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18 days until the Republican convention 82 days until election day
NEWS SUMMARY Yesterday, in full voice, we told you that the presidential race was John Kerry's to lose.
Some readers thought our analysis too dire for Mr. Bush, but we were clear in saying that the president can still quite easily retain the White House, through some combination of Bush winning it and — Note well — Kerry losing it.
Yesterday's aggressive Bush-Cheney playing of the national security, character, and judgment cards are obviously part of any Bush comeback.
Per ABC News' Karen Travers, Vice President Cheney will say this today, once again playing all three legitimate cards (And keying off of the silliest thing John Kerry has said about national security since his "I actually voted for the $87 billion before I voted against it" classic):
"Senator Kerry has also said that if he were in charge he would fight a 'more sensitive' war on terror. America has been in too many wars for any of our wishes, but not a one of them was won by being sensitive. President Lincoln and General Grant didn't wage sensitive wars. Nor did President Roosevelt or Generals Eisenhower MacArthur. A 'sensitive war' will not destroy the evil men who killed 3,000 Americans and who seek chemical, nuclear and biological weapons to kill hundreds or thousands more. The men who beheaded Daniel Pearl and Paul Johnson will not be impressed by our sensitivity."
So, beyond opening the door politely to swarming Bush-Cheney-Gillespie assaults on his national security credibility through "sensitive" and other remarks, what are the other potential and real elements of Kerry "helping" the president to keep his job? And what are the things that just might HAPPEN and leave Kerry under pressure to react?
Ask almost any Democratic sharpie — inside or outside the campaign — and you will get plenty of answers.
A. John Kerry's relative (un)likeability has yet to become as big of a factor in this race as it undoubtedly will in the fall. Hands down, Bush will always win the "have a soda with" question.
B. Says a top Democratic strategist about the Kerry-Edwards campaign: "No one knows what their message is. 'Complex and layered' isn't necessarily enough."
C. Kerry's position on terrorism leaves him somewhat vulnerable to the charge that he simply does not "get" the overwhelming consensus in favor of tough — and sometimes pre-emptive — action against terrorist entities — a proposition that both parties believe most Americans support. (This is entirely separate from the question of whether the Iraqi invasion was warranted, wise, or well-handled.).
D. John Kerry has not laid out a plausible position on how he'd convince foreign countries to send troops to Iraq, how he'd bring US troops home earlier, etc.
E. Let's face it: there is something squirrelly and unsettling and not quite right about the way Michael Meehan answers the media's Vietnam-era questions — something that makes nearly every member of the Gang of 500 think there is still something there.
F. Too afraid, too disorganized, too protective to pull the trigger on accepting one of the many, many offers from TOP Democratic strategists and spokespeople to join up and help in the last 2 months.
G. It is not implausible that Kerry will get hammered in the debates.