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September 06, 2004

Meltdown--Kerry leaves reporters "dazed and confused"

The Kerry campaign is melting down before our eyes. The latest CNN poll out today shows that, when asked if they were voting on "leadership" or voting on "issues", the electorate chose leadership over issues by 50% to 38%. That confirms my analysis (in the post below on the Newsweek poll) that it's too late for a message correction by Kerry to work. The spectacle of Kerry unable to decide on his own what to do with his campaign without a long talking-to from Bubba in his hospital bed, blared from every TV screen and on every front page, makes Kerry look weak and indecisive. At the same time, a spate of stories about a staff shakeup, the importation of a gaggle of retread Clintonistas, and of a hack consultant like John Sasso of both checkered past and exaggerated reputation, makes Kerry look like he doesn't know how to pick a staff, calling into question his original judgement. And Kerry himself reinforces his negatives in an interview CNN has been running all day in which he calls the story about the Clinton-impelled staff changes "fictional"--which makes it seem as if JFK is in denial about his own campaign. The Kerry campaign has passed from technically incompetent to downright embarassing.
Here it is Labor Day, and Kerry still doesn't have a coherent theme or a consistent and coherent stump speech. In MSNBC's First Read this morning, MSNBC's Kerry campaign embed Becky Diamond embarassingly reports that, while "Kerry has attacked Bush in every stump speech since the convention, she also observes Kerry fighting to gain his rhetorical footing right now. His performances remain erratic -- some out of the ballpark, but more often than not mediocre. With two months to go, he continues to test new lines and themes. Diamond notes that two months before he won the Iowa caucuses, Kerry came up with a focused and forceful stump speech.
"On Saturday in Akron, Diamond says, Kerry left reporters dazed and confused after a 47-minute speech that wandered. He interrupts himself constantly, starting a line and then going off on a tangent by telling some story related to the issue, then going back to the original thought -- by which point, the momentum is gone. He continues to throw out old lines and themes like 'let America be America again' and 'help is on the way,' and while some new lines are quite strong, the speech lacks an overall focus."
Meanwhile, the London tabloid The Mirror is running a story purportedly citing Kitty Kelly's new book on the Bushes which charges, among other things, that Bush snorted coke at Camp David. This may comfort the anti-Bushies, but it may not play well with the undecideds and independents who are sick of negative campaigning (even though many were swayed by the GOP Convention's brilliant week of scare-tactics and propaganda and smears). The electorate is nothing if not schizophrenic. Unfortunately, the news of the last 24 hours has showed that the Kerry campaign is too.

Posted by Direland at 06:20 PM | Permalink


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Its not too late for JK but your right, his message needs to get a laser focus right now. Defending the middle class is a stupid tack to take. The middle class may be 60% of the country but Kerry has somehow managed to frame them as another special interest group. Edwards 2 Americas theme was brilliant in that it was inclusive of 95%+ of the country and it played to both self interest and charity sentiments, cutting across all class lines. Playing to class is stupid, low, middle and upper classes have all been victimized by the bush administration, Kerry needs to focus on the carnage that has affected us all.

Posted by: rico | Sep 7, 2004 11:00:26 AM

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