'04 Campaign Manager Ken Mehlman:
...and I felt that not only did you hear a lot from the Vice President, but what you didn't hear from John Edwards was deafening.
Reporter: So the main criticism is what he didn't say?
Well it's not the main criticism, it's the main revelation. They've got the best lawyer in America on the ticket and he couldn't defend the Kerry record, he couldn't defend 30 years of being wrong with defense, he couldn't defend how could you say you're for middle class tax cuts and then miss the votes, he couldn't defend how is it that you cannot be able to stand up to Howard Dean but be the right guy to stand up to the terrorists.
And he had some interesting ideas that I don't think most Americans agree that the way to [inaud.] with the problem of medical liability is to put lawyers in charge of lawyers. As a former lawyer myself, you know, it's an interesting professional idea, but I don't think it's the right thing for the country.
Bush-Cheney '04 Campaign Manager Ken Mehlman, take two:
...and you know what you heard from John Edwards. You heard him unable to defend a Kerry record that is indefensible. They put the best lawyer in America on the ticket and even he couldn't explain how is it that you can say you're for middle class tax cuts and then miss the vote on middle class tax cuts? How is it that you can claim you want to create small business jobs but be in favor of taxing the very small businesses that create the jobs. So whether it was the war on terror or the economy, John Edwards is a great lawyer, he makes a great case, but even he couldn't defend the Kerry record. And the Vice President provided specifics on how he'd create jobs...
Bush-Cheney '04 Communications Director Nicole Devenish:
...he is a convincing fellow and he really can swing juries and make a case as well as anyone, but he wasn't able tonight to defend the record of John Kerry.
And you know two things that I thought that really struck me. One, I think the money line of the night was the Vice President's line that if you can stand up to Howard Dean how on earth are you going to stand up to Al Quaeda. And Americans really have to think about that. Americans have to mull over how two guys who don't have any convictions of their own, including the convictions to stand up to Howard Dean, how are they going to stand up to a terror network...
2004 Senior Advisor Joe Lockhart:
...he held Dick Cheney accountable on the issues of Iraq and foreign policy and terrorism, and Dick Cheney couldn't, could not bring himself to even admit to what he'd previously said, much less admit to the mistakes they've made.
I think the public see that and they hear a loud and clear message which is these guys aren't being straight with us, they're not being candid.
John Edwards couldn't have been clearer at the beginning. In his first answer he said you're not being straight with us. Here's your opportunity, correct those mistakes. He couldn't do it.
On the domestic policy issues, I think they should have employed the mercy rule. The Vice President didn't even seem interested in defending the Administration. We're here in Cleveland, with the largest big city poverty rate, 237,000 jobs lost in the state, and he couldn't even get the word jobs out of his mouth. It seemed to struggle out and sort of come out right at the end.
The don't want to talk about the economy, they really can't talk about health care, he mumbled a little bit about education in there. It was a clear victory for Edwards.