Rich – I generally agree with your point about the special interests issue being a loser for Bush. But I must say his ad was terrible on it.
As you note, the Bush campaign says the issue is Kerry’s hypocrisy, not who takes how much from special interests. But that ad didn’t make that point. It didn’t show Kerry pounding the table about how he would drive the special interests from Washington. If it did that and then noted that he takes more special interest money than any other Senator, the issue of hypocrisy would have been clear. Instead the Bush ad assumed a lot of knowledge on the part of the public, never explicitly made the connection, and left a big opening for the Dems to counter-punch. I would have gone after Kerry on other hypocrisy vulnerabilities first — voting every which way on Iraq, for example — and then later on in the summer attacked on the special interest theme once Kerry’s hypocrisy was already well-established in the public’s mind.