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Sunday, November 07, 2004

This Man Was Going to Lead the Free World?!?
The morning after the Feb. 3 primaries, which vaulted Kerry into a virtual-ly insurmountable lead, the candidate was fuming over his missing hairbrush. He and his aides were riding in a van on the way to a Time magazine cover-photo shoot. Nicholson had left the hairbrush behind. "Sir, I don't have it," he said, after rummaging in the bags. "Marvin, f---!" Kerry said. The press secretary, David Wade, offered his brush. "I'm not using Wade's brush," the long-faced senator pouted. "Marvin, f---, it's my Time photo shoot."

Then on "Good Morning America" in early April, the candidate bridled when the normally genial host Charlie Gibson asked him about an old controversy, recently brought back to life by Vice President Dick Cheney and other Bush surrogates, over whether Kerry had thrown away his medals (or just his ribbons) at an antiwar protest in 1971. Kerry was indignant about having his honor questioned, and at the end of the interview, with the camera still rolling, he snapped at Gibson, "Thanks for doing the work of the RNC [the Republican National Committee]."

Offstage, Kerry's handlers cringed. Putting him on first thing in the morning on an issue he cared about viscerally was a mistake, they realized. Kerry cannot deflect a question when he is wrapped up in the sureness of his position. (John Edwards, on the other hand, was able to deftly redirect the question back to Cheney's draft status during the Vietnam War. Questioned about Kerry's medals by talk-show host Don Imus, Edwards shot back with a laugh, "Five deferrals, and you're asking me about John Kerry?")

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