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The Presidential Campaign

Clinton comeback, good for Kerry?

By Associated Press
Published October 23, 2004

PRESIDENTIAL RACE
Voter drives flood rolls
Protesters shadow Bush at fundraiser
Political imagery gets wild in TV ads
Clinton comeback, good for Kerry?

AT A GLANCE
Bush Kerry

POLITICS 2004
Lucy Morgan column: Vicious attack ads obscure vital issues in campaign home-stretch
Hillsborough: Lost votes should oust official, opponent says
Tampa Bay: Students complain of false party swap
State: Bradley, a third Senate candidate, for 'veterans and common man'
The nation: Ballot battles rise in the courts
Pasco: Returns look good for early voting plan
Citrus: Wooten says flier's fraud claim untrue

CAMPAIGN CALENDAR

TODAY: Hip Hop Summit Action Network Bus Tour 2 p.m., Tropicana Stadium Parking Lot, 1 Tropicana Drive. Headliners will include rap artists Akon and Styllion; ESPN sportscaster and former New York Jet Walter Briggs; Tampa Bay Bucs player Ellis Wyms; and Southern Style rappers Evening Riders, Ace Boon Koon, Black Jack Boys, Kream, and LK & Tom G. Shuttles will transport young voters to early voting locations until 5 p.m. Call 866-0873.

TUESDAY: Meg Ryan and Robert F. Kennedy Jr. 6 p.m. , Tampa Theater, 711 Franklin St., Tampa. A discussion on President Bush's environmental policies. Free. Call 595-7314.

WEDNESDAY: Parent Forum on the Pinellas County School Referendum Ballot Question 7 p.m., McMullen-Booth Elementary School, 3025 Union St., Clearwater. Call (813) 884-3782.

WASHINGTON - Bill Clinton has always had a flair for political drama. Now it looks like his just-in-time recovery from heart surgery, allowing him to campaign for John Kerry in the election's closing days, may provide a jolt of excitement any candidate would covet.

Democratic strategist Donna Brazile says she started getting phone calls and e-mail as soon as word got out about Clinton's planned appearance Monday with Kerry in Philadelphia, with messages like: "He's back! The Comeback Kid!"

She predicts "a great, electrifying last week of the campaign."

That's just dreaming, Republicans say, suggesting that Kerry will suffer from the comparison when he stands alongside the more charismatic Clinton, and that memories of Monica Lewinsky may serve to fire up GOP voters.

"He can remind people of everything that John Kerry is not: loquacious, empathetic, politically adroit," says Republican pollster Whit Ayres.

Clinton, who hopes to make a number of appearances on Kerry's behalf if his stamina holds up, is still a controversial figure to many Americans but his appeal is strong among core Democrats.

In a tight election where little things can be hugely important, Kerry's team hopes Clinton will help boost turnout, especially among blacks. The hope also is that Clinton will remind all Americans of better economic times under a Democratic president and raise a late infusion of cash for the cause.

Doug Schoen, who served as Clinton's presidential pollster, said anger at the impeached former president over the Lewinsky affair has dissipated over the years, making his arrival on the campaign scene "less likely to mobilize anti-Clinton sentiment than it is to mobilize Democratic constituencies like African-Americans, who've been lagging in their enthusiasm for John Kerry."

Clinton, who underwent quadruple bypass surgery on Sept. 6, regularly talks with Kerry and offers campaign advice. He also will be making TV appearances and taping a phone message to voters and may record radio ads.

The key question for both sides is how much of Clinton's appeal can rub off on another politician.

Bush-Cheney campaign spokesman Scott Stanzel says it's only natural that both candidates are dispatching top surrogates in the campaign's final days but predicts that "in the end, voters will make their decisions based upon the differences between President Bush and Senator Kerry." [Last modified October 23, 2004, 01:13:23]

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