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Old 01-31-2004, 04:31 PM   #1 (permalink)
jcookc6's Avatar
Location: Venice, Florida
Bring it on and don't let the door hit you

Great article on the NY times website on the War Hero in Iowa. Brought a tear to my eye. http://www.nytimes.com/2004/02/01/po...01KERR.html?hp
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Old 01-31-2004, 04:53 PM   #2 (permalink)
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Location: In the land of ice and snow.
A nice choice of words on kerry's part, being that he's seen actual combat and actually has a personal stake in "it" being brought.
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Old 01-31-2004, 04:58 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Location: Somewhere over the rainbow
Hmm, someone should quote the article. Please.
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Old 01-31-2004, 05:28 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Location: Somewhere... Across the sea...
February 1, 2004
With Cry of 'Bring It On,' Kerry Regained His Campaign Footing

ANSAS CITY, Mo., Jan. 31 On Saturday night, Nov. 15, John Kerry had everything at stake. He was trailing so far behind Howard Dean in the polls in New Hampshire that he knew he had to make a splash in Iowa. So he stepped before a crowd of 8,000 people at the state Democratic Party's Jefferson-Jackson dinner in Des Moines and let loose.

"If George Bush wants to make national security an issue in this campaign, I have three words for him that I know he'll understand," Mr. Kerry said, in language that became his new rallying cry and started him on the two-month march toward his stunning comeback in the Iowa caucuses and his decisive victory in New Hampshire last week. "Bring it on!"

Mr. Kerry's listeners had never heard those words before, but he had. They came, several aides said, from a draft of his campaign announcement speech in September that Mr. Kerry and his longtime friend and adviser Bob Shrum had vetoed as too bellicose. A series of similar internal feuds had ultimately led Mr. Kerry to fire his campaign manager, Jim Jordan, days before the Iowa dinner.

Now, with the candidate struggling to regain his footing at the end of the worst week of his campaign, Mr. Kerry's young speechwriter, Andrei Cherny, worked the old lines into the Iowa speech, aides recalled, along with an implicit challenge to Dr. Dean that Mr. Shrum backed.

"We need to offer answers, not just anger," Mr. Kerry said. "We need to offer solutions, not just slogans. So Iowa, don't just send them a message next January send them a president."

What happened to Mr. Kerry in the next nine weeks is the story of a candidate who carefully built a new management team, a crisper stump speech, a softer public persona and a series of emotional television advertisements attesting to his courage and character. He stayed in town hall meetings until every questioner had a say, so his answers got shorter and better, and he surrounded himself with fellow Vietnam veterans, including one whose life he saved, so his heart was more on his sleeve.

"There's something about that whole Vietnam War that's very much inside John Kerry," said his fellow Massachusetts senator and sometime rival, Edward M. Kennedy, who has been campaigning for Mr. Kerry, lent him aides and has been known to call him at 7 a.m. with advice on how to handle that day's headlines in The Washington Post. "I've been with him out in boats and on beaches, and he just won't talk about it. This is a part of his life that is difficult. But when these veterans came in to campaign for him, it sort of opened up something that he himself didn't know was being suppressed, and it sort of relieved some of the tightness that he had."

Mr. Kerry has never hesitated to cite his Vietnam experience as an example of leadership under fire, or to call on comrades in arms when he is in political peril, but he has been careful to avoid being seen as exploiting his service politically. Now, as he was here on Saturday, he is awash in veterans at most every event, and the crowds respond enthusiastically.

Mr. Kerry has by no means clinched the nomination. But according to interviews with more than a dozen of his current and former aides, his revival is also the story of a candidate who was ready and steady when the nation's first Democratic voters actually got around to deciding which candidate they thought was most presidential. That had been the overriding rationale for Mr. Kerry's candidacy from the beginning, but he faltered as Dr. Dean's anti-Washington message caught on. By December, some top Democrats had pronounced Mr. Kerry's campaign all but dead. Even some of Mr. Kerry's aides were wondering how he could come back.

Then, just as Dr. Dean began to draw increasing scrutiny, and controversy, with his declaration that the capture of Saddam Hussein had not made Americans safer and his tart comments on a host of other topics, Mr. Kerry began to click.

"John's strengths as a candidate were always going to emerge," said Mr. Jordan, his former campaign manager. "That is, he always was going to be what voters were looking for in this cycle." He added: "He's back because he got a lot better, but I think some of what's going on now is a misunderstanding of voter behavior. Different voters finally kicked in, a broader swath who were looking for something different and were really struck by John's presidentialness. He's big, he's masculine, he's a serious man for a serious time."

Mr. Shrum, who feuded bitterly with Mr. Jordan, offered a similar assessment: "People focused in on who should be president, who could beat Bush. I saw it in the crowds, beginning in Iowa. You could feel it."

For months last year, as Dr. Dean's Internet-fueled campaign soared, Mr. Kerry's languished. A circle of longtime Boston-based friends and advisers, including his brother, Cameron, and his former brother-in-law David Thorne, many of whom had been with him since his first campaign for Congress more than 30 years ago, chafed and fretted. Often, their target was Mr. Jordan. Why hadn't he used the Internet to raise more money? Why wasn't the campaign doing better?

Mr. Kerry paid the price. "It seemed he was always refereeing his campaign all the time," one confidant said. "He was forced into the machinations of the campaign, adjudicating disputes among his staff, consultants, colleagues in Congress and schedulers and so somebody who has very considerable talents and background wasn't able to be an optimal candidate."

Finally, Mr. Kerry asked Mr. Jordan to go, replacing him with Mr. Kennedy's chief of staff, Mary Beth Cahill, who recalled that a friend told her taking the job would be "like becoming the mayor of Beirut." He announced the decision to a shocked staff in a conference call in which they could hear him chewing his Sunday supper. The publicity was awful, the private buzzing worse. By the Friday before the Iowa dinner, Mr. Kerry had decided to join Dr. Dean in rejecting public financing, and its spending limits, so he could pour money into Iowa in hopes of catching fire. He also relied on his own wealth, borrowing $6.4 million against his town house in Boston with plans to use it to help finance operations.

Taking the helm, Ms. Cahill streamlined operations, giving everyone involved a voice, doing her best to stop the back-channel chats with the candidate that had paralyzed decision making. "There are some very strong people here," one strategist said, but now when someone took a complaint to Mr. Kerry, he would say, "Talk to Mary Beth."

Her first big decision was to back a risky move, one that aides said had always been part of Mr. Jordan's strategy, too. While Mr. Kerry was trailing Dr. Dean badly in New Hampshire, surveys by his campaign pollster, Mark Mellman, showed him doing much better within striking distance in Iowa. "Even when we were at 18 or 20 percent support in a horse race, we still cut across all demographic groups," Mr. Mellman said. "John was not a niche candidate."

So the campaign decided to make its big push there, in hopes that a better-than-expected showing 1,300 miles from Mr. Kerry's base would become a big bounce in his backyard. The Jefferson-Jackson dinner amounted to a coming-out party.

"We knew we were doing well in Iowa," said David Morehouse, who started as the campaign communications director the day Mr. Jordan's ouster was announced. "J-J was an opportunity for us to let everyone else know."

Jonathan Epstein, a veteran Kerry aide, papered the dinner with supporters from all over Iowa, some of them strategically positioned to cheer right behind the press corps. A parade of veterans, firefighters and a drum and dance corps called the Isiserettes led Mr. Kerry on a snaking parade through Des Moines's glassed-in skywalks to the dinner at Veterans Auditorium. It was a sensation.

Two days later, in a strategy meeting, Mike Donilon, one of Mr. Kerry's media advisers, proposed that the campaign emphasize what Mr. Kerry would do in his first 100 days as president, to underline his qualifications. Advertisements and speeches on that theme soon followed. Mr. Kerry also circled back to talking about one of his strengths in the Senate: foreign policy, a topic that had seemed only to bog him down for months in tortured explanation of how he squared his criticism of President Bush's Iraq policy with his earlier vote to authorize military force.

Meanwhile, another longtime Kerry friend, Michael Whouley, who had been a demon political organizer for Al Gore in 2000, was on the ground in Iowa, successfully pressing with the state coordinator, John Norris, a former Iowa party chairman, for money and resources from Mr. Kerry's Washington headquarters, including about 100 campaign workers from New Hampshire and elsewhere.

Aides in New Hampshire gulped, but as December turned to January, they began to see the benefits of favorable coverage of Mr. Kerry's efforts in Iowa. "The Thursday or Friday before the caucuses on Monday," said Judy Reardon, a senior adviser in New Hampshire, "I noticed that people were spontaneously coming into our headquarters in Manchester, asking for lawn signs. That was something we had not experienced in quite a while."

During that time, the campaign was broadcasting a series of emotional and, its polling showed, effective ads. In one in Iowa, a widowed office worker named Elizabeth Hendrix recounted her struggle to raise four boys on $28,000 a year, and praised Mr. Kerry's proposal to roll back only the Bush administration's tax cuts on the wealthiest Americans, not everyone, as Dr. Dean and Representative Richard A. Gephardt of Missouri were proposing. Looking straight into the camera, Ms. Hendrix declared, "John Kerry understands what's going on in my life."

Another advertisement featured Del Sandusky, the plain-spoken driver of one of the swift patrol boats Mr. Kerry commanded in Vietnam, who said his skipper had "made decisions that saved our lives" and concluded, "This is a good American." Mr. Kerry's strategists believed that message not only connected the candidate's political career to his wartime service, but took the sting off his patrician manner.

Mr. Kerry himself seemed energized and more at ease as he benefited from his position as an alternative to Dr. Dean and his missteps.

While Dr. Dean had the endorsement of Senator Tom Harkin, Iowa's most popular Democrat, Mr. Kerry won the backing of Christie Vilsack, the wife of the popular governor, Tom Vilsack, and it proved more critical, Mr. Kerry's aides say, giving Iowans license to choose him. Even before Dr. Dean and Mr. Gephardt began sharp attacks on each other, Mr. Mellman's polls showed Mr. Kerry moving up, and by Jan. 12, 13 and 14, his tracking polls began to show Mr. Kerry pulling ahead.

On Saturday, Jan. 17, two days before the caucuses, Mr. Kerry learned that Jim Rassman, a onetime Army Green Beret, deputy Los Angeles County sheriff and amateur orchid grower, had called his campaign from his home in Oregon the day before and asked to campaign for Mr. Kerry, who had saved his life on March 13, 1969, in the Bay Hap River in Vietnam but had not seen him since.

That afternoon in Des Moines, Mr. Kerry squeezed Mr. Rassman's broad, smiling face with both hands, as if it were a baby's. Mr. Rassman, a registered Republican, dissolved into sobs and they embraced. "I figure I probably owe this man my life," he said. Mr. Kerry struggled to control his emotions.

By then, it was all over but the voting.

Todd S. Purdum reported for this article from Kansas City and David M. Halbfinger from South Carolina
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Old 01-31-2004, 09:51 PM   #5 (permalink)
Location: VA
On Saturday, Jan. 17, two days before the caucuses, Mr. Kerry learned that Jim Rassman, a onetime Army Green Beret, deputy Los Angeles County sheriff and amateur orchid grower, had called his campaign from his home in Oregon the day before and asked to campaign for Mr. Kerry, who had saved his life on March 13, 1969, in the Bay Hap River in Vietnam but had not seen him since.

That afternoon in Des Moines, Mr. Kerry squeezed Mr. Rassman's broad, smiling face with both hands, as if it were a baby's. Mr. Rassman, a registered Republican, dissolved into sobs and they embraced. "I figure I probably owe this man my life," he said. Mr. Kerry struggled to control his emotions.
I wish I could have seen that...
"In Iraq, no doubt about it, it's tough. It's hard work. It's incredibly hard. It's - and it's hard work. I understand how hard it is. I get the casualty reports every day. I see on the TV screens how hard it is. But it's necessary work. We're making progress. It is hard work."
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bring, door, hit

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