WASHINGTON, Sept. 21 (UPI) -- Democratic nominee John Kerry just needs to be himself in the upcoming debates with U.S. President Bush, says former Gore campaign chief Donna Brazile.
Brazile, writing Tuesday in Roll Call, a newspaper that covers Capitol Hill, said for Kerry to counter the Republicans' portrayal of him as "a flip-flopping, weak, indecisive leader," the Massachusetts Democrat needs to "just be himself and stand up for what he believes in."
"President Bush has managed to turn the conversation to Kerry's shortcomings as a candidate," Brazile said, allowing him to avoid answering difficult questions on a number of issues. "Kerry should avoid falling into their traps and keep his answers crisp, pointed and focused."
Brazile, whose political skills are respected by Democrats and Republicans alike, advised both campaigns to remember that presidential debates "are not just about who is the 'smartest' candidate, but also who is more 'likable.'"
In her analysis, the debates could become -- "judging by the pre-debate hype, positioning and the spin" -- a defining moment in the 2004 presidential election. "When the debates are concluded, voters should be in a better position to decide who is best to lead America in the post-Sept. 11 era."