But watch out, Bush camp. It's at times like this, with the race starting to look like it's on ice, that overconfidence often sets in. For example, Democratic Sen. Zell Miller provided a gutsy and powerful endorsement of Bush at the Republican convention. Along with Arnold Schwarzenegger's brilliant oratory the night before, Miller made the GOP get-together actually worth watching. However, comments from top Bush officials, distancing themselves from Miller when he was clearly delivering their message, doesn't indicate a grateful or gracious Bush campaign.
Now comes the tricky part. Kerry must find a message that sticks in the minds of voters. Bush must limit his verbal clumsiness until Nov. 2. And both sides must adjust to an awkward situation in Florida, where the state is being torn apart by a succession of hurricanes and tropical storms. How do you get a message across to Florida voters when the southwestern section of the state is still cleaning up from one storm even as the rest of the state is just beginning to recover from a second one -- and a potential third one is lurking out at sea?
For Kerry, traipsing about a state where most people are downright miserable might come across as both gratuitous, self-serving and, yes, arrogant. For Bush, touring damaged areas and providing federal assistance seems presidential. In other words, the misfortune of nature's fickle ways could become political misfortune for Kerry.
As for Pennsylvania and Ohio, it probably wasn't smart for Kerry to launch a "midnight attack" on Dick Cheney's war record just an hour or so after Bush's acceptance speech at the GOP convention. I had to ask myself, "Which war? Was it World War I or II?" But seriously, no one cares about Cheney's war record.
All of this boils down to the fact that campaigns usually reflect the character of the candidates. And if arrogance is the truest read on the character of the person at the head of a political ticket, then John Kerry currently is winning the gold medal and watching the presidential race start to slip away. He still has time to catch up, but first he's got to shed his precious pedigree and his real or perceived big ego.
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