October 3, 2004


Debate unable to sway focus group: Backers of Bush, Kerry stand by their candidate (Yvonne Abraham, October 3, 2004, Boston Globe)

Supporters of John F. Kerry's campaign were overjoyed after Thursday night's debate. Pundits and viewers agreed the Democratic nominee for President had aced the foreign policy matchup with President Bush. Aides in Kerry's revamped, on-message campaign operation allowed themselves a little restrained gloating.

But if Kerry's biggest fans could have been at Moe's restaurant with the Globe's 10-voter focus group Friday night, they might have left feeling a bit deflated. All of those voters believed Bush had done badly Thursday. Most of them believed Kerry had gotten the better of the president in the debate. [...]

Before the debate, three in the group were fervent Bush supporters, and one was a reluctant but firm Kerry supporter. Six were undecided, with three of those leaning toward Bush, two leaning toward Kerry, and one not leaning at all. And that was exactly where they all stood after the debate as well. [...]

On foreign policy, the group mostly supported Bush during their three-hour discussion. Most of them disagreed with Kerry's contention that Bush should have continued pursuing diplomacy before ordering the invasion, and agreed with the president that the Democrat's comments on the war were demoralizing for the troops. Several spoke of a connection between Saddam Hussein and the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, discarding Kerry's insistence that there was no link: "We wouldn't have been over in Iraq if it wasn't for what bin Laden did," Beegle said.

Since Thursday night, Bush has been hammering away at Kerry for his statement that the United States should pass a "global test" before taking preemptive action to protect the nation, asserting that Kerry said a president should get approval from other countries before acting. In fact, Kerry said passing that test means "your countrymen, your people, understand fully why you're doing what you're doing, and you can prove to the world that you did it for legitimate reasons." But most of the voters in the focus group adopted Bush's take on the comment, and they debated whether Americans should care what the world thinks of them. [...]

But while many in the group stood by Bush on Iraq, they were not so forgiving on the matter of Osama bin Laden. Most of them seemed mystified that the mastermind of the Sept. 11 attacks had not yet been caught.

"Somebody had a camera on him," said a Bush-leaning undecided voter, Lisa Griffith, 33, whose stepson, a Marine, is being sent to Iraq in January. "Why can't we capture him?"

It wouldn't seem to be that important, but maybe producing Osama's corpse is the trigger that would turn this into a landslide and do away with the uncertainty that's holding back the economy. Somebody get General Musharraf on the blower.

Posted by Orrin Judd at October 3, 2004 5:47 PM

The futures markets seem to think that Kerry won the debate and it's help his chance of being elected. Before the debates tradesport's Bush contract was trading at $.68, now it's only $.61. It's an extremely close race (even odds would be $.50 so $.61 means Bush is only about 1.5 times as likely to win as Kerry).

Posted by: Bret at October 3, 2004 7:25 PM

Odds are excellent that the only way to claim the $50 mil on Osama's head is with a shovel.

No confirmed communications since the December 2001 videotape from bin Laden. Just some bad (and possibly faked) audiotapes of dubious origin and poor quality, and some scattered reports that the mad mullah joined the Choir Invisible sometime around Xmas 2001. Given that he required dialysis, and that dialysis technology isn't all that portable, he's probably long dead.

Posted by: Tully at October 3, 2004 7:38 PM

Even a DNA test of remnants of some Tora Bora cave done by an expert who had given the maximum allowable campaign donations to the Kerry-Edwards campaign wouldn't convince the hardcore on the left Osama's been munchin' rasins for the past 33 months. They'd just haul out their bromide about the close ties between the Bush family and the bin Ladens and say any family member could have given that matching genetic sample.

Posted by: John at October 3, 2004 8:17 PM

So, are we going to find some tall, burnt up body, said to be Osama, on Nov. 1st ?

The Bush administration could always have "high confidence" in what they've been told by Pakistan intelligence services, only to be disappointed along with the rest of us in a week or so.

As John notes, it won't matter to most on the right and left, but it might sway a few in the middle, or at least depress Democratic turnout.

Really, it throws quite a wrench into conspiracy theorists' worldviews that US forces haven't "found" WMD in Iraq yet.
Could it truly be that not all Americans, nor all humans, are deviously self-serving ?

Posted by: Michael Herdegen at October 4, 2004 5:53 AM

I agree with Tully...dig him up if you want him.

Posted by: Bartman at October 4, 2004 8:20 AM

I think it will be a landslide (electoral college) without any Osama corpse trigger. History is on Bush's side.

1. It is hard to beat an incumbent.

2. It is hard for a sitting senator to win a presidential election.

3. It is hard for a liberal from Massachusetts to win a presidential election.

MOST importantly, George Bush has the correct policies. Substance beats form. Specifically, Bush's foreign policy is better than Kerry's (whatever that may be at any particular time).

Posted by: pchuck at October 4, 2004 10:33 AM


Countered by Kerry, who by the way Served In Vietnam, having all the media and celebrities (including Michael Moore -- all genuflect and burn the pinch of incense before Fahrenheit 9/11) on his side, denouncing Bush/Goldstein from all the media you see and hear all the time.

Posted by: Ken at October 4, 2004 12:45 PM