Wednesday, August 06, 2003
Is Glen Johnson of the Boston Globe correct the Kerry campaign is split over how to deal with Dean?
I’m personally amazed the Kerry campaign would consider attacking Dean. The governor has done a good job of tapping into the Democrats’ rage at the current administration. Dean's constant shrill attacks on President Bush only help the eventual Democratic nominee. Kerry’s campaign has to have more faith in their deep organization and believe that the Senator will be the eventual nominee. Plus, once Kerry has won, it would be difficult to image (but not impossible) the Deanites staying home from the polls in November 2004 given their hatred of the President.
However, Kerry has to tread lightly. If he squashes Dean with the weight of the establishment in the primary, but might lose their energy against Bush. I believe Dean has peaked and should start to fade as the establishment starts to weigh in and media starts probing the governors’s record. However, Kerry must stay on message, “I’m the electable one.” Pointing this fact out will not raise the ire of the Deanites just don't belittle what they have accomplished.
Why care? It is more than just a fear of losing the committed Dean activists. Dean has tapped into two unique new ways to involve the upwardly mobile
under forty generation (more on this tomorrow). With the changes in campaign finance reform, the soft money spigot that Clinton used has run dry for 2004. Democrats are going to have to hone their skills in grassroots organizing to beat Bush/Rove.
Even as the epitome of the establishment candidate, Kerry must not ever admit this fact. If the Deanites believe the party is anointing Kerry, they will carry a grudge. (Yes, it is true. I’m a former independent McCainiac who refuses vote for another Republican in this decade.) His inevitability of being the nominee should be kept close within the campaign, not used as a sledge to deflate the competition. As difficult as it will be, Kerry must even publically adopt Dean’s anti-establishment culture.
Kerry must ADOPT their CULTURE not their rhetoric! Let the Dean campaign continue to innovate and push the limits of campaigning. Learn from the successful parts of the Dean’s campaign and adopt them. Let them take the lumps for failures. Dean has tapped a large segment of the population that will also reward Kerry if he embraces their methods of communication. It does not matter he was a secondary adopter. He’ll be rewarded for GETTING IT.
The hard part for an establishment candidate like Kerry will be that the campaign will have trust their grassroots organizations to innovate and know their communities. Let’s hope he makes the right choice.