Thursday, August 26, 2004
It has usually been the case that the candidate who has the won the election for president enjoyed a better run campaign. This year, it seems like both campaigns could be doing a better job of garnering votes and favor in the polls.
Bill Clinton won over Bob Dole in 1996. Clinton ran a masterful campaign in which he spent the spring and summer of '96 touting his domestic agenda. He was able to surge ahead of Dole in the polls and never looked back by the time the conventions came around. Clinton's campaign did launch its share of personal attacks in which he tied Dole to the demonized House Speaker, Newt Gingrich. Clinton's attacks worked despite the fact that Dole had served in the Senate for several decades and had earned the respect of colleagues from both sides of the aisle. Dole's campaign was weak and ineffective. While he shouted, "where's the outrage?" his campaign was unable to tie Clinton to various shameful scandals including those involving Chinese fundraisers. Dole never even brought up the fact that the Clinton economy was "humming" because many American families felt that both parents had to work more jobs for more hours.
The election of 1992 was a wash because of the wacky nature of that campaign. Admiral Stockdale, everyone? Former President Bush did run a capable campaign at the end, but was ultimately undone by a media that was restless after 12 years of Republican control. Dukakis ran a pitiful campaign against Bush in 1988. Dukakis looked out of touch when former President Bush was able to run on issues like the burning of the American flag and protection of the Pledge of Allegiance. Ronald Reagan ran the perfect campaign with his "Morning in America" theme. Walter Mondale did his part for Reagan by promising to raise taxes.
Both John Kerry and George W. Bush can do a better job in the way they present their campaigns to the American people. This first in a series of articles will be giving unsolicited (and free) advice to both campaigns. It is up to Kerry and Bush to decide if they want to listen to The Galvin Opinion
Senator Kerry's campaign has been abysmal considering the vulnerability of President Bush. Kerry's increasing dependence on relying on his Vietnam war record has turned him into a one trick pony. Other candidates like John McCain and Bob Dole have used their war hero status as an attractive backdrop for, but not the crux of, their campaigns. Everything Kerry denies, promotes, and pontificates on has something to do with Vietnam.
Kerry has to stop talking about Vietnam and start talking about his senate career. He blew a big opportunity to define his 20+ plus years of public service in the political arena when he accepted his party's nomination at the Boston convention. Whether or not he was a senate backbencher (as Dick Morris describes him), Kerry could have presented his Washington experience as the kind of quality that voters are craving for in these difficult times.
Instead, Kerry decided to talk about the most controversial period of his life (and only one-half of that period). By single-mindedly focusing on his four months in Vietnam while ignoring his longer tenure as the anti-war protestor that made him famous, Kerry opened himself up to attack by making his character an issue in this campaign.
The president has done a great job in combating the War on Terror. He has not done a good job of defending his economic record. The war's Iraq theater is the single biggest reason why he is in a dead heat with Kerry. Bush was very popular in the polls before Iraq was invaded. In fact, his popularity held up until the Iraq insurgency had stretched into the Autumn of 2003. However, while Bush has taken a hit in popularity because of Iraq, Bush could turn his numbers around by touting the good American economy.
Bush has spent a lot of time explaining to the American people about his ideas on the War on Terror. What he has not discussed as much as is the state of the economy. It seems as if both the Bush administration and campaign are afraid of the Bush economic record. President Bush should jump in front of the economic issue and inform Americans that the economy is doing great despite the immense challenges of the last 3 years.
The unemployment numbers are similar to those of the Clinton administration's during the 1996 campaign. Clinton boasted repeatedly how well the economy was doing despite whether he believed it or not. By most accounts, the economy is doing well. In fact, the American economy has consistently grown since Reagan's tax cuts with only the 1991 and 2000 recessions as blips on the amazing record of our economic growth. There is no wide spread panic in the nation over the state of our economy. Instead, people think the economy is suffering when things are getting better on a daily basis.
Someone once said, "a recession is when a neighbor loses a job, a depression is when I lose my job." Well, people do have their jobs but they think we are in sort of a funky economic depression. The fact is that Republicans have not talked about the economy.
President Bush should not be ashamed of his economic record. He should be proud of it, he should embrace it. Bush should talk at length about the economy at the Republican Convention. He should say...
The tax cuts have worked. If Americans didn't get tax cuts, they would have had less money in their pockets
The United States has plenty to be proud of. We have dealt with the 2000 recession, 9/11 and War on Terror at home and abroad. Terror threats have kept us on edge and kept the economy in check but we have still accomplished so much.
As we are finally facing terrorism head on, we won't shrink from the challenge. Our economy will adapt and will learn how to deal with the new post-9/11 world that we live in.
We are doing a great job, but we're going to do even better over the next four years. We have accomplished so many great things, but we still have a long way to go. Through my leadership, vision and resolve, we will get there!
Neither Bush nor Kerry are running good campaigns. As the election heads down the homestretch, the one who wins will be the candidate who figures out how to run the better campaign. Who will it be? We will find out, soon enough.