By Dick Morris
October 30, 2004
a) Ask yourself: What is the issue we are talking about these days? Are we focused on terrorism and Iraq, or on health care and jobs? The answer is obvious: terrorism and Iraq.
b) Now look at the polls. Not the page that shows who they're voting for. That changes every hour. Look at the page that asks, "Which candidate do you think would do the best job of handling the war in Iraq?"
The answer is always President Bush, usually by 10 points. And right below that, on "Which candidate do you think would do the best job of handling the War on Terror?" Bush leads again, usually by 20 points.
If the issue is terrorism and Iraq, and Bush wins those issues by double digits, then the winner will be . . . voila, Bush!
John Kerry was on the verge of moving out to a victory after the third debate. Taking advantage of its pre-ordained focus on domestic issues, he had finally, finally swung the debate back to the issues on which he has - and has always had - a lead: domestic policy. Next he got a short-term bounce from Bill Clinton's presence on the campaign trail and seemed on his way to closing the Bush lead.
Then came the "disappearing explosives" story. Kerry's handlers, tacticians to the last, disregarded the needs of basic strategy and hopped on the issue with all four feet, running a TV ad lambasting Bush for losing the weapons after the invasion.
Strategically, this flawed decision assured that the final week of the campaign would focus on the areas of Bush's strength and Kerry's weakness: Iraq and terrorism. Tactically, it tied the electorate's confidence in John Kerry to the mystery of what actually happened in an ammo dump in the desert 18 months ago.
Then it began to explode in Kerry's face. Soon we heard that there were only three tons of explosives . . . and they weren't there when we occupied the dump . . . and they were removed by the Russians before we got there . . . and, perhaps, there are satellite photos to prove it.
All of a sudden, Kerry seems just not ready for prime time.
The backfire is amplified by the involvement of CBS and The New York Times. The plans of "60 Minutes" and Dan Rather to break the story on the Sunday before the election reflect overt partisan bias - an overt conspiracy of these leading outlets to stack the deck in favor of Kerry.
This controversy unraveling in front of us all, replete with conspiracy theories and denouement of media bias, is enough to occupy our attention and rivet our focus as Election Day approaches. It will drive all other stories off the front pages and will make the war in Iraq the key element in the election.
At this writing, the possibility
that the alleged al Qaeda tape virtually endorsing Kerry will
hit the airwaves makes one even more confident of a Bush victory.
A threat to let blood run in the streets of America if Bush wins
won't intimidate voters, but rather remind them of the importance
of sending a warrior to fight the terrorists - and seal Bush's
Dick Morris was an adviser to Bill Clinton for 20 years. Look for his new book, "Because He Could" about Bill Clinton.
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