Wexaminer President Obama, in keeping with his tendency to debate Republican straw men instead of Republicans themselves, chose Sen. John Kerry D-Mass., as the sparring partner who will play Mitt Romney during general election debate prep.
"There is no one that has more experience or understanding of the presidential debate process than John Kerry," David Axelrod, Obama's top campaign strategist, told the Boston Globe. "He’s an expert debater who has a fundamental mastery of a wide range of issues, including Mitt Romney’s Massachusetts. He’s the obvious choice."The pick has some merit: Kerry has participated in presidential debates, and he may understand Massuchusetts politics over the last decade well enough to imitate Romney's defense when Obama attacks his record as governor, which could be valuable as Obama prepares his secondary attacks.
But Kerry possesses all the political weaknesses that Obama hopes to exploit in Romney, without any of the strengths that make Romney so dangerous as a presidential candidate this year.
Kerry is, famously, a flip-flopper. The charge sank Kery's 2004 campaign -- "I actually did vote for the $87 billion [of Iraq War funding] before I voted against it" -- as it wounded Romney's 2008 primary campaign (his 2005 conversion to the pro-life position seemed too convenient for many in the Republican base.)
Kerry, married to the Heinz family fortune, is one of the wealthiest members of the Senate. Romney, as Obama constantly reminds voters, is also a multimillionaire. (The fact that he earned his fortune in the private sector recommends him to many swing voters upset about the perennial weakness of the economy and Obama's unprecedented spending.) And of course, they're both from Massachusetts.
Moreover, Obama's record as president will be on trial this year far more than Romney's.
Is Kerry, one of the most liberal members of the Senate, well-suited to attack Obama the way Romney will hit him in the fall?
Does he understand the conservative (and independent) protests of Obama's policies that most threaten his reelection?
"I want this debate about healthcare in this election," Kerry said in March. After the Supreme Court heard oral arguments, Kerry said, “I can tell you that we had one of the most rigorous and transparent legislative processes that I have witnessed in almost 3 decades here in the Congress."