...Mr. Kerry's transformation into an empathetic candidate with a decidedly blue collar on his navy pinstriped suit began months ago as he struggled to connect with audiences put off by his patrician manner and emotional distance.
...Tony Coelho, who served as Al Gore's campaign chairman in the early part of his 2000 campaign, said Mr. Kerry seemed to have left his cerebral policy wonkishness in Iowa, where at the low point of his campaign he had nothing to lose by loosening up. "He had a lot of Gore in him," Mr. Coelho said.
If Mr. Kerry's transformation lasts, Mr. Coelho said, "this is going to help him out tremendously against Bush, because that's what Bush has."
"If Kerry, who everybody agrees has intellectual curiosity, has inner peace, he'll go against Bush, who has that, but no intellectual curiosity," he said.
Mr. Coelho described that inner peace as "being able to reach out to people, hug them, and touch them — as opposed to being the brightest kid in class."
"The danger is," he added, "if it's not real, it will come out."
It's alive! Relax, not really. If a Gore advisor thinks you have an authenticity problem, you have an authenticity problem.
The Dems had a choice between a media favorite and an annoying phony back in 2000. They went with Big AL, and how did that work out? Now, in a bizarre replay they have a choice between a charismatic chap the media could learn to love, and an annoying phony. Fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, I'm a registered Dem.
OK, end of digression. Let's see how the Friends of Tall John at the NY Times cover his "real moments":
Mr. Kerry's moments with such workers at times seem forced, and almost always clearly delineated. Typically he steps out of his dress shoes and into duck boots, throws a barn coat over his suit, and slips into a kind of dialect heavy on "Hey, man" and accompanied by shoulder-clasps.
Outside Youngstown, Ohio, on Wednesday, he tramped through a rusting, long-abandoned steel mill with a few members of the steelworkers' union who said they had been locked out of work at a titanium plant since last October.
Randy Velk, 50, said he had diabetes and was finding it difficult to pay his $500-a-month prescription drug bills. "I only work sporadically," he said. "It's really tough."
Mr. Kerry said, "That's tough, man."
MORE: Media impatience with Sen. "Coin-toss" Kerry reveals itself during the contentious Democratic candidates debate on Sunday. When reporters ask you on national television "is that a yes or a no", that is a bad sign. Especially when you are in the misdst of correctly answering "it depends", but the reporter doesn't believe it coming from you. Then again, if the reporter is a rude lunatic, maybe this is not a straw in the wind.
BUMILLER: Senator, let's move this around the world to Iraq for just a minute.
KERRY: Can we also move it around the table?
BUMILLER: I'll ask you, and then I'll ask the Reverend Sharpton.
As you know, Iraq is to begin ruling itself on June 30th, when the U.S. is transferring authority. Now, there's a lot of people in Washington and Baghdad who are saying this is completely set on a political timetable at the convenience for President Bush.
Should we put off the June 30th transfer?
KERRY: I think the transfer should depend entirely on the ability to guarantee a stable Iraq. It should not be set arbitrarily, certainly not by an election date.
What is critical is that you have...
BUMILLER: Is that a yes or no?
KERRY: It's, obviously, it's a...
BUMILLER: It's a what?
KERRY: You should put it off if it's needed to be put off. I mean, look, if the date works, terrific. But the test is not a date. The test is the stability and viability of Iraq. And what is critical...
Later, another reporter (as well as Dennis Kucinich) pick up the "answer the d**n question" theme:
KIRTZMAN: It's an interesting point. It's an interesting -- well, let me just pivot off of what Sharpton says, an interesting point.
Do you agree with Wesley Clark that Bush didn't do enough to prevent the World Trade Center attacks?
KERRY: I think we could have done -- absolutely, we could have done more. No question about it. But we should have done more since then, too.
And let me just say something. We've spent -- this debate is now getting towards its end. We're in New York City. Fifty percent of the African-Americans in New York City are unemployed between the ages of 16 and 64.
One of the things the president could have done in order to make this city more safe, frankly -- he's only given it one-tenth of the money that they need with respect to protection of water supply. He's cut $250 million for firefighters. They're cutting firefighters and closing firehouses. They're cutting the COPS program.
There's a $5 billion to $6 billion deficit in the state of New York. The governor, therefore, has started to raise taxes or cut services.
George Bush's priority: tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans.
My priority: a $50 billion fund as a tax relief education fund, which is part of the stimulus counted in my numbers...
BUMILLER: Senator Kerry, I have a...
KERRY: Can I finish?
KIRTZMAN: You haven't gotten the direct answer...
KERRY: I'd like to finish.
KUCINICH: You haven't gotten a direct answer on this, and I want to answer you directly. This is about national security. And you asked the question, essentially, are we safer?
And I will submit to you, we are not. We are not safer, because we attacked a country that did not attack us and have created a resurgence of Al Qaida as a result.
We are not safer, because we don't know about 9/11 because the commission can't even get the information from the White House.
RATHER: Thank you, Congressman.
And Dan Rather himself gets impatient with Sen. Kerry during his repsonse to a gay marriage question:
RATHER: Let me call time out for just one second, because this is necessary. We are inside roughly the 13-minute mark here, and I have to do something now that I wish I didn't have to do. I wish we had the rest of the afternoon to talk about it, but we need to pick up the pace in these 13 minutes, because there are any number of subjects that we have not covered.
So, let me, with your permission, change the subject very quickly. I do ask for brevity here. We'll try to work everybody in.
But, Senator Kerry, what's wrong with gay marriage?
KERRY: I believe that marriage is between a man and a woman. It's a personal belief.
RATHER: Well, what's wrong with a man and a man committing to each other for life?
KERRY: What I think -- I think it's a distinction between what you believe the institution of marriage is, but what's important, Dan, is that you give people rights. I'm for rights, not for terminology or status -- rights.
RATHER: But who does it hurt, Senator?
KERRY: I think all -- that's not the issue. The issue is...
RATHER: Well, that's the question.
KERRY: ... are we prepared to provide rights to all Americans, so that they share the same rights as other people, not the same terminology or status?
I believe that the right, the spousal rights -- the right of inheritance, the right with respect to taxes, the right with respect to visitation in a hospital -- there are a whole series of rights. I am for those rights being afforded to every single American without distinction.