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August 1, 2004
Milli Vanilli Chili - The Wendy's Dodge

Those of us who covered John Kerry's stumble with the Marines at Wendy's on Friday missed a more significant story, one which highlights the phoniness behind the Kerry/Edwards "men of the people" act. Alert CQ reader James O'Toole sends this Midhudson News report today that the Wendy's visit was a mere photo op, while a decidedly more upscale meal waited for them on the bus:

While Democratic presidential nominee John Kerry and his running mate, John Edwards, and their families were having a lite lunch at Wendys in the Town of Newburgh Friday, drumming up local support right after the national convention in Boston, their real lunches were waiting on their bus.

A member of the Kerry advance team called Nikolas Restaurant at the Newburgh Yacht Club the night before and ordered 19 five-star lunches to go that would be picked up at noon Friday. Management at the restaurant, which is operated by CIA graduate chef Michael Dederick, was told the meals would be for the Kerry and Edwards families and actor Ben Affleck who was with them on the tour.

The gourmet meals to go included shrimp vindallo, grilled diver sea scallops, prosciutto, wrapped stuffed chicken, and steak salad. The meals came to about $200.

Small wonder Teresa Heinz-Kerry had no idea what Wendy's chili was (Reader Sarah W refers to it as "Milli Vanilli Chili" -- the line of the day!). Let's face it, a bowl of chili and a side of fries doesn't really stack up to Shrimp Vandallo and grilled diver sea scallops. The elbow-rubbing with the hoi polloi only goes so far, after all. They don't need to get lost in the roles.

I have nothing against Shrimp Vandallo or scallops, or even spending $200 on a lunch from time to time. But making a big show of eating at Wendy's because it's an Edwards family tradition, making it a photo op for the campaign, all the while knowing you have a $200 lunch waiting for you ... that demonstrates a level of artifice that is not only shameful, but dreadfully clumsy. If nothing else, it shows that Kerry can't even fake populism effectively.

For those of you who donated to the Kerry/Edwards campaign, nineteen lunches at $200 each comes up to almost $4,000, or almost the maximum allowed for two donors to the campaign. The Kerry/Edwards campaign wants to thank those two for their assistance and encourages you to donate to the DNC as soon as possible. Terry McAuliffe wants to eat at Chez Louis for dinner tomorrow, and he needs to know that help is on the way.

UPDATE: A couple of items for the update. One, I liked Sarah's line so much I changed the title. Also, someone questioned my understanding on the math, saying that the story indicated that the meals -- plural -- came to $200, implying that was the total bill. However, that would put each meal at somewhere around $11, which seems awfully cheap even for the steak salad on that menu. For Shrimp Vandallo and grilled diver sea scallops, it's not likely.

Sphere It Digg! View blog reactions
Posted by Ed Morrissey at August 1, 2004 11:04 AM

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