- The Washington Times - Thursday, September 23, 2004

Kerry’s task

“The current state of the 2004 presidential race does not favor Sen. John Kerry, no matter what utterly unconvincing spin Democratic strategists continue to offer,” political analyst Stuart Rothenberg writes in Roll Call.

“National polls show President Bush holding a narrow lead, and the two presidential campaigns are focusing their advertising on a little more than a dozen states, including Pennsylvania, Minnesota, Iowa, Michigan, Maine and Wisconsin, all of which went for Al Gore in 2000. The race is close, but it isn’t even,” Mr. Rothenberg said.

“The Massachusetts Democrat will lose in November unless he changes the nature of the contest. And he will have an opportunity to do so during the three presidential debates, when he must accomplish two things.

“First, Kerry must return the focus of the election to Bush. Throughout much of the spring and early summer, the race was about the president and his performance in office. That’s when Bush was in trouble. During August and at the GOP convention, Republicans were successful in making Kerry the issue, and particularly in raising questions about his consistency and instincts. …

“Second, and of greatest importance, Kerry must alter the way voters now see the war in Iraq,” which they view as part of the larger war on terror.

The market speaks

“In case Democrats didn’t have enough jitters, John Kerry is kerplunking like a stone in the Iowa Political Futures Market — a novel but remarkably accurate predictor that [Wednesday] put the odds of President Bush’s re-election at more than 60 percent,” the New York Post’s Deborah Orin writes.

“The market late [Wednesday] was predicting a Bush win with 52.7 percent of the popular vote to 47 percent for Kerry,” Miss Orin said.

“In all, 64.8 percent of traders were betting on a Bush win — a dramatic switch from just a month ago when the odds were even on Bush and Kerry.

” ‘Bush has broken out substantially in the last few days. It could be a combination of Kerry’s speech on Iraq, Bush’s speech to the U.N. and even the CBS Dan Rather story imploding,’ said University of Iowa business dean Bob Forsythe, who oversees the market.

” ‘Our traders seem to be indicating that not only is Bush ahead, but he may win by a substantial margin,’ added Forsythe, an undecided voter.

“The market was set up in 1988, and in every election since then, its vote-share predictions have bested most polls and average within 1.37 percentage points of the popular vote. There’s a separate winner-take-all market.

“Forsythe has more bad news for Democrats who think Kerry’s angry anti-Iraq-war speech Monday marked a positive turning point: ‘Not at all. If anything, things have gotten worse for him.’ ”

False statements

On Tuesday, Sen. John Kerry “repeated what has become a standard Kerry-Edwards campaign talking point: Saddam’s Iraq had ‘no ties to al Qaeda,’ or, as Kerry recently told Time, Saddam Hussein had ‘nothing to do with al Qaeda,’ ” Daniel McKivergan writes at the Weekly Standard Web site (www.weeklystandard.com).

“These statements are false,” said Mr. McKivergan, deputy director of the Project for the New American Century.

“Numerous reports, ranging from those of the September 11 Commission to the Senate Intelligence Committee, have detailed a relationship between Saddam Hussein’s Iraq and al Qaeda. In July, the co-chairman of the September 11 Commission, [former New Jersey] Gov. Thomas Kean, stated ‘there was no question in our minds that there was a relationship between Iraq and al Qaeda.’

“Or consider this, from the memoir of the former commander of U.S. forces in Afghanistan and Iraq, Gen. Tommy Franks, ‘American Soldier’: ‘One known terrorist, a Jordanian-born Palestinian named Abu Musab Zarqawi who had joined al Qaeda in Afghanistan — where he specialized in developing chemical and biological weapons — was now confirmed to operate from one of the camps in Iraq. Badly wounded fighting coalition forces in Afghanistan, Zarqawi had received medical treatment in Baghdad before setting up with Ansar al Islam.

“And evidence suggested that he had been joined there by other al Qaeda leaders, who had been ushered through Baghdad and given safe passage into northern Iraq by Iraqi security forces [page 332]. … And while many al Qaeda leaders had been killed [in Afghanistan], others had sought sanctuary in Iraq [page 403].

“People can disagree over the necessity of going to war to remove Saddam. But they should not deny facts in order to make it easier to sell their particular policy position.”

Slamming celebrities

The Rev. Jesse Lee Peterson, author of “Scam: How the Black Leadership Exploits Black America,” has announced the start of what he calls the ‘Black’ List Campaign “to expose Hollywood’s most anti-American black entertainers, who are viciously criticizing the U.S. war on terror and lying to black Americans.”

Celebrities on the list include Spike Lee, Danny Glover, Whoopi Goldberg, Harry Belafonte, Sean “P. Diddy” Combs, Will Smith and others, Mr. Peterson said in a prepared statement.

Mr. Peterson said, “I’m sickened by black entertainers who drive $350,000 Bentleys and still cry ‘racism.’ Americans of all colors pay to see their movies, and they have the nerve to bash the U.S.? American servicemen and women watch their shows; yet, they travel to foreign lands and badmouth our forces? Enough is enough. The goal of the ‘Black’ List Campaign is to expose these people so they can no longer deceive the American public.”

As an example, Mr. Peterson mentioned Mr. Smith, who in a recent interview with a German newspaper, responding to a question of whether September 11 had changed anything for him, said: “When you grow up black in America you have a completely different view of the world than white Americans. We blacks live with a constant feeling of unease. And whether you are wounded in an attack by a racist cop or in a terrorist attack, I’m sorry, it makes no difference.”

October surprise?

Sen. John Kerry’s wife says she thinks the Bush administration might announce the capture of Osama bin Laden before Election Day.

“I wouldn’t be surprised if he appeared in the next month,” Teresa Heinz Kerry said of the fugitive al Qaeda leader.

Appearing Wednesday at a $1 million Democratic Party fund-raiser at the Arizona Biltmore Resort & Spa in Phoenix, Mrs. Kerry accused President Bush of creating a “hotbed for terrorism” in Iraq by toppling Saddam Hussein’s regime, the Arizona Business Journal reports. She also said she agrees with her husband that a military draft may be reinstated if Mr. Bush is re-elected.

Greg Pierce can be reached at 202/636-3285 or [email protected]

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