Jewish World Review May 28, 2004 / 8 Sivan, 5764
Thank you for your
nomination for president. I'll get back to you on that
Imagine it's the concluding night of the Democratic "convention" in Sen.
John Kerry's home town of Boston. He ascends the podium. "Ladies and
gentlemen, delegates, fellow Democrats," he begins. "Thank you for your
nomination for president. I'll get back to you on that."
Kerry has been dithering about whether formally to accept his party's
nomination at its national convention. The reason is money. Both Kerry and
President Bush have agreed to accept $75 million in federal funds for the
general election campaign, which becomes available to them as soon as they
accept the nominations of their parties. The law precludes them from
accepting or spending any private money once they start taking federal
The problem for Kerry is that since the Republicans don't meet for their
convention in New York until Aug. 31- Sep. 2, Kerry has to make his $75
million last a month longer than Bush does.
Kerry's problem is the fault of the Democratic Party, which chose an early
date for its convention. Now that Kerry's fund-raising has been stronger
than he expected, he wants to change the rules his party set.
There are some difficulties with Kerry's proposed end run around the law.
The first is that some lawyers for the Democratic National Committee think
the legal clock starts running when the nomination is formally voted, not
when it is formally accepted. To keep the matter from being litigated,
Democrats would have to avoid a roll call vote as well as an acceptance in
Kerry's "acceptance" speech. That would make the Democratic gathering more
of a pep rally than a national political convention.
This raises several questions:
If the Democratic gathering in Boston is not really a national nominating
convention, why should taxpayers subsidize it?
Could the Democrats nominate a vice presidential candidate without
nominating a presidential candidate? What effect would that have on the
If all the Democrats put on in Boston is a gigantic pep rally, why couldn't
the Republicans put on a pep rally of their own in another city, and demand
"equal time" from the television networks?
If the Democrats aren't actually going to nominate a candidate in Boston,
what justifies the enormous inconveniences the Democrats plan to impose on
Bostonians? (Major parts of the interstate highway system and at least one
subway station will be closed for security reasons.)
If the Democratic convention isn't really a nominating convention, why
should the news media give it much coverage? And why should people watch
At no time does a challenger for the presidency get so much free publicity
in so favorable a setting as when he delivers his acceptance speech at his
national nominating convention. The candidate gets a half hour or so to lay
out his case to the nation, un-interrupted by news editors or a debate
Kerry would be a big time fool to jeopardize his audience for that just to
spend a few more bucks on advertising, thinks Roger Simon of U.S. News &
"Kerry risks giving up a huge poll bounce and all that goes with it," Simon
wrote. "And what does Kerry get in return? He gets to spend millions of
more dollars on TV commercials...in August. August! Watch a lot of
political commercials in August, do you?"
But Mickey Kaus of Slate, a former Democratic political operative, praised
Kerry for his "diabolical tactical brilliance."
Pollster Scott Rasmussen noted that "Sen. Kerry loses a few points every
time the spotlight focuses on him. Kerry's numbers bounce back when the
focus returns to the president."
At the Democratic convention, "the nation's press surely plans to focus on
the Democratic nominee, beaming his every word into the nation's living
rooms, allowing voters to get to know him and to take the measure of his
character and personality," Kaus said.
"Kerry's highly paid strategists instantly recognized that this would be a
disaster for their client," Kaus said. "So they have crafted a cunning plan
to designed to get the TV networks to avoid covering the convention
entirely, while the reporters who might otherwise be exposing Kerry to the
world are convinced to stay home."
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JWR contributor Jack Kelly, a former Marine and Green Beret, was a
deputy assistant secretary of the Air Force in the Reagan
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