September 3 2004
THE PRESIDENT'S SPEECH: I was bored by the
first half of the President's
speech, I don't know whether it was burn out from listening
to too many speeches the past four days or the speech itself.
But there is no question that I felt the first half was
average, about the same as Kerry's speech in Boston. Now
I am not criticizing the rationale for laying out in a 'State
of the Union' type of fashion, the President's domestic
agenda and first term accomplishments, and from a strategic
standpoint it actually made quite a bit of sense, and in
many ways, was vitally necessary from a political perspective
to complete the speech as a whole.
after the initial slowness, the President was able to get
in a few shots at Kerry on important issues with out appearing
mean or too negative:
here, you face a choice. My opponent's policies are dramatically
different from ours.
Senator Kerry opposed Medicare reform and health savings
accounts. After supporting my education reforms, he now
wants to dilute them. He opposes legal and medical liability
reform. He opposed reducing the marriage penalty, opposed
doubling the child credit, opposed lowering income taxes
for all who pay them.
Wait a minute, wait a minute. To be fair, there are some
things my opponent is for.
proposed more than $2 trillion in new federal spending
so far, and that's a lot, even for a senator from Massachusetts.....
My opponent recently announced that he is the candidate
of "conservative values," which must have come as a surprise
to a lot of his supporters.
there are some problems with this claim. If you say the
heart and soul of America is found in Hollywood, I'm afraid
you are not the candidate of conservative values.
you voted against the bipartisan Defense of Marriage Act,
which President Clinton signed, you are not the candidate
of conservative values.
you gave a speech, as my opponent did, calling the Reagan
presidency eight years of "moral darkness," then you may
be a lot of things, but the candidate of conservative
values is not one of them.
is it was the last third of the President's speech where
Bush really hit the ball out of the park. The whole week
had systematically focused the nation's attention on 9/11
and the President's prosecution of the War on Terror. And
there was a noticeable pickup in the President's intensity
and the connection of his message when he moved into the
portion of the speech defending his administration's approach
to the War.
Senator Kerry who refused at his convention to lay out a
vision for the War, and who still today appears conflicted
and ambiguous on how to precede, the President unapologetically
told the American people his vision of how this War needs
to be prosecuted. But it was the connection the President
made on a human level with the American people, where the
most devastating political points were scored.
opening up to reveal a humility and compassion, that is
hard to square with the caricature most commonly offered
by his political opponents, the President was able to scrape
away some of the scar tissue that had begun to accumulate
the last six months:
the last four years -- in the last four years, you and
I have come to know each other. Even when we don't agree,
at least you know what I believe and where I stand.
You may have noticed I have a few flaws, too. People sometimes
have to correct my English.
I knew I had a problem when Arnold Schwarzenegger started
folks look at me and see a certain swagger, which in Texas
is called "walking."
Now and then I come across as a little too blunt, and
for that we can all thank the white-haired lady sitting
right up there.
One thing I have learned about the presidency is that
whatever shortcomings you have, people are going to notice
them; and whatever strengths you have, you're going to
These four years have brought moments I could not foresee
and will not forget. I've tried to comfort Americans who
lost the most on September the 11th: people who showed
me a picture or told me a story so I would know how much
was taken from them.
I have learned first-hand that ordering Americans into
battle is the hardest decision even when it is right.
I have returned the salute of wounded soldiers, some with
a very tough road ahead, who say they were just doing
held the children of the fallen who are told their dad
or mom is a hero, but would rather just have their dad
or mom. I've met with parents and wives and husbands who
have received a folded flag and said a final goodbye to
a soldier they loved.
I am awed that so many have used those meetings to say
that I am in their prayers and to offer encouragement
does that strength like that come from? How can people
so burdened with sorrow also feel such pride?
is because they know their loved one was last seen doing
good because they know that liberty was precious to the
one they lost.
And in those military families, I have seen the character
of a great nation: decent and idealistic and strong.
sequence was unbelievably great, and nothing in John Kerry's
speech last month came even close to this level. This was
the President Bush of October 2001, the President Bush of
70% job approval ratings, and it will serve as a powerful
reminder to many Americans of what they like and admire
in George W. Bush.
course, the Left is so jaded and cynical toward the President
this will have no effect at all with those individuals.
But for the millions of voters who are anxious and unsure,
voters that both campaigns are desperately trying to move
into their corner, these words from the President are exactly
what they wanted to hear from their Commander in Chief.
given the political necessity of defending his first term
domestic accomplishments and the real need to outline a
vision, domestically, for where he wants to lead the country.
The speech has to be seen as a real home run. And a fitting
conclusion to an extremely effective week for the Bush campaign.
J. McIntyre 10:23 am Link
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THE BUBBLE HAS BURST: It's 4:30 am, and after less
than two hours sleep I'm off to the airport to head home.
I'm afraid your humble convention correspondent has been
overcome by exhaustion.
has been an amazing week full of amazing moments, capped
off last night by what I thought was one of the President's
best efforts ever behind a podium - the final twenty minutes
of which I would rank as some of the best political oratory
delivered in recent memory.
that span many in the hall were moved to the edge of tears,
along with the President himself, as George W. Bush poignantly
recalled encounters with our fellow countrymen during their
grief torn moments over the last four years. Then we were
moved to laughter by a by a man confident enough tell jokes
about himself - and to let the country laugh along with
him. It was a remarkable few moments traveling that emotional
trajectory along with the President in the hall last night,
and it displayed in a very raw, real way many of the qualities
that many Americans have come to appreciate and admire about
him over the last four years.
be sure it played this way in your living room or in living
rooms across America, of course, but I have a hunch that
with more thoughts later - from home. - T. Bevan
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September 2 2004
MATTHEWS VS. MILLER: Here is the exchange
between Chris Matthews and Senator Zell Miller last night
after Miller's speech. J.
McIntyre 3:36 pm Link
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KERRY'S OUTSOURCING: In his most recent
dispatch from the convention, Charlie
Cook argues that the Kerry camp needs to hit back at
Bush faster and more effectively. He may be right, but that's
not the point.
is interesting is that Cook goes on to contrast the Kerry
camp's slow reaction time with the rapid response from one
of the many liberal interest groups that consistently attack
Democratic organization with fast reaction time is America
Coming Together, the 527 group that peppers the news media
with extremely pointed and timely attacks on Bush. Yesterday,
for example, ACT's Jim Jordan, Kerry's original campaign
manager, sent out a tart press release pointing out that
the Bureau of Labor Statistics had just issued numbers
showing July job losses, city by city. Jordan pointed
out that Columbus, Ohio, which the president was visiting
yesterday, had lost 2,400 jobs in
July, bringing to 11,300 the number of jobs that Ohio's
capital had lost during Bush's presidency.
next pointed to Scranton and Wilkes-Barre, Pa., where
Bush is set to attend a midnight rally after tonight's
acceptance speech. Combined, those cities lost 4,300 jobs
during July, bringing their total losses back up to 4,800.
Next, Jordan pointed to Milwaukee, where the president
is planning to go tomorrow and where 7,000 jobs were lost
in July, for a total of 12,300.
Kerry campaign almost seems to do better when it outsources
that last sentence again. Is the Kerry camp really "outsourcing
tasks" to a 527 run by John Kerry's former campaign
manager? Wouldn't that be, um, illegal coordination or something?
- T. Bevan 9:15 am Link
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GIVES 'EM HELL: You'll have to pardon my French,
but I had no idea they made cans of whoop ass that big.
Last night Zell
Miller opened one up on John Kerry, eviscerating Kerry's
thirty-year record on national defense in about 15 minutes.
It was the toughest political speech I've ever heard, delivered
with a passion that was as deep as it was obvious.
therein may lie a problem. Let's be blunt: Zell wasn't just
angry last night, he was mad as hell. And he didn't waste
any time taking out the brickbat and swinging away. But
as I watched from the floor I kept wondering, "is this
speech too much, is Zell being too angry and too tough?"
can be an effective tool in politics, if used selectively.
One thing you don't want to do, however, is to let anger
become a central and consistent part of the campaign, which
is something the Kerry folks have been struggling with for
a long time now.
there is also a big difference between being seen as angry
and being seen as mean. Politicians walk that line at their
own peril, and the question is whether Miller crossed it
I don't think he did. Miller's anger was directed at his
party in general and at John Kerry's abysmal voting record
on national security in particular. Miller didn't attack
Kerry as a person, only the votes he's cast and the statements
he's made as a publicly elected official. All fair game.
are certainly going to play the anger angle against Zell
as best they can - which in addition to being the smart
thing to do may be the ONLY thing they can do to try and
fend off Miller's devastating assault last night. Jay Carson,
a Democratic spokesman, is quoted in today's NY
Times saying of Miller, "This angry old man
is scaring the children.''
Dems will get an assist from some members of the mainstream
media, many of whom I'm sure were shocked - shocked! -and
appalled by what they saw and heard from Miller last night.
(Incidentally, Ann Curry from the Today show just reported
in her news wrap that Miller suggested John Kerry wanted
to arm US soldiers with spit balls and Campbell Brown said
Miller called Kerry "unpatriotic." Is that really
what he did, ladies?)
Street Journal interviewed the bloggers attending the
RNC a couple of weeks back and asked us which speech
we were most interested in hearing, I was the only one who
said Zell Miller. The reason I chose Miller is because there
are few things in campaigns that can be as potentially explosive
and devastating as having a member of the opposite party
endorse your candidacy. The fact that Miller was so angry
and so animated on the stage last night only added power
to what was already a remarkable event in this race: a Democrat,
albeit one in the Scoop Jackson/Harry Truman tradition,
publicly repudiating his party's nominee for President of
the United States and endorsing George W. Bush. - T.
Bevan 8:15 am Link
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September 1 2004
KERRY IS NOT DEAD: Halfway through the Republican
convention I would think that Karl Rove and company have
to be feeling relatively pleased. Last night, Schwarzenegger,
as the Republican Governor of the largest state in the nation,
delivered a message that appeared in prime time on all the
fellow immigrants, my fellow Americans, how do you know
if you are a Republican? Well, I tell you how. If you
believe that government should be accountable to the people,
not the people to the government, then you are a Republican.
you believe a person should be treated as an individual,
not as a member of an interest group, then you are a Republican.
you believe your family knows how to spend your money
better than the government does, then you are a Republican.
you believe our educational system should be held accountable
for the progress of our children, then you are a Republican.
you believe this country, not the United Nations, is the
best hope for democracy, then you are a Republican.
ladies and gentlemen, if you believe that we must be fierce
and relentless and terminate terrorism, then you are a
there's another way you can tell you're a Republican.
You have faith in free enterprise, faith in the resourcefulness
of the American people and faith in the U.S. economy.
And to those critics who are so pessimistic about our
economy, I say: Don't be economic girlie-men.
was powerful stuff that the average American got, unfiltered,
directly through their TV. Schwarzenegger's star power guaranteed
that millions of Americans who normally would tune out this
type of political TV actually heard this very strong sales
pitch for the Republican Party.
Monday night McCain
with the tributes to 9/11, teamed up to hit a grand slam
for the Bush campaign. The
mainstream, liberal media is reaping what they have sown
with John McCain.
McCain was bashing Bush and Republicans the press couldn't
get enough of him. Now with McCain actively supporting President
Bush, suddenly the press isn't liking what they hear so
much. But because of McCain's alliance with the media these
last four years he retains a huge influence over independent
swing voters, and his speech was a huge plus for the President.
tributes to 9/11 on Monday night were extremely tasteful
and very moving. It was powerful television. The next day
Katie Couric tried to get Tim Russert to engage the Democratic
spin that Republicans were "exploiting" 9/11,
but with Giuliani as the backdrop that is an impossible
charge for the liberal media to make stick. They could possibly
get away with the exploitation charge if it were Bush or
Cheney, but not with Giuliani personally delivering the
lead speech following the tributes. I don't think Democrats
want to get in a public argument that Gluliani was exploiting
three weeks buried in the fog of the Swift Boat Veterans
controversy, the one-two punch by McCain and Giuliani, followed
up by Schwarzenegger was a stark wake up call to the Democrats.
of a "shake-up" in the Kerry campaign is a
tacit acknowledgment that they have been getting their butts
kicked for the last several weeks, and changes needed to
funny watching how quickly the conventional wisdom swings
among the talking heads on television. You can hear it in
the voice and words of Chris Mathews, Tim Russert and the
other political pundits. It's as if all of Bush's troubles
of only three weeks ago have evaporated into the ether.
Suddenly it is John Kerry who is in on the ropes and who
is headed for defeat. That may be a bit of exaggeration
of course, but there is no question that the tone of how
this race is treated in the media has changed dramatically.
commented back in July
and on August
13 that I was having a hard time understanding all the Kerry
bullishness among the punditry. Today, I would caution
joyous GOP partisans and hyperventilating Democrats, to
remember that there are still quite a few rounds left in
this heavyweight fight.
is no question that Bush has had a good run. And if the
final two days of this convention are as good as the first
two, there is a possibility President Bush may jump out
to a 7-11 point lead in the post-convention polls and Kerry
will effectively be all but finished.
there is also a very realistic possibility that even if
the next two days go well for the GOP, Bush still never
gets over 50% in our RCP Poll
Average and Kerry stays within three to five points
of the President, which would still leave this a very wide
open race. And given the Gallup poll's bizarre negative
bounce for John Kerry after his convention I wouldn't totally
discount the possibility, though probably remote, that Bush
could emerge from the convention tied or even slightly trailing.
maintained for months now that the real measure of this
race was going to come in mid-to-late September after both
the conventions and the anniversary of September
11. And I have also felt all along that President Bush was
the clear favorite to win reelection and the President would
win this game two out of every three times played. Even
at the depth of the bad news from Iraq when the President's
job approval started to dip below 45%, Bush was never
worse than even money to win reelection.
the President's job approval back around 50% , there is
almost no chance Kerry can win the election in a big way.
Right now there seem to be roughly three broad options:
1) a big Bush win (4-7 points), 2) Bush in a squeaker or
3) Kerry in a squeaker.
if this election cycle has taught us anything, it is that
the dynamic of this race can change quickly. As one who
felt pretty good in December that Howard Dean was the almost
certain Democratic nominee it would be a mistake to make
too much of two-three week trend change.
should not become too cocky. Bush has had a good run and
there is roughly a 33% chance that the poll bump from this
convention and the 9/11 anniversary may be enough to TKO
John Kerry. But there is also at least a 50% chance that
before the first debate we will be staring at the same 50/50,
dead heat race that we've more or less had since Kerry captured
the nomination. J. McIntyre 12:57 pm Link
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September 1 2004
INSIDE THE BUBBLE - NIGHT TWO: This morning let's
start with the age old question: which do you want first,
the good news or the bad? Okay, let's start with the bad.
Bush twins were a disaster. I just don't know how to put
it any other way. After the first couple of jokes I winced.
After a couple of more I was begging them to stop. They
litany of jokes they told were, in my opinion, both juvenile
and inappropriate. Even worse, the twins reflected badly
on the President, reinforcing the worst possible stereotype
of the ditsy, slacker daughters of a C-student fratboy from
Yale. My jaw literally hit the floor when Jenna bush said:
we've graduated from college, we're looking around for
something to do for the next few years. Kind of like Dad."
sorry, but whoever wrote that line should be dragged to
the guillotine at noon today.
get me wrong, generally speaking I like the Bush girls.
They did have an appropriate role to play last night - it
just wasn't doing a comedy routine. Maybe it played differently
on TV and maybe it was received positively by young voters
who were watching (a demographic of which I'm certainly
not part) but I tend to think the person who green-lighted
the Bush twins show last night should plead temporary insanity
- and then plead to keep his or her job.
was better. But she still didn't make a connection with
the crowd like some might have expected. In general, people
like Laura Bush. In particular, Republican delegates LOVE
Laura Bush. But her speech was rather pedestrian and the
delegates in the hall absorbed it as such, responding to
the first lady with polite and respectful - though not wildly
passionate - applause.
was in a different league. I watched the speech from the
floor and I must say I was a bit surprised it didn't generate
the type of electricity I expected among the crowd. That
said, Arnold is one of the more charismatic, camera-ready
politicians in modern history. He took full advantage of
his most favorable assets, namely his immigrant story and
his abounding optimism, to drive the crowd (and theoretically
moderate swing voters around the country) into the camp
of George W. Bush. On balance, I think Arnold made some
now two days into a four-day convention. So far, I'd say
that day one was an unqualified success but day two was
a bit of a let down. At least it seemed that way from inside
the bubble. - T. Bevan 4:55 am Link
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August 31 2004
KERRY IS IN CRISIS: Roger
L. Simon is right, a shake
up by the Kerry camp at this point in the race is tantamount
to an admission of crisis. Mickey
Kaus is right, too: Joe Lockhart ain't gonna come riding
in and save the day.
Cook decided it was time to walk back his rather bold
prediction from three weeks ago that this was Kerry's race
to lose: "It really is pretty amazing how fast the
conventional wisdom can change." You don't say? Maybe
have been conventional wisdom in the first place.
I still don't understand how or why Cook and Sabato decided
to go out on a limb like that before the GOP convention.
It was like two respected Vegas bookies deciding to change
the odds of a game at halftime because one team was up a
point or two. It just never made sense.
the record, I'm not convinced the movement to Bush is all
the work of the Swiftees, though they've certain played
a part. But even if it is, it's not like the damage they've
inflicted on Kerry should come as a big surprise to anyone
who follows politics closely.
a press conference way back in early May - even if it
did get close to zero attention from the mainstream press.
I wrote about the Swiftees at the time:
far as politically damaging attacks go, this (the Swift
Boat Veterans) should rank right up there among the most
potent ones imaginable. It would certainly be a political
disaster of thermonuclear proportions if all of George
W. Bush's former commanding officers in the National Guard
condemned his fitness to be CIC.
I suspect this story won't get very much play (except
in the blogosphere) and whatever attention it does generate
in the mainstream press that might potentially influence
swing voters in battleground states will be seriously
diluted by Kerry's massive $25
million ad buy that began yesterday touting his service
other words, the Veterans' press conference and letter
may not have much of a short-term impact on Kerry's numbers.
it will be a different story after Labor Day when the
Bush camp puts clips from the letter and footage from
the press conference into an ad of their own and spends
enough money in those same battleground states to make
will Kerry be able to effectively rebut this letter when
the time comes? Very good question.
it turns out, the answer to the question is "not effectively
at all," which is why the Kerry campaign seems to be
teetering on the verge of a meltdown. - T. Bevan
6:00 pm Link
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FRANKS: Just finished a brief Q&A with General
Tommy Franks (here's a
peek). Hard to put into words just how impressive a
figure he is in person and, perhaps more importantly from
a political perspective, how important his endorsement may
be for President Bush. Not surprisingly, Franks was effusive
in his praise of the President, saying that what America
needs in this dangerous day and age is "consistency,
persistency, and character....George W. Bush."
refused to touch the Swift Boat Controversy at all, but
he wasn't afraid to offer some harsh words for Kerry: "I
know what John Kerry's against, but I have trouble figuring
out what he for." (See Franks' full comments here)
is the latest (and most visible) part of a much larger picture
here at the convention that's worth mentioning. The Republican
party's connection with the US military isn't big news.
But this year the sincerity and the depth of respect for
the US military that is on display here is remarkable. It
also stands in striking contrast to what I saw in the coverage
from Boston where the Dems' best efforts to drape themselves
in Kerry's military service and the "band of brothers"
routine came across as hollow and, to a certain degree,
the culprit here is Vietnam. Opposition to the war in Vietnam
and the counterculture that flourished in the sixties ingrained
in the DNA of the hard left core of the Democratic party
feelings toward the United States military that range from
distrust to disrespect to outright hatred. It's virtually
impossible in the wake of 9/11 to undo thirty years worth
of anti-military ideological programming. The task isn't
made any easier by nominating an anti-war activist with
a record like John Kerry. - T. Bevan 4:50 pm Link
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FIRST NIGHT: Before I comment on the speeches,
a caveat: one of the interesting things about the reading
the blog reviews of the speeches at the DNC - especially
John Kerry's speech - is that they seemed terribly bubble-biased.
What I mean is that bloggers who were in Boston breathlessly
reported on what a great speech Kerry gave and the tremendous
energy in the hall that night, but it didn't translate through
the television to those of us watching at home. The bloggers
were inside the bubble of the convention and their own excitement
led them to think Kerry's speech was a heck of a lot better
than it was.
also inside the bubble last night. I was also excited by
the crowd and deeply moved by the tribute to September 11
and the singing of Amazing Grace. I tried, however, to keep
reminding myself of what it all must have looked like and
sounded like to those of you watching at home, and especially
to anyone who would be considered a "swing voter"
or an "undecided."
McCain's speech was a mixed bag. The content of the speech
was good, but the delivery was average, at best. To be honest,
Lindsay Graham received only polite applause during his
introduction of McCain and for a split second I was concerned
that McCain might get the cold shoulder from the crowd.
despite the long, standing ovation at the beginning and
his reference to Michael Moore about half-way through the
speech (which absolutely brought down the house), McCain
didn't seem to connect with the crowd. Some lines came across
awkward, others were lines McCain should have known would
be applause lines, but didn't.
McCain offered a solid testimony to Bush's leadership skills,
his vision, and a strong defense for the justification of
removing Saddam Hussein.
speech was, in a word, brilliant. More than anyone else
living today, Rudy embodies and personifies the courage
and strength of our country on September 11. His remembrances
last night were like a transport in time back to that fateful
day, and his heartfelt recollections of President Bush during
that time struck me as powerful reminders, not only of why
many people like Bush, but of what we face in the war on
and I mean nothing, is a more effective weapon against a
political opponent than ridicule. Giuliani's attack on Kerry's
record of flip-flopping on serious issues was, I thought,
one of the most devastating I've seen this year. It was
done with humor, with wit, and with perfect timing. Rudy's
line about understanding why Edwards thinks there should
be two Americas - one America where Kerry can vote one way
and another where he can vote the opposite - couldn't have
been done better by Jay Leno or Dave Letterman.
after all the laughter ended the message Rudy left was a
deadly serious one: John Kerry does not have the courage
and ability to lead with resolve as Commander in Chief.
leave you this morning with one final thought. There was
a lot of focus on September 11, 2001 last night. I could
just feel Democrats around the country screeching "exploitation!!!!!"
as the widows of 9/11 spoke in tribute to their loved ones
and as Giuliani recalled the heroes and horrors of that
even though Democrats held their own tribute to 9/11 in
Boston, they don't want Republicans to talk about September
11. In fact, they want the public to forget about September
11 for political purposes.
that back. Democrats are fully willing to exploit the memory
of 9/11 by making movies (and money) slandering the Bush
administration and by issuing ad hominem attacks on the
President himself, yet they don't want America to refocus
on the reality of what happened that day and what it meant
to us and for us as a country.
night inside the convention bubble I got the feeling that
the picture of September 11, which had grown fuzzy over
the last three years, started coming back into focus. Even
though the speeches weren't carried on the network news
and not a lot of people saw them live, I still think the
message will make it's way out. That message is a tug at
the sleeve of a country who has submitted to a gradual case
of comfortable amnesia over the last three years. That message
is only four words long and it isn't Republican or Democratic
message, it's an American message: WE WILL NEVER FORGET.
- T. Bevan 8:55 pm Link
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August 30 2004
CONVENTION COLOR: About three blocks away
from Madison Square Garden you can start to feel the security
for the convention. The first thing you notice is an inordinate
amount of police. Standing on the corner of Broadway and
34th street this morning at 7:45 am I counted more than
30 uniformed officers.
the streets around the Garden are barricaded and foot traffic
on the sidewalks is tightly controlled. About a block from
the convention I had to pass through a checkpoint and show
my driver's license before continuing.
the convention is even more daunting. Our group had to pass
through three or four different checkpoints where police
officers and Secret Service agents eyeballed our credentials.
came the metal detectors. It was like airport security on
steroids. All electronic devices had to be presented to
a TSA officer and turned on. Any items posing even the most
remote threat - including many items that seemingly pose
not threat at all - were confiscated and thrown in the trash.
the woman who is "managing" our group of bloggers
at the RNC, went through the metal detector and x-ray machine
just ahead of me. She was promptly divorced from a tiny
bottle of nail polish in her possession because it was made
of glass. A television reporter told me he had his can of
hair spray confiscated.
the convention hall is a blur of activity. We're parked
in a place called "Blogger's Corner" - which isn't
much of a corner at all - and we're adjacent to "Radio
Row" - which, you can probably guess, isn't much of
a row, either.
you might expect, various GOP luminaries have been holding
forth on radio shows and in the hallway right in front of
us - most notably Alan Keyes. The media loves Keyes, and
he clearly reciprocates.
I spent some time listening to the opening of Al Franken's
show (The O'Franken Factor) which is being broadcast from
a booth just around the corner. It's interesting to see
Franken working his schtick deep in enemy territory, but
I have to say he's doing a good job. He's a heck of a funnier
I write, Sean Hannity is gearing up to broadcast his show
from a table about 10 feet directly behind me. Sean has
the aura of a rock star: even though there have been other
people broadcasting at the table all day, the place has
been more or less dead silent. Now it's humming: at least
twenty people are surrounding the area listening, watching,
waiting for Hannity to begin.
MEAT: Enough color, let's get to some meat and
potatoes. This morning we had a Q&A with Matthew Dowd,
President Bush's chief strategist. Dowd talked about many
things but here are some interesting tidbits:
voters: The Bush campaign estimates the undecided vote at
about 7%. Dowd says the number of "true" undecideds
is probably half that, about 3 or 4 percent. Based on the
polling data they've aggregated on undecideds in battleground
states, the Bush team has compiled the following profile
on undecideds: they are overwhelmingly white, tend to be
older, go to church often and describe themselves as moderate
to conservative. Dowd says they can't find any self-described
liberals who remain undecided.
wisdom says that undecideds will usually break in favor
of the challenger. Dowd says that based on the research
they've done they feel they have a good chance of at least
splitting the undecided vote and perhaps
doing even better. Maybe this won't be the case in the
end, but that's what they're thinking at the moment.
also clear that while the Bush team is trying to win undecideds,
they're much more focused on getting out the base and targeting
voters who may potentially vote for Bush. The trick is finding
them and contacting them personally, which Dowd said makes
people 4 times more likely to vote for a candidate.
final notes regarding battleground states. According to
Dowd the good news is that two critical states, Pennsylvania
and Wisconsin, Bush is tracking three to four points better
than in 2000. The bad news is that Ohio is doing the opposite:
tracking two or three below where Bush was in 2000.
in the weeks leading up to the 2000 election, Gore basically
abandoned Ohio and still only lost the state by 4 points.
This year, Democrats are not making the same mistake. Campaign
spokesman Terry Holt told me that the liberal interest group
America Coming Together has spent months pouring money and
effort into their ground game in Ohio and that, along
with Kerry taking advantage of a struggling economy,
is making the state one of the toughest for the President
to hold. T. Bevan 3:25 pm Link
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THE BELLY OF THE BEAST: I arrived in New York last night
and will be heading down to convention central in less than
an hour. I'll be posting updates throughout the day as warranted.
OF THE POLLS: There are tons of new state polls out
(battleground | non
battleground) few of which contain any good news for
John Kerry. With the exception of a Rasmussen poll showing
him up 2 points in Ohio and a Gallup poll showing a 6-point
lead in Iowa, the Kerry camp has lost ground in almost all
the crucial battleground states.
527 EFFECT: There is a general sense, in both the state
and national polls, that the race has turned back in favor
of the President. Most pundits have ascribed this to the
Swift Boat Veterans, which could certainly be the case.
But we've also heard about how liberal 527's have spent
between $60-65 million against Bush over the course of the
last 9 months or so. One has to assume this money has had
an effect on Bush's numbers over time, keeping them depressed.
It could be that in addition to casting doubts on John Kerry's
veracity and driving his numbers down, the Swift Boat Veterans
have helped Bush's numbers rise by breaking through the
blanket of negative ads from liberal 527's.
IS SLANDERING ALL VETS?: Critics of the Swift Boat Veterans
have taken to charging that their critique of John Kerry's
medals amounts to a slandering of the service and the medals
of all Vietnam veterans. Aside from being untrue, the argument
is a problematic one for the Kerry campaign.
years ago when John Kerry threw his medals (or ribbons)
over the fence in protest, he went out of his way to say
that the "perversion" of the war had stripped
the integrity from his - and by implication from all - Vietnam
decorations and medals:
[Nixon] administration forced us to return our medals
because beyond the perversion of the war these leaders
themselves denied us the integrity those symbols supposedly
gave our lives." - John Kerry, April 1971
really sticks in the craw of veterans, of course, is that
after Kerry denounced the value of his Vietnam medals and
used them in a piece of public theatre to vault himself
to national stardom, Kerry changed his tune about their
value and significance:
proud of my medals. I always was proud of them."
- John Kerry, December 2003
even more telling is the quote he gave to National Journal
in 1988: "I was proud of my personal service
and remain so." (emphasis added).
the way Kerry has exploited his medals and service over
the years for personal gain, is it any wonder that a group
of his fellow veterans have come forward to call him on
it? Anyone who thinks the Swift Boat Veterans are a creature
of Karl Rove and George Bush simply doesn't get it. They
are a creature of John Kerry, and they attack him now because
of the way he attacked their honor back in 1971. T.
Bevan 7:27 am Link
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