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Jewish World Review July 30, 2004 / 12 Menachem-Av, 5764

Dick Morris

Dick Morris
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Teresa is now a legitimate target for partisan barbs and arrows | Sen. John Kerry was crazy to let his wife speak on Tuesday night as the featured orator during the second night of his convention. (Or maybe he had no choice).

While Teresa Heinz Kerry delivered an excellent speech, demonstrating a determined feminism and an attractive personality, her prominent role at the convention puts her in play in our national politics. Where criticism of a candidate's wife might have been seen as a foul, Mrs. Kerry is now a legitimate target for partisan barbs and arrows.

Even Hillary did not address the 1992 Democratic Convention. By the time she spoke in 1996, she had served as a high profile first lady and authored the health care initiative. Barbara Bush spoke in 1992 after her tenure as first lady when she was more popular than her husband was. Teresa Heinz Kerry is the first wife of an insurgent candidate to address a convention in such a high-profile way. She now attracts all kinds of attention to herself and makes herself an issue in the campaign.

Why on earth did Kerry put her out there? Or was this a decision she made and forced his staff to ratify?

The questions about John Kerry can only be amplified by his decision to give his wife so prominent a role. Now each of the expenditures of her foundation, each action of her life, each statement she has ever made can be introduced into evidence by the Republicans, redounding not only to her detriment but to his.

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Before Tuesday night, John Kerry had only two people to defend on his ticket.

Now, with her speech, he has three.

How will Mrs. Kerry handle the scrutiny? Now that she has spoken in public in such a high profile way, she has to answer questions. And her answers are likely to lack the polish and the class of her more experienced husband. The ensuing dialogue can only hurt Kerry.

Putting her out there as a featured speaker can only stoke the demands for her tax returns and for a full financial accounting of her holdings, assets, and investments. Kerry will be on the defensive and Mrs. Kerry will likely be on the warpath as the demands for disclosure mount. This cannot be good for a man trying to persuade America that he has the character, stability, and temperament to be a good president.

Mrs. Kerry's high profile presence can only underscore how different John Kerry's life has been from that of the average American. Born to wealth, he vacationed in France and then married one of the richest women in America.

Her background is no more typical of that of the man and woman on Main Street. She has become an issue and she is not the kind of issue Kerry needs.

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JWR contributor Dick Morris is the author of, most recently, "Rewriting History", a rebuttal of Sen. Hillary Clinton’s (D-N.Y.) memoir, Living History. (ClickHERE to purchase. Sales help fund JWR.) Comment by clicking here.


© 2004, Dick Morris