Skip to comments.Erratic Campaign by Kerry Leads to Loss (let the backbiting and recriminations begin!)
Posted on 11/03/2004 3:25:52 PM PST by ambrose
Erratic Campaign by Kerry Leads to Loss
36 minutes ago
By MARY DALRYMPLE, Associated Press Writer
BOSTON - Notwithstanding his athleticism and fighting spirit, Sen. John Kerry (news - web sites) waged an occasionally awkward, run-walk-run campaign, a marathon bedeviled by his slow start and a lumbering response to attacks by the Swift Boat veterans.
"I'm sorry that we got here a little bit late and little bit short," Kerry told a crowd of family, friends and staff Wednesday at Faneuil Hall as he formally ended the race.
In what seems like ages ago, the Massachusetts senator began the campaign with a certain appeal for Democrats determined to oust President Bush (news - web sites) a decorated Vietnam War record to counter the commander in chief, a wealthy spouse even if she could only contribute a limited amount and an experienced campaign team.
But Kerry's more senatorial style was overshadowed by Vermont Gov. Howard Dean (news - web sites)'s shooting star and his four terms in the Senate suffered by comparison to the state's legislative lion, Sen. Edward M. Kennedy (news, bio, voting record).
Dean tapped into the strong anti-war sentiment among the Democratic rank-and-file and his candidacy soared. Kerry's campaign sputtered in the familiar territory of New Hampshire, forcing the candidate to shake up his staff.
A Kerry revival in Iowa combined with a Dean fizzle pushed the Massachusetts senator forward with a surprising string of Democratic primary wins. Harold Schaitberger, president of the first major labor union to endorse Kerry, recalled that he predicted victory to Iowa Gov. Tom Vilsack in December, weeks before the state's caucuses.
"I think he probably thought I was a little bit of a high school cheerleader," said Schaitberger, head of the International Association of Fire Fighters.
Through the summer, Democrats worried that voters didn't know their candidate and that Kerry's message wasn't clear, wasn't penetrating.
At the Democratic National Convention in July, Kerry introduced himself to voters as a decorated Vietnam veteran with a thoughtful approach to questions of war and peace. "I'm John Kerry and I'm reporting for duty," he said with a crisp salute as he took the stage.
But by mid-August, Kerry's spit-and-polish image has been tarnished by a group of Republican-funded Vietnam War veterans who had patrolled the same Mekong Delta in swift boats similar to the ones piloted by Navy Lt. John Kerry.
The Swift Boat Veterans for Truth challenged Kerry's accounts of his medal-winning service and anti-war protests. Although the charges later turned out to be largely unsubstantiated, Kerry let others defend him while the campaign saved its ad money for later.
"He clearly lost precious time and momentum in August by not responding to the Swift Boat ads. They clearly added real doubts about his character," said Elaine Kamarck, a former senior policy adviser to Al Gore (news - web sites) and public policy lecturer at Harvard University's Kennedy School of Government. "I think they left a lasting impression."
The questions about Kerry's ability to be commander in chief worsened as the Bush campaign hammered away at a pair of votes one in October 2002 authorizing military action against Iraq (news - web sites), and another in October 2003 rejecting $87 billion in funding for troops and reconstruction efforts in Iraq and Afghanistan (news - web sites).
The GOP dogged him with charges of flip-flopping, counting the seemingly myriad of positions Kerry held on the war and using his legislative record against him. Images of the athletic Kerry wind-surfing near his Nantucket home during the Republican convention was fodder for the some ads that suggested the Democrat's positions changed with the wind.
In September, Kerry started to battle back with a pair of speeches signaling he wouldn't shirk from battling the president over terrorism and Iraq. He said the billions financing the war could be put to better use at home, excoriated the president from marginalizing allies and blamed the president for failing to plan for peace as well as for war. He called Iraq a diversion from the war against al-Qaida.
With a steady hail of evidence of job losses, troop deaths, kidnappings and budget deficits, he tried to dent Bush's steady assurances that he'd done everything right.
Knowing that three televised debates offered his best opportunity to reach the most voters, Kerry prepared seriously and exceeded Bush's performances. He entered a final sprint, maybe too late.
"I think Kerry's biggest hurdle is that he wasn't able to set the agenda for this campaign," said Kathryn Dunn Tenpas, a presidential expert at the Brookings Institution.
Kerry started the campaign against the president seen as the most "electable" of the Democrats, a description that maybe said more about his opponents than Kerry himself. He rode a strong current of dissatisfaction with Bush.
Exit polls showed he attracted some enthusiasm but couldn't throw off the flip-flopping mantle. A majority of all voters said Kerry mostly says what he thinks people want to hear, and only about 40 percent said he says what he believes.
"He couldn't close the sale, and I think that was partly him but I think that was also the circumstances of the time," said Norm Ornstein, a veteran political analyst for the American Enterprise Institute.
Oh, but doesn't this rankle. Its because the charges were so dead on that Kerry had to hide from interviewers, lest any of them ask whether he had ever been in Cambodia.
I don't think this is back bitting, as much as EXCUSE making...Just like with Reagan, liberals cannot believe we Americans REJECT them...they think we just didn't understand, or the message didn't get out, or the liberal canidate made mistakes...it just COULDN'T be that we voted AGAINST this traitor and his dumb-ass of a wife.
I cannot understand whenever they say something like this without ever really try to look at the evidence.
The knives come out.
They're still saying the Swifties charges "later turned out to be largely unsubstantiated"......a subtle way of calling 254 brave men liars.
Here's a great response to this article on the Yahoo message board:
Isn't it just possible...
by: bgm0828 11/03/04 06:16 pm
Msg: 3 of 7
...that voters listened to Kerry and his message, and they listened to Bush and his message... and they preferred Bush?
In the coming days, weeks, months, years, people will come up with a million reasons why Kerry lost. For some reason, we must always find some gaffe, mistake, or personality trait that caused voters to reject the losing candidate.
Both candidates had the same amount of money and politicos at their disposal. They both slung mud but, in the end, both got their messages out and we got to know each of them.
It's simple, the voters preferred Bush and his message and his vision for the future to that of John Kerry.
It's over, lets get on with life again.
I think we all owe a debt of gratitude to Teresa for not only helping Bush to defeat her husband, but in solidifing the ban, by eleven states, on gay marriage.
We should all hope that Teresa returns in fours years to once again use her unique language skills and political accumen to help Hillary's surge toward a Liberal/Democratic presidency.
It just couldn't be that Bush was a better commander in chief...NOOOO
Although the charges later turned out to be largely unsubstantiatedYeah? Which charges were unsubstantiated? Certainly not the #1 charge, that Kerry never signed his 180.
And yesterday we all saw just how reliable those exit polls are.
The most memorable part of Kerry's campaign was the blue bunny suit. I hope every History book carries an 8X11.
This article is missing something????
Oh I know, its the TRUTH.
Lie all you like. The people know better...
Poor John Kerry. How dare Republicans wage a campaign against him!
". . . his athleticism . . ." Does Marty mean those dorky pictures of him throwing a football while in dress clothes, "the human wishbone" photo, etc.?
Maybe what we on FR ought to do to achieve what the Libs like to call "closure," is to do a Kerry's Greatest Hits thread. [snicker]
The lies continue--even now.
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