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February 15, 2004
JEFF JARVIS WRITES:
The reason Howard Dean (with Al Gore) lost is that they ran a negative campaign. But the problem wasn't that they were negative about other candidates. It was that they were negative about America.
He's got links and evidence. But I think that the real reason Gore lost in 2000 was incompetence, and I've got some pretty strong evidence, too:
A tale from Ned Ray McWherter's 2000 experience, told to a reporter last week, will illustrate.
He had made a 10-day trip through the state, mostly in East Tennessee, as a Gore surrogate campaigner and returned, as instructed, to give a report to the campaign's national headquarters in Nashville.
His travels, McWherter says, left him with a sense that things were going badly for Gore in his home state.
He had a plan, involving some personal campaigning by Gore, for turning things around.
"I sat there for about an hour in the headquarters, wanting to make a report to the people running the campaign. They sent somebody out and said they were busy.
"They put me off another hour or two and, well, my old butt got tired, and I got up and left. They were so busy they wouldn't even talk to me and I was going to tell them they were about to get the hell beat out of them in East Tennessee," he said.
"I left word with Johnny Hayes. He said he couldn't get in to see them, either," McWherter said. "They had other places to worry about, I guess."
Ned Ray McWherter, a former Governor and State House Speaker, is probably the shrewdest politician Tennessee has ever produced. And he couldn't even get a meeting?
If Gore had listened, he might have won Tennessee. If he'd won Tennessee, he'd have won the election, and Florida would be a footnote.
No wonder he's so angry now. But really, I think, he's angry at himself.
UPDATE: Elsewhere in the article quoted above, McWherter seems hot on a Kerry/Edwards ticket. But apparently the Kerry campaign isn't so hot on Edwards:
Kerry is also said to be unconvinced that Edwards is experienced enough to step in as a wartime president should something happen to him. National security credentials are the most important assets that the Democratic presidential front-runner would use to choose a running mate, these aides said.
This is actually the most positive thing I've read about Kerry -- since it's an acknowledgement that we're actually at war now, pace Al Gore -- but it makes me wonder: What Democrat fills that bill?
What Kerry needs is to make a ballsy choice of someone with military experience, someone who may not be a traditional Democrat but who's known as a fighter, who can appeal to swing voters, and who'll give the Democrats instant credibility.
Note to Karl Rove: Make sure you've mended every single fence with John McCain. . . .