Kerry Campaign Denies 'Shake-Up'
Byline: Charles Hurt, THE WASHINGTON TIMES
CANONSBURG, Pa - Democratic presidential nominee Sen. John Kerry's campaign spokesmen yesterday denied that there's a "shake-up" of the campaign, despite the infusion of new Democratic blood into the staff and an overhaul of the candidate's stump speech.
Under new directions from former President Bill Clinton - the only Democrat to win the White House in a quarter of a century - Mr. Kerry is shedding talk of his own Vietnam War record. He spent Labor Day blaming President Bush for current economic conditions, which he invokes the Great Depression to describe.
"The problem is very clear, isn't it?" Mr. Kerry said. "Wages going down, cost of living going up, jobs that replace them pay less, standard of living goes down. John Edwards and I believe we can raise the standard of living in America again."
Despite the signs that Mr. Kerry is revamping his campaign team as Mr. Bush reaches a double-digit lead over him in the polls, the campaign adamantly says it isn't so.
"There is no shake-up," spokesman David Wade said. "In the last 60 days of the election, we've been lucky enough to add some tested, talented people to the campaign."
The rewritten stump speech also comes after Mr. Clinton conferred with Mr. Kerry this weekend by telephone from his New York hospital room, where he was preparing for quadruple heart-bypass surgery. Mr. Kerry's speech and campaign team have adopted the theme that Mr. Clinton used to beat President Bush's father in 1992 - "It's the economy, stupid."
In an early morning front-porch gathering here yesterday, Mr. Kerry's opening remarks focused entirely on economic and domestic issues.
He didn't mention the war in Iraq or his service in Vietnam - usually staples of his stump speech - until supporters in the audience raised the issues.
Even then, Mr. Kerry used those opportunities to guide the informal neighborhood conversation back to domestic issues.
After one supporter rose to call Mr. Kerry "a true American hero" for his service in Vietnam and apologize on behalf of "those who have not served who had the audacity to question you," Mr. Kerry thanked him and quickly returned to the economy.
"What bothers me is they're using it to cover the attacks on you," Mr. Kerry said of the television commercials produced by Swift Boat Veterans for Truth that questioned some of his conduct during the Vietnam War.
"They're using it to cover what's really happening to your budget. They're using it to not explain to America why outsourcing jobs, they think, is something to celebrate," he said.
Mr. Kerry has hired several campaign strategists who once worked for Mr. Clinton and earlier Democratic candidates.
Former White House spokesman Joe Lockhart joined the campaign last week and has been traveling with Mr. …