Free Republic
Browse · Search
Topics · Post Article

Skip to comments.

Graham Campaign Buckles Under an Array of Troubles
The St. Petersburg Times ^ | 9/30/03 | Bill Adair

Posted on 09/30/2003 3:33:45 AM PDT by dawn53

Graham campaign buckles under an array of troubles

Sen. Bob Graham's late start, the campaign's lack of funding and political missteps are blamed for his lackluster performance in the presidential race.

By BILL ADAIR, Times Staff Writer

Published September 30, 2003

COLUMBIA, S.C. - As Sen. Bob Graham greeted voters at a football game Saturday, a local political reporter gave the Florida Democrat a humbling reminder his presidential campaign is struggling.

The South Carolina reporter said a recent news story suggested Graham was about to drop out of the race. Was that true?

Graham said he had no plans to drop out. "We've got the resources we need to be successful," he said.

Yet Graham's campaign has reached a critical point. He is at the bottom of the polls, lagging in fundraising and generally ignored by the national news media.

What has gone wrong? Why hasn't Graham - Florida's most popular Democrat - become a contender?

Many of the problems stem from his late start. Graham, 66, didn't enter the race until May because of heart surgery.

His campaign is run by veteran Democratic operatives, but they are unfamiliar with him. They've issued statements that often seem out of synch with the cerebral senator. The campaign has suffered from frequent missteps and missed opportunities.

Graham has had a difficult time capitalizing on his antiwar position and his lengthy resume. Voters have complained that he is dull.

Craig Crawford, who covered Graham for 12 years for the Orlando Sentinel and is now a political analyst for MSNBC and Congressional Quarterly, had predicted Graham would be a contender.

"Count me among those who were completely wrong in the beginning," he says. "I really thought Graham was going to make this work."

But Graham says that his campaign is picking up steam and that he is confident he will become president.

"We'll have our moment," he says.

"Wait till next quarter' Graham's campaign manager is Paul Johnson, a quiet Minnesotan with lots of experience running statewide campaigns. Johnson hired a staff of seasoned Democratic strategists, but none had worked with Graham.

They have been hamstrung by a lack of money and have repeatedly had to say, "Wait till next quarter."

In the first quarter, when he was recovering from heart surgery, Graham collected only $1-million (Sen. John Edwards raised $7-million). Aides promised the second quarter would be strong.

Then, Graham raised only $2-million in the second quarter (compared with $7-million for Howard Dean). Aides said they expected to raise at least $4-million this quarter, which ends today.

Now, they say they will fall short of $4-million, although they won't give a new estimate. Graham said Saturday that "this was a strange quarter. July and August, because they are summer months, are difficult months to do fundraising events."

Missed opportunities Along the way, Graham's campaign has had its difficulties:

Mistakes and poor planning. Graham's press releases and e-mails to supporters include an unusual number of grammatical errors and typos. A release Monday criticized the Bush administration's "wreckless" drilling policy. In July, the campaign e-mailed reporters about a new state political director but did not say which state. Last week, an outdoor fundraiser in Washington was held beside a busy street, so loud buses drowned out Graham's speech.

The campaign has often seemed out of synch with Graham, issuing blistering statements that don't sound like the senator. An item on the campaign Web site in August referred to no-bid contracts being awarded to Halliburton as "a disgusting situation."

Lack of identity. Graham tried to position himself as the antiwar candidate and the one who can beat President Bush. But Howard Dean has often been identified as the antiwar candidate and Wesley Clark is now being called the most "electable" candidate.

Missed opportunities. Graham met dozens of voters at the college football game in Columbia on Saturday, but campaign workers made little effort to follow up. They had no literature to give voters, nor did they keep a list of names for future mailings.

Internal troubles. Crawford said Graham's family has been playing too big a role in directing the campaign. Crawford said Graham "has got some hired guns around him, but if they've got to take orders from the wife and kids, you've got a problem."

Lack of pizazz. Graham's speeches have often failed to inspire voters. Although he occasionally fires up a crowd - an appearance in Columbia Saturday night got a good reception and even moved one woman to tears - voters often say he is too low-key.

Kathleen Hall Jamieson, a professor of communications at the University of Pennsylvania, said Graham chose the right issues - intelligence and national security - but hasn't capitalized on them.

Graham "isn't breaking through" because of his speaking style, Jamieson said. "There are people who are bright and competent who are not good at oral communication."

Crawford says the senator "has an old-school speaking style that is very halting and deliberate, which is not up to speed with the modern, remote-control TV age."

Wordy ways Another problem for Graham has been the absence of Bob Squier, his longtime political consultant who died in 2000.

Squier often convinced the senator to use snappy lines. It was Squier who persuaded Graham to call himself Bob instead of the name he used when he entered politics, D. Robert.

But without Squier to push him, Graham has resorted to his wordy ways.

"Graham misses Squier," said Charlie Reed, a longtime friend of the senator.

Reed said that Graham's new consultant, Karl Struble, has gotten Graham to use snappy lines for TV spots, but the senator has not used enough of those lines in his speeches. "It just doesn't get translated," Reed said.

Graham says he has improved and that his speaking style is not as bad as some people say.

"I have had a speaking style which has gotten me elected five times in Florida, so it must not be that uncommunicative," he said.

Johnson said he is upbeat about the campaign's future.

"I don't think our financial situation is dire at all," he said. "I'm comfortable where we are."

He said there are no conflicts with Graham's family. "They've been very supportive and helpful," he said.

Johnson acknowledged problems with staffers who've written statements that were too strong and said that Graham "has lectured us that he wants to be hard but respectful of President Bush."

Graham lacks the money to wage a campaign in all of the early states, so he is focusing on Iowa. Asked about rumors that he would soon be cutting staff because of the sluggish fundraising, Graham said, "We are always evaluating our organization as to how we can better achieve our objectives."

Johnson, the campaign manager, says, "This is not a candidacy that is going to electrify a room right away. It's like making bread. You've got to let it rise for a while."

TOPICS: Politics/Elections

1 posted on 09/30/2003 3:33:45 AM PDT by dawn53
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | View Replies]

To: dawn53
"I have had a speaking style which has gotten me elected five times in Florida, so it must not be that uncommunicative," he said.

Voted in by the idjuts of Palm Beach and the ghettoes of Miami. Not saying much there. This guy is toast.

2 posted on 09/30/2003 3:52:08 AM PDT by doosee
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: dawn53
"I have had a speaking style which has gotten me elected five times in Florida, so it must not be that uncommunicative," he said.

Translated: I promised the transplanted yellowdog bluehairs and the other government teet-leechs that inhabit the state's heavily populated rectal region (Broward, Dade, Palm Beach counties) that I'd bring home the pork and I won.

3 posted on 09/30/2003 3:57:44 AM PDT by DaBroasta (Bob Graham makes Bob Byrd appear rational)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: dawn53
Ten Nine little indians.
4 posted on 09/30/2003 4:02:17 AM PDT by G.Mason (Lessons of life need not be fatal)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: dawn53
"We'll have our moment," he says.

You already had your 15 minutes of fame Bob. You can fool some of the Floridians some of the time but you can't fool most of the Americans some of the time...fool.

5 posted on 09/30/2003 4:05:14 AM PDT by PGalt
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: doosee
Yeah, looks like he's about to drop out, and without even a mention of his infamous diaries/journals.

Guess Jimmy Breslin was wrong, LOL. Remember his predition---
6 posted on 09/30/2003 4:09:09 AM PDT by dawn53
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 2 | View Replies]

To: dawn53
Way back in February, this is what Larry J. Sabato was saying about Bob.

Larry J. Sabato, political scientist at the University of Virginia, thinks Graham could be a formidable contender.

"He can raise a lot of money, and he can call upon his southern roots to argue that the Democrats need that kind of geographical balance on the ticket," Sabato said.

"He's obviously not a frontrunner, but he has to be taken seriously — he's not facing a field of candidates that is full of giants.

Certainly, he doesn't have much charisma, but he could be the anti-charisma candidate."


7 posted on 09/30/2003 4:23:22 AM PDT by csvset
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: csvset; dawn53
He is certainly not a Presidential contender.

Does he have potential as a VP and is he staying around based on that possibility?
8 posted on 09/30/2003 4:27:16 AM PDT by sd-joe
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 7 | View Replies]

To: dawn53
The St. Petersburg Times (AKA Pravda West) should have run this article on its obituary page.


9 posted on 09/30/2003 4:36:08 AM PDT by MinuteGal
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: MinuteGal
If Al Gore had picked him for VP in 2000, he probably would have won. No New England Democrat has been elected President or Vice President since 1960. Southern governors, on the other hand, have done well in the last 30 years. As a popular two term governor of a major state and a senior Senator, it seems Graham would easily compete. Unfortunately for him, Southern Democrats, who had been the backbone of their party since Reconstruction, have been told to either sell their souls to the eco-socialists or get out. Graham tried behaving like Clinton and Dean, and it didn't work. He might as well send his resume to the University of Florida presidential search committee.
10 posted on 09/30/2003 4:56:44 AM PDT by bobjam
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 9 | View Replies]

To: dawn53
Problem is.....he's not bright and competent.

He's a bumbling idiot, full of bluster and outright lies against our President.

11 posted on 09/30/2003 5:13:54 AM PDT by OldFriend (DEMS INHABIT A PARALLEL UNIVERSE)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: dawn53
He is definatly a loose cannon,with some really strange tendencies,like writing everything he does all day in a little notebook.
12:00pm:woke up.
12:10:took anti-psycotic medication
12:11-3:00 Worship Mistress Hillarys' swollen ankles.
He is as big a Bush-hater as Dean,if not more so.It is a little surprising he did not catch on more with the loony left.Must be the packaging,young and deranged is kind of cool,old and deranged is just creepy.
12 posted on 09/30/2003 5:34:43 AM PDT by Redcoat LI
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: dawn53
What has gone wrong? Why hasn't Graham - Florida's most popular Democrat - become a contender?

No where in this “analysis” do I detect the fact that he is a gold-digging moron. What went wrong? Let’s try he’s a demoncrap idiot!
13 posted on 09/30/2003 5:46:45 AM PDT by schaketo (White Devils for Al Sharpton in 2004... NE Chapter)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: dawn53
Graham was toast when he announced. This guy is so bad off that he even lacks support in his home district of South Florida where most of America's dumbest people can be found.

Graham is neither Presidential material, nor is he VP material. He is, however, "put-out-to-pasture" material.
14 posted on 09/30/2003 5:56:45 AM PDT by DustyMoment
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: dawn53
Wish he'd do a little least enough to keep him out of the Florida Senate race...
15 posted on 09/30/2003 6:00:51 AM PDT by The Clemson Tiger (Hold that Tiger!)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

Disclaimer: Opinions posted on Free Republic are those of the individual posters and do not necessarily represent the opinion of Free Republic or its management. All materials posted herein are protected by copyright law and the exemption for fair use of copyrighted works.

Free Republic
Browse · Search
Topics · Post Article

FreeRepublic, LLC, PO BOX 9771, FRESNO, CA 93794 is powered by software copyright 2000-2008 John Robinson