To prove that their campaign was not in the midst of disastrous crisis, Joe Lockhart, Tad Devine, Stephanie Cutter, and Doug Sosnik, along with a cast of thousands arrived in New York on Thursday and held a press briefing, insisting that all was well.
In fact, all four of these spokespersons, sometimes speaking simultaneously to small groups of reporters, said essentially the same thing, as if by repetition all the campaign’s communications troubles would be resolved. But by creating the impression that all four of them were somehow in control, the hour-long meeting only served to illustrate that the Kerry campaign continues to have big problems.
Word early Thursday was that Lockhart was now the man in charge of the campaign’s public pronouncements. Lockhart is expected to travel with Kerry, focus him on message, and attempt to drive the Kerry line to the press. But some inside the campaign say that the problems have less to do with what the public and the press are hearing and more to do with the candidate himself.
For example, on Wednesday night, after Kerry had returned to Nantucket from Nashville, a candidate with a sense of where he stood in his campaign might have returned to his palatial estate and told reporters that he’d watch the Republican convention in the privacy of his oak-lined study even if he didn’t intend to.
Instead, candidate Kerry took his wife out to Chanticleer, the most expensive restaurant on the island, and ran up a dinner tab close to $400, not including what surely must have been a generous tip.
John and Teresa then decided it might be a good idea to walk home, thus tying up traffic for the rest of the Nantucket community, while also drawing the ire of a group, apparently college Republicans, who attempted to hit them with water balloons.
“This guy has been a politician for almost 30 years, and he still hasn’t figured out that sometimes less is more,” says a sometime Kerry adviser in Washington. “Lockhart may help, Sosnik may help, but when you get right down to it, Kerry just doesn’t do what he has to do to make a difference sometimes.”
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