In the wake of the Democratic National Convention in Boston,newly-appointed Democratic nominee Sen. John Kerry and PresidentGeorge W. Bush are both hitting their respective campaign trailswith revamped images and themes and, possibly, a new perspectivefor voters from coast to coast.
In the weeks to come, both candidates will be campaigning almostnonstop until the Republican National Convention on August 30 inNew York.
Kerry and his running mate John Edwards commenced their “Believein America” tour with a rally in Boston, not 10 hours after Kerry’sacceptance speech concluded the four-day convention. During thetwo-week, cross-country tour, Kerry and Edwards will visit 40cities in 21 states.
At the convention, Kerry called on the nation for support inwhat he called “the most important election of our lifetimes,” andunveiled a new and strikingly hopeful and positive theme, “Americacan do better, help is on the way,” which he repeated a number oftimes during his speech.
Lisa Sohn, communications director for the Kerry campaign inOregon, observed a new flare for optimism on Kerry’s behalf. “Theoptimism and hope is something that John has been talking about fora little while. I think it just got amplified at the convention,”she said.
Kerry also spoke of the need to strengthen foreign relations andstop the practice of outsourcing jobs, saying, “We value an Americathat exports products, not jobs.”
Convention highlights included speeches from John Edwards, JimmyCarter, Teresa Heinz Kerry, Barack Obama, a Democratic nominee forthe Senate, and Bill and Hillary Clinton, all of whom showed theiradmiration and support for John Kerry.
After the convention, it didn’t take long for Kerry’s critics tobegin attacking his speech, especially when it came to his views onIraq, which they say are ambiguous.
“He’s been more specific than the administration has been,”Kerry spokesperson Laura Capps said. “His vision on how he will winthe peace in Iraq was consistently laid out at the convention.”
Capps added that Kerry and Edwards are releasing a detailedbreakdown of their plans in a book titled, “Our Plan in America:Stronger At Home Stronger in the World.”
“(This book) lays John Kerry’s and John Edwards’s vision forprotecting America and making America more secure,” said Capps.
The book, released in the face of reports of apparent terroristthreats against financial institutions in New York and Washington,also describes plans for improving health care and education andbreaks down his plan to create 10 million jobs, 121,000 of whichwould be in Oregon, according to Capps.
The book will be available on Kerry’s website and distributed tosupporters.
After taking a short break during the convention, President Bushkicked off his “Heart and Soul of America” campaign Friday with anew theme, “We’re turning a corner, and we’re not turningback.”
At a rally in Michigan last Friday, Bush said of Kerry, “Myopponent has got good intentions, but intentions don’t alwaystranslate to results.” Bush went on to criticize Kerry’s Senatecareer, saying, “After 19 years in the U.S. Senate, my opponent hasthousands of votes, but few signature achievements.”
Kerry supporters had their own criticisms of the Bushplatform.
“How can you say that you’ve turned a corner, when we haverecord deficits record job losses, stagnant wages, skyrocketinghealth care costs and no plan to win the peace in Iraq?” Cappsremarked.
A CNN/USA Today/Gallup poll released Sunday indicated that therewas no significant “bounce,” or temporary rise in approval ratings,immediately following the convention.
This most recent poll shows that 50-47 registered voters preferKerry to Bush, while the same 50-47 ratio of likely voterspreferred Bush. This is only slightly different from a similar polltwo weeks ago, in which 49-45 registered and 49-47 likely votersapproved Kerry.
Capps said she and the rest of the Kerry campaign staff were notalarmed. “Everybody keeps on talking about a bounce, but we feelgreat,” said Capps. “We want to give the middle class abounce.”
“We have a record to run on, and they have a record to run awayfrom,” she added.
Sohn’s view on this poll echoed that of Capps. “The extent ofour support was already very high and growing,” said Sohn. “Itwasn’t like we expected a massive bounce.”