Post-election analysis is faulting John Kerry's campaign strategy, but there is little recrimination for the candidate himself. USA Today reports that though the "political landscape in some ways seemed to favor" Kerry, he "was up against history. No wartime president has ever lost." There were "many factors Kerry could have shaped. They included a convention some Democrats say did not make the case either against Bush or for Kerry; failure to effectively counter ad attacks on his character; lack of a crisp, consistent message for much of the season and, in the end, relying too much on turnout rather than attracting a broader swath of voters." The New York Times reports, "Despite the applause heaped upon his campaign manager, Mary Beth Cahill, some advisers were already pointing to what they called the major strategic errors of his campaign." Kerry advisers "cited the senator's lack of a clear and consistent message right up until mid-September, and suggested that his theme-of-the-week inconsistency and shifting attacks on the president in some ways bore out Mr. Bush's argument that Mr. Kerry was too indecisive and vacillating to lead the nation." Many advisers "said Mr. Kerry's most obvious mistake was his long delay in responding forcefully to the attacks by members of the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth." On NBC Nightly News, Tom Brokaw last night spoke with Newsweek editor Mark Whitaker. Brokaw: "I think by my view, the most devastating line was, I voted for the $87 billion before I voted against it." Whitaker: "The Bush campaign had a theory about Kerry that you could bait him. As one said, if you put the rabbit out there he'll chase it. They put up a local ad, an ad in the local TV market, goading him for his vote against the funding for Iraq. And then, a heckler showed up in the audience and started giving him a hard time. We weren't able to establish if he was sent by the Bush campaign." Brokaw: "Which would have been fair game." Whitaker: "Kind of the tradition of dirty tricks. We know about that. After about an hour of this, Kerry was getting exasperated, he said, I voted for it, before I voted against it. Back at Bush headquarters, as soon as they saw a clip of that, they knew they had an attack ad."
Kerry Couldn't Believe He Was "Losing To This Idiot."
On NBC Nightly News, Tom Brokaw last night spoke with Newsweek editor Mark Whitaker. Brokaw: "Kerry was always in overdrive and he had a hard time taking the President seriously in the early stages of the campaign." Whitaker: "What frustrated him was that even when the chattering classes were panning a performance by Bush, his numbers continued to go up. We remember that April press conference when he was asked if he ever made a mistake and said he couldn't remember one. He was widely made fun of for that, but his poll numbers went up. Kerry said to one of his aides, 'I can't believe I'm losing to this idiot.'"
Kerry Negotiations With McCain More Serious Than Reported. NBC Nightly News (11/3, story 11, Brokaw) last night spoke with Newsweek editor Mark Whitaker. Brokaw: "John McCain. How serious was that offer to become Vice President." Whitaker: "We all heard that Kerry was trying to get John McCain to run with him. Actually, those negotiations were much longer and extensive than reported at the time. At one point, Kerry approached the idea of an offer that he be not only Vice President, but run the Pentagon, essentially be the Secretary of Defense at the same time and largely supervise foreign policy. McCain probably wasn't going to do this anyway, I think it would have damaged his prospects down the line to run on the Republican ticket. But at that point, McCain started to think that the Kerry campaign was a little desperate."