At last week's presidential debate, Democrat John F. Kerry took note of an endorsement he received from a man with a familiar Republican name. John Eisenhower, son of the 34th president, last week wrote in a newspaper commentary that he is casting his first Democratic presidential vote in 50 years because of concern about President Bush's policies in Iraq and budget deficits at home.
In the week ahead, a Kerry official said, the campaign is going to be hitting the Republicans-for-Kerry theme some more. The campaign will tout that it has established Republicans-for-Kerry groups in 21 battleground states, and will unveil an Internet-led pitch aimed at expanding the number of grass-roots volunteers belonging to Republicans for Kerry and increasing the group's visibility during the month before the Nov. 2 election.
Some Democrats say the new emphasis on drawing crossover support is a case of better late than never. Bush has made considerably more prominent use of people who jumped the party fence to back him, including Sen. Zell Miller (D-Ga.) and Randy Kelly, mayor of St. Paul, Minn.
Kerry does have some surprising names among his GOP endorsements. They include Rita E. Hauser. She is not exactly a household name, but is certainly known in foreign policy circles. She serves as vice chairman of the prestigious President's Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board, appointed by none other than George W. Bush in December 2001. Some in the Kerry campaign acknowledge they might have done a better job trumpeting a Bush foreign policy appointee who now objects to Bush's foreign policy. Hauser's flight from the Bush fold was announced in August, just before the Republican National Convention, and caused nary a ripple.
Eisenhower's flight from the GOP ticket appeared in a place where important Republicans were sure to see it -- the conservative Manchester Union-Leader, in the battleground of New Hampshire. "The fact is that today's 'Republican' Party is one with which I am totally unfamiliar," wrote Eisenhower, 82, who has a home near the Eastern Shore community of Trappe, Md. On Iraq, he wrote, "the current Republican leadership has confused confident leadership with hubris and arrogance."
Getting Mileage Out of Footage
President Bush and Vice President Cheney agreed that they would not use debate footage in television commercials, but their pact is by no means binding on others.
The first to use images from the joint appearance at the University of Miami in a television spot was apparently the independent Democratic-leaning group Win Back Respect, which is opposed to Bush's foreign policy. The ad features the "Band of Sisters" -- family members of U.S. service personnel who are serving in or were killed in Iraq -- and starts with Bush's debate declaration that "we're making steady progress there."
A Wisconsin mother with a son in Iraq, Jane Jensen, then appears to say: "He still is not taking it seriously. He still has this silly grin."
The next quote is even more harsh. "If you had a plan for progress, my brother might still be alive," said Brook Campbell of Atlanta.
The ad buy is comparatively small, $100,000, but is in important swing-state markets, including Des Moines, Albuquerque and Green Bay, Wis., according to spokesman Matt Bennett.
Celebs and the Buckeye State
Over the years, it's safe to guess that Ohio has been a net exporter of celebrities. That is, more people leave the state to become famous than go to Ohio to stake their claims to fame. That's changing, at least temporarily, thanks to the presidential campaign.
Another of the Democratic independent groups born to influence this year's race, Bring Ohio Back, which concentrates on the state's northeastern arc around Cleveland, Akron and Youngstown, is bringing celebrated Ohioans back from Hollywood to campaign. These include actors Chad Lowe and Martin Sheen.
The state is seeing a lot of famous folks these days, in person or in TV spots. Mothers Opposing Bush, who feel the incumbent's policies have been bad for children, has the acronym MOB. So the group's spokeswoman in TV ads running on Ohio stations is "The Sopranos" star Edie Falco, wife of an on-air mobster.
We get it, we get it.
A Brief About Skivvies
One of the most famous questions ever asked in modern politics is now a decade old. It was 1994 when then-President Bill Clinton was pressed in an MTV forum about whether he wears boxers or briefs. Commentators debated which was tackier: the question or the fact that Clinton chose to answer ("usually briefs").
Ever wonder what happened to the irreverent interrogator, who was 17 at the time? Turns out Tisha Thompson is now on air regularly as a full-fledged adult journalist for Baltimore's WMAR-TV. She is a graduate of the University of Missouri's journalism school, and the Columbia Daily Tribune there last week reviewed her path since asking the question that echoed for years, to Clinton's regret.