Pander-monium: After Democratic Presidential candidate John Kerry left Bowling Green last week, he headed his bus tour north to Taylor, Mich., where he held an evening rally much like those he had held the two previous nights in Harrisburg, Penn., and Zanesville, Ohio.
At the afternoon rally in B.G., he told the crowd there was no way he was going to try to pick a favorite between the Falcons and the University of Toledo Rockets, but he did say the Ohio State University Buckeyes were great.
In Taylor, he began talking again about Ohio football, saying he "was smart enough not to pick a choice between the Falcons and the, you know, all the other teams out there," reported the Boston Globe.
That was a small mistake. Then came the big one: "I just go for Buckeye football. That's where I'm coming from."
Some boos tipped him off that he had made a mistake, somehow forgetting that he had not long before crossed into Michigan, land of the maize and the blue.
He recovered: "That's while I was in Ohio. Now I'm in Michigan, and your great big M and a powerhouse of a team, and the bottom line is all of use are still waiting for Massachusetts to somehow get in there."
An innocent mistake. Given how much these candidates travel, it's really amazing they don't forget where they are more often. But President Bush, on a trip to Saginaw Thursday evening, took notice of the Kerry slip-up.
"The other day in Ohio he said there's nothing better than Buckeye football, period," Mr. Bush said of his opponent, drawing deep howls from the Republican crowd.
"Then he came to Michigan. There he told the crowd, quote, 'I go for Buckeye football. That's where I'm coming from,' " the President continued. "That's not what the Michigan folks were expecting to hear."
"Then he remembered where he was, and he called an audible. He said the University of Michigan was a powerhouse team," Mr. Bush said. "You see, my opponent is a Washington politician whose taken both sides of just about every issue - including Big Ten football."
The dig, of course, is the latest chapter in the Republican charge against Mr. Kerry that he changes stances on issues. The idea crystalized around a now-famous television ad that features video of Mr. Kerry explaining his vote against an $87 billion appropriation to fund military operations in Iraq. In that video, Mr. Kerry said he actually voted for the $87 billion before he voted against it He had earlier voted to authorize the war.
At the end of an interview with The Blade after his B.G. rally, he said had never viewed that 30-second Bush ad with the "$87 billion" quote.
"I haven't seen them. I don't even know what they are saying," he said. "I'm sure it's had some impact because I've seen it in some polling data that people wind up saying 'Oh, he's a this.' They can't tell you one thing about me other than where they've heard again and again and again, so it probably has a little impact," he said.
Does this disappoint him?
"Of course it does," he said. "I've said to the President on several occasions, let's have a positive, uplifting campaign. If you have a better vision for solving Social Security, let's hear it. But don't distort my record, don't mislead the American people again about something."
Early into his post-convention cross-country campaign tour, Mr. Kerry began warming up crowds who came to hear him with a little self-deprecating humor, sometimes well-executed, sometimes not so much.
Touting the fact that actor Ben Affleck, who like Mr. Kerry has roots in Boston, was his opening act, he said he was "traveling in tough company. I've got John Edwards and Ben Affleck," he told an October-sized crowd gathered for an nighttime rally in front of the regal Pennsylvania state capitol building in Harrisburg. "John Edwards was named the sexiest politician by People magazine. Ben Affleck was named the sexiest man on Earth by People magazine. I feel like the answer to that S.A.T. question: 'Which one is different?' "
At another stop he offered a variation to introduce his running mate: "He's named John. I'm named John. He's a lawyer, I'm a lawyer. He was named the sexiest politician in America by People magazine ... and I read People magazine."