Joseph Curl of the Washington Times reminds us that if John Kerry heads to Iraq, he would be the first presidential candidate to visit a war zone since George McGovern went to South Vietnam in 1971. Which has RNC Chairman Ed Gillespie finds interesting, given the presumptive Democratic nominee's criticism of the Bush Administration in Iraq over the last six months. And the flip-flop charge returns . . . LINK
The Boston Herald's Tom Keane looks at what a Kerry White House win would mean for Massachusetts pols and would-be Senators. LINK
From ABC News' Kerry campaign reporter Ed O'Keefe:
CHICAGO, March 9 -- As Sen. John F. Kerry stood at the base of the Great Hall's grand steps in Chicago's Union Station train depot accepting four more primary wins, one could almost envision Kerry communications director Stephanie Cutter grasping the Senator and insisting in her best Sean Connery accent, "You want to get Bush? Here's how you beat him. He trots out your votes, you wallop his record. He sends one of your surrogates into retirement, and you send him back to Texas. That's the Chicago way, and that's how you get Bush."
Alas, even after Southern landslides in Louisiana, Mississippi, Texas, and Florida, the Boston Brahmin is not quite untouchable in Democratic nomination race, requiring Illinois' delegates to put him over the top.
Nevertheless, the Kerry camp and candidate continue to make the tricky transition from primary contender to full-fledged nominee.
En route from Tampa to Chicago, Kerry said, "Every stage is different." When asked if his campaign was in a new stage the candidate replied, "No, just adjusting."
Most distinctly, Kerry, who often professes difficulty in distinguishing between "on the record," "on background" and "off the record," has quickly learned in a plane of 60 rotating journalists, there is almost no such thing as "off the record."
Having long-delayed a charter flight to make a phone call Tuesday, Kerry popped into the press cabin (coach) from his perch (first class) to smooth over the delay. The Senator was quickly asked to whom he made the call. When a reporter guessed Jim Johnson, the leader of Kerry's vice presidential search team, Kerry stopped and raised his eyebrows.
The reporter immediately ventured, "Is that a yes," to which Kerry just smiled and said, "Ahhhhh."
Two steps back into first class, Kerry returned to clarify, "That's not a 'yes', that's an 'ahhhh.'"
At a prescription drug event in Evanston, Ill., Kerry listened to a questioner describe a family member's service in Iraq then said, "I'm not going to ask you your name, purposefully."
And when detailing the circumstances surrounding an 82-year-old Iowa woman's prescription drug costs, Kerry, who often recounted the elderly woman by name in the Hawkeye State, did not use it before the Illinois crowd and national audience.
In a lighter moment during that same event, Kerry reached out to Gov. Rod Blagojevich, saying, "We are both Elvis fans."
The Massachusetts Senator, who offered no homage to the King during campaign stops in Tennessee, elaborated, "When I was younger, I could do the snarl, curl the lip, flip the collar up. I'd have my hair combed and get out there and gyrate."
Kerry even concluded the rare Electra-filled flashback with an Elvis impression offering, "Thank you, thank you very, very much everybody."