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NEWSWEEK ELECTION ISSUE: 'How He Did It'
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NEWSWEEK ELECTION ISSUE: 'How He Did It'
Thursday November 4, 2:37 pm ET
Kerry Laments: 'I Can't Believe I'm Losing to This Idiot'
Carville Leads Clintonistas' Coups, Implores Cahill to Step Aside or He'll 'Tell The Truth' About Campaign Woes On NBC's 'Meet The Press'
Daughter Alexandra Pleads to Kerry After Locking in Nomination: 'Will You Please Appreciate This Moment for 10 Seconds?'NEW YORK, Nov. 4 /PRNewswire/ -- When President Bush's poll numbers surged in April after a press conference where his performance was derided by the press and the chattering classes, Democratic presidential candidate Sen. John Kerry was baffled, writes Newsweek Assistant Managing Editor Evan Thomas in an exclusive report in Newsweek's special election issue. "He said with a sigh to one top staffer, 'I can't believe I'm losing to this idiot.'" (Photo: http://www.newscom.com/cgi-bin/prnh/20041104/NYTH186 )
The November 15 issue "How He Did It" (on newsstands Thursday, November 4) includes an exclusive behind-the-scenes account of the entire presidential campaign reported by a separate Newsweek Special Project team that worked for more than a year on the extraordinary campaign. Highlights from the report:
The Clintonista "Coups." At several critical junctures Kerry's campaign (and the candidate himself), struggled to find sure footing. Following the missteps of August, Clinton veteran James Carville confronted Kerry campaign manager Mary Beth Cahill, telling her she had to step aside and let newly arrived Joe Lockhart run the campaign. So worked up, Carville began to cry, imploring Cahill: "You've got to let him do it." Carville continued, "Nobody can gain power without someone losing power." Carville threatened to go on "Meet the Press" the next day "and tell the truth about how bad it is" if Cahill didn't give effective control to Lockhart.
The "Outlandish" McCain Offer. Kerry's courtship of Senator John McCain to be his running mate was longer-standing and more intense than previously reported. As far back as August 2003, Kerry had taken McCain to breakfast to sound him out to run on a unity ticket. McCain batted away the idea as not serious, but Kerry, after he wrapped up the nomination in March, went back after McCain a half-dozen more times. "To show just how sincere he was, he made an outlandish offer," Newsweek's Thomas reports. "If McCain said yes he would expand the role of vice president to include secretary of Defense and the overall control of foreign policy. McCain exclaimed, 'You're out of your mind. I don't even know if it's constitutional, and it certainly wouldn't sell.'" Kerry was thwarted and furious. "Why the f--- didn't he take it? After what the Bush people did to him...'"
"A Marathon Man." Kerry's intensity on the trail rarely, if ever, faded. Moments after delivering his victory speech after wrapping up his party's nomination on March 2, Kerry was back in his motorcade and on his cell phone. "Dad," asked his daughter Alexandra. "Will you please appreciate this moment for 10 seconds?" Newsweek reports, "He mumbled yes, yes, he was happy, it was good, and then went back to working the cell phone." It occurred to his daughter Vanessa that her father did not match the media's clichi of him being a fourth-quarter player, he was a marathon man. Writes Thomas, "Kerry liked to say that 'every day is extra' after Vietnam, but actually every day was like the day before, a relentless march toward his goal."
Kerry's drive to self-perfection was boundless-sometimes to a fault. In early spring he sought counsel from Washington speech coach Michael Sheehan. With aides he would sometimes say, "Tell me everything you think I'm doing wrong." When John Sasso arrived on the campaign in September he found a candidate who had turned himself into a pincushion. "Kerry had been inviting personal criticism from pretty much anyone who had an opinion...Kerry was drowning in negative energy from all around," Thomas writes. Sasso wanted it to stop. There was to be no more direct criticism of the candidate, period. And Teresa and the daughters were not exempt, Newsweek reports.
Additional exclusive news reported in Newsweek's Special Election Issue:
Clinton Advice Spurned. Looking for a way to pick up swing voters in the Red States, former President Bill Clinton, in a phone call with Kerry, urged the Senator to back local bans on gay marriage. Kerry respectfully listened, then told his aides, "I'm not going to ever do that."
Kerry Anger Over Swift Boat Ads. By August, the attack of the Swift Boat veterans was getting to Kerry. He called adviser Tad Devine, who was prepping to appear on "Meet The Press" the next day: "It's a pack of f---ing lies, what they're saying about me," he fairly shouted over the phone. Kerry blamed his advisers for his predicament. (Cahill and Shrum argued responding to the ads would only dignify them.) He had wanted to fight back; they had counseled caution. Even Kerry's ex-wife, Julia Thorne, was very upset about the ads, she told daughter Vanessa. She could remember how Kerry had suffered in Vietnam; she had seen the scars on his body, heard him cry out at night in his nightmares. She was so agitated about the unfairness of the Swift Boat assault that she told Vanessa she was ready to break her silence, to speak out and personally answer the Swift Boat charges. She changed her mind only when she was reassured that the campaign was about to start fighting back hard.
Managing Teresa. Kerry's wife, Teresa Heinz Kerry, presented a host of behind-the-scenes drama for Kerry. Early on, the campaign staff regarded Teresa as something of a hypochondriac, and she canceled three trips in October at the last minute, usually for what was described to aides as a "nonspecific malady." Kerry's first campaign manager, James Jordan, had little patience for her strong opinions, sending emails trashing the candidate's wife...which inevitably reached his rivals within the campaign, including Bob Shrum (an old Teresa friend) and helped seal Jordan's eventual dismissal.
Later came Kerry campaign's post-convention "Sea to Shining Sea" tour: a 3,500-mile bus and train trek that was not a happy trip for Teresa. With each passing day she made less effort to hide her displeasure. Audiences were mystified when Teresa turned her back to them at daylight rallies and wore dark sunglasses and a hat at night (backstage, the candidate's wife complained of migraines and sore eyes). As they reached the climax of the tour, an hourlong "family vacation" hike in the Grand Canyon, the planned happy-family- vacation was disintegrating in plain view. Daughter Vanessa didn't enjoy being a prop, Teresa was complaining of migraines and telling her husband she couldn't walk anymore. The candidate tried to bravely soldier on, pulling his sullen wife and children to show them the magnificent condors flying overhead.
Edwards Campaigns for Veep. Hours after bowing out of the presidential nomination race on March 3, the senator from North Carolina convened a small circle of his closest advisers at his house on P Street in Georgetown. He wanted the veep nomination, Edwards told his aides, he wanted it badly, and from that moment was going to wage "a full-fledged campaign" to ensure that he got it.
Shades of Dukakis. In early August, when the Swift Boat story started to pick up steam on the talk shows, Susan Estrich, a California law professor, well-known liberal talking head and onetime campaign manager for Michael Dukakis, had called the Kerry campaign for marching orders. She had been booked on Fox's "Hannity & Colmes" to talk about the Swift Boat ads. What are the talking points? Estrich asked the Kerry campaign. There are none, she was told. Estrich was startled. She had seen this bad movie before.
Newsweek's 2004 Special Election Issue marks the magazine's sixth consecutive installment of providing a behind-the-scenes account of the entire presidential campaign. The 50,000-word inside story was written by Assistant Managing Editor Evan Thomas and edited by Special Projects Director Alexis Gelber. The project's correspondents are: Jonathan Darman (with Kerry), Kevin Peraino (with Bush) and Contributing Editors Eleanor Clift and Peter Goldman.
Read the Special Report at http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/6407226/site/newsweek /
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