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Monday, October 18, 2004


MEMO TO KEN MEHLMAN: YOU FUMBLED THE QUESTION ABOUT KERRY AND CHENEY'S DAUGHTER ON "MEET THE PRESS" 

Bush campaign chairman Ken Mehlman blew it when asked about Kerry's cheap trick


The campaign manager for the Bush campaign, Ken Mehlman, and chief strategist for the Kerry campaign, Bob Shrum, "debated" each other in front of NBC's Tim Russert. Russert asked Mehlman to comment on the remark that John Kerry made about Dick Cheney's daughter. It is clear that John Kerry deliberately brought her into the political fray. The way that both he and John Edwards mentioned Cheney's daughter is not a coincidence. But, Ken Mehlman could have done a better job of articulating why the Cheney's and the Bush campaign were outraged by Kerry's ploy.

Shrum was first asked to defend Kerry. Shrum gave a very sneaky answer in which he said that Edwards gave the same exact answer as Kerry. That is not true. While Edwards praised the Cheney family, Kerry was presumptuous enough to speak on behalf of Mary Cheney.

However, Russert asked Mehlman, "if the vice president raised his daughter and he thanked Senator Edwards for talking about her, why all this outrage now?" Mehlman should have argued against the premise of the question. He should have pointed out to Russert that Edwards and Kerry gave very different answers. Instead, the only thing that Mehlman could say was that it's wrong to bring up the personal life of a family member. Shrum immediately pounced on that comment. He said that the vice president brought up his daughter's homosexuality at a question-and-answer session.

Even though he was being pounded by Shrum, Mehlman could not come up with more arguments against what Kerry had to say. Mehlman kept saying it was wrong to bring up a member's family life and cited how Bill and Hillary protected Chelsea Clinton.

This didn't have to be so hard for Mehlman. He should have said that Kerry was using Cheney's daughter for political purposes. He should have said that Kerry nominated himself to speak on behalf of Mary Cheney. Lynne Cheney was right when she said Kerry employed a "cheap and tawdry trick" by bringing up her daughter's personal life at the debate. Notice how Kerry mentioned the other people he knew are gay but never brought up their names.

Ken Mehlman has been excellent as the Bush campaign's chairman. But, he could have done a better job of refuting Shrum's lies and Kerrry's shameless tactic. Here is the transcript of that portion of "Meet the Press" with Ken Mehlman, Bob Shrum and Tim Russert.

MR. RUSSERT: Let me move to a subject, Mr. Mehlman, that you raised, and it's been--caused somewhat of a firestorm, certainly with the media, and that is John Kerry's comments in the debate when asked by moderator Bob Schieffer whether being gay was a matter of choice. This is how Senator Kerry responded in part:

(Videotape, October 13, 2004):

SEN. KERRY: We're all God's children, Bob, and I think if you were to talk to Dick Cheney's daughter, who is a lesbian, she would tell you that she's being who she was. She's being who she was born as.

(End videotape)

MR. RUSSERT: Now, The Washington Post and ABC talked to Americans all across the country. Is homosexuality a choice? Yes, 33; no, 57. Was it appropriate for Senator Kerry to bring up Vice President Cheney's daughter? Appropriate, 33; not appropriate, 64. Should Senator Kerry apologize?

MR. SHRUM: Absolutely not. He was making a positive and constructive comment. When John Edwards made the same comment in his debate with Dick Cheney, Dick Cheney turned to him and said, "Thank you for that." I think what happened was the president did so badly in that debate--he lost all three debates--he can't talk about a whole set of these issues--that they launched a cheap and tawdry attack on John Kerry, in which they called him literally a bad man. Now, this is a man who went and fought for his country. This is a prosecutor who put people in jail for life. This is a senator who put 100,000 cops on the street. This is a senator who with John McCain went to Vietnam to find out the truth about our POWs, and he wants to do something about health care and jobs in this country. He's not a bad man.

MR. RUSSERT: Mr. Mehlman, the vice president in August was asked at a town meeting by a voter this question: "I would like to know, sir, from your heart--I don't want to know what your advisers say, or even what your top adviser thinks--but I need to know what do you think about homosexual marriages?"

And this is how the vice president responded.

(Videotape, August 24, 2004):

VICE PRES. DICK CHENEY: With respect to the question of gay marriage, Lynne and I have a gay daughter, so it's an issue that to our family's very familiar with. We have two daughters and we have enormous pride in both of them. They're both fine young women.

(End videotape)

MR. RUSSERT: The vice president raised it and then, as Mr. Shrum said, October 5, John Edwards said, "Let me say I think the vice president and his wife love their daughter, I think they love her very much," and the vice president said. "Let me simply thank the senator for the kind words he said about my family and our daughter. I appreciate that very much." If the vice president raised his daughter and he thanked Senator Edwards for talking about her, why all this outrage now?

MR. MEHLMAN: Well, Tim, I think it's pretty simple and I think that, as you pointed out, most of the American people understand it, and that is, it's wrong to bring up the private life of a member of the vice president or president's family to make a political point. It's that simple.

MR. SHRUM: Well, but wait a minute. Vice President Cheney brought up his daughter's private life. When Senator Edwards brought it up--and by the way, she was a public figure because she was director of gay and lesbian affairs for the Coors Brewing Company. When he brought it up, he said, "Thank you." So what's wrong with it--Senator Kerry obviously was trying to say something positive. You guys got killed in three debates. I walked into the spin room. Everybody thought you'd been killed. You were looking for something to say.

MR. MEHLMAN: Tim, I...

MR. SHRUM: That's what happened here.

MR. MEHLMAN: Tim, I think fundamentally it's pretty simple. Again, you don't use the private lives of the member of the family for political purposes.

MR. SHRUM: Then why did Dick Cheney--why did Dick Cheney mention his...

MR. MEHLMAN: The campaign always talks about how they asked Bill Clinton for advice...

MR. SHRUM: Why did Dick Cheney--why did...

MR. MEHLMAN: One of the things the Clintons did very well, I thought, was keep a zone of protection around the family. And I think most Americans believe that's the right thing to do.

MR. SHRUM: Why did Dick Cheney--wait a minute. Mary Cheney is an official of the Bush campaign. Why did Dick Cheney mention his daughter's private life if it's inappropriate?

MR. MEHLMAN: I think Dick Cheney was responding to a question. I think it's very different than John Kerry doing it on national television. And, Tim, here's the problem. Remember the famous...

MR. SHRUM: So if you're responding to a question--John Kerry was responding to a question.

MR. MEHLMAN: Remember the famous Dean scream? The famous Dean scream was seen as relevant because it was a window into something that people thought was bigger. And I think what you saw when John Kerry--when he brought that inappropriate point up in the debate, it was part of a larger pattern here, a pattern of someone who is literally willing to say anything--anything--in order to win. Look at the three things in the past week. Someone who brought up for political purposes--John Edwards and John Kerry both brought up something they know not to be true, which is that this administration has cut off and put a ban on funding for stem cell research. This administration is the first administration ever to fund it. And John Edwards actually had the remarkable statement that if John Kerry is elected president, someone like Christopher Reeve could walk again, a statement that is certainly inappropriate.

MR. SHRUM: Ask--wait a minute. Ask...

MR. MEHLMAN: Tim, there's one other point. There's one other point, and that's the draft this past week.

MR. SHRUM: He has to finish the prepared speech.

MR. MEHLMAN: They know the draft isn't going to happen. And so this past week, he brings up a member of the family for political purposes.

MR. SHRUM: Yes.

MR. MEHLMAN: He brings up a draft he knows is not true for political purposes. And he raises false hope among people that are injured.

MR. RUSSERT: All right. All right. He talked about the gay issue. I want to do...

MR. SHRUM: Can I--I want to go--Tim, I want one response on this.

MR. RUSSERT: I want to do stem cells.

MR. SHRUM: All right. That's where I want to go.


October 17 Meet the Press : Transcript

Bill Safire of the NYTimes, The Lowest Blow: "But in this second time around, the gratuitous insertion of Cheney's daughter into an answer slipping around a hot-button social issue revealed that it was part of a deliberate Kerry campaign strategy."

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