A long, long time ago, David Morehouse stood on the tarmac of the Phoenix Airport and looked wistfully up at Air Force One. The plan dwarfed John Kerry's campaign plane. Morehouse, a Senior Adviser to Kerry and part of the traveling staff said: "See that? That's our plane. We want it back." It didn't happen.
A long time ago, standing in Copley Square, Jim Loftus giggled and waved around a piece of paper with secret exit polling data. It was election night, and Loftus was the press wrangler in the Kerry communications shop. Said Loftus: "I feel the like the dumbest bastard in the room for saying this -- but they have a word for this, and they write it in BIG black print: A F**cking LANDSLIDE." He was.
A long time ago, slumped and exhausted, former Clinton Press Secretary Mike McCurry waxed philosophical as the Kerry Campaign bus whooshed through the Midwestern countryside. Said the always affable McCurry: "We've done all we can, we've made the case, we've introduced him to America. But you need to start connecting with people so they feel some emotional attachment to you." He didn't.
Four years ago, the polls were tight. The rhetoric heated. The political rallies massive. John Kerry had to win.
What did we learn from all the Swift Boat ads and waffle-wearing protesters? It appears, not much.
During the campaign, I worked with a remarkable team of filmmakers, political advisors, partners and friends to capture the inner workings of Kerry's run for President. Our cameras were in the green room, on campaign planes, and often up late into the morning as advisors, speech writers, and close aides worked tirelessly to remove George Bush from the White House.
We recorded more than 500 hours of footage. The adrenaline, exhaustion, and shear will of running for President can't be overstated. It is an inhuman effort. But the real question now, looking back four years, is what did we learn. What happened? And could it happen again?
Well, there are a bunch of reasons to decide for yourself. So, after much soul searching, we've decided to release "Inside The Bubble" with our friends at SnagFilms. You can see it here.
In watching the film I couldn't help by being struck by a few things that seem to echo from 2008 back to 2004.
First, polls seem to me to be not only dangerously wrong, but likely to give Democratic voters a false sense of security. Watching the election night through the eyes of the Kerry Team, it seems like they were the last ones to know they lost. While the rain drizzled down on the Black Eyed Peas in Copley Square, and Jon Bon Jovi is mumbling about it not mattering who wins tonight, since "We'll all wake up Americans", Tad Devine is in the Kerry War Room (where we had a camera) preparing to tell the press "We think New Hampshire may be the first Red State to turn into a Blue State in this election cycle." Spoiler Alert - it didn't. Devine goes on: "Minnesota looks like it's going to be a clear victory. And remarkably, in the Southwest, we've got Nevada, New Mexico, red states last time. We think we have a shot at winning both of them."
By 1:22am, the scene has changed. David Morehouse, Senior Campaign Policy Adviser is in his hotel room, on a cell phone: "What we're going to look for is for Ohio to be to close to call, if we have a one vote lead in that too close to call, we're coming out and declaring a victory, so we avoid what happened in 2000 which is that Bush looked like he'd won and we were trying to steal it from him."
If you're a Democrat, this film is going to make you angry. If your a Republican, it's going to fire you up. But in either case, putting your head in the sand, crossing your fingers, and watching the pollsters is a sure fire way to wake up on November 5th to find that things didn't turn out the way you'd hoped they would.
So, sit back. Relive the excitement and anticipation of 2004. And then remember what November 5th, 2004 felt like. If you liked it -- great. If not, it's time to get off the couch.
Follow Steve Rosenbaum on Twitter: www.twitter.com/waaywire