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Friday, May 21, 2004

NM: Bush Surrogates Visit Early & Often

Posted by DavidNYC

One reason - the main reason? - so many people want to see John Kerry pick his VP as soon as possible is so that we can have an effective, top-level surrogate to respond to the Bush team's nasty attacks, while letting Kerry keep his hands clean. Another almost-as-important reason is that it essentially lets Kerry be two places at once: A visit to a state by a VP nominee is nearly as good (in terms of the message you send to that state's voters & the local media coverage you get) as a visit by Kerry himself.

This is actually more important for Kerry than for Bush because Kerry doesn't have an armful of cabinet secretaries he can send shuttling around the country - he really needs his running mate to be his main surrogate. And so far, in the surrogate race, Bush is actually doing a very good job. Check out this list of GOP "luminaries" that have visited New Mexico:

In the past few months, the president has been to New Mexico twice, as has Vice President Dick Cheney. Others in the parade:

�Ģ Ed Gillespie, chairman of the Republican National Committee, Santa Fe Tuesday.

�Ģ Former U.S. Treasurer Rosario Marin, in Albuquerque earlier this month.

�Ģ U.S. Secretary of Education Rod Paige last month.

�Ģ Mark Racicot, chairman of the Bush re-election effort, twice.

�Ģ Former President George Bush in January.

Kerry's been to NM twice himself, but hasn't really sent any surrogates. We do, of course, have the best guy in New Mexico on our team, Bill Richardson, but he's apparently heavily involved in national efforts and thus isn't spending as much time at home as he otherwise might.

I do also think Kerry has a pretty good cast of other potential surrogates who are capable of garnerning media attention. Howard Dean, of course, comes to mind first. But Al Gore gets automatic attention as well. I also have to imagine that people like John Edwards, Bill Bradley, and hell, Eliot Spitzer ought to be able to make an impact. And if Dubya can trot out his dad, surely Jimmy Carter can go build a few houses in some swing states. (We gotta be able to do better than "former U.S. treasurer" - man, that's lame. Do you even know who the current one is?)

I grant that it's hard, no matter what, for the Kerry campaign to draw in much political oxygen, especially with all the disastrous news that's been pouring out almost daily for the Bush administration. But the article I linked to isn't some roundup from Newsweek - it's by a local reporter writing in the Albuquerque Tribune, ie, someone who's best situated to keep an accurate count. Even the Kerry campaign acknowledges that they've been slow to deploy their surrogates, though they are promising a "flood" shortly.

Keeping up my "office watch," there apparently is no Kerry office in NM yet. If any New Mexican readers learn of an office opening, I'd be grateful if you could let me know. On the flipside, the "Contact Us" page on the Kerry site now lists their Columbus, OH headquarters.

Posted at 12:48 AM in New Mexico | Technorati


For what it's worth, Kerry doesn't have an office in Arkansas either, although Bush certainly does. I'm not sure what to make of Kerry's strategy, but I'm not sure it's all bad. If I understand correctly, the idea is to let Bush spend bookoos of money and Kerry will jump in with a flood later.

This doesn't seem all bad, as Bush is gathering so much negative media attention at the moment. Too much effort from Kerry would only be a distraction. And with Kerry's record of winning past elections in this manner, it's hard to question this logic.

I only hope this big flood we're hearing about, eventually materializes. States like Arkansas are definitely winnable for Kerry, but not if Bush spends considerable more time campaigning here than Kerry. Hopefully, Kerry learned this lesson from Gore in 2000. The question is if he'll fulfill the promise.

Posted by: LiberalAce at May 21, 2004 03:24 AM | Permalink | Edit Comment | Delete Comment

One general criticism of the Kerry campaign is that it has been slow in getting local, on-the-ground efforts set up.

Surely he knows better - it was that well-organized local presence that won him Iowa and New Hampshire in the primaries. It does seem odd that groups like ACT have a much stronger presence in Ohio and Florida than the Kerry campaign itself.

Posted by: Tyrone at May 22, 2004 06:39 PM | Permalink | Edit Comment | Delete Comment

For what it's worth, everything I've heard coming out of NM says the same: Kerry doesn't have an office there yet, and hasn't shown up much. (Incidentally, Dean would be a great surrogate to send there: his organization in NM was strong, and spread out to all sorts of places in the political infrastructure after he ended his candidacy.)

BUT, Kerry's strategy might not be totally misguided. One of the reasons Bush has sent so many surrogates to NM, in my opinion, is to prevent the state GOP's complete suicidal breakdown. Intraparty infighting deep-sixed the "accord" between warring factions from December, and the state party chair drew herself a primary opponent. She stepped down from her party seat and left the legislature too. The re-election effort there is basically completely in the hands of out-of-staters, which is rubbing many of the local GOP the wrong way. (And if it isn't, it should be. :) ) So the Bush campaign has had a vast amount of damage control to do down in NM: it's basically in the position of Brutus mopping up the Senate floor. Lots of appearances might be more of a sign of weakness then strength in this case.

To toss another nugget out there, Big Bill (Richardson) has been playing the 500-pound gorilla in the state, then turning around and jetting off to other destinations, which is rubbing some /Dems/ the wrong way. (From my perspective, I'm a bit surprised. His style as governor shows little of the nuance and diplomacy that made him a good UN ambassador and negotiator with North Korea.) Apparently some resentment is brewing, and folks want to see him get the VP nod if only to get him out of the Roundhouse. He may be better-liked outside of NM than he is at home.

Posted by: Jeremy Mallory at May 24, 2004 09:51 AM | Permalink | Edit Comment | Delete Comment

So the Bush campaign has had a vast amount of damage control to do down in NM: it's basically in the position of Brutus mopping up the Senate floor.

LOL! That's some great imagery.

A bit frustrating to hear that Bill is ticking off some NM Dems - but hopefully people will chill until after November. I can't seem to find any poll on his approval rating. I just paid a hundred bucks for that damn Polling Report subscription everyone was telling me I had to get, and they don't have squat. Frustrating!

Posted by: DavidNYC at May 24, 2004 12:44 PM | Permalink | Edit Comment | Delete Comment

One more comment on this, because I can't resist. This from Joe Monahan's estimable blog (http://joemonahansnewmexico.blogspot.com/):

"Disappointing" is how several top Republicans describe the fundraising event held with First Lady Laura Bush last week at the ABQ Old Town Sheraton. "Even with tickets deeply discounted, they were a hard sell," said one GOP insider. The $1000 tickets had to be discounted to $250.00 to get people in the door, and the event, according to another GOP source ���raised a whole let less than the $150,000 that was promoted."

Some in the GOP are saying the low-dough show for lovely Laura shows weakness in the Bush-Cheney campaign here. Others attribute it to Repubs being tapped out of cash after being hit on for the past year. And still others say the rancor and divisions in the party may be hurting money raising.

Yeesh! Even fawning spots of the First Lady reading to kiddies can't raise the dough. To top that off: The ABQ Tribune's Shea Andersen, looking ahead to the Bush-Kerry NM face off: "Delivering this state for Bush is going to be a major challenge for the Republicans."

The recent Zogby poll that shows NM more firmly in the Kerry column is being confirmed right and left. The GOP infighting has spilled over into the primary (this coming Tuesday, 1 June), including several competitive races between factional rivals. Both Ds and Rs are talking about "two Republican parties" in New Mexico right now. Even better, Rep. Heather Wilson (NM-01) has taken sides in at least one of the most competitive, which opens the door to repercussions should the other faction win that race.

What I'm noticing is that NM politics on the GOP side are all becoming dominated by local conflicts. In that climate, 1) out-of-staters--which means basically all of the Bush-Cheney campaign--have a tough time navigating, and 2) the other party has the luxury of actually talking to the voters. It appears that Big Bill is doing just that, too.

Incidentally, I may have spoken too quickly about how much Richardson is annoying the state Dems: to the extent that he is, it is manifestly less than the state Rs are annoying each other. Monahan again: Cravens, remarking on the civil war in the NM GOP and Big Bill's interference in Democratic primary races: "When it's the Democrats, they call it breaking ranks. In the GOP it's called a bloodbath." ("Cravens" is Kent Cravens, a Republican state senator from Albuquerque.) The contrast here is notable.

Posted by: Jeremy Mallory at May 28, 2004 10:43 AM | Permalink | Edit Comment | Delete Comment

John, Send A Message: Eliot for VP

John, Send A Message: Eliot for VP

One thing we clearly know is that John Kerry is not George Bush. However,
following in the pattern that has been the fatal flaw of the Democratic Party on the whole in recent memory, Kerry has yet to define himself for the average American. While
the loyal democratic base lives by the "Anybody But Bush" motto, swing voters
have been left searching for reasons to vote against an incumbent during such
a tumultuous time in our history.

As we approach the conventions and the naming of Kerry's running mate, this
candidate has a prime opportunity to vividly display what it is he and his
party are willing to stand up and fight for. By choosing New York State Attorney
General Eliot Spitzer as his running mate, John Kerry would be going beyond
choosing a nominee merely for the traditional reason of winning one of the key
battleground states, and would be establishing a legitimate ticket with a
concrete record and a plan to move this country in a direction that would put
America back in the hands of normal Americans.

While politicians, and democrats in particular, often tip-toe around issues
and are vague in their positions, Eliot Spitzer has caught the public's eye in
his battles to stop unfair trading practices, protect shareholders, and
guarantee that all investors, not just top tier executives get a fair deal. He has
taken twelve investment banks to court in the name of consumer fairness since
assuming office, resulting in $1.4 billion worth of fines. The most notable of
these suits was filed against Merrill Lynch on the grounds that they were
knowingly providing customers with poor advice in order to get them to buy company
stock. Eliot Spitzer has not just talked about standing up for the "average
Joe", but has actually done something to protect them.

Spitzer comes with an extensively concrete resume of battling the special
interests for control of our country, not just a constantly shifting ideology
that is characteristic of so many Washington insiders whose opinions on issues
change based on polling trends. While his critics accuse him of grandstanding,
if there's one thing they cannot call Eliot Spitzer it is a flip-flopper. His
strength in his convictions and the action, not just rhetoric that has followed
has defined his term in office.

If John Kerry wants to send a message to swing voters as to who he is and
what he is willing to stand up and fight for, choosing Eliot Spitzer as his Vice
Presidential nominee would be a gigantic step in the right direction.

Posted by: Duva123 at June 23, 2004 10:11 AM | Permalink | Edit Comment | Delete Comment