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New Candidate to Enter Presidential Race

A new candidate is poised to enter the Presidential race, John Kerry. Long time political watchers may remember Kerry as a liberal Senator from Massachusetts who had an unsuccessful bid for the Presidency running on a platform of his 4 months service in Vietnam. The new John Kerry will enter the Presidential race running on a platform of healthcare and the economy.

The stories are all over the media. The old John Kerry is out and the new John Kerry is in. Call it a mid-campaign flip-flop. Whether Kerry can pull this off remains to be seen.

It is, of course, a tacit admission that the Swift Boat Veterans have won. When their story first broke, I said "this could change the whole campaign." I was ribbed by a few people and dismissed, even mocked, by others. But what I wrote 4 months ago in defense of that statement was dead on:

...the reason I thought it was so big was because this man has based his whole campaign on the fact he spent 4 months driving a boat in southeast Asia 30 years ago.

If that gets pulled out from under him what exactly does he run on?

Kerry, foolishly, has all of his campaign eggs in one basket.
...
Iím not saying Kerry will have to leave the ticket. I am saying that if the media goes after this with half the effort they put in the AWOL non-story it will take enough shine off his Vietnam message to hurt him badly and very likely cost him the win.

I'm too lazy to dig up the link, but later I said the reason the Swiftboat story was important was because it would take Vietnam away from John Kerry. Every time the voters heard him say 'Vietnam' they would think of the Swifties and he would have nothing left to say. Ladies and gentleman, we have reached that point.

The latest bit of evidence is a piece on Drudge that says Clinton spent 90 minutes on the phone with Kerry and told him to quit mentioning Vietnam. The Swifties have won.

But did they win too early?

Kerry - the new John Kerry- still has 60 days to reshape his campaign. I'm not so sure he can do it. He certainly has some disadvantages.

One of his biggest disadvantages is obvious. His convention, his one shot to introduce himself to the voters, has passed. A convention is traditionally the time when a candidate defines his campaign. Kerry wants to throw out the cards he dealt himself in Boston and start over.

He obviously lacks time. It takes a while for ad campaigns to sink in. If he wants to be known as the candidate running on the economy, it will take a lot of time to get that message out. Which leads to the next problem.

Money. 527's aside, Kerry went into the general lacking money because of the relative dates of the party's conventions. Changing messages mid-steam will put a strain on his already dwindling bank account. Bush's money will be spent re-enforce his message. Kerry must create a new one.

The very fact he is changing his platform in and of itself will make Kerry look bad. He "failed" (you'll hear that word a lot - if the Republcans have a brain - and they do) to move the voters so now he must flip-flop on his own campaign. His critics will tar him as a failure and a flip-flopper. Easy to do since the charges are self evident.

The next problem he has will be the Republicans. Now that Kerry has run his Swift Boat story aground, don't look for the Republicans to tow him back to the channel. James Carville's philosophy on campaigning is that, "When your opponent is drowning, throw the son of a bitch an anvil." I'm sure many Republicans will be all too willing to take Carville's advice and keep the debate about Vietnam as long as possible. Kerry is in a most untenable position. He can't talk about Vietnam but he has to (or more importantly feels he has to) defend himself from attack on the issue.

The campaign infrastructure is, by all accounts, in chaos. Various reports in the media have named no less than 5 different people who are being brought in to "save" the campaign. One of the things that sank Howard Dean in Iowa was that his campaign got embroiled in internal politics and quit functioning. Being important to the candidate's victory is all important. If the candidate wins, cabinet positions and other plum assignments await. It's all about taking credit for the win. All the old faces in Kerry's campaign will therefore have a vested interest in the new folks failing. Kerry will end up spending more time referring his own people than talking to voters. Campaign shake-ups almost never work for these reasons.

Perhaps the biggest obstacle between John Kerry and the Whitehouse is, in the end, John Kerry. He has proven to be an undisciplined and downright poor campaigner. To date he has refused to let any professionals run the campaign. He calls the shots and his "Do you know who I am?" ego is unlikely to change.

Kerry has -in his mind's eye at least- been running for President on his Vietnam service for 3 decades now. He has been running full time for a year giving the same answer to every question -no matter the question- and using the same stump speech. Can he break the habit? Can he stay on a different message? History tells us it will be harder than navigating a Swift Boat into Cambodia.

With all of these problems, can Kerry win? Of course he can and it won't necessarily take external news to shake Bush's lead. Kerry could turn the whole thing around and the Bush people may make a few mistakes. Clearly though, Kerry is on defense.

In the end, the Bush people should not assume victory. That killed us twice in elections to Bill Clinton and has, in effect, killed Kerry's first version of this campaign.

People who support George Bush should take the advice of one of my campaign mentors. "Smile at the good news of your opponents demise but run like you are scared until Tuesday night at 8pm. Then... see what happens."

He right.


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Comments (10)

Some reactions:The... (Below threshold)
Dan:

Some reactions:

The money issue for Kerry can be mitigated by those "uncordinated" 527's releasing some new ads.

Mainstream media will use the "been there, done that" lie to negate the SwiftVets and aid the Kerry camp into turning them into a negative issue for Bush. Remeber, Clinton people believe in "triangulation," and the press loves working for them. There either needs to be something new and solid on the issue, or the focus should be wholly on Kerry's anti-war antics, making him distasteful. The medals controversy can help if there's meat there.

Kerry IS the problem with the dems, there's a good chance he'll blow whatever new strategy they employ. But new jobs and employment numbers, along with any significant economic news is going to drive events into the Fall.

There were seven Marines killed in Iraq today. If that trend continues through the fall and any significant economic news is bad, Bushis in trouble.

FInal analysis, the only thingto do is to keep the focus on Kerry and keep it negative. But that is going to require a series of reasonably new or news worthy attacks spread through the Fall to be effective. If someone is sitting on that dirt, they already know the plan. If they aren't, thsithing is going to be a serious slugfest until the end.

Aside from the fact JFnK is... (Below threshold)

Aside from the fact JFnK isn't from New York, I don't see much to argue with here.

I agree that a post-convention substitution -- what amounts to a self-Torching -- is a bad plan for Kerry, and I don't think the Big Media hand is very strong at all this cycle. People who would claim all they know is what they read in the paper or see on TV news have still found out all about the stuff those media have refused to cover. That grinding sound you hear isn't the teeth of John Kerry, Terry McAwful, or Peter Jennings; it's a paradigm shifting without a clutch (got that from a Dilbert comic strip).

I hate to say it, but people dying in a war zone isn't going to cost Bush all that much politically -- most people do live in a post-9/11 world where war is hell and their response to such news is "Yes, what's you're point?" As long as matters over there don't go to hell in a hurry, Bush is okay.

Which goes back to another major weakness of Kerry and the Dems: increasingly, their only hope for victory in November is that Americans suffer wall-to-wall death and misery for the next two months.

Karma can be a bitch.

New York? WTF was ... (Below threshold)
Paul:

New York?

WTF was I typing?!?!?!

Thanks Mcgehee I have no idea what possessed me to type that other than I wrote it at like 3am.

The Democrats are going to ... (Below threshold)

The Democrats are going to campaign on the economy and jobs until the election. It's the only thing they can do, because it looks like no one's willing to trust Kerry on the war, and they're certainly not going to win on charm -- the candidate is a drip. I haven't seen one Democrat commercial that has Kerry in it -- but maybe I'm not watching the right channels.

The problem is, that though it's true that the economy and jobs consistently poll highest on the list of voters concern, they're also issues the public are most likely to scoff at when politicians say they have a plan. The Democrats will get little traction on this.

"Meet the new flop...... (Below threshold)
Jay Tea:

"Meet the new flop...
Same as the old flip..."

J.

John Kerry to the Swifties:... (Below threshold)
Nordicgirl:

John Kerry to the Swifties: "Bring. It. On." Except not, apparently.

Let's not forget about tort... (Below threshold)
Steve Cormier:

Let's not forget about tort reform. I think Edwards will be a bigger factor than most people are recognizing right now, when the 'pubs start slamming on medical malpractice and disappearing doctors. This will effectively counter any healthcare charges by Kerry, I believe.

Edwards is also a complete political rookie, and just as there is a tank in Kerry's future, I think there will be a potatoe in Edwards'.

Finally, I don't think Swiftgate is going away. I think Kerry better start worrying as much about ending up in Martha's mansion as in the Oval Office. The Navy doesn't screw around with the kinds of things coming out about Kerry, and there are many, many witnesses. Kerry's going to have some 'splainin' to do. I can see the hearing coming, and hear the dems wailing about it being a Bush administration dirty trick. Nevertheless, the military has no choice but to investigate due to Judicial Watch's complaint.

The Associated Press is rel... (Below threshold)

The Associated Press is releasing a number of stories on Bush's National Guard record -- mostly old ground and conjecture. Today, AP's Mark Kelley resurrected one story and I wrote to AP to tell them I'm hip to their game. Here's what I wrote:


So what are you guys going to do until election day? Keep writing about Bush's National Guard service? What about doing a little investigation into Kerry's background. For instance, was he in Cambodia or was he near Cambodia or was he there on Christmas or was he there in January? If everything Kerry says is true, then was he a war criminal? He said he committed atrocities.

Also, US Naval regulations are specific about awarding Purple Hearts and these medals are not awarded for self-inflicted (intention or unintentional) wounds. Should Kerry return his first Purple Heart? Should he go back to Vietnam and finish his tour? He did leave after only completing 4 months and 12 days in Nam. He owes Uncle Sam almost 8 months.

You people are unbelievable. You claim no partisan bias yet your coverage looks as if you're nothing more than the newsletter for the DNC. Shame on you.

Kerry put all his campaign ... (Below threshold)

Kerry put all his campaign EGG in one basket.

SwiftBoat vets' mine exploded under his basket.

Egg now on face.

No bleeding.

No purple heart will be awarded for self-inflicted loss of presidential campaign.

There is still the POW/MIA ... (Below threshold)
DelphiGuy:

There is still the POW/MIA issue to come which is part of Kerry's political career while tying in nicely with the Vietnam issue.

When the left are asked about John Kerry's achievements, many mention the fact he was chairman of the Senate Select Committee on POW/MIA affairs.

However, it seems from here that he spent some time there covering up the POW MIA issue, and then tried to get the trade embargo lifted with Vietnam. Didn't his brother (was this the same one who was caught breaking into Kerry's opposition offices?) have some $400 million deal with Vietnam in the pipeline when this was going on?

Sheesh, for all the BS about Afghan pipelines and Iraqi oil, you would have thought Michael Moore might have at least dedicated a 30 minute special to Kerry's dealings.




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