Negative Campaigning and Kerry's Clever (?) Strategy
Here's the formula Kerry is trying to make work for him. Some call it "inoculation:"
- Run away from your record. Try like crazy to avoid talking about such things as voting against every single major weapons system proposed during your tenure in the U.S. Senate.
- Challenge your opponent to avoid "negative campaigning," as in Kerry's plea to Bush that the two candidates "respect one another," yada yada yada.
- When the Republicans try to talk about your record (which you don't want discussed), accuse those big meanies of negative campaigning.
Unless I am horribly mistaken, that is what they are going to try to do. The GOP will simply make it clear that they are talking about the facts of Kerry's record, and make him defend that record. That GOP approach was clearly working early in the campaign, after it became clear that Kerry would be the nominee but before things started to go wrong in Iraq (and the Joe Wilson - Richard Clarke - Abu Ghraib trifecta was accomplished). That is why, in my view, Kerry and Co. are so afraid of the tactic-- it works. So they are trying to inoculate Kerry against exposure of his record.
Let's see how this part of the campaign plays out. My money's on Bush.