Monday, August 02, 2004

Kerry finds an Attack Dog Surrogate

Ned Barnett
© 2004

As I publish this story, the media hasn't quite connected with it - but they will. However, when they do, it probably won't make any difference ... As actor Sam Shephard said in "The Right Stuff" (playing Chuck Yeager, discussing Gus Grissom's failed Mercury mission) "sometimes you get a pooch that can't be screwed ...

Traditionally, the Vice Presidential candidate (especially for the challenger) serves as a pit-bull attack dog, allowing the candidate to remain on the high road while still ensuring lots of "red meat" for the party faithful. Sergeant Shriver did that, Bob Dole did that (when he ran for VP), even Al Gore did that in '92. But everybody agrees that John Edwards is both too "sunny" and too light-weight to fulfill this essential campaign role.

So the Kerry campaign has found a useful surrogate for the VP attack-dog role ... and they didn't have to look very far. Teresa Heinz-Kerry has proved to be an effective surrogate VP, launching brass-knuckles attacks on Bush ... and unlike VP candidates (who can be, in turn, attacked with brass knuckles), she seems likely to remain invulnerable to in-kind attacks. No matter what she says, it's unlikely that Bush will lower himself to attack the wife of his opponent - he's too much of a gentleman, and he knows that any such in-kind attack would be seen as boorish (and counter-productive). As a result, in spite of her controversial nature, Teresa Heinz-Kerry may prove to be her husband's secret weapon - a gutsy street fighter who's also invulnerable to any return-fire attacks.

Is that the proper role for a potential First Lady? Clearly, Mrs. Kerry doesn't care - she's in her element, and she's made it clear that she plans to keep gut-punching the President right up to election day.

Here's the story that triggered this realization:

Reuters: Heinz Kerry: Four More Years of 'Hell' if Bush Wins
2 hours, 45 minutes ago

MILWAUKEE (Reuters) - Teresa Heinz Kerry, the outspoken wife of Democratic presidential nominee John Kerry, pulled no punches on Monday in telling a rally what she thought of the Bush administration - hell.

And later, discussing the war in Iraq, Heinz Kerry subtly questioned Republican President Bush's intellect, saying: "It's vital for anyone with intelligence to acknowledge mistakes and change positions - hello."

When a Bush supporter with a bullhorn shouted "four more years" from the back of a large crowd packed into a downtown Milwaukee park, Heinz Kerry, who was introducing her husband, responded: "They want four more years of hell."

"Three more months!," she declared, referring to the Nov. 2 presidential election.
Last week at the Democratic Convention in Boston, where Kerry formally accepted his party's nomination as Bush's opponent, Heinz Kerry briefly caused a stir when she told a reporter to "shove it."

"She speaks her mind and she speaks the truth and she's pretty quick on her feet too," the Massachusetts senator said when he took the microphone in Milwaukee.
"That's why America is going to embrace her and she'll make a spectacular first lady of the United States of America."

About Ned Barnett:

Ned Barnett, the owner of Barnett Marketing Communications (, is a 32-year veteran of high-stakes crisis-management public relations, and is a frequent “source” for print and broadcast journalists. Barnett has advised many corporate and personal clients on effective crisis relations – often stopping a crisis in its tracks, even before it gets started.

As a political consultant and speechwriter, Barnett has worked for candidates and officials from both parties, as well as for public interest advocacy groups in areas involving the economy, the environment and healthcare. As a historian, Barnett is widely published in military history magazines, and has appeared a number of times on the History Channel, discussing military technology.

Barnett has taught PR at two state universities, and has written nine published books on public relations, marketing and advertising. He’s earned PRSA’s coveted Silver Anvil, two ADDYs and four consecutive MacEacherns; in 1978, he was the youngest (to that time) person to earn accreditation from PRSA, and in 1984, he became the first person to earn a Fellowship in PR from the American Hospital Association. But mostly, Barnett provides PR counsel to a range of corporations, authors and advocacy groups.

© 2004 – Ned Barnett
Barnett Marketing Communications