Debate Performance Appears To Fuel A Kerry Resurgence
Media reports have generally considered Sen. Kerry the winner of both the debate on Thursday night and the post-debate "spin." Kerry's strong performance has also reinvigorated his campaign and supporters, who, prior to the debate, were characterized as pessimistic and unenthused. The Wall Street Journal reports the debate "appears to have given John Kerry what he wants: a tight race with George W. Bush for the campaign's final month." Reviews "by polls, pundits and late-night comics are in, and Mr. Bush's debate-night expressions of discomfiture, seen by an audience of 62 million Americans and later lampooned by the likes of 'Saturday Night Live,' underscored that he has been put on the defensive in a way he hasn't since the Democrats' late-July convention." The ABC Evening News reported, "Kerry is newly energized and his campaign appears to have gained ground." One Kerry adviser "says the Senator is widely praised for his performance in Thursday night's debate (which) has literally changed the culture of the campaign, replacing anxiety with enthusiasm." The NBC Nightly News reports the Kerry team's "challenge now, not appearing too cocky in a race with weeks to go." U.S. News and World Report reports that Kerry "was sharp, concise, and focused during the debate, mustering streams of facts in a steady drumbeat of criticism of Bush's Iraq policy." Bush "demonstrated his own strengths," but "when attacked, Bush all too often fell back on his talking points, endlessly repeating the mantra that the war in Iraq is 'hard work.'"
Bush Said To Have Appeared "Unprepared" And "Overcoached" Newsweek reports in its cover story that Bush looked "unprepared for battle, advised by overconfident aides who were twirling cigars on the eve of the debate at a bar in South Beach." Newsweek adds, "Republicans fretted afterward that he had been overcoached, stifling his genial personality."
First Debate Raise Stakes For Tomorrow's VP Clash Newsweek reports that after "Bush's only so-so performance at that outing, the stakes in (Vice President Dick) Cheney's own debate with Democratic vice presidential nominee John Edwards on Tuesday have been raised considerably. Now it's up to him to make the case for constancy in a war that Kerry says diverted resources from more pressing priorities, like going after Osama bin Laden and Al Qaeda. In a way, it's the assignment the almost preternaturally steady Cheney has been preparing for all of his life. And Edwards, in the first one-on-one debate of his career, is clearly outmatched in both experience and expectations." The Washington Post also says tomorrow's debate "has assumed critical importance, with Republicans depending on" Cheney "to halt the ticket's slide in momentum."
Moreover, according to US News and World Report, while "few voters cast their votes based on the vice presidential candidate," Tuesday's "could be pivotal to Edwards's political future. If the Kerry/Edwards ticket wins on November 2, Edwards's future is set, at least for four years. If it loses, however, Edwards's performance in the debate will go a long way in determining how the party views him as a presidential candidate in 2008. Will he be the main challenger to Hillary Rodham Clinton or just another losing vice presidential candidate like Joe Lieberman?" The Minneapolis Star Tribune, meanwhile, says Edwards "has made a career of chewing up folks who didn't think he belonged in the same courtroom or political arena. Now, Edwards, 51, can hardly wait to take on Vice President Dick Cheney, the epitome of the Washington establishment."