- The Washington Times - Wednesday, September 8, 2004

Kerry’s woes

“Trying to dissect the many problems with John Kerry’s campaign would take more words than my editors allow,” writes Chuck Todd, editor in chief of the Hotline, National Journal’s daily political roundup.

“Here’s what we do know:

“Sometime in the last month, President Bush’s campaign turned this election from a referendum on the incumbent into a referendum on the challenger.

“Kerry is getting clobbered on the Iraq issue. The fact that 42 percent of those surveyed in the most recent Newsweek poll believe Saddam Hussein had something to do with the September 11, 2001, attacks explains a lot,” Mr. Todd said at www.NationalJournal.com.

“The number of folks on the Kerry campaign who are more loyal to the Democratic nominee than to the Democratic Party can be counted on one hand (or, one could argue, one finger). This lack of loyalty is what failed Kerry during the Swift Boat fiasco.

“Kerry’s only progress in the last few months has occurred when outside events overwhelm the campaign: the September 11 commission report and the prison abuse scandal to name a few. Can anyone pinpoint a single TV ad or Kerry-inspired event that has moved the ball forward for the senator? Some might argue his selection of John Edwards did that, but does Kerry now wish he had used his vice presidential pick to underscore the Iraq issue? Isn’t there a certain vice presidential also-ran with a new book on intelligence that hit bookshelves this week?

“The predictions many Democrats made over a year ago about what kind of general election candidate Kerry would make are coming true. In fact, the biggest hurdle Kerry must overcome is that he continues to come across as out-of-touch with the concerns of voters.

“These facts need to be reversed in the coming weeks, or it’s all over. Some Democrats (and most Republicans) already think the election is a done deal, but there are just too many unanswered questions about Iraq to call a winner yet.”

Colorado issue

The environment has suddenly become a big issue in the campaign for Colorado’s open Senate seat between Republican Peter Coors and Democrat Ken Salazar.

A Virginia pro-business group fired one of the first shots in the tight race that will help decide control of the Senate. Its ad said Mr. Salazar, the state’s former natural resources chief and current attorney general, settled for less than $30 million from the owner of a mine that unleashed one of Colorado’s worst environmental disasters. The spot said the disaster will cost an estimated $240 million to clean up.

Mr. Salazar denounced the claims as “straight-out lies,” Colorado newspapers editorialized against it and the League of Conservation Voters aired its own spot defending him, the Associated Press reports.

Americans for Job Security President Mike Dubke said his group’s ad was meant to show that Mr. Salazar “fleeced the taxpayers.”

“A lot of folks thought it was an environmental ad. From my point of view, it’s all about taxes,” Mr. Dubke said of the ad that cost about $900,000 to run statewide. “It’s a litmus test for what people project onto it.”

Mr. Coors, on leave as chief executive of the Coors Brewing Co., which his family founded, has no connection to the ad. He and Mr. Salazar have both criticized outside groups’ involvement in the race to succeed retiring Republican Sen. Ben Nighthorse Campbell.

While the war in Iraq, health care and experience emerged as issues even before the primaries, the ads have given the environment an unusually prominent role in the campaign. The League of Conservation Voters will spend the fall discussing Coors Brewing’s environmental record, said Andy Schultheiss, the group’s regional director.

No endorsement

The Log Cabin Republicans, a homosexual group, has decided against endorsing President Bush because of his stance in favor of a constitutional amendment to protect traditional marriage.

“Log Cabin’s National Board has voted to withhold a presidential endorsement and shift our financial and political resources to defeating the radical right and supporting inclusive Republican candidates for the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives,” Log Cabin Board Chairman William Brownson of Ohio said Tuesday after the board of directors voted 22 to 2 not to endorse the president’s re-election.

“There is a battle for the heart and soul of the Republican Party, and that fight is bigger than one platform, one convention, or even one president,” said Log Cabin Republicans Executive Director Patrick Guerriero.

‘Stolen Honor’

Former Vietnam prisoners of war will be on hand this morning for the viewing of a new documentary: “Stolen Honor: Wounds that Never Heal.”

In the 45-minute documentary, former POWs talk about the brutality of life as a prisoner and what they say was the additional suffering and extended captivity they endured after their North Vietnamese captors read to them John Kerry’s testimony accusing American soldiers of atrocities and demanded they confess to Mr. Kerry’s “war crimes” charges.

POWs George “Bud” Day, Jack L. Van Loan, Paul Galanti, Robert H. Shumaker, Ken Cordier and others will join producer Carlton Sherwood at a press conference at the Reserve Officers Association Building on Constitution Avenue, followed by a screening of “Stolen Honor.”

The film is produced by Red White and Blue Productions Inc., an independent producer based in Harrisburg, Pa.

Faithless elector

If President Bush wins West Virginia, one of the state’s five Republican electors says he might not cast his Electoral College vote for Mr. Bush to protest the president’s economic and foreign policies.

“I think President Bush needs to get the message from people across this country, including Republicans, that his strategy in national security and his economic policies need [to be] revisited,” South Charleston Mayor Richie Robb said yesterday.

A lawyer and former gubernatorial candidate, Mr. Robb was named an elector at the state Republican convention earlier this summer.

Mr. Robb said it is unlikely he would cast his electoral vote for the Democratic nominee, Sen. John Kerry, or anyone else, but he is considering withholding it, the Associated Press reports.

“My job is to exercise my best judgment. That’s how I’ve always done it. That’s how I intend to do it,” said Mr. Robb, who added that he was not in the room when he was named an elector and did not seek it.

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

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