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Kerry’s Second Shot

by Pamela Leavey

“Meet the Next President,” The Examiner says, there’s no reason why a Democrat shouldn’t have a second shot.

Contrary to the notion that some Democrats have that “You get one chance. If you can’t win, then it’s time to let someone else try,” there are plenty of people who think otherwise. Like Sue Borden of NH who less that an hour after stating “you get one chance,” changed her tune to say “she would consider voting again for the Massachusetts Democrat.”

I always liked what he stood for but felt that he was very snobbish and arrogant,” she says. “He’s not that way. People told me I would change my mind once I met him. And they were right.”

In June, I arranged a meeting of some L.A. area bloggers with John Kerry. The reaction was the same, each one “walked away with a different impression of John Kerry, from the one they went into the room with.”


“It is not clear,” Bill Sammon from The Examiner says, “whether Kerry will have enough time to personally meet and convert every disaffected Democrat in the nation by the election of 2008. But he appears determined to at least counter the conventional wisdom that Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, D-N.Y., has all but locked up the Democratic presidential nomination.” I’m on board for that. Hillary has far from locked it up and my money has always been on John Kerry, for #44.

In an interview with The Examiner this week, Kerry said, “I don’t buy it. You know, people sit with you and talk with you here, and they’re going to make judgments about who can be president. They’re going to make judgments about who can run.”

I think I’d be a good president,” he adds, sitting on the wraparound porch of an old house in Keene. “I don’t care what the dominant, conventional wisdom is today; it will not be the dominant, conventional wisdom in a year.”

But even if Clinton were to stumble or withdraw, other Democrats are poised to step in. Some are already hinting that Kerry had his chance and blew it by losing the all-important swing state of Ohio in 2004. Similar arguments were made against former Vice President Al Gore when he lost the crucial state of Florida to Bush in 2000.

“We are making a mistake if we put up candidates that are only competitive in 16 states, and then we roll the dice and hope we win Ohio or Florida,” says former Virginia Gov. Mark Warner, another Democrat eyeing the White House.

Far from being offended by this remark, Kerry says he agrees with it.

“I would say the same thing,” he says. “If I were lucky enough to do it again, I’m going to make sure we’re campaigning in way more states.”

Kerry says the only reason he didn’t compete in more states in 2004 was that he ran out of money.

The Examiner also reports that this “was also the reason he did not adequately respond to a series of devastating TV ads by Swift Boat Veterans for the Truth, a group that questioned Kerry’s service in Vietnam and criticized his later opposition to the war.”

They had money behind the lies, and we did not have sufficient money behind the truth,” Kerry laments.

Asked if he dreads the prospect of being “Swift-Boated” all over again, Kerry counters that he would relish such a fight.

“I’m prepared to kick their ass from one end of America to the other,” he declares. “I am so confident of my abilities to address that and to demolish it and to even turn it into a positive.”

“Kerry’s blunt rhetoric on the Swift Boat Veterans” and in his recent speeches, “is a far cry from his 2004 attempt to straddle the question of whether to fund U.S. troops in Iraq and Afghanistan,” Samman says, he’s now willing to use that gaffe to his own means…

“I actually did vote for the $87 billion before I voted against it,” he said during the election, cementing his reputation as a flip-flopper.

The utterance was draped around Kerry’s neck and was widely viewed as a factor in his defeat. And yet now he voluntarily alludes to the gaffe while criticizing Bush’s recent reversal on the handling of enemy combatants.

“No American president should be for torture before he’s against it,” Kerry said at Boston’s Faneuil Hall last weekend, allowing himself a rueful smile as the crowd erupted in cheers.

According to several of Kerry’s closet advisers, John Kerry is “eager to shed his image as an overly cautious politician,” and he “now prefers to ‘let it rip.'”

I learned a lot of lessons in the campaign,” Kerry tells The Examiner. “And one of them is to keep it simple. Direct.”

Yet Kerry’s stance has been anything but simple on the question of whether to implement a specific timetable for withdrawing U.S. troops from Iraq. While Kerry opposed such a timetable last year, he now supports it.

“I don’t see that as a contradiction,” he says while munching chocolate chip cookies.

He explains that the politics of Iraq have changed dramatically since he opposed a timetable.

“We didn’t have an election; we hadn’t had a constitution; there was no provisional government,” he says. “To set a timetable in that circumstance would have been wrong.

“But once you’ve had the election, once they’ve accepted democracy, once they’ve put together a government, the only thing left to do is complete the task of security transformation,” he adds. “And I think it’s reasonable, then, to have a standard by which [the Iraqis] assume a sense of urgency and responsibility.”

Among those who say it “will not be easy for Kerry to convince Democrats to give him another chance coming up short in 2004,” is Charlie Cook, publisher of the Cook Political Report. “Kerry came out as damaged merchandise,” Cook says. “Badly damaged merchandise.” But, Kerry didn’t come up so short, in reality and he walked away with more votes than any Democratic nominee in history. Kerry himself acknowledges that “there is some “legitimacy” to such analysis.”

If you have hundreds of millions of dollars spent saying something about you, some of it sinks in,” he shrugs.

And yet such damage was part of an invaluable experience — passing through the crucible of a presidential campaign.

“On the plus side, I think if I were to decide to run again, I’d bring a lot of assets, including the fact that I’m the only guy who’s fully vetted,” Kerry says. “I have the experience of three presidential debates and a convention, of having come out of the campaign being accepted by 50-whatever million Americans with being able to be president.”

That’s a resume that cannot be matched by others in the crowded presidential sweepstakes of 2008.

“If you win 10 million more votes than Bill Clinton did in 1996, a sitting president, and you come within 59,000 votes of beating a Republican president in a time of war, it seems to me you’ve done better than others who ran and didn’t win the nomination, who are thinking of running again,” he says.

As for those who believe politicians get only one chance for the top job, Kerry rattles off a list of Republicans who lost elections, only to rise again.

“I mean, John McCain got just beat up in South Carolina, and he’s fighting,” he says of a possible 2008 foe. “Ronald Reagan ran three times. Richard Nixon ran after a miserable loss in California.

“So the question is, what do you offer? What do you bring to the table?” he adds. “I think the agenda I laid out is viable, is as urgent today, and that’s why I think about this.”

He points out that while his 2004 candidacy failed, many of his foreign and domestic policies remain popular among Democrats. In fact, his anti-war stance may resonate more in 2008 than in 2004 because more Americans are tiring of the bloodshed.

“If my ideas had been rejected overwhelmingly, if I was wrong, then maybe I should just go put my head down and go somewhere and work in the garden,” he says. “But I don’t think I was. And a lot of people, as I go around the country, reaffirm that with me.”

People, indeed, like Sue Borden.

Kerry is on the right track. He’s taking the steps, he’s reaching out to the right people, he’s charting a course and when it comes time to make the decision, he knows he’ll have folks he can count on to stand with him. No other potential ’08 candidate in my book has the leadership experience or the platform (Healthcare, energy independence, national security, Iraq) that Kerry has. Add to that the big Kerry email list that he’s been working to stay in touch with his supporters, Kerry has a clear chance at a second shot. Saying it again here… Run, John, Run.

Finally, a parting note to Tom Maquire and the rest of the right-wing nuts who scrambled around this story like little squirrels today who had lost their nuts — Kerry, if he decides to run, will be serving you all some crow come ’08. You all sound like a bunch of whining broken records, singing a sorry ass tune that won’t hit the charts this time around.

12 Responses to “Kerry’s Second Shot”

  1. Pamela,

    Maybe we should modernize the metaphor?

    They sound like a scratched CD (that keeps replaying the same 30 seconds).


    #44 John Forbes Kerry.

    Got Crow Recipes?

  2. Ginny

    LOL! Perfect they will need the Crow recipes!

  3. LOL it’s fate……. everyone knows what his first assigned Swift number was right???!!!!

  4. I am getting so tired of TV people like John Stewart, Chris Matthews, Meredith Viera, Bill Maher etc. who keep repeating that the Democrats have no plan or no spokesperson or no leader or no one who is pounding away their message on TV……and on and on.

    And yet John Kerry is right under everyone’s noses being consistent and strong with good plans and a good message but it is still not getting out there widely in the way it should be.

    What do we do about this? I am feeling uneasy about November as long as this image persists and it does persist in the MSM.

  5. Pamela,

    Thanks for everything that you do.

    I don’t know if all of our effor will be successful. I do know that Senator Kerry has the ‘right stuff’ to be President. That we have seen what voting for a ‘regular guy’ will get us.

    We shall overcome. So much depends on it.

    Bob Freedland

  6. Bob

    So much does depend on it and yes – we shall overcome.

  7. I share janet’s frustration 100% (it’s been a LONG 6 years.. in fact I’ve been frustrated since 1980), but I also feel that JK has not put a foot wrong in the last 2 years. He’s focused, determined, and eloquent, and also thoughtful as ever, and I believe (see unexpected attention and kudos in places like Huffington Post and even glimmers of positive coverage in the Boston Globe) that public commentators, as well as pouting Democrats, are finally turning around.

  8. I used to spread the word about what Kerry and dems were doing, but the responses I get our just the same everytime Kerry speaks out against Bush.

    It’s the usual, “Too little, too late (or too years too late)” “Where was his spine then, or he should have had those balls in 04” bla, bla, bla. Don’t you always notice that no one but Kerry gets the “too little, too late line”? Every other Dem gets a pass on all their votes or habits. :rolleyes:

    Or the Democrats don’t have a plan.

    Sometimes it’s not easy reaching people. 🙁

  9. Indie–

    Yeah, it’s weird how Hillary and Edwards get a pass on their decidedly more hawkish history on Iraq war, but not Kerry, even though he has been speaking out against Iraq loud and clear (and knowledgeably so) for years now. And no one will acknowledge what he’s been doing in Ohio. .

    Just keep at them. I just casually pass along things Kerry’s been saying and doing . . passing on direct links to his actual words (for instance, the response to the nonsense at the Rose Garden press conference, the transcript and video to his fantastic security speech, which is posted on johnkerry.com. .or recent Hardball interview . . ). I like passing on his direct words, rather than secondary accounts.

    ..I use same approach –passing on direct links– to point out that Demsl DO have plan, that they DO fight back, whether or not MSM chooses to acknowledge it.

    It takes a while, but I know I’ve turned around some doubters. . .

    Depressing how even “thinking” people are afraid, or too lazy, to read, research, and think for themselves. . how influenced they are by what the supposed going “wisdom” is. . essentially by peer pressure. . And, most of all, how much easier it is to be cynical, angry and passive, rather than DOING something about the situation themselves, or at least giving credit to people who do work for change. This is when the angry Dembloggers annoy me the most.

    Like I said, just keep at ’em. Not high-pressure arm-twisting, just spreading the word.

  10. Indie

    I spend less time on places I post things reading the responses and getting into “it” because the snarky response are not indicitive of anything other than angry people wanting to be heard in my opinion.

    I’ve seen plenty of peeps online nailing Hillary for her position on Iraq, and likewise Edwards too.

    Why does Kerry get hit with it more often, because he IS far more vocal and he GETS more media coverage and again because some people would rather be contrary than acknowledge he’s doing good.

    What MBK says about just passing along info is good advice – I do the same thing. 🙂

  11. Indie,

    I was thinking about your post last night and know that feeling of frustration. One day I was looking at my binder full of JK messages, and found the first post-election message dated 11-19-04. The last sentence of that message has been the most motivating and energizing for me:

    ‘Let’s roll up our sleeves and get back to work for our country.’

    As I repeatedly saw JK practicing what he preached, I promised myself to follow that message in spite of all the criticisms I received from family, friends and co-workers, and even the negative or non-existant media about JK, the Dems, etc.

    I now totally focus on putting forth my best efforts for my country, be it phone calls to Congressmembers, LTE, signing on-line petitions, or phone banking at a local Dem office just to get the message – we need change – out there and then let the other stuff just play out.

    I also like another statement in that message: ‘They (Bush Adm) want you to disappear; they are counting on that. I’m confident you will prove them wrong, and you will rewrite history again.’

    Let’s continue to prove them wrong!

  12. Out of all the so called dem 08 contenders Kerry is the only who really has earned a shot at it in my opinion.

    Some of them talk trash but they don’t have to back it up with a vote and frankly they shoudl be called on that fact.

    Others talk out both sides of their mouths while eternally sitting on both sides of the fence and backstabbing Kerry.

    I actually mention more of Kerry’s personal story when I talk to family or someone else who gives me bunk about him. It shuts them up and gives them pause to think.

    Not the nam stuff either i mean there are very few men or women who work in on state and travel home every weekend and most of the time once a week to check on his daughters.

    Actually there is a way to reach the masses out there they may be angry or on the fence.

    2 ways actually. One is Alex’s film about the campaign. folks can see for them self what it was like and hopefully it will show the msm for the liars that they are.

    2. do what clinton did back in 92 buy airtime and get your life story out there the man from hope or whatever it was.
    In JK’s case it can show his childhood and what it was like to shipped away from your family to a military school in the alps.
    It can show the nam years briefly, the prosecutor, the investigating senator, cancer survivor and above all the dad, brother, and husband.
    He’d have to package it different from clinton but he could add what he has done since the election and how he has changed and moved on. Let the people see for themselves and not filtered by the msm who wouldn’t give JK credit for anything.

    What has he to loose? Rather folks realize it or not Kerry is actually the maverick dem in the party now. after Harry Reid and Levin’s betrayal in June or July they made him the maverick without even realizing it.

    Here’s to pres #44 John Kerry.