Who will be President
: I’m at The Week’s panel with Mario Cuomo, Dick Morris, Joe Trippi, and Frank Newport of Gallup, I’ll liveblog. So I’m not packaging this. React to the quotes as you may. I make no warranty on their value. Mine away.
Newport: “Where we are now is George Bush is ahead of Kerry.” He says Bush is ahead among likelies by 7 points. Morris says the gap is larger. “Bush is substantially ahead at this point. ” Harry evans asks Cuomo whether he accepts that: “Yeah, I accept them with ease because I don’t think mean an awful lot.”
Cuomo: “The difference between the two conventions is that the Republicans did it better than the Democrats.” But he says the impact is temporary.
Trippi on polls: “I believe this one…. The Kerry campaign has two gears: Coast and fight. They really coasted in August. But I’ve seen them when they fight.”
Evans asks whether Superman will take his vest off. Trippi: “I saw Superman take his vest off in Iowa… I would never underestimate them.”
Evans asks whether the lesson of this campaign over others is that negative campaigning works.
Morris makes an aside to praise Trippi, who singlehanded “accomplished campaign finance reform in this country.”
Morris then launches into a spiel to say it’s not a campaign between men or parties but between two issues: terror or domestic policy. “The real race boils down to whether we want a wartime or a peacetime president.”
He says that the rest of the Democratic convention set domestic as the agenda and “Kerry like an idiot’ brought it back to Bush’s issue, terror. Cuomo disagrees and says that “Kerry did not talk about terror enough…. This is a war on terrorism and the President is doing everything wrong…. He does not have a plan for terrorism.”
Evans asks Trippi what he would advise Kerry: “Oh, I think he should take a hammer to these guys.”
The Gallup guy says that a poll this weekend asked what issues aren’t being talked about. The economy. Health care. Jobs. That’s what the voters said. Iraq was way down the list.
Evans asks why the Democrats keep tripping over each other. Morris says it’s because the Democrats don’t agree with each other. “The problem Kerry has is that he cannot open his mouth on these (terror) issues, he alienates half his voters.”
Trippi accepts credit, oddly, for splitting those Democrats by pushing the antiwar agenda.
Morris, disagreeing with Cuomo, says the more the Democrats talk terrorism — “Bush issues” — the more they hurt themselves; they should be talking about domestic issues because “those are the issues Kerry leads on.”
Evans asks how many people in the room think Kerry should concentrate on terrorism now. Only a half dozen out of a few hundred raise their hands.
Morris says that Bush will stick with one issue in all the debates: terror in foreign policy, homeland security in the domestic debate.
Pathetic Nader guy now gets microphone. “America is about jobs and computerization takes away jobs,” he says. What, Nader is becoming the Stone Age candidate: Vote Flinstone?
Russell Simmons is on the phone to talk get-out-the-vote. He says “the number one concern of these people is the war on poverty and ignorance.” Oh, that war.
The Gallup guy debunks what they call “the Michael Moore hypothesis… It’s an urban myth that somehow if you bring young people into the voting stream, they’re going to vote one-for-one for Kerry.” He says young people are split, too.
Holly Hunter stands up. I love that accent. “I’m here just to talk a little about People for the American Way” and avoid the problems with disenfranchisement in the last election and educate voters on their rights. Is it wrong for me to also notice how athletic she looks? Well, if it is, ignore that.
Cuomo emphasizes the issue of Supreme Court appointment. Morris asks why Cuomo didn’t say yes to Clinton’s nomination to the Court. Cuomo says Ginsberg was better than he would be.
It’s getting duller. Amazin g how even this election can get dull.
Trippi says “I really believe there’s a pretty good chance that Kerry is going to win the popular vote by an even bigger margin than Gore did in the end” while it’s still likely that Bush will win the electoral vote.
Morris theorizes that this could be in part because, following Clinton’s lead, campaigns run commercials only in swing states.
Now Michael Dukakis is on the phone. Of course, Evans asks about negative campaigning. “I did a terrible job of dealing with it,” Dukakis concedes. He says no one believes the “independent’ committee is independent and “on the whole Kerry has done a pretty good job of dealing with that…. At least Willie Horton happened. I had to deal with this story that I’d had a nervous breakdown…” That is, with lies “you find your campaign stopped.” He said the press would not touch the story until “the incumbent president called me ‘the invalid’ and then it was in play.”
Mario speaks. Dukakis interrupts: “You gave me lousy advice, remember? You said don’t pay any attention” to the attacks…. “At least at the time it happens, you gotta deal with it.”
Evans asks whether Cuomo was tempted to hit back in kind. “Well, I did, but much too late,” Dukakis says.
Monica Crowley of FoxNews complains that the conversation about negative advertising is “extremely one-sided.” Cue Soros line.
Dukakis responds: “We’ve had negative campaigning… This is about telling the truth… The business about Kerry and the Swift Boats is a pack of lies… The business about my mental health is a pack of lies.” Morris gives the other side of that. You know the drill. No need to waste more pixels on it.
Trippi says that when you start with Bush, who had negatives, you have one way out, which is to emphasize the other guy’s negatives and “it’s mutually assured destruction.”
Cuomo: “There’s no doubt that negative works.” He said he ran a campaign insisting on “nothing but positive” and “the polls went nowhere and then they went negative and I went down like a stone in the pond, including an ad that said I’d stolen $14 from the state treasury for a license for my dog, Ginger.”
Cuomo: “I am not going to call him a liar about weapons of mass destruction…. But I tell you this: It would be easy to call a liar with the evidence since.”
Cuomo gets on the stump and can’t stop; on a roll.
Morris stands up and starts shouting and shaking: “The Garment District was not blown up because of George Bush’s Patriot Act!” Now he’s on the stump and on the roll. He goes on about al-Qaeda buying a Garment District business to use import licenses for Stinger missiles.
Hmmm. Al-Qaeda fashions.
Cuomo: “Dick, I would have thought that even now even a political consultant could have gotten away with trying to sell the Brooklyn Bride, but you did.”
Now its a Cuomo v. Morris fistfight.
Evans asks whether the next campaign will be different because of the Internet.
Trippi: “By 2008 you will see a real third party emerge in this country.”
I always said that Dean’s real agenda was to launch a third party. I’d call that a tacit admission.
He said you’ll see a Republican and Democrat with $200 million each and someone else with $300 million.
Morris says we’ll see a fight between Hillary Clinton and Edwards for the nomination.
Morris praises Trippi again for his campaign finance reform and says that “the other part of that revolution is that people have stopped watching television” and the focus of attention in campaigns will shift to the internet.
The Gallup guy says we have problems because elected leaders “pay too little attention to the wisdom of the people themselves.” Amen! He says there’ll be less interest in what candidates say and whether they listen to us. Amen again!
Cuomo looks for one big change in 2008: Let the parties have their exercise in narcisim in conventions “but then in October have an unconventional convention: all debates.” Not just candidates but the experts and leaders across the board. Amen to that, too.