The John Kerry Public Relations Blitzkrieg

by on March 15th, 2004

You have to admire the organization of a presidential candidate that can rebut an attack hours before a planned attack has even been launched.

In response to Bush’s first television attacks Thursday against John Kerry, the Kerry campaign had already sent out emails and press releases to reporters debunking the attack, and had set-up a posse of surrogates to criticize the charges by Friday.

From this, you can either claim that the Bush team is completely predictable in their attacks, or you can claim that the Kerry team knows their candidate’s weaknesses all too well. Whatever the case, it should be obvious that Team Kerry is in no mood for Willie Horton surprises this year.

The Bush Campaign’s response:

“The Kerry campaign, when it feels it has a vulnerability, has a very defensive, kind of reactive approach,” (Bush Campaign Manager) Ken Mehlman said.

Well, you think? It isn’t just paranoia. Against a campaign machine juggernaut whose goal is raising over $200 million by Election Day this year, I’d sure want a team able to decisively react and settle accusations quickly, even if there’s a possible drawback of appearing “defensive.”

“And I think that, as a result, when you mention any of those issues, there is a disproportionate reaction because they feel vulnerable on that issue.”

The Bush team is feeling around for anything right now that will strike a chord with voters to feel concern about having Kerry as President, and if and when they do find that issue, they’re going to sink their claws in tight, and we certainly won’t hear the end of it in their campaign ads until the election is over. That’s a fine strategy in theory for taking on a political challenger, I admit, but in the meantime I’d focus more on out-thinking the Kerry PR Blitzkrieg first. Which alone should be a tough enough nut to crack for the time being.

Edward E.J. Davis