Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry said he bagged a goose on his swing-state hunting trip Thursday, but his real target was the voters who may harbor doubts about him. Kerry returned after a two-hour hunting trip wearing a camouflage jacket and carrying a 12-gauge shotgun, but someone else carried the bird he said he shot. "I'm too lazy," Kerry joked. "I'm still giddy over the Red Sox. It was hard to focus."
The Democratic senator is spending some of the dwindling time before Election Day hunting, talking about his faith, and watching his beloved Red Sox. It's all part of an effort to win over swing voters who may be open to voting against President Bush but aren't sure they feel any connection with Kerry.
While the Democrat campaigns as an all-American, his political opponents are working to leave voters with a different impression. Bush tells voters that Kerry is on the "left bank" of society, opposing a constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage. Kerry does not support gay marriage but says the matter is for states to decide, and he favors civil unions for same-sex couples. "We stand for marriage and family, which are the foundations of our society," Bush said Wednesday in Mason City, Iowa. "We stand for the Second Amendment, which protects every individual American's right to bear arms."
The last time Kerry went hunting was October 2003 in Iowa, a state where he was trailing in the Democratic primary but came from behind to win. Hunting is of particular interest in several of the states that are still up for grabs in the presidential race. Kerry bought his hunting license last Saturday in one of the most critical--Ohio, which has 20 electoral votes.
Kerry plans to deliver a new speech on faith this weekend in Florida, McCurry said, focusing on an explanation of his values. "The fact that Senator Kerry is a person of faith is something that might help voters who are undecided," McCurry said. Kerry has been explaining it more in recent weeks as he campaigns in socially conservative areas like rural Ohio. At a town hall meeting Saturday in Xenia, he talked about taking his rosary into battle during the Vietnam War. "I will bring my faith with me to the White House, and it will guide me," Kerry said.
The faith, the baseball, the hunting all come at the end of a long fight against Kerry's liberal elite image--an image promoted by his political enemies but perhaps aided by Kerry as well. The candidate disregarded concerns from other Democrats that he shouldn't go windsurfing or vacation at his homes on Nantucket, Mass., and in Idaho's ski country.