According to a former Kerry 2004 presidential campaign staffer who has worked with the Kerry Senate offices to coordinate his appearances on behalf of Democrat candidates this year, Sen. John Kerry's prepared remarks last Monday included a slightly more detailed joke about being stuck in Iraq.
"The reason they had the joke in there was because of the crowd," the staffer says. "We'd told the office that there would be lots of MoveOn.org types, lots of young people at the event, so they gave him material to play to what we consider to be the important base of the party for next week. Kerry was playing to the crowd, giving them what the Democrats think they want to hear."
Kerry, though, claims he mangled the joke. On Wednesday a Kerry Senate staffer released to CNN what was claimed to be the actual text of Kerry's joke. It read: "I can't overstress the importance of a great education. Do you know where you end up if you don't study, if you aren't smart, if you're intellectually lazy? You end up getting us stuck in a war in Iraq."
"I don't recall it reading that way on Monday," says a California Democrat Party official, who saw what he says were advanced prepared remarks for Kerry's appearance at the rally for the party's gubernatorial candidate. "But I may have been like the Senator and just didn't read it properly."
Kerry's gaffe and why he attempted to make the joke in the first place reveals the greatest weakness the Democrat Party has going into the final week of the campaign: its evolving base focused on the radicalized 20-somethings who gravitate to the left-wing, Soros-funded political organizations like MoveOn and websites such as the Democratic Underground.
"We have to energize those people, and you do it with cracks like Kerry's. That's just the reality of where we are as a party right now," says a Democrat political consultant in Washington. "It's frustrating, because while you need their energy and enthusiasm, it's not clear that they are going to perform in the same way the Republican base will. In other words, we just don't know if they are actually going to vote. Kerry's antics may have been doubling damaging, not only his own aspirations, but to those of the party, particularly if we lose next week."
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