What Kerry Must Learn From The Swifties Debacle
Rove’s Tactics 101:
1. Attack your opponent’s perceived strength aggressively and early;
2. Put the opponent in a defensive, rather than offensive posture on their issue(s) of perceived strength;
3. Always use surrogates rather than your candidate to stay above the mess;
4. Work with the surrogates and financial backers to feed the media beast;
5. Every day the media spends on non-issues is another day your candidate escapes damage.
There is no rocket science here. This has been Rove’s modus operandi for a long time, and it was definitely used in 2000 against Gore, but for inexplicable reasons Mary Beth Cahill, Bob Shrum, and the rest of the Kerry brain trust got surprised once again and sucked into a non-issue. Now, with every day going by that Kerry dwells on counterattacking to something that should have been discredited and responded to immediately, it is one more day towards the election that Bush doesn’t have to respond to attacks from Kerry on Iraq, health care, the economy, jobs, Halliburton, tax cuts for the rich, the environment, etc….
More importantly, Rove is getting Kerry and the DNC to spend some of their precious $75 million this early on a non issue, rather than using it to batter Bush during and after the GOP convention on his record. Again, Camp Kerry should have seen it coming.
Yes, many of you will complain that “there goes Soto once again, trashing the Kerry people, when he’ll vote for Kerry come this fall anyway.” Yup, that’s true. But that doesn’t change the fact that the critique is accurate, that someone in the campaign should have had the anti-Rove strategy in place since Day One, and that Camp Kerry has no excuse for being sucked into this when it could have been seen in advance and better managed.
What to do next? Have our 527’s take off the gloves and go after Bush on the disappearance in Alabama, and have Kerry return to a simple reminder every day such as “I served; where was the president?” And Kerry needs to immediately return to a focused attack every day on the deaths of our soldiers in Iraq, Bush’s poor judgment and faulty assumptions in getting us into that war, and his lack of achievement despite a GOP congress on health care, jobs, the environment, and energy independence. And he needs to remind voters that he, unlike Bush, has the life experience not to send our soldiers into another failed war of choice in the next four years that does nothing to advance the war on terror
Kerry needs to remind voters that the decision comes down to choices and values. He needs to get back to emphasizing Bush’s poor choices and questionable values, and turn the arguments around against Bush for a change.