Baseball Crank
Covering the Front and Back Pages of the Newspaper
January 29, 2004
POLITICS: The Kerry Files

Yesterday, ABC's The Note re-posted a pair of hilarious memos from John Kerry's outgoing campaign heads to the incoming heads last November (one was from ousted campaign manager Jim Jordan to his incoming replacement, Mary Beth Cahill; the other was from departing communications spokesguy Robert Gibbs to the arriving Stephanie Cutter). These aren't smoking-gun stuff, since it's pretty common knowledge that campaign people talk like this, but they are deeply humorous reading and, since The Note doesn't have archives, I'll reprint them here in their entirety:

TO: MBC FROM: JJ RE: Big Bad John

Congratulations - you are inheriting a great national staff, a great Iowa staff, a great New Hampshire staff, and Judy Reardon's agita.

There ARE, however, some things to watch out for to make sure the machine continues to hum.

1. At the slightest provocation, particularly during live television interviews, The Candidate will throw the staff under the bus. For instance, I was once sacrificed on "Meet the Press" for some on-the-record criticism of HoHo that in retrospect reads in tone and substance like a Connie Morella press release compared to what The Candidate is now saying about Dean.

2. Make some sort of deal with a Boston-area milk company to get Michael Whouley's picture on cartons. We have to find the guy.

3. The Candidate is in Iowa today; may I suggest no custard stops?

4. The corollary of "Let The Spouse Be the Spouse" is "Let Chris Black Be Chris Black." You'll know what I mean shortly if you don't already.

5. I have no fu***** (REDACTED) idea what Cam is doing, but The Candidate seems to believe he is the second coming of Tad Devine.

6. Jeanne Shaheen seems smart, ruthless, and knowledgeable about how to win New Hampshire. But, then, I gather you two have been spending some time together lately, so you probably knew that.

7. If you can find a way to get the national political press corps to hold HoHo accountable for the things he says, more power to you. Most of them don't much like The Candidate, and don't cut him a break - ever. And I think there is a connection between those things.

8. You'll be tempted to ask the research shop to get you a memo on The Candidate's achievements in Congress. Save yourself some time and don't.

9. Often, we line up endorsements and come up with a plan about how to unveil them for maximum strategic effect. Remember: this works best if the endorsers don't just blurt out their support whenever they feel like it. Also, if you set up endorsement press conference calls, remind the endorsers not to trash the significance of their own endorsements.

10. Getting into Canada requires proper ID. (Actually, that one belongs on a different list - ignore it ... .)

11. Bob Shrum was right - "The Courage to do What's Right" is a really effective campaign slogan.

12. Going to war publicly against the Boston Globe might make you feel good, but it won't effect what is the most relentlessly negative coverage of any presidential candidate EVER by a hometown paper - and I mean the news page. Don't even get me started on the op-ed page.

13. Your friend Jill Alper should run the world - see if you can make that happen.

14. You'll be wondering what the fourth-quarter fundraising number will be like. It's not something I want to commit to paper. Just have Gibbs practice in front of a mirror: "We'll have enough resources to get our message out."

15. I think we finally have an answer on the Iraq vote that works. As John Sasso always says, "8th time's the charm."

16. Best to get The Candidate to stop musing in public about decisions that he hasn't made yet. And, since we have budgeted to take those matching funds, make darn sure that The Candidate is fully ready to write a personal check before you let him make any announcement. In fact, I'd suggest having the check in hand - certified.

17. Finally, have fun. There are still a lot of people in the party like you who believe that The Candidate is the party's best and only hope of beating George Bush, and we have all seen moments and flashes in which John is That Man.

Your task, in the few short weeks you have, is to somehow make him perform at that level each and every day. There's no evidence it can be done, but you gotta try. You and New Hampshire can make The Candidate The Comeback Kid.


RE: Big Bad Media

Congratulations - you are inheriting a great Iowa press shop, a former New Hampshire governor with a big Granite megaphone, and Bob Shrum's yellow pad.

There ARE, however, some things to watch out for to make sure the machine continues to hum. 1. Okay, you're here, but you're not sure what your title is, what your duties are, who exactly will be left for you to work with and who you really report to. That's normal.

2. You worked for Kennedy. The Globe was your friend. Welcome to a new reality.

3. We used to take so much heat for being such a male-dominated campaign when I worked there (Granted - the Budweiser wall calendar didn't help.). With the arrival of the whole Kennedy team of gals, y'all boast more estrogen than a roomful of CNN bookers. You might want to play that up. On the other hand, if you thought the convention staff was white, wait until you see our gang.

4. When Halperin tells you, after a debate, that only one candidate on the stage looked presidential, he doesn't necessarily mean your candidate.

5. My very best lines and information comes from Gehrke, the finest research director in the entire business. But tap that well of knowledge fast, as he has at least 4 job offers (including 3 presidential campaigns not named "Kerry") from which to choose.

6. It's pronounced "LOO-EES." "LOO-EES."

7. Avoid the words "rats," "ship," "sinking," "leaking," "listing," "falling," "slowing," or "frontrunner."

8. Keep up the fight for full engagement. Jordan wasn't wrong about taking on Dean. The more you throw at him the more something might stick. The research folks camped out in Burlington for weeks, and they have hits that are even better than that NRA questionnaire. Howard Dean has never had an unexpressed thought. This should work against him but it seems to be overshadowed by the fact that our campaign has never had an original thought.

9. For all of those recently arrived and soon-to-come staffers who wonder if our recent changes will lead to more attacks on Dean or the high road, the answer is: "Yes."

10. Getting into Canada requires proper ID. (Actually, that one belongs on a different list - ignore it ... .)

11. Putting Shaheen out in front on the "Vermont Miracle" issue is a good idea - NH Democrats do like her - but remember that after two terms in office, she could only carry 60% of the vote - in the primary.

12. Be sure to get up early to read all of the Dean news clips and web page material. It will give you advance notice of what The Candidate will be talking about all day. It is also a good source of ideas for our own web site.

13. New Hampshire residents hate taxes, Bostonians, gun control and incumbent senators. Find common ground, quick. And don't forget your E-Z Pass.

14. In planning for major speeches in South Carolina, try to limit staff to less than 1/4 the size of the audience.

15. If ever you should go on Fox News, don't compare The Candidate's comments about "being the candidate for white guys in the South with the Confederate flag in their windows" to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.'s "I Have A Dream" speech. It just makes everyone look foolish.

16. It takes some time to whittle down The Candidate's responses ... . "Mr. Change Your Opinion For Expediency" is actually much better than his original suggestion of "Mr. Arrogant Jerk who can't stick with a position to save his life but will run our party into the ground and get beaten like a red-headed stepchild by another arrogant jerk already in the White House."

17. Firing Jordan is a one-day story. My resignation is a one-day story. Trailing by double digits is a one-day story. 76 days left until NH - filling every day with a different story seems like a daunting task but the senior staff and The Candidate will help as much as possible.

18. If asked what The Candidate was eating when I announced I was leaving - just say "crow." This is now a two-day story. And counting.

19. John Kerry doesn't have a plan to win the war, but "The Bunny" has a plan to win the peace. (Note Note: we don't know what that means either.)

20. Even though we won't dip into her personal fortune, TH has a plan to build a new pro football stadium in each battleground state. No really, she does.

21. If asked: Yes, we're still very glad we won the Shrum Primary.

22. The Kerry Girls are off limits - wait that probably doesn't apply to you. But same goes for Chris Heinz.

23. Don't bother trying to get The Candidate to stop delivering those prostate cancer jokes.

24. All questions about Morgan Fairchild get forwarded to Chris Black.

25. Trust Benander as Obi-Wan Kenobi ... because I do.

26. No custard stops. Period. Free vanilla treats will serve to only sour, not sweeten, the waiting press corps. (Note Note: you MUST click this link. LINK LINK

27. Ad images of our candidate in committee hearings may not be screaming "foreign policy experience" as much as we like to Iowans.

28. Never fret about an event that is staffed by David Wade. After all had Wade rather than me been in the 603 area code, John Kerry would not have said "regime change."

29. Key point: try to figure out which consultant is nicknamed "Uday."

30. Warning signs that more senior staff might be fleeing: Morehouse forwards his phone to your cell with no warning.

31. Don't believe the rumors that the campaign is relocating to the Ketchum, Idaho in order to test the loyalty of the consultants.

32. Don't throw away that Amtrak Guest Rewards membership just yet.

33. Before every press avail, have The Candidate repeat after you: "I will not mutter 'Dean, Dean, Dean, Dean, Dean' around an open microphone."

34. AP writers are not just there to look at: feed them or they will piss all over your house.

35. A great debate performance will earn you little to no press, but a staff shakeup will get you above-the-fold stories and a regular rotation on Fox. Worth reminding The Candidate when he's complaining about lack of press coverage.

36. The next time The Candidate gets grumpy and masticates on the ineffectiveness of his staff, point to the Clark campaign's decision to attack Edwards over Hugh Shelton on Veterans Day as an example of how bad strategic decisions by staff (Lehane and Kym?) really can be. After that, you won't look that awful.

37. Changing the dynamics of a campaign will have a direct effect on the dynamics of the race, which in turn will dynamically cause some type of kinetic change in our overall dynamics.

38. For a quick, in-house poll you can always multiply the number of conference calls per day times the number of people on them, divide by the number of times Dean's name appears in our latest press release and then subtract the number of public appearances the candidate is scheduled to make. You should end up with the number of points between us and Dean on any given day in New Hampshire.

39. And remember, when Gephardt starts to gain on us in NH, Kerry only voted for the Iraq resolution, Dick sponsored it!

40. There are no Confederate flags on Nantucket.

41. Are you bringing Whouley down from Boston when you get here?

42. Two final words of wisdom, and you may ignore it, you make think this is just lip service, but I firmly believe it: Loyalty matters.

Your task, in the few short weeks you have, is to somehow make The Candidate perform at that his top level each and every day. There's no evidence it can be done, but you gotta try. You and New Hampshire can make The Candidate The Comeback Kid.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 6:12 AM | Politics 2004 | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
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