Wednesday, August 11, 2004

The Theresa Heinz Kerry Factor - Keeping Kerry in the Red

One of the factors that has not been really not been discussed by the major media yet is having a tremendous negative polling impact is Teresa Heinz Kerry.

America doesn't like her.

They didn't know anything about her and what they do know isn't particularly helping Kerry. As a matter of fact, the two words that most Americans associate with Teresa Kerry are "Shove it!"

Teresa Heinz Kerry was born Maria Teresa Thierstein Simões-Ferreira in Mozambique in 1938. She acquired a BA in Romance Languages from a university in South Africa. She worked for the UN as an interpreter and she can speak in five languages: English, Spanish, French, Italian, and her mother-tongue Portuguese. She married Henry Heinz III in 1966 and is the beneficiary of his portion of the Heinz ketchup fortune.

Her reputation as a 'wild card' who 'speaks her mind' is the PR code phrase for a woman who is a bit crazy. The "shove it" incident was caught on film and most Americans witnessed her berate a reporter who was quoting directly from her own speech. This could have been handled much better. America has repudiated the way it was handled. In stead of apologizing they defended her words and unjustified attack. Kerry supported his wife's statements and Hillary Clinton whose negatives are also high with the public came to her defense: The New York Senator gave her support for Teresa's comment and said "A lot of Americans are going to say, 'Good for you, you go, girl,' and that's certainly how I feel about it."

This plays well among the black women, its target audience, and perhaps among the less educated females in America who tend to vote Democratic regardless of who's running and who use abortion as their sole litmus test for a candidate, but it doesn't sit well with the undecided voters, the so-called soccer moms or most men. The fact that it was an unjustified attack stands out and that there was no apology or even a half-hearted attempt at smoothing things over really stuck in many Americans craw - and will end up adding votes for the man whose ranch is in Crawford.

Americans like fairness and the tone set by Teresa Heinz Kerry and advocated by Hillary Rodham Clinton was anything but fair. It was a "Shove it" all over again and this time to every American who would have apologized for getting the facts wrong and not even remembering what was written in their own speech.

When one is rich one already polls with higher negatives. It is all that much more important to appear positive, fair and not like a "rich b--ch" in the mold of Leona Helmsly. Having Hillary come out in support of the statement was a tactical error. It created a negative bond with the American public who remember Hillary's false accusations of the "right wing conspiracy" and that her husband would never cheat on her. In stead of establishing her own identity she has inherited the image of a much richer Hillary Rodham Clinton. That's not a real good place to be.

As a result Teresa Heinz Kerry is an anchor for John Kerry - the type that holds him in place. His support of her falsehood and unjustified attack just made him appear weaker. If he can't stand up for truth when his own wife makes a mistake, how on earth he going to stand up to terrorists or the desires of folks like Chirac and Schroeder? Folks were asking themselves that when they saw the way it was handled. I don't think the Kerry folks have any idea how to positively handle a PR crisis. The way they have handled the swiftboat veterans is just another example of this lock-down, shout-down practice exemplified by "Shove it!"

The American public doesn't elect a first lady, but subconsciously they are adverse to one who will be abusive and need to be right even when they are obviously wrong. After the convention and the failure to obtain a bounce, few pundits wanted to focus on the Theresa Heinz Kerry factor. The Kerry campaign can't afford to use the medias free pass and must establish some positives for Teresa Heinz Kerry. As it stands being an abusive, "outspoken" beneficiary to the Heinz ketchup fortune just isn't enough to win the hearts and minds of undecided voters.

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