2.18.2004

POLITICS - Battle Plans

USA Today examines the topics/tactics used by Bush/Cheney 04 (BC04) to fight John Kerry. In short, there will be plenty of ammunition to be used against Kerry by BC04. However, some of the Dem candidates have tried to shoot down Kerry with the same ammo, and have had very little success. Even taking the "Massachussetts Liberal" label and Kerry's record of "flip-flop voting" into account, this will still be a very close contest.

In a close race, there are three ultra-critical questions: Who is the incumbent? How will the incumbent's record effect the race? Who is the strongest campaigner?

Bush, obviously, is the incumbent. Advantage his. But his record is a controversial, divisive issue. Neither candidate has an advantage here. But Kerry seems to be the strongest campaigner of the two. This will clearly become an advantage, and may be even more important than Bush's advantage as the incumbent. John Kerry narrowly kept his Senate seat in a close contest against a popular former governor, William Weld. In this USA Today article, he makes two particularly salient observations.
"I didn't think he ever got below the belt," says Weld, who lost 45%-52%. "His instinct is not to be personally offensive. ... I would anticipate a substantive campaign."

Weld says Bush had better not underestimate Kerry. In the final months of their 1996 campaign, he says, Kerry's campaign "turned on a dime. The ads got sharper, the stump speech got crisper." Weld predicts that "man-to-man combat" lies ahead.

I highlighted the sentence that strikes fear into the soul of BC04. They lost the popular election against a weak campaigner (and neutered debater), Al Gore. A man-to-man contest against Kerry is going to be very difficult to win.

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