Kerry's '04 campaign "political malpractice"
I have to admit a bit of guilty amusement when I read that former DNC chair Terry McAuliffe described John Kerry's failed 2004 presidential campaign as, "one of the biggest acts of political malpractice in the history of American politics."
In his memoir, McAuliffe also described the Kerry campaign as, "...gun-shy, distracted and incompetent." Can't say as I'd disagree too much.
In "What a Party! My Life Among Democrats: Presidents, Candidates, Donors, Activists, Alligators and Other Wild Animals," McAuliffe says he feels that the Kerry campaign's biggest mistakes was sitting back and allowing Bush to smear his war record and everything about him without firing back.
McAuliffe said Kerry's camp was so afraid of offending swing voters that it didn't defend his record or criticize Bush. He said he was muzzled by Kerry's aides from assailing Bush's military record.I agree 100% with McAuliffe and expressed my frustration with the Kerry campaign for the exact thing at the time.
He said the campaign also ordered speeches at the Democratic National Convention to be scrubbed of any mention of Bush's name or his record -- although McAuliffe privately encouraged firebrand Al Sharpton to go ahead with his attacks on the president in his crowd-pleasing speech.
"I thought the decision of the Kerry campaign to back off any real criticism of Bush was one of the biggest acts of political malpractice in the history of American politics," he said.
Meanwhile, Republicans went on a sharp tirade against Kerry at their convention. But when Bush said in an interview on the first day that he didn't think the U.S. could win the war on terror, Kerry did not respond. The Massachusetts senator was windsurfing off Nantucket, unaware of the president's comments.
McAuliffe said Kerry later told him that was one of the biggest mistakes of his campaign. "I should have gotten off the island," McAuliffe quotes Kerry as saying.
McAuliffe said he was "flabbergasted" to learn after the election that Kerry had $15 million left that he could have spent in the final push. "It was gross incompetence to hoard that money when the race was bound to be so close," McAuliffe said.
McAuliffe said Republicans told him they were shocked that Kerry just took the attacks on his military record, but also overjoyed. He said Bush called President Clinton while he was recovering from his heart attack in September 2004 and said, "The Kerry campaign is the most inept group I have ever seen in politics. Don't let them ruin your reputation."
He said Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., asked him why Kerry wasn't fighting back more. "My guy (Bush) is no great shakes, but your guy (Kerry) looks like a wimp," McAuliffe quotes McCain as saying.
Kerry's former running mate, John Edwards, also was frustrated with the campaign, according to McAuliffe. McAuliffe said Edwards was angered that the campaign wouldn't let him go after Bush, but Kerry disputed Edwards' claim and said he was frustrated his vice presidential pick wasn't campaigning harder.
It's tough to win an election against the likes of Karl Rove when you don't even know how to fight.