The GOP's "Heidi game."

Dispatches from Campaign 2004.
Nov. 1 2004 2:56 AM

The GOP's 'Heidi Game'

Does Bush now have a sports gaffe of his own?

ORLANDO—The South Florida Sun-Sentinel buried this nugget Sunday in a story about the late delivery of 2,500 absentee ballots in Broward County: WPLG-Channel 10, an ABC affiliate in the Miami-Fort Lauderdale area, aired a half-hour chunk of Stolen Honor, the 43-minute anti-Kerry documentary, on Saturday. The time was purchased by Newton Media, a Virginia-based media placement company that says it was founded "on biblical principles" and that includes a number of "media ministries" among its clients.

Angry callers "flooded the customer service phone lines" at the station for airing the program, the Sun-Sentinel reported. A liberal backlash? No, just sports fans upset that the Michigan-Michigan State football game, "tied, 37-37, and about to go into overtime," was pre-empted. Doesn't anyone at Newton Media know the story of the "Heidi game"? Could this be the Republicans' "Lambert Field moment"?

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Will the election really be close? On the eve of the Iowa caucuses, journalists and campaign staffers sat in the bar at the Hotel Fort Des Moines and talked about what an exciting, unpredictable, four-way race for the Democratic nomination was about to unfold. The polls were tied. No one professed to have any idea what was about to happen. The unknown factor was an influx of new caucus participants. Many experts predicted that we would be up all night before we could discern the winner. But John Kerry was pronounced the decisive winner as soon as the caucuses ended. (Likewise, few expected a nail-biter in the 2000 general election.)

Florida3: If Kerry loses in Florida and the rest of the map goes as expected (meaning no upsets in Arkansas, New Jersey, or elsewhere), he'll need to carry Hawaii, Michigan, New Mexico, New Hampshire, Ohio, and two of the "Little Three": Iowa, Minnesota, and Wisconsin, to get to 270 electoral votes. With Florida, Kerry coasts to victory. Without Florida, he pretty much needs to run the table to win.

At least he's not traveling with Maurice Chevalier. Bruce Springsteen and John Kerry will appear together again on Monday. But is Springsteen the wrong symbol for a Democratic candidate? The Boss and his fan base, after all, are reminiscent of the caricature of limousine liberals: aging yuppies in BMWs who are either hopelessly trying to recapture their past glory or desperately trying to show that they're in touch with the working man. It's akin to Bush traveling with Hank Williams Jr. But in the unlikely event that the Springsteen does resonate politically, Kerry will owe another debt to his former campaign manager Jim Jordan, who chose "No Surrender" as Kerry's theme song. (Jordan also lobbied for Kerry to use his successful "Bring it on" mantra early in the primaries, but the idea was nixed by Bob Shrum.)

For those scoring at home: Here's where the candidates and their wives will be on the last day of campaigning before Election Day. Both Bush and Kerry have abandoned their typically lightly scheduled campaign days for a last-day whirlwind:

Kerry begins the day here in Orlando, then heads to Wisconsin, Michigan, Ohio (twice), then back to Wisconsin. On Tuesday, he'll do a morning event in Wisconsin—"Because Wisconsin is a same-day registration state, we'll be doing a turnout event," Mike McCurry told reporters—then head home to Massachusetts.

Edwards visits Minnesota, Iowa, Ohio, and Florida, then spends all day Tuesday in Florida before heading to Massachusetts for Kerry's Election Night rally.

President Bush spends Monday in Ohio, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Iowa (twice), New Mexico, and Texas, while the Cheneys take the red-eye back from Hawaii and do events in Colorado, Nevada (twice), then head home to Wyoming.

Teresa Heinz Kerry stays in her home state of Pennylvania, while Elizabeth Edwards travels to Wisconsin, Ohio (twice), and Iowa. Laura Bush starts the day with the president in Ohio, then she has separate events in Ohio and Michigan before joining up again with the president in Iowa.

The best news of the weekend: The Packers-Redskins game could have ended in a tie. It didn't.

Chris Suellentrop is the deputy editor for blogs at Yahoo News and a contributing writer for the New York Times Magazine. He has reviewed video games for Slate, Rolling Stone, and NewYorker.com. Follow him on Twitter.

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