Monday, June 26, 2006

For Republicans, John Kerry is the gift that keeps on giving
Democrats split on a 2d run by Kerry
Some embrace recent rhetoric; others say it's time for a new face

WASHINGTON -- Senator John F. Kerry has intensified his quest to regain the Democratic presidential nomination with a sharp move to the left, presenting himself in high-profile speeches and Senate debates as an unfettered lawmaker and would-be presidential candidate who learned from his 2004 loss that he must fight harder for what he believes. [Ed. – Which might be easier to do if Kerry could determine what, exactly, it is that he believes]

In passionate remarks on the Senate floor and before party faithful last week, Kerry spoke directly to grass-roots Democrats, many of whom remain angry over his defeat in an election they believe Kerry was capable of winning.

“I think I'm a much better candidate at this point in my life than I've ever been before -- much more knowledgeable, much more confident, much clearer and brief, to the point, and highly focused," Kerry said in an interview, noting that those campaign skills would apply equally to a 2008 run for the Senate or the presidency.

While many Democrats remain wary of Kerry, there were signs last week that party activists were welcoming his defiance of the Bush administration -- and some leaders of his own party -- on the war in Iraq, the makeup of the Supreme Court, and on environmental policy.

“They like an aggressive Senator Kerry," said Markos Moulitsas Zuniga , the influential Daily Kos Internet blogger . “A lot of the hostility is dissipating. The first step is to have people not hate you anymore."

But, he added, ``I don't see that translating into support in 2008. If he's going to be a credible 2008 candidate, he's got a long way to travel to regain trust." [Ed. – Hopefully, Kerry can avoid gaining Zuniga’s ‘trust’. The ‘Kos’ endorsement is the kiss of death; none of his eighteen odd chosen have won at the polls.]

Some party officials and Democratic lawmakers said in interviews that they are seeing in Kerry some of the same loser-liberation that has attracted people to former vice president Al Gore…

But colleagues and activists question whether Kerry can persuade his party to give him another try at the presidency in 2008.

“The position [on the war] he took in '04 was really forced, and led to all the verbal gymnastics he went through. I don't know if he can erase that," said Dan Payne, a Democratic consultant who worked on Senate campaigns for Kerry but who was not involved in his presidential run.

Privately, senior Democrats wince at the prospect of another Kerry run for the presidency. One called it "delusional" that Kerry could win the nomination, while another Democratic member of Congress said Kerry ``blew" the race.

“Maybe it's unfair, but the feeling is he lost, and that was his shot, and he can't win and we don't want to run losers," said the lawmaker, who asked not to be named so he could speak frankly about a colleague. "We need a fresh new face."…

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