On the third night of the Democratic Convention, Sen. John Edwards urged America to “reject the tired, old, hateful, negative, politics of the past.” And it appears the Democrats are doing just that, bashing President Bush just ten times in six primetime speeches Wednesday night. That’s down from the convention high thus far, 47 times on Monday night.
Speakers spent far more time praising Sen. John Kerry and that’s just what Kerry’s people asked for. Before the convention started, Kerry’s staff asked speakers to tone down the Bush bashing, hoping to appeal to independent voters, whom polls show are turned off by negative politics.
And while some of Wednesday’s bashes didn’t mention Bush by name, the implication was still clear. Gov. Bill Richardson said, “At the end of the day our nation is strongest and better served when our President is respected and admired in the world.” Other speakers were more direct, the Rev. Jesse Jackson, Sr. said, “In the dark, a President chooses tax cuts for millionaires, but job cuts for steel and auto workers, firefighters and police. A President who talks of homeland security, but wants to let AK-47’s and Uzi’s back on the street.” The Rev. Al Sharpton bashed Bush when he talked about civil rights and the Supreme Court, “I suggest to you tonight that if George Bush had selected the court in ’54, Clarence Thomas would have never got to law school.”
Edwards focused on introducing himself to the American people, talking up Kerry and telling the American people that “hope is on the way.” While not bashing Bush directly, Edwards made a few veiled references, like many other speakers thus far, to the President’s lack of military service, while pointing out Kerry’s war record. Edwards said, “John understands personally about fighting in a war.” He also said, “John put his life on the line for our country.” And Edwards got a few more digs in on Bush, while again not bashing him directly, when talking about the President’s diplomacy. Edwards said, “We can’t do this alone, we have to restore our respect in the world…with a new President who strengthens and leads our alliances.”
In many past presidential campaigns, the vice presidential nominee has played the role of “attack dog.” It appears that’s not going to be the case with the 2004 Democratic ticket. On the other hand, if Vice President Dick Cheney is anything like he’s been in the past, then it might be harder for Edwards to hold back.
One more night of the Democratic Convention and John Kerry speaks. We’ll see if he follows his own advice and goes easy on the man he wants to replace.
We’ll also keep track of the Kerry criticisms at the Republican convention.
Definition of Bush Bash – any criticism about President Bush, whether about him personally, or his policies.