Off The Record: Signs indicate Kerry campaign will fly over Kentucky

August 02, 2004|HERB BROCK

In Boston, last week Kentucky's delegation at the Democratic National Convention was celebrating the nominations of John Kerry and John Edwards as the party's presidential and vice-presidential nominees. Meanwhile, in Frankfort a staffer at the state Democratic Party headquarters was not being blinded by any confetti as she was realizing that Kentucky likely will be a fly-over state for the Kerry-Edwards campaign.

Sure, the Kentucky delegation was just as enthusiastic as any another state's delegation in saluting their party's ticket. But the Fleet Center in Boston may be the closest the Kentucky delegates come to the candidates in the 2004 campaign.

Oh, Kerry and Edwards may make a quick stop in the Bluegrass State, but chances are it is more likely the stop will be to refuel the campaign jet than to make a serious campaign visit.

There are the so-called "battleground states," like neighboring Ohio, where Kerry-Edwards and Bush-Cheney will fight for every vote. And then there are the white flag states like Kentucky, where one campaign has pretty much surrendered to the other; in Kentucky's case, Kerry-Edwards likely has all but conceded the state to Bush-Cheney.


Kerry-Edwards may send surrogates - if so, may one of them please be Teresa Heinz Kerry; she's a lot more exciting, entertaining and interesting than her dull hubby - and they may make pitches through videotaped appeals at fund-raisers, but we shouldn't count on seeing much, if anything, of the huggy hair bears.

State Democratic leaders bravely contend that Kerry's selection of Edwards, a North Carolinian, as his veep choice will put Kentucky in play. They say that with a fellow Southerner on the bottom of the ticket, Kentucky's conservative Democrats will be able to more easily swallow the idea of voting for a "Massachusetts liberal" at the top, like following a swig of a bitter Irish beer with a Southern Comfort chaser. But Republicans say these conservative Dems will have to be bombed before they buy that line; the GOP will convince these right-of-center Dems that despite his beauty, Edwards is every bit the liberal beast that Kerry is.

The preceding assessment of what kind of campaign Kerry-Edwards will wage in Kentucky and the conclusion that it will be token at best is based not just on what I have read and heard from print and broadcast media reporters and pundits around Kentucky but also what I have learned from none other than the state Democratic Party headquarters.

I'm a campaign yard sign collector. Every presidential election I make sure I get one sign each from the Democratic and Republican campaigns, along with any bumper stickers and buttons they may have. I started doing this 44 years ago when my dad was on a business trip to Chicago at the time that city was hosting the 1960 Republican National Convention and brought me a Nixon button. (Mom had wished he had gone to Los Angeles where the '60 Democratic convention was being held and brought her a Kennedy button, but that would have been too much to ask of her staunch Republican hubby.)

In an effort to get my 2004 collection started, I recently called the state Democratic headquarters and asked for any Kerry or Kerry-Edwards yard signs and/or bumper stickers they might have. Before placing the call, I was trying to figure out how much I would spend. In talking to the woman who handles campaign materials, I received good news and bad news: the good news was that the signs and stickers would cost nothing; the bad news was that there was next to nothing to buy.

The woman did say that the state party had developed some "Kerry for Kentucky" materials, but she said it was too expensive to print many of them. She said that the Kerry-Edwards campaign and the DNC likely would not be sending any of their signs, stickers or buttons to Kentucky because they are saving them for the "states where they believe they have a better chance of winning."

In the meantime, the woman said that Kentuckians wanting Kerry-Edwards campaign stuff can get it off the Internet from any number of campaign sites.

So let it be said that signs - or lack of them - point to the Kerry-Edwards campaign blowing off Kentucky.

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