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There's Something About Kerry

There's Something About KerryThe likely choice as the Democratic nominee for President, John Kerry may have a long road ahead of him if he wants to reach the White House, according to two Tufts experts. Medford/Somerville, Mass.

Medford/Somerville, Mass. [02.17.04] A long shot in the race for the Democratic presidential nomination just four weeks ago, John Kerry is not only back in the race, he's leading it. After staging a miraculous turnaround, the U.S. Senator from Massachusetts is considered by many to be the frontrunner as he continues to pull away from a thinning pack. But the race, say two Tufts experts, isn't over yet.

"Overnight Senator John Kerry, whose campaign had almost imploded late last year, turned the race upside down by winning big in Iowa's caucuses and then the weeks following in New Hampshire, Missouri and other primaries - not only showing he has the ‘Big Mo' (or momentum) essential for winning in America, but a hammerlock on the nomination," W. Scott Thompson, adjunct professor at The Fletcher School, wrote in the Taipei Times.

Thompson - a former assistant to the secretary of defense in the Reagan administration - says that while Kerry's campaign has been on the rise of late, it was not too long ago that another seemingly invincible frontrunner imploded before reaching the top.

"Can it happen again? Dean's hold looked airtight until folks actually went to the polls," wrote the Tufts adjunct professor. "He had money to burn and endorsements from across the country, and now he is barely maintaining visibility as a serious candidate. What could go wrong with Kerry's campaign at this point?"

According to Thompson, Kerry's weakness may lie in his political experience. The junior senator from Massachusetts, Kerry has been in the U.S. Senate for more than 18 years - leaving behind a long record of votes and proposed legislation.

"There's a reason why senators don't tend to win," Thompson continued. "They've been on the record too long on too many issues. There are too many interest groups they have had to cultivate and satiate to stay in politics."

Thompson added, "No senator has won the keys to the White House since John F. Kennedy."

Despite this, Kerry is winning many converts - including former opponents Richard Gephardt and General Wesley Clark. But as candidate and former-frontrunner Howard Dean recently alleged, Kerry is a Washington insider, and Thompson agrees.

"[During his senate career] Kerry has managed to straddle many issues so it is difficult to discern his real beliefs," wrote the Tufts professor.

But Kerry's background may not necessarily be a disadvantage. According to Tufts political science professor Richard Eichenberg, Kerry's past war experience may give him an edge if he faces George W. Bush head to head in the presidential race.

"A war-time president who didn't go to war versus a candidate who did - other things being equal - neutralizes President Bush's advantage," Eichenberg told BBC News.


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