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  • America Votes

    Election news from across the Knight Ridder network and the Web

    Saturday, October 09, 2004

    Candidate who? 

    While George Bush and John Kerry were slugging it out in Friday night's debate at Washington University in St. Louis, Mo., two other presidential candidates were outside the hall, busy getting arrested.

    Green Party presidential candidate David Cobb and Libertarian Party candidate Michael Badnarik purposely crossed a police barricade, protesting their exclusion from the debate.

    Cobb's message: "To expose the undemocratic nature of these debate, this election and our government. These are not debates, these are infomercials."

    "This is a great feather in our cap," said Steve Givens, head of the school's presidential debate steering committee. "The visibility is the topping on the cake."

    And they can really use that visibility.

    posted by Ellen Dunkel at 12:58 PM

    Friday, October 08, 2004

    Clashing symbols 

    The Kerry forces finally found a catchy symbol to counter the beach flip-flops that President Bush's campaign has used to great effect to mock the Massachussets senator for shifting positions.

    In the press filing center at tonight's debate hall in St. Louis, Kerry spinners have been passing out rose-colored glasses - those kitschy jobs from the old 3-D movies - to illustrate their argument that Bush is out of touch with reality on Iraq and the economy.

    A brochure accompanying the glasses says: "Record deficits got your poll numbers down? Falling wages and skyrocketing health care costs turning your red states blue? Missing WMDs making you scowl and growl? Try W's rose-colored glasses."

    Will it catch on? Who knows, but it's better late than never and a sign that the Democrat's campaign has learned how to be punchy with the addition of former Clinton spinmeisters last month.

    posted by Thomas Fitzgerald at 4:02 PM

    This land is still your land ... and more 

    Those wacky folks at are at it again. The people who brought you the Bush-Kerry "This Land Is Your Land" have a new animation. "Good to Be in D.C." again features the two major presidential hopefuls, as well as all your political cartoon favorites: Cheney and Edwards, Condoleeza Rice, the Supreme Court justices, Bill 'n' Hill and New Jersey's irrepressible Gov. James McGreevey.

    Oh and in case you're wondering what happened to "This Land," the JibJab team agreed to pull it down when Woody Guthrie's estate complained. You can still see it, but now you have to pay. (Convenient how that worked out.) It's available at the JibJab store for download for $2.99, or $4.99 including the D.C. animation. There's also a DVD of the two available for $9.99.

    Meanwhile, JibJab has turned into an empire. (Isn't this what the dot-com dream was supposed to be about?) T-shirts, mousepads, mugs and various sundries are available with all the classic designs: Right Wing Nut Job, Liberal Wiener and the rest.

    posted by Ellen Dunkel at 10:53 AM

    Thursday, October 07, 2004

    Media abnormal? 

    Englewood, Colo. - Mike McCurry was briefing reporters on a few tibits of Sen. John Kerry's preparation for the Friday night debate in St. Louis.

    It's a town hall format that calls for undecided Missouri voters to pose the questions, so McCurry was asked whether the campaign was going to import any "real people" from the area to take part in the rehersals here. Heck, one reporter said, use us - we'd love to question Kerry.

    "You would be pathetic imitations of regular Americans," McCurry, former press secretary in the Clinton White House, said. "You do have your merits, but that ain't one of them."

    posted by Thomas Fitzgerald at 4:07 PM

    Top secret debate prep 

    What is President Bush doing to prepare for Friday night's rematch with John Kerry? That's considered classified information at Bush campaign headquarters.

    After scheduling a Wednesday afternoon conference call with reporters to "preview" Friday's town hall meeting in St. Louis, Mo., campaign manager Ken Mehlman twice refused to answer any questions about Bush's debate preparation.

    He also managed to avoid a tough question about missing weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. When a reporter from the BBC raised the subject, her line went dead before she could finish the question.

    posted by Ron Hutcheson at 1:56 PM

    Wednesday, October 06, 2004

    Kerry on the phone; let's listen in 

    Sen. John Kerry got to do his own version of post-debate spin, by making reporters feel a little bit like voyeurs. It was all staged, of course, but about two dozen photographers and reporters were allowed to listen in as Kerry called running mate John Edwards Tuesday night to offer his analysis of the debate.

    Let's roll the tape for a one-sided bit of eavesdropping:

    "You went back on the health-care piece, which was so important. ... I know, I know, don't worry about it, you did it, you got it in and people heard about it and they really have a better sense of that.

    "Listen, I got to tell you something. The country tonight got a chance to feel the confidence that I had in you. And now they have the confidence in you. They felt the strength, they felt the clarity, you you were so strong correcting the facts. They keep distorting things.

    "These guys can only resort to fear and distortion. You held them accountable. You did a great, great job.

    "Oh, thank you. Well, I enjoyed the conversation. I'm serious. I hope it helped.

    "But I have to tell you ... he had no answer about Halliburton. He had no answer about you know taking care of the drug companies. He had no answer about the unfairness of the tax cuts. He was incorrect on the facts ... So we're going to have a terrific opportunity at the end to continue to tell the truth. You did wonderfully. Give Jack and Emma Claire a hug for me, will you?"

    At this point, Kerry's wife Teresa, celebrating her 67th birthday, entered the room.

    "Oh, Teresa's here ... We've got the birthday girl here. I've got to tell you we're so proud of you, you did a spectacular job. All right, man, I'll talk to you later. Take care."

    See you in St. Louis.

    posted by Jim Kuhnhenn at 10:25 AM

    Getting a jump on the polls 

    All fired up and raring to vote? Judging by the tidal wave of new registrants, many people are.

    Companies all over the country are happy to meet that urge.

    At 7-Eleven convenience stores around the nation, customers can wear their political affiliations on their cups with the Presidential Coffee Cup Poll.

    On the Internet, fans of Cabbage Patch Kids can decide whether the Bush doll is cuter than the Kerry doll. The real question, though, should be whether either apple-cheeked doll actually looks like the candidate.

    The Zippo Manufacturing Co. is looking at the lighter side of the election with a poll and a chance to win a limited-edition Zippo emblazoned with either the Democrat's donkey or the GOP's elephant. The lighters were originally designed in 1980 and were taken out of retirement for this election, said Zippo spokeswoman Melinda Lishego.

    posted by Ellen Dunkel at 10:20 AM

    Tuesday, October 05, 2004

    Campaign Focus Group 

    Tipton, Iowa – Press conference finished, Sen. John Kerry shucked his jacket and stood in the middle of a field tossing a football to staff members. As he threw, maybe 200 elementary school kids arrayed themselves in seven orderly ranks at the edge of the grass to watch.

    Kerry looked up. “God, those kids keep coming. Where are they coming from?” he said. “I’m gonna go over and see them, I guess.”

    The kids cheered as he strolled over, and Kerry bent down to give high low and medium fives. He crouched over and put his hands on his knees, leaning in closer to talk to them. He asked about classes and what was on their minds. They were remarkably attuned to the current political debate.

    “I want you to tell me what do you think is the most important issue
    right now, what most concerns you?" Kerry said.

    A chorus:

    “Who's going to be president."

    “Getting our troops out of Iraq."

    "If you become president, what the changes might be."

    "Health care."

    "How many of you think health care is a big issue?" Kerry said.

    A thicket of hands shot into the air.

    Senior adviser Mike McCurry joked that this was how the campaign picked what TV ads to run.

    posted by Thomas Fitzgerald at 7:47 PM

    A window into the soul 

    Tipton, Iowa - Sen. John Kerry had debates on his mind this morning as he campaigned in the state that rescued him from the dustbin of history in the January caucuses - both Sen. John Edwards' tonight with Vice President Cheney and Round 2 of his own duel with President Bush on Friday.

    "We've got a big night for the country," Kerry said. "I'll tell you where my money is." Well, on Edwards, of course, a trial lawyer whom Cheney's advisers call "The Man With the Golden Tongue."

    Then he got all touchy-feely. "You know, in these debates, people talk about win and lose, but that's not what it's about," Kerry said. "This is an opportunity for the American people to look into our souls a little bit and check our guts, and I like that."

    Of course it's a little bit easier to take a philosophical view when tout le monde says you creamed your opponent in the first debate last Thursday night.

    posted by Thomas Fitzgerald at 12:37 PM

    This blog is compiled and edited by:

  • Ellen Dunkel, producer for Knight Ridder Digital's National Desk.
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