Perhaps the biggest surprise was Kerry’s decision to bypass the recommendations of supposed close allies and go with some surprising picks. For example, both Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell and New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson had submitted a list of names of trusted political bagmen to the Kerry campaign for their state political jobs. In both cases, Kerry went with comparative outsiders: Tony Podesta, brother of former Clinton chief of staff John Podesta, for Pennsylvania, and Moses Mercado, a former key adviser to Rep. Dick Gephardt in the House.
“No slight to the recommendations,” says a Kerry adviser in Washington. “The boss just wanted to go with someone he trusted on his own. The people he picked came highly recommended or were known to him before the campaign.”
Perhaps most surprising were the number of Clinton loyalists brought into the campaign. With the exception of Donnie Fowler, who served as Al Gore’s national field director in 2000, and who will work Michigan for Kerry, virtually all of the swing-state political directors — Wisconsin, Illinois, Arkansas, Missouri, and Oregon — are Clinton hands.
“Who else can we draw on?” asks the Kerry adviser. “These are the folks with the campaign background. It isn’t like we have been able to develop a Kerry farm team over the past couple of years. These folks will do just fine by us. They want to win.”
No one in the Kerry campaign is reading anything more into the state director hirings than that. “It probably has little to do with veep politics, if that’s what you’re thinking,” says the adviser.p> OPTIMIST CLODS br> On a conference call on Sunday morning with political staff and senior Democrats involved in Kerry’s message team, Kerry senior advisers told all surrogates that when asked to speak about President Ronald Reagan
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