Mixed Reactions to Losing Candidates
“The bitterness towards Kerry is much greater from the chattering classes in Washington,” said Michael D. McCurry, a spokesman for Mr. Kerry during his 2004 presidential campaign. Mr. McCurry posits the example of his father, a Democratic activist in South Carolina, who still admires Mr. Kerry and resents the ridicule that’s been heaped on him by onetime loyalists. Mr. Kerry’s current staff is quick to share news of the large turnouts and ebullient receptions the senator is getting as he travels the country, exploring another run in 2008.
Coming so close might give Mr. Gore and Mr. Kerry a measure of electoral viability that was not available to landslide victims like Mr. Mondale, George S. McGovern and Michael S. Dukakis. But it also breeds frustration, much of it aimed at the near winner.
“To come close and lose tends to magnify everything the candidate did wrong,” said Leon E. Panetta, a former White House chief of staff under President Clinton. Democrats are predisposed to blame their own, he said, no matter how much they once loved them.
Why doesn’t the G.O.P. do this?
“Because they win,” Mr. Panetta said, laughing.
Or, perhaps that is why they win.