For Kerry, It's On To The Main Event
John Kerry capped off an improbable march to the Democratic nomination for president tonight by winning all contests on Super Tuesday except Howard Dean’s home state of Vermont. John Edwards is set to drop out of the race tomorrow, and Kerry and his staff are already considering running mates.
The White House, through Dick Cheney, emerging from an undisclosed location to start the dirty work, began the talking points against Kerry:
"He very clearly has over the years adopted a series of positions that indicate a desire to cut the defense budget, cut the intelligence budget, to eliminate many major weapons programs."
Given, as Fred Kaplan in Slate noted last week, that it was Cheney and Bush’s father who actually cut the defense budget and those weapons systems that they are accusing Kerry of cutting, and given that Kerry never voted to cut specific weapons systems, the White House better have more bullets in its holster than this. And if Bush and Cheney want to bring up Kerry’s votes in 1990 about the first Iraq war, Kerry should remind voters that at the same time as those momentous votes, Bush was engaging in insider trading and getting bailed out by the BCCI. He could also remind voters that it was Dick Cheney who presided over the decision to stop Norman Schwarzkopf from finishing the job against Saddam the first time.
The challenge for Kerry now as I have said before, aside from pulling the party and its money supporters together to map out responsibilities and financial commitments, is to implement a Tier One and Tier Two strategy. The Tier One strategy will be the campaign to tell voters about John Kerry and what his plans are to deal with the country’s problems, through a positive, forward-looking message with some specifics and high-powered supporters, contrasting this message against the failed Bush record. The Tier Two campaign must be led by a political killer of the Garry South mold, who will use surrogates and the 527’s to establish the negatives on Bush and define him early, pinning him and Rove back on defense instead of waiting for attacks.
I congratulate all of the candidates and specifically their supporters for a campaign that has restored hope to this party. I specifically congratulate Howard Dean and his supporters for all of the good they did for the party and frankly for the nominee. Without the anger and focus of the Dean campaign to show the rest of the candidates that it was possible to run hard against Bush without fear, this party would still be lost in the wilderness. Instead, we are looking at was thought improbable just weeks ago: kicking this bastard out of the White House.
And for that, in my mind we have Howard Dean to thank.