Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Kerry and Matching Funds Reconsidered

Huffington Post sure has been talking about Kerry a lot recently. Eric Boehiert looks back at the idea floated in 2004 to delay accepting the nomination so that Kerry wouldn’t be at a disadvantage compared to the Republicans with respect to federal funds. In retrospect this looks like a good idea, considering how Kerry faced attacks in August while lacking the funds to respond adequately. He quotes Kerry on last Sunday’s Meet the Press:

“We had the same pot of money. We had to harbor our resources in a different way and we didn’t have the same freedom,” Kerry told Russert. “I think the most important thing would have been to spend more money, if we could have, on the advertising and responding to some of the attacks.”

The ‘attacks’ being the fictitious charges leveled by the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth that Kerry had faked his war wounds in Vietnam in order to win honors and an early ticket home; attacks the MSM amplified for weeks on end and put Kerry in the hole. As I note in my book, the Swifty attacks were nothing more than a charade–a hoax–yet they dominated the campaign press at a time when the Kerry camp was running on fumes, determined to save its war chest for the fall months.

In retrospect, the notion of delaying nomination in order to have more money on hand to respond to GOP attacks looks like a pretty smart one. But at the time, the pundits teed off on Kerry and his plan. It was “silly” “bordering almost on fraud” (Brit Hume), “ridiculous” (David Broder), a “dangerous move” (John Harwood), “the stupidst move that John Kerry could possibly make” (William Safire). The strategy, the pundits cried, “reeks of indecisiveness” (Houston Chronicle) and was a “farce” (Los Angeles Daily News). Here’s how CBS’s Bob Schieffer played the story: “When I heard that John Kerry may delay accepting his party’s presidential nomination until a month or so after its convention in order to get around campaign laws and spend more on his campaign, my question was: Are these people nuts?”


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