Lockhart to Coelho: Call us when you win something

By Geraldine Sealey

Published September 16, 2004 3:29PM (EDT)

You may have seen the headlines this week: "Top Dem rips Kerry campaign." The "top Dem" in question is Tony Coelho, the former House majority whip who resigned early on from running Al Gore's campaign in 2000. He is also known for taking charge of the 1994 congressional midterm elections for Dems, only to suffer the worst defeat in decades. But when he says publicly that the Kerry campaign is in chaos, people listen, especially reporters.

Coelho's complaints about the Kerry campaign were frank and cutting. There's no national message. There is noone in charge. And most recently, the Kerry campaign's addition of Clintonistas like James Carville, Paul Begala, Joe Lockhart and Mike McCurry, who are at odds with campaign manager Mary Beth Cahill and strategist Bob Shrum, will only make things worse, Coelho charges. "You have these two teams that are generally not talking to each other," he said. The internal strife is fueled by money, Coelho says. "Because in the Democratic Party the consultants get paid for the creation and the placement of [advertising]. Republicans only pay you for the creation."

Needless to say, the Kerry campaign has not received Coelho's comments warmly -- and say they aren't taking them seriously, either. In a jab that sounds a lot like recent murmuring about Bob Shrum, Lockhart tells Salon: "We get a lot of advice from a lot of quarters. We tend to take it from people who won something."

Geraldine Sealey

Geraldine Sealey is senior news editor at Salon.com.

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