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The elephant watch
The GOP brings in the big guns -- Rudolph Guiliani and Bill Weld. Well, one big gun.

THURSDAY, July 29, 2004 -- This week’s previous three Republican National Committee "rapid-response team rebuttal" press conferences, as I have written, were clearly not intended for serious mainstream media coverage. Today’s, guest-starring Rudy Giuliani and William Weld, clearly was. As such, the visuals changed dramatically; no more cramped sixth-floor room in a nondescript Portland Street office building -- shift to the Omni Parker House ballroom. Instead of cheap printouts of Kerry-bashing quotes on the walls, they stood five American flags behind the speakers. Republican citizenry were invited to attend, cheer, applaud, and wave their provided Bush/Cheney signs.

The message of the day, articulated first and most succinctly by Lieutenant Governor Kerry Healey, is that "Everything we predicted on Monday has come to pass." The Dems bashed Bush while completely ignoring John Kerry’s record throughout the convention, she said. The latter seems a bit of a premature conclusion, coming before the main day of the proceedings devoted specifically to the candidate, but whatever. Weld called it "all sizzle and no steak." He also rattled off some results of a recent poll (not identified or provided to the press, so it’s hard to judge its veracity) purporting to show that 65 percent of Massachusetts residents think that John Kerry would raise taxes if elected President. Since John Edwards said very clearly in his speech last night that indeed the plan is to raise taxes, I found that statistic somewhat dated and irrelevant, but the partisans in the room seemed to like it. Giuliani -- hey, Giuliani is good at the microphone. If I was Bush I’d have the Mayor speak twice a night at the GOP convention. Maybe I wouldn’t even let him leave the stage all week, just pitch a tent up there. I could feel poll numbers shifting with every sentence out of his mouth.

Sadly, this was the end of these entertaining rapid-response press conferences -- odd, I feel, that they held one Monday to rebut nothing but will not on Friday to rebut the main event. (My inquiry on that point provided RNC press secretary Christine Iverson her daily opportunity to flash me her "are you this stupid or are you an escaped mental patient" look. Christine, I shall miss our special moments together. And don’t worry -- I am not offended that your office failed to inform me of today’s change in venue. Or that you literally ran away from me yesterday as I tried to ask you who produced the attack video you distributed. Or that you pretended not to see me standing next to you, or hear me saying "Christine," or feel me tapping your shoulder, as I attempted to speak with you today.)

I have to hand it to RNC chairman Ed Gillespie, a man who clearly thrills at pushing the envelope; to see how blatantly he can present opposing concepts to the world. He insisted this week that Kerry’s is the single most consistent, predictable, unwavering ideological voting record in the Senate over his 20-year career, and then called him the biggest flip-flopper in the Senate, practically in the same sentence. He made me wear Kerry-bashing press credentials; walked me through hallways lined with Kerry insults; handed out stacks of million-dollar bills with George Soros’s face on them; told me on Monday that the Democratic Party is harsh, extreme, bitter, and angry; forced me to look at a huge blow-up photo of Kerry in the goofy-looking blue suit throughout Tuesday’s briefing; showed me an 11-minute video on Wednesday comprised solely of trashing Kerry’s Iraq War rhetoric; followed that with four vitriolic speeches denigrating Kerry’s leadership qualities... and all this to tell me that John Kerry is running a negative convention.

It’s going to be an interesting few months.


Issue Date: July 29, 2004
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