The race for the White House is far from over

Share
Related Topics

If you can't change the candidate, then change the staff. That old maxim of US Presidential politics now applies to John Kerry. Trailing in the polls and oddly unable to impose himself on the campaign, the Massachusetts senator is reported to have brought in some proven winners from Clinton campaigns past, to add salt to his insipid effort thus far. And, Democrats are saying, not a moment too soon.

If you can't change the candidate, then change the staff. That old maxim of US Presidential politics now applies to John Kerry. Trailing in the polls and oddly unable to impose himself on the campaign, the Massachusetts senator is reported to have brought in some proven winners from Clinton campaigns past, to add salt to his insipid effort thus far. And, Democrats are saying, not a moment too soon.

August was a disastrous month for Mr Kerry. He failed to cash in on a successful nominating convention in Boston. Only belatedly did he react to the slanderous attacks on his Vietnam record by a group of hostile Swift Boat veterans, who spread their poison with the tacit approval of the Bush White House. By the time the challenger did hit back, the damage was done.

Unarguably, Mr Kerry's constant emphasis on his heroics in Vietnam has been a tactical error, keeping the argument off the domestic issues where Mr Bush is clearly vulnerable. Capping everything has been a curious passivity. Presidential elections are normally a referendum on the performance of the incumbent. The Massachusetts senator instead has allowed this one to become a referendum on himself. Mr Kerry, never the nimblest and most compelling of campaigners, has been slow to define himself. Mr Bush's unscrupulous operatives have gleefully done the job for him.

But it is far too early to write off Mr Kerry. As a politician, he is at his best when his back is against the wall. As the crucial Iowa caucuses demonstrated, he is a "good closer," who invariably ends campaigns much more strongly than he starts them. He is a powerful debater too, who should do well in the three Presidential debates. Above all, this election is at the mercy of events. Seven marines were killed in a car bombing in Iraq yesterday, while 1,000 US servicemen were wounded in August alone. A few more weeks of similar bloodshed, and the misconceived war that the President's handlers conjured from the scene at the New York convention last week will return to centre stage, just as the battle for the White House reaches its climax.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Parts Advisor

£16500 - £18500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: One of the leading Mercedes-Ben...

Recruitment Genius: Software Developer

£27500 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Telemarketers / Sales - Home Based - OTE £23,500

£19500 - £23500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Experienced B2B Telemarketer wa...

Recruitment Genius: Showroom Assistant

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This global company are looking for two Showro...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

Errors & Omissions: a duchess by any other name is just wrong

Guy Keleny
A teenage girl uses her smartphone in bed.  

Remove smartphones from the hands of under-18s and maybe they will grow up to be less dumb

Janet Street-Porter
Fifa corruption: The 161-page dossier that exposes the organisation's dark heart

The 161-page dossier that exposes Fifa's dark heart

How did a group of corrupt officials turn football’s governing body into what was, in essence, a criminal enterprise? Chris Green and David Connett reveal all
Mediterranean migrant crisis: 'If Europe thinks bombing boats will stop smuggling, it will not. We will defend ourselves,' says Tripoli PM

Exclusive interview with Tripoli PM Khalifa al-Ghweil

'If Europe thinks bombing boats will stop smuggling, it will not. We will defend ourselves'
Raymond Chandler's Los Angeles: How the author foretold the Californian water crisis

Raymond Chandler's Los Angeles

How the author foretold the Californian water crisis
Chinese artist who posted funny image of President Xi Jinping facing five years in prison as authorities crackdown on dissent in the arts

Art attack

Chinese artist who posted funny image of President Xi Jinping facing five years in prison
Marc Jacobs is putting Cher in the limelight as the face of his latest campaign

Cher is the new face of Marc Jacobs

Alexander Fury explains why designers are turning to august stars to front their lines
Parents of six-year-old who beat leukaemia plan to climb Ben Nevis for cancer charity

'I'm climbing Ben Nevis for my daughter'

Karen Attwood's young daughter Yasmin beat cancer. Now her family is about to take on a new challenge - scaling Ben Nevis to help other children
10 best wedding gift ideas

It's that time of year again... 10 best wedding gift ideas

Forget that fancy toaster, we've gone off-list to find memorable gifts that will last a lifetime
Paul Scholes column: With the Premier League over for another year, here are my end of season awards

Paul Scholes column

With the Premier League over for another year, here are my end of season awards
Heysel disaster 30th anniversary: Liverpool have seen too much tragedy to forget fateful day in Belgium

Liverpool have seen too much tragedy to forget Heysel

Thirty years ago, 39 fans waiting to watch a European Cup final died as a result of a fatal cocktail of circumstances. Ian Herbert looks at how a club dealt with this tragedy
Amir Khan vs Chris Algieri: Khan’s audition for Floyd Mayweather may turn into a no-win situation, says Frank Warren

Khan’s audition for Mayweather may turn into a no-win situation

The Bolton fighter could be damned if he dazzles and damned if he doesn’t against Algieri, the man last seen being decked six times by Pacquiao, says Frank Warren
Blundering Tony Blair quits as Middle East peace envoy – only Israel will miss him

Blundering Blair quits as Middle East peace envoy – only Israel will miss him

For Arabs – and for Britons who lost their loved ones in his shambolic war in Iraq – his appointment was an insult, says Robert Fisk
Fifa corruption arrests: All hail the Feds for riding to football's rescue

Fifa corruption arrests

All hail the Feds for riding to football's rescue, says Ian Herbert
Isis in Syria: The Kurdish enclave still resisting the tyranny of President Assad and militant fighters

The Kurdish enclave still resisting the tyranny of Assad and Isis

In Syrian Kurdish cantons along the Turkish border, the progressive aims of the 2011 uprising are being enacted despite the war. Patrick Cockburn returns to Amuda
How I survived Cambodia's Killing Fields: Acclaimed surgeon SreyRam Kuy celebrates her mother's determination to escape the US

How I survived Cambodia's Killing Fields

Acclaimed surgeon SreyRam Kuy celebrates her mother's determination to escape to the US
Stephen Mangan interview: From posh buffoon to pregnant dad, the actor has quite a range

How Stephen Mangan got his range

Posh buffoon, hapless writer, pregnant dad - Mangan is certainly a versatile actor