Skip to comments.Meet The Next President: Kerry's Second Shot
Posted on 09/14/2006 12:35:36 PM PDT by Froufrou
Moments before Sen. John Kerry shows up to campaign for a local politician at a backyard rally here, voter Sue Borden wrinkles her nose at the mention of the man who lost to President Bush.
You get one chance, the Democrat tells a reporter. If you cant win, then its time to let someone else try.
But less than an hour later, after she meets Kerry and listens to him deliver an impassioned speech from a wooden deck, Borden softens and says she would consider voting again for the Massachusetts Democrat.
I always liked what he stood for but felt that he was very snobbish and arrogant, she says. Hes not that way. People told me I would change my mind once I met him. And they were right.
It is not clear whether Kerry will have enough time to personally meet and convert every disaffected Democrat in the nation by the election of 2008. But he appears determined to at least counter the conventional wisdom that Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, D-N.Y., has all but locked up the Democratic presidential nomination.
I dont buy it, he said in an interview with The Examiner this week. You know, people sit with you and talk with you here, and theyre going to make judgments about who can be president. Theyre going to make judgments about who can run.
I think Id be a good president, he adds, sitting on the wraparound porch of an old house in Keene. I dont care what the dominant, conventional wisdom is today; it will not be the dominant, conventional wisdom in a year.
But even if Clinton were to stumble or withdraw, other Democrats are poised to step in. Some are already hinting that Kerry had his chance and blew it by losing the all-important swing state of Ohio in 2004. Similar arguments were made against former Vice President Al Gore when he lost the crucial state of Florida to Bush in 2000.
We are making a mistake if we put up candidates that are only competitive in 16 states, and then we roll the dice and hope we win Ohio or Florida, says former Virginia Gov. Mark Warner, another Democrat eyeing the White House.
Far from being offended by this remark, Kerry says he agrees with it.
I would say the same thing, he says. If I were lucky enough to do it again, Im going to make sure were campaigning in way more states.
Kerry says the only reason he didnt compete in more states in 2004 was that he ran out of money. He says this was also the reason he did not adequately respond to a series of devastating TV ads by Swift Boat Veterans for the Truth, a group that questioned Kerrys service in Vietnam and criticized his later opposition to the war.
They had money behind the lies, and we did not have sufficient money behind the truth, Kerry laments.
Asked if he dreads the prospect of being Swift-Boated all over again, Kerry counters that he would relish such a fight.
Im prepared to kick their ass from one end of America to the other, he declares. I am so confident of my abilities to address that and to demolish it and to even turn it into a positive.
Kerrys tough talk triggers laughter from John ONeill, a fellow Vietnam veteran who helped found Swift Boat Veterans for the Truth and wrote a blistering 2004 book on Kerry, Unfit for Command.
Well, hes got eight times as much time to prepare for us as he spent in Vietnam, says ONeill, referring to Kerrys short tour of duty.
Kerrys blunt rhetoric on the Swift Boat Veterans is a far cry from his 2004 attempt to straddle the question of whether to fund U.S. troops in Iraq and Afghanistan.
I actually did vote for the $87 billion before I voted against it, he said during the election, cementing his reputation as a flip-flopper.
The utterance was draped around Kerrys neck and was widely viewed as a factor in his defeat. And yet now he voluntarily alludes to the gaffe while criticizing Bushs recent reversal on the handling of enemy combatants.
No American president should be for torture before hes against it, Kerry said at Bostons Faneuil Hall last weekend, allowing himself a rueful smile as the crowd erupted in cheers.
Eager to shed his image as an overly cautious politician, Kerry now prefers to let it rip, according to several of his closest advisers.
I learned a lot of lessons in the campaign, Kerry tells The Examiner. And one of them is to keep it simple. Direct.
Yet Kerrys stance has been anything but simple on the question of whether to implement a specific timetable for withdrawing U.S. troops from Iraq. While Kerry opposed such a timetable last year, he now supports it.
I dont see that as a contradiction, he says while munching chocolate chip cookies.
He explains that the politics of Iraq have changed dramatically since he opposed a timetable.
We didnt have an election; we hadnt had a constitution; there was no provisional government, he says. To set a timetable in that circumstance would have been wrong.
But once youve had the election, once theyve accepted democracy, once theyve put together a government, the only thing left to do is complete the task of security transformation, he adds. And I think its reasonable, then, to have a standard by which [the Iraqis] assume a sense of urgency and responsibility.
Charlie Cook, publisher of the Cook Political Report, says it will not be easy for Kerry to convince Democrats to give him another chance after coming up short in 2004.
Kerry came out as damaged merchandise, Cook says. Badly damaged merchandise.
Kerry acknowledges there is some legitimacy to such analysis.
If you have hundreds of millions of dollars spent saying something about you, some of it sinks in, he shrugs.
And yet such damage was part of an invaluable experience passing through the crucible of a presidential campaign.
On the plus side, I think if I were to decide to run again, Id bring a lot of assets, including the fact that Im the only guy whos fully vetted, Kerry says. I have the experience of three presidential debates and a convention, of having come out of the campaign being accepted by 50-whatever million Americans with being able to be president.
Thats a resume that cannot be matched by others in the crowded presidential sweepstakes of 2008.
If you win 10 million more votes than Bill Clinton did in 1996, a sitting president, and you come within 59,000 votes of beating a Republican president in a time of war, it seems to me youve done better than others who ran and didnt win the nomination, who are thinking of running again, he says.
As for those who believe politicians get only one chance for the top job, Kerry rattles off a list of Republicans who lost elections, only to rise again.
I mean, John McCain got just beat up in South Carolina, and hes fighting, he says of a possible 2008 foe. Ronald Reagan ran three times. Richard Nixon ran after a miserable loss in California.
So the question is, what do you offer? What do you bring to the table? he adds. I think the agenda I laid out is viable, is as urgent today, and thats why I think about this.
He points out that while his 2004 candidacy failed, many of his foreign and domestic policies remain popular among Democrats. In fact, his anti-war stance may resonate more in 2008 than in 2004 because more Americans are tiring of the bloodshed.
If my ideas had been rejected overwhelmingly, if I was wrong, then maybe I should just go put my head down and go somewhere and work in the garden, he says. But I dont think I was. And a lot of people, as I go around the country, reaffirm that with me.
People, indeed, like Sue Borden.
Tough on American veterans!
Soft on Terrorists!
That's our John Kerrry, all right.
It's usually best to go with one's first impression, Sue dear.
John Kerry is a bad senator. Even good senators don't make good presidents.
Kerry is running again?
...I may vomit
Yep. First impressions are much more reliable than Kerry's plan.
If Kerry,Gore and The Former Twelfth Lady all go for the brass ring the bloodshed will be breathtaking.A badly wounded and poorly funded nominee would emerge from such a battle.
As she fawned all over John (IWIVN) Kerry, she broke out in a noticable sweat. Her pulse raced. She stared at his 13 purple crosses and two congressional medals of honor. What a hero she thought to herself. He is too good to be true.
AND HE IS.....
Tuning up the engines aren't we Swifties? Get the a-wipe again.
she could of said I was voting fo anybody but Bush and still dont know what stands kerry for
"'Well, hes got eight times as much time to prepare for us as he spent in Vietnam,' says ONeill, referring to Kerrys short tour of duty."
I KNEW I smelled something up here in Massachusetts every time Kerry appeared somewhere...
There will be snow cones in Hell before he becomes CIC.
Thank you for da widdle bunny wabbit! And thank you for your service!
Yeah, I always liked what he stood for too.
Not only is he a stupid arrogant pompous ass, he's delusional too!
Run, Lurch, run! This will be good.
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