As the Swift Boat ad controversy rages on, Sen. Kerry traveled to New York to deliver a speech in which he accused the Bush camp of using "fear and smear" tactics against him. Kerry argued the President was resorting to personal attacks in order to avoid discussing issues such as the economy or the situation in Iraq. CNN reported that as Kerry spoke, "behind the scenes" his aides "were trying to make the case that the Swift Boat controversy was backfiring on Bush based on news reports, editorials and responses from some veterans." Kerry partisans "were saying they're happy to debate Vietnam with the President."
However, analysts point out that the controversy could be taking a toll on Kerry's standing. Political commentator Jeff Birnbaum said on Fox News' Special Report that the ads "have knocked Kerry back on his heels." The proof of that "is the vehemence with which Kerry himself is complaining about them." The Dallas Morning News says Kerry and his team are still "playing defense," and the Washington Post notes that as the controversy "entered its third week" yesterday, "key Democratic strategists" are saying "privately" that they "fear that attack ads against Kerry will undermine the Democratic presidential nominee's character and credibility, regardless of the accuracy of the charges, because they dovetail with an argument Bush's campaign has tried to pound home in its advertising that Kerry is unreliable and untrustworthy." The Financial Times says this morning that "alarm is rising in the Kerry camp."
Kerry's speech was covered by all three networks and received widespread coverage from local TV newscasts in swing states. On ABC World News Tonight, the Democratic nominee was shown saying, "My duty is to be a president who tells the truth instead of hiding behind front groups, saying anything and doing anything to avoid the real issues that matter." According to the New York Times, Kerry "painted the election as a stark choice between a mudslinging incumbent and 'new leadership' bursting with plans to help the middle class," while the Washington Post says he "refocused his campaign on the core domestic issues of jobs and health care." On local TV, many reports noted that the Massachusetts senator used his "harshest language yet" to attack the Bush Administration.
Kerry Appears On Comedy Central's Daily Show After Speech.
After his speech, Kerry taped an interview on Comedy Central's popular "Daily Show," says ABC News Radio this morning. USA Today analyzes the "political strategy" behind the senator's appearance on the comedy show, concluding Kerry "wanted to come off as a regular guy reaching out to young voters without having to answer tough questions."
Kerry Sends Cleland, Rassman To Crawford To Urge Bush To Condemn Ad's Content. Reuters reports this morning that Kerry "will dispatch two fellow Vietnam veterans to President Bush's secluded Texas ranch on Wednesday to press him to condemn television advertisements accusing Kerry of lying about his wartime service. Kerry is sending to Crawford former Sen. Max Cleland of Georgia, a frequent companion of Kerry's on the campaign trail and a fellow Vietnam War veteran, who lost three limbs during the war." He is also sending "Army Green Beret Jim Rassman, whose life was saved by Kerry during a Vietnam war firefight " The two "will try to deliver a letter protesting the ads to Bush at his heavily guarded ranch, Kerry aides said."