Tags: Next | Debates | Crucial | for | Bush | Campaign

Next Debates Crucial for Bush Campaign

Monday, 04 October 2004 12:00 AM

This also applies to other things, including presidential debates.

The more you practice, the better you get also applies here.

Last August - while getting savaged by the Swift Boat Vet advertisements - Kerry was hunkered down on Nantucket Island doing what? Debate preparation!

And that was before any agreement had even been reached to have any debates!

In other words, Team Kerry knew that these debates - especially the first one with its build-up and curiosity factor - were going to be a potential turning point in this campaign.

Thus, he was focused, ready, crisp and totally prepared for every eventuality.

Team Bush, on the other hand, is now revealing some troubling facts. According to White House sources on TV Saturday morning, during the debate prep sessions the week before, the Bush staff fired off tough questions at the President to get him ready.

He did not like this. And he often expressed his displeasure with flashes of facial anger and grimaces. The staff repeatedly warned him to assume TV cameras would be focused on him despite the 32-page agreement prohibiting ‘reaction shots.’ (Please note that the TV networks were not a party to this agreement.)

Bush performed in the debates exactly as he had in the practice debates. Those flashes of anger and facial expressions have cost Bush dearly.

In the past, GW Bush was always a disciplined campaigner and debater. Opponent were often frustrated by their inability to get him “off-message.”

Not last Thursday!

Bush was an undisciplined, meandering, inarticulate shell of a major political candidate.

Indeed, he, too, performed in the ‘game’ the way he practiced.

And now that his staff is leaking about his own failure to heed their admonishments, Team Bush is showing a measure of internal panic. Plus, the Bush Family hates leaks. So that is also now a factor internally in the dynamic of a reeling campaign.

Now, looking ahead to this week's two debates:

1) Veep debate: Cheney is going to try to rebut Kerry’s successful debate performance last week. He is going to try to do what Bush failed to do: paint the Kerry record as weak and vacillating.

Edwards, on the other hand, is going to rip Cheney up and down - always with a smile -just as he did as a trial attorney going after a ‘corrupt corporate CEO'.

Edwards has a free ride in this debate. He can’t be hurt by relentlessly attacking Cheney; only the GOP base likes Cheney and they aren’t going to vote for Edwards anyway.

Edwards can help his ticket - and his own political future - by tearing Cheney apart as a corrupt Big Oil businessman who rigged government contracts (Halliburton) for his old company and even had close ties (Enron) with the other biggest evil corporation of the decade.

2) Friday night’s Presidential ‘Town Hall’ in St. Louis: GW Bush must realize that he is under the gun. One facial expression that is ‘off,’ one grimace or flash of annoyance and the media will crucify him.

Plus, you can bet that the audience will be packed with pro-Kerry voters who will ask Bush some tough questions.

Team Bush cannot afford another disastrous debate performance; they need a tie at least to forestall the pro-Kerry momentum now sweeping the country.

One other item: the New York Times is reporting unprecedented voter registration numbers in many key states: Florida, Ohio and Pennsylvania and others. Most seem to be in pro-Democratic areas.

This could lead to a phenomenon on Election Day: a huge turnout - especially among anti-Bush voters.

Kerry’s debate-driven resurgence has given those anti-Bush forces real hope that he can win.

Team Bush better realize they are now in trouble and can ill afford any more example of an undisciplined candidate acting peevish and petulant.

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This also applies to other things, including presidential debates. The more you practice, the better you get also applies here. Last August - while getting savaged by the Swift Boat Vet advertisements - Kerry was hunkered down on Nantucket Island doing what?...
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Monday, 04 October 2004 12:00 AM
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