John Kerry's official announcement Monday that he is running for the presidency provided the British and Canadian press with an opportunity to poke fun at the hapless candidates. A commentator in the London Times observed that a recent survey showed that "[d]espite nearly eight months of campaigning, two thirds of voters were unable to name a single one of the nine presidential contenders," a "bracing reminder," he claimed, "of how far the [Democratic] party's eventual candidate has to go to capture sufficient public imagination for a successful bid for the White House." An op-ed in Canada's Globe and Mail looked forward to the November 2004 contest: "It will be President George W. Bush next fall against … fill in the blank. Blank is a good way to describe not only the eventual Democratic nominee, but the entire field of would-be Democratic candidates." The Independent agreed that the options were uninspiring: "[The Democrats] have a colourless, conventional, north-easterly bunch of contenders. The party may have to settle on a single candidate early or look further afield if it is to have the slightest chance of beating even a wounded George Bush."
The Financial Times was unimpressed by Kerry's campaign kickoff: "As a piece of opportunistic political theatre it was unedifying." Kerry's problem, the paper said, was shared by rivals John Edwards, Richard Gephardt, and Joseph Lieberman: They supported policies—especially over Iraq—that have left the United States isolated "when they seemed popular. They may quibble over the diplomacy but they voted to authorise war last October. Only [Howard] Dean has the credibility to attack a policy that now looks less appealing." The Times warned that Kerry's "repeated references to his Vietnam past carries risks. The monotony may tarnish a unique selling point."
Elsewhere, the Times declared, "It is startling what silly things a seasoned politician will do to become President of the United States." Among the "tacky" signs of "increasing desperation" identified by the author: the Great Gephardt Iowa Pie Challenge, "a call to Iowans to find him the 'tastiest, flakiest, fruitiest, creamiest most scrumptious slice of pie in Iowa' "; a Lieberman team contest that offers New Hampshire voters who spot one of his campaign vehicles a chance to score tickets to a Red Sox game; and Kerry raffling off the opportunity to spend a day on the campaign trail with him. President Bush, in contrast, has no rivals for the Republican nomination: "He regularly turns up at a campaign event, delivers the same speech with the same jokes, and walks away with another $4 million. No gimmicks needed."