Skip to comments.Kerry Struggles To Lose Elitist Tag With Voters
Posted on 07/23/2004 6:27:52 PM PDT by blam
Kerry struggles to lose elitist tag with voters
By Alec Russell in Washington
The Democrats' presidential challenger returned to his birthplace yesterday seeking to give an answer to a key question hanging over his campaign: who exactly is Senator John Kerry?
With polls showing him neck and neck with President George W Bush, he is in a better position at this stage of the race than any challenger since Ronald Reagan in 1980. He has also raised more money than any challenger in history and with his cv as a Vietnam War hero cannot easily be tarred with that old Democratic label of "soft on defence".
John Kerry has a reputation as an awkward patrician
A series of polls yesterday suggested that more than half of Americans are not happy with the way the country is going. Senior Republicans concede Mr Kerry is a serious threat, an unthinkable admission a few months ago and a reflection of how Mr Bush has been weakened by months of bad news from Iraq.
Yet a lingering concern dogs his staff. Despite a multi-million-dollar advertising campaign, polls suggest more than a third of Americans do not know who he is beyond that he is a senator from Massachusetts - a state with dangerously liberal connotations for heartland folk.
As even his closest fans admit, he is not a natural campaigner. Despite months of coaching, he still often fits his caricature as an awkward patrician. And in a close race - Florida, one of the three key states, is a dead heat in the latest poll - everything counts.
"What this hall needs is a little energy," he bellowed the other day as he opened an address to the teachers' union, before joking about his lack of sex appeal in comparison with his telegenic running mate, Senator John Edwards.
Delighted delegates said this was his most convincing performance to date.
"He has become more forceful. He is definitely getting better at playing the crowds," said Rita Victor, a teacher from New Jersey, for whom Kerry was the third choice for the Democratic nomination. "He was aloof. But he's warmer now. He's learned."
But his style still smacked more of the Yale debating chamber where he honed his oratorical skills than the Middle American living rooms where the race will be won.
And not all in the audience were convinced. "I just don't think I know him," said an intern on his campaign, looking on as he pumped his fists in the air. "I am just not sure."
Democrats say it is unfair to label him elitist. They point to his record as something of an outsider in his smart New England private schools where, as the son of a diplomat, he was a relative pauper compared with his super-rich classmates.
But given his maternal bloodline stretching back to the first settlers and his second wife's fortune - Teresa Heinz Kerry is one of America's wealthiest women - that will be a hard argument to push home.
So with all this in mind he returned to his birthplace in Aurora, Colorado, yesterday to begin a symbolic tour ahead of next week's party convention which will be his greatest chance yet to sell himself to the electorate. Some 2,000 miles from Boston, his hometown, Colorado is spiritually also a long way from Kerry country.
It exudes down-to-earth values which is why campaign staff must have jumped for joy when they learned Mr Kerry was born just outside Denver in Fitzimmons army hospital, Aurora.
He lived there for only the first three months of his life, nearly 61 years ago. But it was the perfect backdrop for his campaign's new emphasis on his family and his varied career.
Bill Clinton, the last successful Democratic candidate, never looked back in his campaign after the airing of a film about his life at the 1992 convention - "The Man from Hope".
Mr Kerry sprayed references to his parents and hints that his upper lip is not as stiff as it so often appears.
"My father helped me to understand at an early age that we are all put on this Earth for something greater than ourselves, and that's something my mother taught me too," Mr Kerry said yesterday.
"Through the power of their example, they both taught me that one of the most fundamental values in life is service to others. That's why I'm here."
In an interview with ABC to be aired tomorrow he went further, briefly appearing to lose his composure when asked if he wished his parents could see him accept the nomination. "Yes," he said. "It's sad."
No one ever said that ousting an incumbent, even a weakened one, would be easy.
Wah Wah Wah. Poor baby. BFD, I went to public schools.
So with all this in mind he returned to his birthplace in Aurora, Colorado. He lived there for only the first three months of his life,
BFD again. He's as much from Colorado as I am from Southfield. Born there, but that's about it.
5 multimillion dollar homes....naqhhhhh
he's a common everyday guy
What, he's gonna trade in his $8,000.00 tour de francais bike for a 1960 Schwinn?
I guess they're the ones that get Swiss boarding schools and French vacations.
Ah. Slumming. Good strategy.
Elocution lessons from Chris Matthews?
The difference in the command of presence between the two is dramatic and breathtaking......it's literally like night and day.
My Father taught me this BEFORE my Mother taught me.
It's shameful that Bush isn't well ahead of sKerry in the polls. I realize that he's been the target of an unprecedented 3.5-year media blitz in addition to the lies and propaganda of an unAmerican 'Rat party, but he's screwed the pooch big time to be in his current situation. He allowed his new tone to restrain himself from setting the record straight, which he should have done early and often.
At no more than 2 lbs of caviar per day it's going to be tough. How could he even stand the stuff??