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Paper: Doubts about Kerry linger

June 14, 2004 at 10:09 AM

WASHINGTON, June 14 (UPI) -- Democrats are concerned Sen. John F. Kerry's failure to connect with the electorate may depress voter turnout in the fall, The Washington Post said Monday.

"Many Democratic voters, officials and even members of Kerry's staff express an ambivalence" about Kerry that runs counter to his strength in national polls, The Post said.

Party strategists say the failure to set out a clear agenda much beyond undoing Bush administration initiatives is to blame for the disconnect.

The lack of passion for Kerry creates "a danger," former Clinton White House Chief of Staff John Podesta said. "You can't just be against something." The voters "want a positive vision of where the country is going, and he has to provide that."

U.S. Rep. Bart Gordon, D-Tenn., who holds the U.S. House seat once occupied by former Vice President Al Gore, echoed the concern. For Democrats to win the presidency, he said, the public has to lose confidence in Bush so that Kerry can have the chance to convince the electorate "he's an acceptable alternative."

"He has not passed that threshold," Gordon said, "but he's making progress."

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