And now a message from John Kerry

By Geraldine Sealey

Published May 20, 2004 3:19PM (EDT)

Drumroll, please. John Kerry has settled on a campaign theme, which could quiet the worries of all of those Democrats out there fretting over his supposed inability to communicate a coherent message, a rap that has prevented him, it seems, from getting equal time in the national media. One of the only network news stories on Kerry since April 1 was an NBC story that dwelled on the fact that Kerry's message was being drowned out.

But Kerry's trying to change all that, and hopes his newfound campaign slogan will help. The phrase is: "Let America be America again," derived from the title of a Langston Hughes poem, which Kerry referenced in his speech commemorating the 50th anniversary of Brown vs. Board of Education in Topeka, Kan. "For America to be America for any of us, America must be America for all of us," he said.

The Wall Street Journal reported today that Kerry settled on the phrase after toying with language in a three-day trip out West this week. Kerry told the Journal what it means: "What is it that makes us strong, and what do we have to do to get that back, to let America be America? Strength means people being able to do better in their jobs. Strength means having the courage to stand up to special interests that steal the agenda here in Washington. Strength is fighting to have health coverage for children," he says.

"After weeks of struggle, [Kerry] is increasingly confident that he can find the words and 'music' to break through with voters in the November general election," the Journal's David Rogers wrote. Kerry told the Journal why his message has been fuzzy thus far: "I've only had seven weeks really to be the 'nominee,' " he says, and much of that time has been consumed with fund-raising. "Now I'm able to take the time to refine the lessons I've learned and peoples' stories ... and convey it in a very simple straightforward way. And I think it is coming together."

Geraldine Sealey

Geraldine Sealey is senior news editor at

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