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May 9, 2004
Torricelli Option Goes Mainstream

Howard Kurtz, the political correspondent for the Washington Post, writes in his column tomorrow about the Torricelli option, perhaps the first time it has received mainstream attention. Kurtz notes the despair and panic amongst the Democrats about just how bad a candidate Kerry really is, and how the alternatives are being considered:

"John Kerry Must Go."

That Village Voice headline may be a tad dramatic, but stories about disaffected Democrats are spreading like wildfire through the media forest. ... Strange as it seems, given that Kerry swept to the nomination, at least a few chattering-class members are discussing the Torricelli option, a reference to the replacement of scandal-scarred Robert Torricelli on the New Jersey ballot late in the 2002 U.S. Senate campaign.

"Look for the Dem biggies, whoever they are these days, to sit down with the rich and arrogant presumptive nominee and try to persuade him to take a hike," writes Village Voice columnist James Ridgeway. Kerry also might be struck by lightning the next time he goes snowboarding.

Most campaigns go through these turbulent cycles. In early September 2000, a front-page New York Times story warned: "Prominent Republicans around the country, including several who advise Gov. George W. Bush, say they are worried that his candidacy has floundered in recent weeks." Time's cover said: "Humpty W.: How Bad a Fall?" Matt Lauer said on "Today" that "there's growing concern in Republican circles about a loss of momentum in the Bush campaign."

Kurtz doesn't think that the Toricelli option to be realistic, as he selects a few quotes from the left to dismiss it rather sharply, and for good reason -- at this time, anyway. Bush has weathered some pretty bad news, but more may be on its way, and Kerry probably can't get much worse than he's been thus far. Unless something else pops up at him, his faults have been laid out pretty clearly.

However, that analysis holds only as long as Bush continues to face bad news on Iraq. Stories about abused prisoners will likely drip out for the next couple of weeks, but there are already indications that Bush and his team are serious about getting out in front of the story this time. Whether or not the Fallujah negotiations were a wise choice, they seem to have reduced the tensions in the area, and the troops seem to have the momentum against the al-Sadr uprising in Najaf and Karbala. Domestic news has improved as well, with the economy continuing to gather steam and new jobs being added in droves. Democrats have to worry that when the bad news eventually lets up, Kerry's tenuous grasp on polling numbers will disappear entirely.

Even if Kurtz doesn't put much stock into the Torricelli option, the fact that he felt the need to address it is an indication how far into the mainstream Kerry panic has intruded. Expect more to come.

Sphere It Digg! View blog reactions
Posted by Ed Morrissey at May 9, 2004 10:59 PM

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