Republicans bank on wind power

Republicans bank on wind power

Mr Kerry's political enemies clearly were not satisfied to have perfected the art of using his Vietnam war history against him. Now they are picking on the Massachusetts senator's hobbies windsurfing, to be exact.

A new Bush-Cheney campaign advertisement shows Mr Kerry windsurfing and, as windsurfers tend to do, feinting left and right (his flip-flopping, as presented here, owes far more to the commercial's film production team than to Mr Kerry's own steering abilities).

It is a metaphor for his political positions, which shift “whichever way the wind blows”, the advert says, to the carefree strains of Strauss's Blue Danube Waltz. Not surprisingly, the Kerry campaign immediately called the new ad “silly”.

Internet dating gets all presidential

The campaigns for President George W. Bush and John Kerry, his Democratic presidential challenger, are not the only ones with grand strategies for winning the election. Voters are strategising too.

Groups at Votepair.org and Defeatbushagain.com, who support Mr Kerry, are hoping their matchmaking skills can make the difference in a close election. On the premise that some votes those in the swing states matter more than others, they aim to boost Mr Kerry's chances of carrying them and their crucial electoral votes.

The theory of vote-pairing goes thus: supporters of Ralph Nader would vote for Mr Kerry in the battleground states and Mr Kerry's supporters would vote for third-party candidates in states that are firmly Democratic or Republican.

The organisers hope that by getting voters to “pair up” in this way, they can transfer Mr Nader's support to the safe states and shift Mr Kerry's to the swing states where it is most needed.

While Mr Kerry's votes would increase in the fiercely contested states, third-party candidates would get the same number of popular votes they would have had anyway. Supporters of Mr Nader who was blamed by many for siphoning votes away from Mr Gore in 2000 could still make their point without costing Mr Kerry the election, goes the theory.

It didn't quite work in 2000 (when the idea was first tried). But the organisers may be hoping that, like internet dating, the practice becomes more fashionable this year.

School's in any excuse for a party

With Iraq and the war on terror at the forefront, education is trailing as an issue this year. But there is still reason to celebrate.

Tens of thousands of Americans across the country attended “house parties” yesterday with public education as the guest of honour. They met in schools (appropriately), living rooms, libraries, churches and community centres to discuss the US public education system and watch a video outlining the challenges facing schools.

Helen Hunt, the actress, and Ariana Huffington, the author, were expected to attend a gathering with other “notable guests” at a Hollywood venue in Los Angeles, according to National Education Association, one of the organisers of the initiative.

Discussing education may not be typical Hollywood party chit-chat, but given the popularity of Fahrenheit 9/11, maybe Ms Hunt is trying to cast herself as Tinseltown's next political heroine.

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