After nearly everyone had written him off, John Kerry turned a limping campaign into a force that couldn't be beat. Here's How
"In that order?" he was asked.
"That's the order I always said," he replied.
And that's precisely why some on the campaign believe that Dean was responsible for his own defeat. "Did he really want this thing?" asked a frustrated senior aide. "That is what I ask myself. This process only rewards those who really want it and who do whatever it takes to get it. John Kerry proved that. John Kerry took risks. The great unreported story of Iowa is the John Kerry campaign."
To a certain extent, Dean agrees. "I think it would be unfair to do this piece without saying that Kerry won Iowa; it wasn't just a matter of us losing it," Dean said. "I mean, Kerry did a really good job."
He did. And he did it with as much secrecy as he could possibly manage.
Magical Mr. Whouley
When the news spread like a prairie wildfire that Michael Whouley was on his way to Des Moines, Gordon Fischer, the chairman of the state's Democratic Party, had one thought: "John Kerry has just dropped his H-bomb on Iowa." Such is Whouley's reputation. Since the surest way to get publicity in America is to try to avoid it, Whouley's status in political circles has grown to nuclear proportions, even though Whouley (pronounced HOO-lee) almost never appears on TV, rarely gives interviews, and almost never schmoozes with reporters or hobnobs with other political operatives. He is a coiled spring of a man, wiry, watchful, and with a Boston accent thick enough to spread on a soda cracker. He believes in winning, in secrecy, in power, in clout, in order, in organization, in loyalty. He believes in John Kerry (just as he believed in Al Gore and Bill Clinton) and unabashedly uses the word "love" to describe his feelings for the man. He had one constant refrain to the troops in Iowa: "We got to make sure the campaign keeps up with the candidate." The candidate would be fine--screw the polls, screw the press--the candidate would do his stuff, hit his marks, make his points, deliver his message, win the crowds. But the campaign had to be ready to handle the result of that. Which is what Whouley did in Iowa. And there was one other imperative that Whouley emphasized: "What we don't do is frigging talk about things." It was the opposite of the strategy of Dean's campaign manager, Joe Trippi, who constantly promoted the campaign, the candidate, the movement (and Joe Trippi). Whouley believes in staying so far below the radar screen of the press and opposition that nobody can find you. Which means Whouley's social interactions on the road can be, well, limited. Staying alone in his hotel room and ordering beer and chicken wings from room service is a big night for Whouley. In Iowa, the Hotel Fort Des Moines, an undistinguished red-brick building in the city's downtown, housed not only the Kerry and Dean campaigns but also several dozen reporters. The bar at the Fort Des Moines, needless to say, was packed every night in January with pols and press, but of all Whouley's accomplishments in Iowa this campaign season, he may be proudest of never having set foot in the place. Both reporters and political operatives tend to gossip and (lubricated by a few drinks) often reveal too much in casual conversations. This was not a problem for Whouley.