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Kerry's Defender a Dud

Reported by Judy - August 31, 2004 -

Fox and Friends today (August 31) was gaga over the Republican convention, interviewing a line-up of heavy-hitters from last night's festivities -- from Rudi Giuliani on down to the parliamentarian and one of the performers. Against such an offense, the Kerry campaign offered a disappointingly weak defense.

Fox and Friends, starting at 8 a.m. EDT, was just fiishing an interview with Giuliani, clips of which it showed during the following hour. Other guests were Sen. James Imhofe, R-Oklahoma; country-western singer Darryl Worley who performed at the convention, and Rep. David Dreier, R-California.

The lone Democrat was Steve Elmendorf, deputy campaign manager for John Kerry. Co-host E.D. Hill started the interview by asking if Kerry needed to shake up his campaign because of the way it handled the smear boat controversy. Elmendorf said no shake-up was needed because the race has always been tight. Then he offered a brief saying, "What's important is that last night at the Republican convention we heard more attacks. We didn't hear anything about health care we didn't hear about jobs, we didn't hear anything about energy independence ... They don't have a positive agenda to talk about." Elmendorf politely delivered his prepared sound bite and then stopped, rather than continuing to talk, taking up as much time as he could, talking until one of the co-hosts made him stop. I didn't see much fire in his defense.

Elmendorf objected to Republicans making fun of John Kerry's Purple Hearts on the floor of the convention and said it showed disrespect for all recipients. (I didn't see it, so I'm relying on his description of it, but co-host E.D. Hill agreed it was disrespectful to all who received the award.) Elmendorf criticized the incident with very little emotion -- no outrage, no anger, nothing to drive home to the viewer how despicable he thought the incident was, nothing to underline that the party that views itself as more patriotic than thou would stoop to making fun of receiving a Purple Heart. (When you criticize Kerry's Purple Hearts, you're calling into question the validity of all Purple Hearts awarded to veterans because they're all awarded the same way.)

Again, when Elmendorf talked about how Kerry's approach to the Iraq war differed from Bush's, he said Kerry would have worked with our allies and would have done it differently. Elmendorf needed to say something more about how it would be different -- he would have paid for it by rolling back the tax cuts for the rich instead of making our children pay for it, he would have had a post-war plan for preventing looting and violence, he would have made sure there were adequate troops, he would have made restoring water and electricity for the people a top priority, etc.

At this point in the campaign, voters have already heard the short sound bites Elmendorf offered. He needed to offer something new -- either details or emotion, preferrably both.