Tags: Dick | Morris: | Bush | Must | Define | Kerry | Lose

Dick Morris: Bush Must Define Kerry or Lose

Friday, 20 February 2004 12:00 AM

PALM BEACH, Fla. – To be re-elected, President Bush must define John Kerry as an ultra-liberal extremist, top political strategist Dick Morris said Thursday night at a special "Off the Record" forum held by NewsMax for opinion leaders in Florida.

Kerry will win in November if he succeeds in disguising himself as a moderate, Morris warned. Bush will win if he paints the Massachusetts Democrat as Michael Dukakis’ lieutenant governor and protégé.

But Morris says Bush's team urgently needs to get their message about Kerry to the American public in the next few months. If the American people don't have a clear idea about Kerry's record by May, Morris predicts the election will be a "nail-biter."

“George Bush must define John Kerry so John Kerry doesn’t define John Kerry, and that’s the issue defining this entire election,” Morris told the audience of VIPs, which included congressmen, Republican Party officials, a former member of Margaret Thatcher's government, a former ambassador and an admiral.

Bush’s father “didn’t do a damn thing about crime” as president but was elected in 1988 by using the Willie Horton issue to reveal Dukakis’ softness on crime, said Morris, an analyst for Fox News Channel, columnist for NewsMax Magazine and adviser to dozens of U.S. and foreign politicians ranging from Bill Clinton to Trent Lott to Mexican President Vicente Fox.

His best advice for the White House: Don’t attack Kerry for things he can deny. Attack him for things he’ll admit.

Dukakis, he recalled, destroyed his huge lead in the polls by trying to defend his prison furlough program and opposition to having schoolchildren recite the Pledge of Allegiance.

The GOP must expose the weaknesses that Kerry can’t deny, he said, such as:

The strategist cautioned that while Republicans must oppose discrimination in employment and housing, the marriage issue is a disaster for Democrats.

As the San Jose Mercury News reported Wednesday, even the Senate’s most left-wing member, Barbara Boxer of California, is running scared from the issue, and Rep. Barney Frank, D-Mass., the first openly gay member of Congress, is warning of a backlash from voters against Democrats.

“Damn it, use this issue!” Morris urged.

He offered a thought-provoking analysis of why Bush is not doing better in opinion polls and is “in real jeopardy of defeat”: because the administration has been too successful.

He noted Bush’s many achievements in the war on terror, establishment of standards to improve America’s disastrous government schools, economy-boosting tax relief, and popular inclusion of prescription drugs under Medicare.

“When you solve the problem,” Morris said, “Americans figure, who needs George Bush?”

Clinton, in contrast, achieved few of his objectives in his first term and used that apparent weakness as a reason for his re-election, although he never realized such goals as socialized medicine.

Americans take Bush for granted, especially his remarkable prevention of further terrorist attacks and his improvement of the economy, Morris said.

He expressed disbelief and exasperation that, despite recent solid growth in employment, productivity, construction and other measures, most people name the economy as their chief concern.

Citing a poll showing that only 9 percent of Americans think terrorism is the nation’s most pressing issue, he exclaimed, “Ninety-one percent of this country is nuts.”

Citing the browning of America, Morris said the GOP was “in danger of extinction” and must do more to attract Latino and black voters.

“Bush must run up a down escalator just to stay even” as demographic trends reshape the face of America, he said.

One of the solutions he offered: Replace Dick Cheney with Condoleezza Rice as Bush’s running mate.

Such a move would devastate the Democrats by eroding their base and ending their race-baiting tactics, he suggested.

Only two Republicans could win the presidency in 2008, he insisted: not Bill Owens or Bill Frist, but Condi Rice or Colin Powell.

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PALM BEACH, Fla. - To be re-elected, President Bush must define John Kerry as an ultra-liberal extremist, top political strategist Dick Morris said Thursday night at a special "Off the Record" forum held by NewsMax for opinion leaders in Florida. Kerry will win in...
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Friday, 20 February 2004 12:00 AM
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