Thursday, February 19, 2004

Why John Edwards Is Going To Lose

Because he doesn't get it. Today, he challenged Senator John Kerry to a debate in Georgia! What he should have done was challenge Senator Kerry to three debates; one each in New York, Ohio and California. Edwards might then have added that he didn't need to debate John Kerry in Georgia because he (Edwards) knew the South like the back of his hand and it wouldn't prove anything if he won a debate down there.

This is not rocket science. What the Kerry campaign wants to do is shorten the race. What the Edwards campaign needs to do is elongate the race; make these next twelve days feel like a month. The only way to elongate a race is to make it feel longer and the only way to make it feel longer is to have a number of major events between now and March 2nd. Three debates would turn that trick.

All Edwards has to do to sell the idea (to a media ready to swoon) is to add some hooey about wanting to debate the key regional issues of the Pacific West in California, the Midwestern issues in Ohio and Northeastern concerns in New York. How, really, could Kerry say no. It would look like he was ducking, which front-runners can't do. Not when The New York Times says they must (the editorial writes itself!). Democratic presidential candidates cannot afford to alienate their most important megaphone.

There are a lot of other reasons why Edwards should have challenged Kerry to three debates. You know what they are. Sorry Mickey! The Georgia debate challenge is yet another sign that the lad is not quite ready for The Show.

Postscript: It turns out that Edwards also issued a challenge to debate Kerry in New York. See kausfiles for details. I still think that by not framing the debate gauntlet properly, Edwards made a rather glaring rookie mistake.