“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.