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Will Campaign Blunders Block Road to White House?

Give Presidential Candidate John Kerry an F- for the way he's conducted his campaign since the Democratic Convention.

Kerry went into the convention with a slight lead over President Bush in most categories that voters consider important.

But he never got that jump in acceptance that traditionally follows a convention; instead his lead withered on the vine.

Political columnists are now saying it's Kerry's fixation with criticism of his military service in Vietnam that knocked the momentum out of his campaign.

The irony is that it was Kerry who made his service in Vietnam part of his campaign, even though he led a veterans' group opposing the war.

Surveys have shown that 68 percent of Americans feel the Vietnam War has little bearing on issues they consider important in choosing the next president, and they're tired of hearing about it in campaign ads.

Bush supporter Senator John McCain put the Vietnam issue in perspective when he stated recently that both Bush and Kerry served their nation honorably during the Vietnam era. McCain, a featured speaker on the opening night of the Republican Convention, who himself was a prisoner of war in Vietnam, said it's time to stop re-fighting the Vietnam War.

Someone should have told that to Kerry weeks ago.

Instead of getting hung up with criticism of his Vietnam War record, political pundits now say Kerry should have captured the momentum spawned by his party's convention and kept the ball rolling by telling Americans about the positive things his presidency would bring to our nation.

Now Kerry seems destined to become a Vietnam casualty over 30 years after the war ended. His obsession with Vietnam could be what kills his bid for the presidency.

For George Bush, the big goof in his campaign so far was agreeing to allow his two ditzy daughters to speak Tuesday night at the Republican Convention.

Even former First Lady Barbara Bush was seen cringing at her granddaughters' disastrous attempts to be funny, convincing and sincere.

Wasn't there anyone in the Bush camp who could see it was a huge mistake to put the Bush girls in front of the nation?

Political pundits assembled after the close of Tuesday night's convention by pro Bush Fox News were at a loss for words when it came to saying anything positive about the Bush twins' convention remarks.

Bottom line is that the girls probably didn't do any serious harm to their father's campaign, but they sure didn't help it when there are other speakers who might have bolstered Bush's bid for the presidency.

Ditto for First Lady Laura Bush. While I'll give her a slight edge in public speaking over her counterpart Teresa Kerry, Mrs. Bush's remarks were akin to a boring high school graduation speech. For the most part, it was sophomoric and predictable to the point where most people knew what she was going to say before she said it.

George Bush would have been better off keeping his girls at home and limiting his wife's remarks to an introduction of him when he accepts the nomination Thursday night.

I expected "Arnold the Governator" would be the speaker who hurt the Bush Campaign. Turns out Arnold was all the things the Bush twins couldn't pull off: funny, convincing and sincere.

And there's one other thing about the presidential conventions that I have to mention.

What do you suppose people in places like Iraq think when they see this weird slice of the American political scene?

I mean for people in a nation at the infancy of its struggle to become a free, democratic society, seeing Americans nominating their party's presidential candidate while costumed as Abe Lincoln or wearing elephant hats has to make them wonder what they've gotten themselves into.

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