Sunday, January 07, 2007

John Kerry: In or Not?

It's not clear if John Kerry will be running for president this time around. But if he does, he has people he can still count on. Here's the story from Glenn Johnson of the Boston Globe:
Sen. Barack Obama visited Massachusetts three times last year to campaign for Deval Patrick. The husband of Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, former President Bill Clinton, appointed Patrick to the top Justice Department civil rights post during the 1990s.

But the state's new governor says he would have to support Sen. John Kerry over Obama or Mrs. Clinton should the Massachusetts Democrat make a second run for the presidency.

"They are very, very strong people," Patrick said of his three fellow Democrats during an appearance aired Sunday on WHDH-TV's "Urban Update." "I will tell you that if my home senator runs, I've got to be with him. I love the other candidates, but we will see. I don't know that he has made a decision yet."


Kerry has pledged to announce a decision about a second campaign in the near future, perhaps this month. He is up for re-election in 2008, and some local Democrats are urging him to decide whether he wants to seek re-election or wage a second presidential campaign.

So far, Kerry's numbers are not good for a rerun. That may spell trouble for his presidential aspirations. Another issue, mentioned in the story above, is that it may be tough to run for the Senate and run a presidential campaign at the same time (Joe Lieberman and Lloyd Benton did both as vice presidential candidates; they both retained their senate seats but lost the big race).

And two years later there's still fallout from the 2004 election as we read in the Miami Herald by Nedra Pickler of AP:

Former Democratic Party chairman and Clinton friend Terry McAuliffe is lambasting John Kerry's unsuccessful presidential campaign, calling his effort to unseat President Bush ``one of the biggest acts of political malpractice in the history of American politics.''


Kerry spokesman David Wade said that although many people wish the 2004 election had turned out differently, Kerry is proud of the hard work of his campaign staff and McAuliffe's efforts as party chairman. ''It's time to look forward, not backwards,'' Wade said.

McAuliffe said Kerry's camp was so afraid of offending swing voters that it didn't defend his record or criticize Bush. He said Kerry's aides muzzled him from assailing Bush's military record.

He said the campaign also ordered speeches at the Democratic National Convention to be scrubbed of any mention of Bush's name or his record -- although McAuliffe privately encouraged firebrand Al Sharpton to go ahead with his attacks on the president in his crowd-pleasing speech.

''I thought the decision of the Kerry campaign to back off any real criticism of Bush was one of the biggest acts of political malpractice in the history of American politics,'' he said.

One can take McAuliffe words with a grain of salt and it's important to remember his closeness to the Clintons, which could be a factor, but most people agree that Kerry made several mistakes after leading Bush in the polls in the spring of 2004. First, after winning most of the primaries, Kerry started coasting and was slow to regain momentum. Second, like other Democrats, he sometimes listened too much to the caution of his consultants. Third, he should have responded hard to the Swiftboaters. Still, it's important to remember that Kerry won 9 million more votes than Al Gore did just four years earlier. Somehow Bush came up with an extra 12 million votes and that was the difference. In the end, one has to blame the voters for not recognizing quickly enough the incompetent currently occupying the White House. I still believe Kerry would have made an excellent president but his time may have passed.

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Anonymous S.W. Anderson said...

I ache for Kerry to be president right now. At worst, historically, I'm sure he'd register well into the top 50 percent of presidents. Compared to what we have now, he's a superhero.

As mentioned, his campaign left an awful lot to be desired. I think he's spent a lot of time learning what went wrong, kicking himself and mapping out how to do it better if there's a next time.

Despite Kerry campaign shortcomings, I tend to think Bush's win transcended the logical and political. Bush's actual record was execrable, even in '04, and I think at some level most people knew it. Somehow, many just kind of liked Bush and couldn't warm to Kerry.

And, of course, $200 million buys an awful lot of slime, mud and means of slinging both.

Has Kerry's time passed? Given the incredible fund-raising lead Clinton has, and her prowess at bringing money in and, given Obama's remarkable charisma and the phenom-on-steroids reputation he's gained almost overnight, it's hard to see Democrats giving Kerry another go.

A big part of Kerry's draw in '04 was the notion he was more electable than Gephardt, Edwards and the others. I suspect he who lives by the notion of electability one election year dies the next election year by the notion he couldn't quite make it happen.

9:08 PM  

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