Obama supporters and Clinton conspiracy theorists, relax. John Kerry is endorsing Barack Obama , but it’s not the kiss of death everybody thinks. Sure, it recalls Al Gore’s endorsement of Howard Dean in 2004, but as Chris Cillizza notes , this is a different ballgame. Nor is Kerry a Hillary Clinton plant intended to ruin Obama’s change momentum. Most likely, this will end up being a very quiet, behind-the-scenes partnership in the long run.
It’s hard to remember, but
think back to Pat Robertson’s endorsement
of Rudy Giuliani. We haven’t heard anything from Mr.
since. Giuliani needed Robertson to prove that his message jived with evangelicals, and then he needed Robertson to shut up.
Kerry isn’t as big of a liability, but he is the dour face of the Democratic base that Obama is trying to transcend. (Plus, Kerry did have that nasty soldiers-are-dumb moment in 2006.) For Obama, Kerry is a gateway to the Democratic establishment that can make his change message even more legitimate and a key resource in the fund-raising battle with Hillary Clinton.
If Edwards continues to fade, the Democratic race will be a one-on-one showdown where money will play an even more important role than it did in small, retail-politics states. The candidates will be holding more rallies and fewer house parties since they need to hit multiple states before Feb. 5. That means ads are their most important surrogates—and that means money is their most important asset.
The real worry for Obama fans is not the curse; it’s that Kerry didn’t even think the endorsement was a boon to Obama back in December. According to the New York Times , Kerry had made his support for Obama known to the campaign before Iowa’s caucuses, but everybody decided to hold off on a public announcement until after New Hampshire. Maybe they were worried about the curse, or maybe they were worried about Kerry weighing Obama’s hope message down. Either way, I doubt we’ll be hearing from Kerry too often.