I’ve said before that John Kerry is toast.
Well, he’s even toastier than he was before.
It’s clear that Kerry’s recent staff shakeup and his inability to shake the Swift Boat Vet allegations have severely hurt him.
And I know exactly what John Kerry is going to try to do.
Kerry is preparing to go absolutely full-throttle negative. He’s going to bring up Bush’s service record. He’s going to try every smear in the book to attack George W. Bush. The addition of Joe Lockhart to the team is a sign of desperation – and when Democrats get desperate, they go on the attack. It’s going to get ugly.
In the end, if this is truly the Kerry strategy, and based on the scuttlebutt floating up from the Kerry campaign it very likely is, Kerry is not only going to shoot himself in the foot, he’s got a massive howitzer pointed there.
Kerry’s problems go beyond the Swift Boats. He made his campaign about his service record and not being Bush. Other than that, there’s nothing else to it. He’s a profoundly unlikable candidate and he’s managing to actively turn off swing voters that may have disagreements with Bush but like him personally. His campaign was based on the erroneous assumption that everyone hates Bush as much as he does.
The fact is that Bush is doing exactly what Kerry did not at his convention – reaching out to swing voters. McCain, Rudy, Arnold, the last two nights have been targeted not at the GOP base, but at those voters who consider themselves sympathetic to the GOP but not hardliners. Bush is reaching exactly the sort of people he has to reach, and I’m making the prediction that he’s going to get a nice bounce out of New York.
Kerry didn’t do that. He didn’t expand his appeal. He didn’t elucidate his strategy. He didn’t provide a reason for voting for him other than he was in Vietnam and he’s not Bush. That ain’t gonna cut it with the American people.
Tomorrow night Bush has two things he has to do. He has to show that he’s a leader to reassure voters on him personally and he has to show a vision for the next four years. Granted, that’s not an easy task, but I think Bush can do it.
If he can do this, John Kerry is going to follow in the footsteps his his former boss, another liberal Massachusetts politician that was steamrolled by a member of the Bush family.
UPDATE: CNN has more. Kerry is also violating an unwritten rule of campaign etiquette by campaigning during the GOP convention. Another sign of desperation on the part of his campaign to be sure.