How will Kerry try to win the election?

Inspired by this thread on the strategies Bush will utilize to win in November, I thought I’d try turning the question around and ask how John Kerry (the assumptive Democratic nominee) can win the election.

Understand this about myself: I am a Democrat who would rather drive bamboo shoots up my fingernails than vote for Bush. Yet I think John Kerry has a HUGE mountain to climb to even think of winning.

My problems with Kerry '04:

–He’ll win the nomination based on his Viet Nam record, and how it contrasts with Dubya. So what? How many votes will that get him?

–He’ll get some momentum from voters who are opposed to, or at least uneasy with, the Iraq war. How many voters will that count for? And how long before Dubya starts pointing out, “Well, golly, you kinda voted for using force against Iraq, Senator, so how can you be against it now?”

–Foreign policy is always a Democratic weakness.

–The economy. I think it’s decaying under Dubya’s leadership; creating new jobs doesn’t do much for the economy if they’re minimum wage, but does lead to headlines like “Bush creates new jobs!” Can Kerry recreate the aura of the Clinton boom times?

–Gay marriage. How can Kerry possibly win with this on the table? Dubya will use it to rev up his conservative base, what the hell could Kerry say about this?

–Stupid pills. It seems like every opponent of W’s in every election gets a prescription if these. From Canada. I don’t have the exact quote here, but a relative of the Bushes said after the Bush/Gore debates, “I’ll never understand why he [Gore] never just said, ‘So tell me, Governor, what is it exactly about peace and prosperity that you oppose?’” The man is always underestimated, yet always wins.

So here’s what I propose John Kerry should say WRT the following topics:

War in Iraq: “Yes, I authorized force against Iraq. My mistake, Mr President, was in believing you when you said they had WMDs.”

Or: “I’m the only candidate who understands what it is like to be ordered to go into combat; you can trust my judgement when to use the military, and know that I will never squander the lives of American servicemen and women.”

The economy: “I’ll return to the days of balanced budgets. Now that the GOP’s in charge, they can’t stop the spending! It’s your future and that of your children at stake here.”

Any other thoughts/strategies/memes?

“Are you better off now than you were four years ago?”

I believe that a good-sized majority of voters will answer “no” to the question, which should give Bush and Rove some sleepless nights.

Here are the kinds of questions Kerry will be open to:

28 Questions for John Kerry:

Kerry has a history of waffling on big issues. He hasn’t sponsored that many bills considering his length of service. He’s proposed more than his share of bills that didn’t even make it to a vote. He voted against the first Gulf War, and was wrong to do so. He voted for this war, but now opposes it. But he wants the troops to stay, but he opposed giving them the funds to do so.

The Bush attack dogs don’t even have to dig up mud on Kerry. If they can manage to portray him as someone who cannot be trusted to make big decisions, he’s done. And there’s ample evidence that this is the case.

I think Kerry will try to position himself such that he ends up running against George W. Bush. He can then portray GeeDubya as a man who has enormous experience with making very big decisions. Of course, it would help if he could point to a big decision Bush has made that was less than optimal.

That could be tough.

Several million, at least. Most vets vote Republican, all other things being equal; pulling Republican votes is better than pulling swing voters.

Quite a few. By the time the election rolls around, I would imagine at least half the electorate, unless the WMDs are found. Aren’t YOU worried the threat of Iraqi WMDs was a red herring? Besides, most people agreed with the war to begin with. Most people don’t anymore. Kerry will portray himself as as much a victim of Administration disinformation as the rest of us. (I note on preview that you already caught that)

Hardly, although the Democratic party isn’t nearly as good at starting wars. Seriously, though- could our international reputation really be any worse? We’ve entirely squandered the goodwill which 9/11 briefly granted us.

The headlines are actually saying, “Bush creates atmosphere which may create jobs!” Absent a strong surge in employment, Dubya can only lose out on economic issues.

Er… you do know that homosexuals and reasonable straight people vote too, right? Kerry’s position here is perfect. He doesn’t even have to come out for it but will still win the gay vote and that of centrists who vote on social issues.

I don’t know if underestimated is the right word here. That said, it will be pretty tough for any candidate to look dumber than GW. All Kerry has to do is bone up on his “Who’s Who in International Relations” <coughPervezMusharrafcough> and he’s sitting pretty.

For me, the real question is whether abortion will become an issue again in the run-up to the campaign proper. I firmly believe that Bush’s abortion stance (which personally I find unacceptable) won him the 2000 election (or the chance to take the 2000 election to the SC, at least). After all, to the average voter, little else separated the candidates. Joe Public saw one who was Southern and Conservative. The other was, well, Southern, and Conservative.

The big difference was one believed in Roe v. Wade and one pledged to get it overturned.

I’m curious as to who else he might choose to run against in the Presidential election…
A corollary to my above post: I see Gore as a social conservative inasmuch as his stance on free speech issues tends to reflect conservatism. I’m well aware that he is otherwise a liberal.

Egad- so many fish, such a small barrel. Pass me that shotgun-

It certainly won’t hurt. There are some vets that all things being equal, would vote for a fellow vet. My guess is a few thousand per state, perhaps more in states with high veteran populations.

I think you explain it very easily by stating that Kerry gave Bush the political backing to use force, should it become necessary. Of course, that support was based on lies. Unfortunately, Bush misused this authority and started a war for no valid reason.

Oh sure. JFK managed to disarm the Cuban missile crisis without firing a shot. Carter brokered a peace treaty between Egypt and Israel. Contrast that to a man who publicly calls other heads of state madmen.

It of course will take some time to undo four years of Bush’s failures.

Gays aren’t the bogeymen that neocons make them out to be. Tell the fans of “Will and Grace” and “Queer Eye for the Straight Guy” that gay marriages are a threat to national security.

Kerry’s special interest contributions are a pale shadow of Bush’s.

Well, these groups didn’t engage in war profiteering. I guarantee that these two groups will have less influence in the Kerry administration than Haliburton has with Bush.

As Gomer Pyle would say, “Surprise, surprise, surprise.” Serving in a Congress dominated by neocons, some of his bills didn’t get out of committee. Fancy that!

Oh, I don’t know. Perhaps starting a war for no reason might be considered less than optimal. So might stealing money from our grandchildren to give tax breaks to millionaires.

Kerry wins by comparing his integrity to Bush. Kerry wins by the unfolding folly in Iraq and the steady procession of body bags. Kerry wins by each factory that closes as jobs are shipped overseas. Kerry wins by choosing a running mate that is not Dick Cheney.

Jobs, jobs, jobs. Health care, health care, health care. Iraq and terrorism he can handle just by pointing to the body count.

As long as he sticks to the main populist message, the one that won for Gore, he’ll be fine.

Kerry goes into the race with two major advantages:

  1. All the self-identified Democrats and all the liberals and leftists will turn out to vote for Kerry. They are still carrying a grudge from 2000. They are motivated, and it does not appear, at this point, that there will be any significant third-party challenge from the left to draw off potential Kerry votes.

  2. All the Republicans and conservatives will not necessarily turn out for Bush. A lot of them will stay home, or leave the presidential line on the ballot blank, or even vote for Kerry. Bush has done a lot to alienate his own support base:

Decentralist, states’-rights conservatives won’t vote for Bush because he has only added to the power and importance of federal government.

Isolationist conservatives won’t vote for him because he led us into two foreign wars and intractably permanent military commitments abroad.

Libertarian conservatives won’t vote for him because of the Patriot Act and the Department of Homeland Security.

Fiscal conservatives won’t vote for him because of his tax cuts, lavish military and civilian spending, and resulting budget deficits.

Nativist, anti-immigration conservatives won’t vote for him because he amnestied the illegal aliens and introduced a “guest-worker” program.

The only groups Bush will really be able to count on are the big-business conservatives, the warhawk neoconservatives, and the religious-traditionalist conservatives – and some of the latter also happen to be decentralists, isolationists, and/or nativists. There is no neconservative vote, as such: The neocons have no mass support base and never have had; they are purely an elite group of bueaucrats, journalists and think-tank policy wonks. There’s not much of a big-biz vote either. The corporations can support Bush with an unlimited supply of money. I don’t think that’s going to be enough.

While I hope you’re right – that the American public can’t be bought for a truckload of cash – the cynic in me is obligated to remind you that o $200 million war chest can buy a lot of bullshit.

An opinion: Will Kerry lose votes if he bashes Bush too much ? How much respect is due to the “President” in office in the view of voters ?

How much respect did Reagan accord Carter in his 1980 campaign? How much respect did Clinton show Bush, Sr., in 1992? No, Kerry has nothing to lose by bashing the incumbent, not unless he says things so outrageous and unsubstantiated that he torpedoes his own credibility.

And I, in return, will suggest a response from Bush.


Shodan, I’d take you on point by point, but I think I’d rather say that one thing Kerry can definitely milk for votes is decrying the kind of preening arrogance that you, your president, and your congress display on a daily basis.

So your suggestion would be for Kerry to respond to any question he does not care to answer by calling it “preening arrogance”?

And this, in your opinion, will get people to vote for him.

M’kay, let’s see how that works out for you.

“Senator, you used your influence on behalf of someone who made illegal contributions to your campaign. Do you think this will affect your ability to present yourself as immune to special interest politics?”

“How preeningly arrogant of you to ask about my record! I refuse to respond, and therefore America should vote for me!”

“Senator, you voted in favor of the second Gulf War, which you now say is wrong, and against the first, which most agree was right. Would you say this was a demonstration of good military judgement in either case?”

“How preeningly arrogant of you to ask about my record! I refuse to respond, and therefore America should vote for me!”

“Senator, you claim you will cut the deficit in half in four years. Yet your website mentions no programs that you will cut. Tell us, which programs are eligble for cuts, and why those?”

“How preeningly arrogant of you to ask about my record! I refuse to respond, and therefore America should vote for me!”

“Senator, almost the first thing you did upon returning from Viet Nam was to accuse your fellow veterans of war crimes, which you said happened almost daily and as a matter of policy. Did you participate in any of those crimes yourself, and why did you never make any effort while still in the Army to bring a halt to these alleged atrocities?”

“How preeningly arrogant of you to ask about my record! I refuse to respond, and therefore America should vote for me!”
Might be a long campaign, don’t you think?


How can John Kerry win the Presindency? I honestly don’t know.

I really don’t know anything about John Kerry, aside from his waffling on certain issues. So, I’m looking for information on him.

But first, a few observations.

Lately, all of his campaign speeches have begun with, “This morning. President Bush. Said. ‘All stray cats should be neutered.’” [Forced laughter from the audience.] “I say…” And so on. So he seems to be focusing only on President Bush. His main strategy, as which has been said countless times already, is to run on a platform called: “I’m Not Bush.” I don’t think that that is a successful strategy. If he cannot stand on his own positions, he obviously isn’t the right guy for the job.

But one can argue that every election against an incumbent President is a variation of “I’m not ______” – in short, a referendum on the current President. And it seems like a valid position to make; “Do you want four more years of what we’ve already got(*), or do you want a change for the better?”

Dole couldn’t make this work in 1996, because the people liked what they were getting with Clinton. Bush is going to have a much harder time convincing folks that they should stay the course.

(* = E.g., a vindictive war with Iraq for nonexistent WMDs, military forces stretched thin, massive unemployment, alienation from the rest of the world, the continuing erosion of our rights, more tax cuts for the wealthy, and a President controlled by his energy company croneys.)

I hope he picks up Edwards’ themes and adds them directly to his stump speeches.

In fact, I hope he adds Edwards to the ticket.

But Jobs, Jobs, Jobs is the key. And end to moneyed interests and their agenda-distorting contributions.

One problem with John Kerry is that he’s currently winning the Democratic nomination ONLY by being the person that most think has a chance at beating Bush. But once he gains the nomination, he’s going to move away from that “strategy”. I, for one, really have no idea on how he stands on various issues. Before I ever vote for him, I’m going to have to get a clear indication about what his policy decisions in office will be. The problem is, he’s going to have to lie through his teeth. If he says that he’s going to have to be fiscally responsible and raise taxes, I’ll vote for him. But he’ll probably lose 10 votes for every vote that he gains. If he says that the word “marriage” should be replaced by “civil union” for legal human mergers of all kinds, I’ll vote for him, but…

Thus is the predicament of Democratic candidates. They really know what’s best for the country. But communicating this truthfully is political suicide. Unless you’re Bill Clinton, who needs to give Kerry a quick tutorial.

“It is inaccurate to say that I hate everything. I am strongly in favor of common sense, common honesty, and common decency. This forever makes me ineligible for public office.” -Mencken.

“The men American people admire most extravagently are the most daring liars; the men that detest most violently are those who try to tell them the truth.” -Mencken.

The latter quote is precisely why I think that Bush, unfortunately, will get re-elected.

Hey, it worked for Bush against Gore. Remember all those questions about Bush’s tax policy in the debates?

“Mr Bush, is it true that the majority of your tax cuts go to the top 1% of taxpayers?”

“You’re just using fuzzy math.”

Not to mention his performance on Meet the Press.

Not-answering questions seems to have gotten this president pretty far.