FOR KERRY AND THE ASSOCIATED PRESS, STINGING SLAPS ON BOTH WRISTS
...in both a short and a long version.
The Short Version
Kerry: Dean has no chance
Dean: Kerry has no chance vs. Dean.
The Long Version
I have to say, I've read the AP piece forwards and backwards, and I can't find anything, even paraphrased, suggesting that John Kerry thinks Howard Dean has "no chance" of beating Bush. The closest the article comes is this:
Aides to Kerry note that Dean, the former Vermont governor, fares poorly against Bush in head-to-head matchups.
Kerry said "we can't beat George Bush by being Bush-lite," referring to Dean's criticism of more centrist Democratic candidates.
"But we also won't beat George Bush by being light on national security, light on fairness for middle-class Americans or light on the values that make us Democrats."
John Kerry certainly knows that Al Gore fared poorly against Bush in head-to-head matchups at this point in the 2000 election cycle, and we know how the popular vote turned out. Furthermore, AP knows that this is the usual stuff coming from the Kerry/Gephardt/Lieberman camps, so why are they framing this as Kerry saying "no chance"? Sounds to me like they're setting up something to be used against Dean in the general election.
The issue of the headline is, well, complicated by the piece's conclusion:
Talking to reporters after his speech, Kerry stopped short of saying Dean was unelectable.
"All I'm trying to do is point out clear, real differences that matter to people who vote," he said.
Hmm. Say, that's a pretty low standard of headlining. I'll keep that in mind while I'm working on my "Bush: Yes, It Was About The Oil" and "Rove: I Ordered The Leak" articles.
Some of Kerry's other comments are painfully ironic:
"We need more than simple answers and the latest slip of the tongue," he said. "This election is too vital for us to lose it if voters refuse to take a gamble on national security and the steadiness of our leadership."
He pointed to Dean's statements on Saddam Hussein's capture and Dean's answer to a hypothetical question about where Osama bin Laden should be tried, if captured.
"What kind of muddled thinking is it if you can't instantly say that in your heart you know that bin Laden is guilty?" Kerry asked. "After every episode comes a statement trying to explain it away. Will Americans really vote for a foreign policy by clarifying press release?"
All this coming from a guy who's attempted to explain and re-explain his yes vote on the Iraq resolution about 15 different ways in the last 12 months.
Kerry is sheer background static at this point.