Washington Prowler

Whouley-Eyed Kerry

Turning to a secretive savior. Plus: Edwards' shrinking appeal.

By 8.18.04

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MAGIC MICHAEL
It could be that the Kerry campaign is looking at internal polling data that has them concerned. Or it could be that the arrival of Karen Hughes on the Bush campaign trail has the opposition spooked.

Either way, Kerry is bringing longtime adviser Michael Whouley on board the campaign for the stretch drive.

The shadowy Whouley, who avoids the limelight as much as possible, was a surprise add-on to the campaign for even some of Kerry's most senior advisers. Whouley is largely credited with saving the Kerry campaign's bacon in Iowa, and as Kerry has struggled to gain any traction in the polls beyond his razor thin margins in the past month, there have been whispers that "Magic Michael" might have to be drawn out of his Boston offices once again.

"[Kerry campaign director] Mary Beth [Cahill] has this thing running like a Swiss watch, but there is something missing," says a Kerry supporter in Washington. "Basically, this is just to shake things up a bit, I think. Nothing more."

Whouley comes on board at a time when Kerry is reserving cash for wall to wall media blitzes in September and October. The DNC and other Democratic interest groups have been spending their own money touting Kerry on TV and radio ads around the country. There is an expectation that Whouley will be critical to setting up those media buys and the messages they contain once the Kerry camp gets back on line.

Whouley is also expected to lend a hand to the state organization operations, which may be a tip-off that there are some concerns once again about Kerry's grassroots operations in certain swing states. Fixing the state operations was one of Whouley's tasks in 2003 when Kerry asked him to travel to Iowa to fix his sputtering campaign.

EDWARDS NARROWS HIS APPEAL
Sen. John Edwards raised a couple hundred thousand dollars in Atlanta on Monday, but if the fundraiser there was any indication, Edwards isn't playing well on the road.

In a ballroom that could handle more than 1,000 people, Edwards spoke to about 300 Democratic supporters, many of whom milled about the open bar and the servers with finger food, and ignored the candidate's pitch.

"It was the same stump speech I've heard him use before. Not a bit of difference," says an Atlanta lawyer who attended on his firm's dime. "They've got him on a pretty tight leash."

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