Tuesday, February 24, 2004

Glenn reports that Hugh Hewitt has given John Edwards a golden opportunity:
Memo to John Edwards and his campaign staff: I know you aren't in the habit of sitting down with center-right radio hosts, even those with a long PBS resume, but my radio program is open to you, each and every day between now and March 2, for all three hours if you'd like. It is aired in drive time in Los Angeles, San Francisco, San Diego, the Inland Empire and Sacramento as well as in numerous other Super Tuesday markets, and word has it you are low on cash. Send me an e-mail at hhewitt@hughhewitt.com, and I'd be glad to have you as my co-host for the next ten broadcast days. Why? Just because I like a good race.

Hewitt broadcasts in several at-play states: Boston, Atlanta, Cleveland and Cinncy. I agreed with Glenn that Edwards would be crazy not to grab hold of that kind of free publicity, especially in the morning drive time. I even sent an email to Edwards's national office as well as all his field offices, urging them to get the candidate on the air with Hewitt soonest. No response, either to me or apparently to Hewitt. Why?

Clearly, Kerry is getting the bulk of the free media coverage, especially with him hitting the Vietnam and veteran issues hard. A canny short term strategy to keep Edwards out of the spotlight, but in the long term, I think the last successful presidential candidate who ran primarily as a war hero was Eisenhower. And to paraphrase Lloyd Bentsen, Kerry is no Eisenhower.

Meanwhile what flummoxes me is this perception that Kerry is more electible than Edwards. Again, why? Perception is everything, in the stock market and in national politics. Kerry inevitably must be perceived as a northeastern liberal Kennedy democrat. I don't care how many hare-brained electoral strategies the pundits come up with, the presidential election for the democratic candidate comes down to whether he can win at least one state in the south. I simply don't believe that Kerry can do it.

Edwards, on the other hand, is demonstrably southern. He is a better campaigner than Kerry, who is stiff and stand-offish, to my eyes. It is more likely that Edwards is going to take one or more southern states than Kerry. In the bedrock democratic states, the democratic nominee, whoever he is, is going to win. It's the fringe states, and the fringe voters [independents, libertarians, etc.], who are going to make the difference for either candidate. My sense is that if Kerry is the nominee, those on the fence are going to analyze it like this: Kerry flip flops, he might be too liberal for my taste, we are in the middle of a war situation, and I don't want to take the chance on changing horses in the middle of the stream. I'll vote for the democratic nominee, probably, whoever he is, simply because I think Bush is bad for the country, both domestically and in foreign policy. But I feel in my gut that Edwards will be competitive, while Kerry will probably lose handily to Bush.

What I think the Bushies are doing now is hitting Kerry with a low level of negatives. My crystal ball tells me that they have something on him, and are waiting to spring it until after the conventions, when it really makes a difference. Once the Democrats lock into Kerry [if they do], then the Bushies hit, and hit hard.

What's interesting is that they have not even paid attention to Edwards. That's because the only thing they can say about him is that he used to be a very good trial lawyer who represented regular people. If Edwards gets the nomination, I HOPE that the republicans try that argument. I think they'll get their collective head handed to them. The bottom line, however, is that unless Edwards does something significant, like get on Hewitt's morning drive time show in at least 3 at play markets, then it'll be tough for him to catch up, much less win.

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