The convention has done a tremendous job in building John Kerry up as a war president, and John Kerry did a great job in connecting with the needs of soldiers serving in Iraq, addressing many issues of interest to them.
"We will add 40,000 active duty troops - not in Iraq, but to strengthen American forces that are now overstretched, overextended and under pressure. We will double our special forces to conduct antiterrorist operations. And we will provide our troops with the newest weapons and technology to save their lives and win the battle. And we will end the backdoor draft of the National Guard and reservists.
To all who serve in our armed forces today I say help is on the way."
Kerry and Edwards have put forth a very positive populist message, depicting the Democrats as the party for uniting America and asking for a positive campaign, while at the same time, Bill Clinton stated flat-out that the Republicans can only win by appealing to divisive politics, such as negative campaigning making gay marriage an issue.
This is a very smart tactic, because it undermines much of Bush's strategy for combatting Kerry. The Bush campaign is forced to either pull their punches or come off as too negative. What's worse, they are being pressured to run a campaign based on issues and on expanding the reach of the Republican Party to appeal popularly to the undecided middle. Frankly, that's not a task that I think the Republicans can credibly do at this point... and it's not for lack of populists in the Republican Party, but rather for lack of Republican populists in the Bush administration.
Ultimately, Bush lacks credibility at uniting people, both at home and abroad. It's pretty much an unprecidented thing for a president to be voted out of office in the midst of a war. The nearest thing we've had in recent times was Johnson choosing not to run again, but even then, Robert Kennedy was poised to win that year for the Democrats had he not been assassinated. Prior to that, you probably have to go back to Lincoln's near-loss to McClellan in 1864.
Bush better hope that he wins a few battles coming up, because even Lincoln was vulnerable once... and Bush is no Lincoln.