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July 12, 2004, 6:15 P.M.

There are several interesting stories developing around Presidential campaign ads and tactics that deserve scrutiny right now. Among the most interesting is the Bush campaign’s continued attempt to undermine the choice of John Edwards as Kerry’s VP by suggesting in an ad that Edwards was Kerry’s second choice and that John McCain was his first. The intensity with which the GOP is attacking Edwards leads one to believe that he, or the combination of Kerry and Edwards, scares some very high powered Republicans.

To confirm this, one need not look beyond the CNN coverage of the announcement. Josh Marshall had a great discussion about the CNN coverage on his Talking Points Memo website on July 6, 2004. In his post he recounts Daryn Kagan’s use of some remarks that Kerry made about Edwards at a town hall meeting, which he thought better of and later clarified, as an indictment of Kerry as a flip-flopper. That’s pretty weak.

The fact is that Edwards should scare the Bushies. He is an excellent choice for VP (some say a better choice for President). He is articulate, smart, committed and energetic and he brings charisma to the campaign. Kerry made a courageous choice in Edwards, who will certainly stand in contrast to the often wooden Kerry. Most important, however, are the ideas and energy Edwards brings. Republicans should be afraid, very afraid.

Kerry and Edwards should be afraid, too. Edwards made points in the primary by refusing to “go negative” and by running a positive, issue-driven campaign. I seriously believe that, had he been given more time, his message had the potential to gain real traction. The problem is that the opponent this time is playing a win-at-all-costs, ends-justify-the-means kind of game, reminiscent of the last campaign. In that kind of game the truth, the message and any sense of fairness can get lost. I want to see Kerry and Edwards stay on the high road, I just don’t want to them to be naive about it.

It is apparent that the numerous investigations surrounding the 9/11 attacks are being manipulated in terms of timing and process in order to ensure that the release of damaging information about the President is not released until after the election. The recent intelligence report scrupulously avoided stepping on the toes of the committee investigation into the administration’s pre-9/11 failures. It is fair to point out, however, that the CIA is an executive branch agency. They work for and report to the President and the CIA and other agencies bend to the will of their master. It is wrong to suggest that, because the CIA misread or misinterpreted intelligence, the White House didn’t misuse what it did know or misinform the public. Of course, the most glaring misinformation centers around the alleged purchase of uranium by Iraq from Niger. Here there was no support from the intelligence community for this allegation, which turned out to be based on forged documents, yet the administration chose to ignore the intelligence and use this tidbit as a justification to go to war. Unfortunately, all of the facts about these and other failures will not be public until after the election, Kerry and Edwards need to be screaming for answers now, and loudly.

In support of my contention that the GOP is wont to play hardball, one need only look right here in New Hampshire and the phone jamming scam of the November 2002 campaign. You will recall that the Charles McGee, head of the New Hampshire Republican Party hired Virginia-based GOP Marketplace to jam phone lines during the last election in order to disrupt the state Democratic get-out-the-vote effort and to disrupt communications at critical times during the election. Allen Raymond, then president of GOP Marketplace, plead guilty last week to charges stemming from the scheme. In his colloquy with the court, prosecutor Todd Hinnen told the court that, had Raymond gone to trial, the government would prove that Raymond was contacted by a national political organization (we can assume that it was not the DNC) about the scheme that was later implemented. New Hampshire was won by the Republicans by a relatively small margin, Sununu was elected to the Senate, Shaheen is running the Kerry campaign, and the rest is history, except that Raymond and not McGee, the GOP official who contacted him, is going to jail. There may be future prosecutions, but they most likely won’t happen until after November. After all, timing is everything.


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