Coehlo says, “There is nobody in charge and you have these two teams that are generally not talking to each other.” He means Kennedy?s former staff members like Mary Beth Cahill and Bob Shrum who “are at odds with recent additions who served under President Clinton.”
Coehlo: “Here are two groups that have never gotten along and have fought, and it is a lot over money… Because in the Democratic Party the consultants get paid for the creation and the placement of [advertising]. Republicans only pay you for the creation.” What this means is that you go out and you pay somebody the creative fee to create a commercial, but then the Shrums, the guys that run the campaign who decide where the advertising is going to go, they get 15% commission on the placement.
So the more advertising money spent, the richer they get and in the more expensive markets it’s spent the richer they get. And it is said now that Shrum’s group is going to get five to eight million of the Kerry campaign war chest just on commissions, and that’s a lot of what the argument is about. That they’re no longer even really trying to serve Kerry. That these two groups are just trying to get their hands on the advertising budget so they can enrich themselves. That’s the point that Coelho was making, one of the many points.
He says, this is a quote from Coelho now, “‘In 1988, Dukakis: Shrum is involved. In 1992, Clinton: nothing to do with Shrum. They don?t want Shrum in any way… In 1996, they do not want Shrum in any way. In 2000, Gore doesn?t want Clinton people. We go forward, 2004, all of a sudden it?s the Shrum/Kennedy people.’ And Coelho adds that the Kerry campaign staffers ‘are in serious trouble now, so they want to bring in the Clinton people.'” But Shrum can’t beat anybody. Shrum never wins. He gets rich, but he doesn’t beat anybody.
“The Democratic scuttlebutt has long been filled with concern over Shrum?s losing streak. He remains 0 for 7 in presidential elections, from George McGovern to Michael Dukakis to Al Gore. When Coelho resigned as chairman of the Gore campaign, Shrum, in large part, took the reins.” Ah ha! So there’s a personal axe to grind in this as well. It’s even worse than we thought with the internals in this campaign. “The Kerry campaign insists this is not the case; it says Mary Beth Cahill is still in charge. But last week, the appointment of strategist John Sasso as a senior adviser began to belie such claims.”
Now here’s what Coelho said further, “‘What I?m looking for is a Karl Rove and I don?t know where our Karl Rove is… I think Sasso is a Karl Rove. I’m very high on Sasso because I don’t think he plays Machiavellian games. I think he very sincerely wants to win. I think he is very big on Kerry. And I think he?s tough enough to say, “Goddammit, come together.” Sources inside the Kerry campaign say the Democratic nominee was fuming that his advisers told him to ignore charges by the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth. The group claimed Kerry lied about his war record and betrayed fellow veterans by testifying to Congress about alleged atrocities committed by U.S. soldiers. The Kerry campaign was slow in countering the Swift Boat charges, the allegations persisted and Kerry?s bad August ensued.”
Oh, okay, so Kerry, he knew what to do. He knew what the right thing to do was, but damn those advisors, damn that conductor who didn’t stop the train on time, damn the speechwriter who kept that line in there that I’ve told him to take out, now it’s Kerry who is fuming his advisors told him to ignore the charges by the swift vets. Kerry is what’s wrong with this campaign. It is Kerry who is telling the advisors what to do here. That’s the whole problem. The whole problem is Kerry didn’t want to respond to it, and I’ll tell you why Kerry didn’t want to respond to it and neither did the advisors want to respond, because they knew they’ve got Dan Rather on their side. They believed the swift vets wouldn’t get any coverage. They believed the swift vets wouldn’t make any news because the mainstream press had promised Kerry they were going to ignore it, and they have, for the most part. But again, they are failing to accept the reality that there are competitors out there now, and that their monopoly is over.
So what you have here is a campaign in disarray. The long knives are coming out, and I think what this Coelho story really represents is the first sign of prominent Democrats trying to save their own reputations in advance of what’s beginning to look more and more like a defeat. So that when this campaign goes south, as did Dukakis, and as did McGovern, that there are some people who have made pains to dissociate themselves from it long enough in advance that they don’t get blamed for it by others, both in the party and in the mainstream press.
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