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  • Ohioblog: A Swing State Journal





    Sunday, September 19, 2004

    Time to slink off or speak up 

    John Kerry is going to lose Ohio, and he is going to lose it because he cannot talk a good game.

    The polls say so. Ohioblog says so.

    Two new polls confirm what has been becoming more and more obvious as the weeks pass: Kerry can't sell it. He has a warrior's heart, as he has provedon the battfield. Yet he cannot convince Ohioans that he is as much to be trusted with their safety as President Bush.

    Bush, on the other hand, can sell it. He talks tough, acts tough and will start a war against the wrong guy to prove his point: He will protect America every time.

    What kind of America the president is protecting should be a question that resonates in Ohio, where the economy is as bad as any place in the country. But Kerry can't even sell it to out-of-work Ohioans, the number of whom increased more in August than in any other
    state.

    Both a Knight Ridder-MSBNBC Ohio poll in the Akron Beacon Journal and a Plain Dealer Ohio poll give Bush a commanding but not invincible lead with six weeks to election day. The Knight Ridder-MSNBC poll puts Bush ahead by 7 percentage points, 49-42, while the Plain Dealer has it at 8 percentage points, 50-42, up from a 6 percentage point lead in May.

    The Columbus Dispatch agrees that the determining factors in Ohio are whether Ohioans believe the most important issues are terrorism and leadership or the economy and health care.

    ``The question really becomes which issues motivate people,'' John Green, director of the University of Akron's Ray C. Bliss Institute for Applied Politics, told the Dispatch. ``Is it terrorism and moral questions, or is it jobs and social welfare?''

    A recent Gallop Poll found that 87 percent of Ohioans believe Bush can handle terrorism better than Kerry (9 percent), but Kerry does better on the economy (61 percent believe he could best handle it) and health care (58 percent).

    In earlier polls, Ohioans ranked the economy as their greatest concern. In the Knight Ridder-MSNBC survey, the economy finished second to terrorism, with moral issues and family values (another Bush strength) third. In other words, Ohioans are more afraid of being attacked than they are of being out of work.

    Kerry has not found a way to address this fact, but in The Sunday New York Times there was no shortage of knowledgable Democrats who stood ready to help him: There was Leon Panetta and Donna Brazile,Bob Kerrey and Paul Glastris.

    These strategists want Kerry to trust his gut (Brazile), pick a message (Panetta), bring the battle to the president (Glastris) and open a new front, with an issue important to Ohio.

    ``I would love to see Sen. Kerry announce that if elected he will immediately convene a summit meeting on international trade and globalism to be held in Columbus, Ohio,'' said Bob Kerrey, the former Nebraska senator who is president of
    the New University School. ``He should announce that the meeting will be an annual event and that he intends to invite American business, political and education leaders to join him....giving (them) a venue at which they can reacy concensus on trade and globalism. With the damage being done by trade deficits, inadequate savings and investment and the growing numbers of poor, uninsured Americans, it is vitally important for this consensus to be found.''

    Ohioblog has suggested before that the Democrats have the wrong Kerry running for president. The right one is Bob Kerrey - or perhaps even the John Kerry who testified to the U.S. Senate against the war he had fought so bravely. He told
    stories told to him by other veterans of atrocities committed in Vietnam in the name of building a democracy (sound familiar today?).

    As a reader of James Taranto's The Best of the Web on
    WSJ.com
    suggested, Kerry's testimony ``was unequivocal, clear, and direct; even today, almost two generations later, no listern can be left with a doubt about what he meant,'' said Fernando Colina. ``To my knowledge this is the last time he ever talked like that.''

    Neither Taranto nor Colina are fans of Kerry. The point, though, is perfect.

    The young Kerry believed the United States should not be in Vietnam. He sold this belief for all he was worth. He sold it with such passion that some of his fellow veterans believe that he was selling them out and hate him to this day.

    The important thing is, Kerry sold it. His chances to do this again are few, the debates (three are proposed but Bush has agreed to none) are his best chance.

    Ohioans will be watching to see which Kerry shows up, the one who can sell it or the one who has been running for president.

    - Steve Love

    posted by Ohioblog: A Swing State Journal at 2:22 PM



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