN-TIMES)

Kerry's focus last week on missing explosives and his neglect of traditional Democratic philosophy might imply this issue connected with the electorate and boosted him against President Bush. But there is no evidence Kerry's course helped. Rather, associates say it reflects Kerry's passion to convince fellow Americans he is qualified as commander-in-chief.

I contacted several Democrats who have criticized Kerry privately to me in the past. They shrugged off Kerry's obsession with the explosives. They confirmed that the senator is regarded inside the party as largely irrelevant to the election of 2004. This is an election about George W. Bush. Democratic leaders talk a lot about how their "ground game" -- getting out their voters -- will elect Kerry Tuesday, and seem uninterested in what he has to say. [...]

He became oblivious to past Democratic denials of Iraqi weapons of mass destruction or their connections with terrorism. On Monday in Dover, N.H., Kerry said: "Terrorists could use the munitions to kill our troops, our people, blow up airports and level buildings." On Tuesday in Green Bay, Wis., he declared: "The explosives are missing, unaccounted for, and could be in the hands of terrorists -- used to attack our troops or our people."

The Bush camp was surprised when Kerry and his surrogates sounded this theme for four days, eliminating the candidate's planned "closing arguments." After two days, Republican activists grumbled the president had not responded. The reason was astonishment by Bush strategists that the Kerry campaign would continue on this path through the campaign's last week.

Except for a small bounce on Monday, many polls indicated the explosives issue had no effect on Kerry's fortunes. Surveys concluded Friday showed Kerry no stronger than he was a week earlier or perhaps a little weaker. As much as journalists (and particularly cable television) loved the story, it was passing over the heads of voters.

He'd have done better in this campaign by not campaigning.

Posted by Orrin Judd at November 1, 2004 7:32 AM


Was that supposed to read "weakness" or "meekness"? Either works, of course.

Posted by: Axel Kassel at November 1, 2004 9:40 AM

Agreed, oj, on the non-campaigning. Kerry should have taken a page from McKinley's playbook, sat on his front porch, and given obtuse answers to fawning reporters.

Posted by: Fred Jacobsen (San Fran) at November 1, 2004 1:30 PM

Kerry did half of that, Fred.

Do his estates have porches?

Posted by: jsmith at November 1, 2004 8:41 PM