Dropping The “L” Bomb

So President Bush, in the second debate, goes out of his way to call Kerry a “liberal,” to which Kerry’s response is to grouse about “labels” rather than try to show how his record disproves the charge (which he can’t; as Bob Novak has pointed out, this is the same Kerry who in July 1991 said “I’m a liberal, and proud of it”).
The impact? Today’s Rassmussen poll suggests that the charge didn’t take long to stick:

During the second Presidential Debate, President Bush made several references to Senator Kerry as politically liberal. Kerry consistently responded that labels don’t matter.
Whether or not labels matter, the President’s message did have an impact on voter perceptions of both candidates.
Sixty-five percent (65%) of voters now see the President as politically conservative. That’s up from 60% immediately following the first debate and similar to the numbers following the Republican National Convention. Sixty-one percent (61%) of conservatives now believe the President is one of them.
For John Kerry, 55% now see him as politically liberal. That’s the highest its been all year. Following the first debate, 49% viewed the Senator as politically liberal. For most of the year, that figure was in the low-to-mid 40s.
Thirty-one percent percent (31%) of liberals now see the Democratic nominee as one of them. Most liberal voters (59%) still view the Senator as politically moderate.

That’s just one debate. If Bush can hammer this theme in the second debate and in ads, he may quickly have Kerry wishing he could go back to debating Iraq.

One thought on “Dropping The “L” Bomb”

  1. It is funny how terrified Democratic politicians are of that word. Most liberal people who are not politicians are generally fine with being referred to as �liberal� or even do so themselves. The word has a wonderfully positive connotation in the history of Western civilization, yet its invocation in an electoral context still conjures of ghosts of McGovern, Mondale and Dukakis.
    And it�s notable that Republicans rarely run away from the word �conservative� � Bush evens calls himself one (albeit with the word �compassionate� stuck in front of it).
    Maybe Democratic politicians should start preemptively using the label more themselves, so that when it gets thrown at them they would not be so defensive. But it�s a little late in the game for Kerry to take that tact.

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