- The Washington Times - Thursday, November 20, 2003


His staff shaken but voters not stirred, Democrat John Kerry has made a sharp shift in rhetoric and tactics, including 24-hour campaign sprints and a full-court press in Iowa.

The New Englander trails so much in New Hampshire that he needs a seismic showing to salvage his campaign. Mr. Kerry is airing new ads and hiring campaign-tested strategists in hopes of regaining his political footing after firing his campaign manager and the subsequent departure of two senior advisers.

His new stump speech accuses President Bush of giving Americans a “raw deal” and promises a “real deal” — detailed solutions to the nation’s problems. Mr. Kerry also suggests that front-running rival Howard Dean has offered voters anger, not policy fixes.

Today, he takes the next step by offering a blueprint for the first 100 days of a Kerry presidency.

“I want to tell you about who I am, what I’m fighting for, and what — together — we can do for this country. I’m looking forward to this fight. And I intend to win this fight. Because I believe there are some things worth fighting for,” the Massachusetts senator says in an excerpt of his address to New Hampshire school children.

Mr. Kerry is expected to outline legislation, executive orders and other actions he would take to curb special interests, help the middle class and make U.S. foreign policy more open to allies. A mix of old and new initiatives are designed to reintroduce Mr. Kerry in New Hampshire, where he trails Mr. Dean by double digits in state polls, and strengthen his relatively solid standing in Iowa.

His latest ad accuses Mr. Bush of siding with pharmaceutical and insurance companies.

“I will work hard every single day to fight back and to win. I will never stop trying to change this country. Because this is not just about me,” Mr. Kerry says in today’s speech. “The fight I’m in isn’t half as hard as the fight of the people being left behind in the Bush economy, the soldiers being deserted in the Bush foreign policy, the Americans who can’t afford health care because George Bush has put lobbyists ahead of our families.”

The new stump speech has echoes of Al Gore’s pledge to “Stay and fight” — a mantra the sitting vice president used in Iowa as he rebounded against surging rival Bill Bradley during the 2000 primaries. Rep. Richard A. Gephardt won the 1988 Iowa caucuses with a motto of “It’s your fight, too.”

When the campaign began, Mr. Kerry was the presumptive front-runner and New Hampshire was expected to be an easy victory. But Mr. Dean’s Internet-driven, anti-establishment campaign caught Mr. Kerry by surprise, and the former Vermont governor now leads in New Hampshire polls.

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