Winning the White House may be thought of as a 2-step process of campaigning: first you must win the nomination, and then you must win the general election. These are two distinctly different campaigns. Generally, candidates play to party loyalists during the primary campaign and then move to the political middle for the general election.
Is it smart campaigning to attack members of your own party during the primary campaign? (I would argue that the primary campaign starts upon a candidate’s announcement of candidacy. Other critics refer to a pre-primary campaign from that point until the primary season–mostly a time of fund-raising and feeling out the electorate.) I suppose the best answer to that question is: It depends. What works? Often, the best you can do is float something into the news media and see how it plays.
Howard Dean is unimpressed with Sen. John Kerry’s stand on Iraq and said so yesterday.