From the Trail: Carl Cameron's Campaign Notebook

Carl Cameron
FNC's Chief Political Correspondent Carl Cameron sends quick notes back from the campaign trail.  Look for them here just for FOX Fans!

Monday, 4/26/04: Republican Smear?

John Kerry campaign spokesperson Stephanie Cutter says Sen. Kerry is "fed up." Following Monday morning's appearance on “Good Morning America," Cutter says, "We did not want this debate. We didn't want to have to get into this, but if they keep hitting the senator on his military service, then they're going to get a fight." 

Confronted with video this morning that leaves the impression that Kerry threw his medals away in 1971 and not as he has said for years, just his ribbons, he lashed out on “Good Morning America” and raised questions about the president's attendance in the National Guard.

This is the first time that Kerry has aggressively and proactively gone after the president's Guard service. Various Kerry staffers Monday morning have described and expressed a level of anger and feistiness that has not appeared in Kerry's campaign since last fall when he pulled his campaign out of New Hampshire and moved everything to Iowa to attack Howard Dean.

Kerry has a long history of a meandering campaign style that lacks focus and attention in the early stages. In most of his political campaigns Kerry has reached a point where he has suddenly become very combative and has often scratched his way back into a race from the trailing position and ultimately won Senate re-election.

The Kerry campaign treats the medal issue as a "Republican smear." But they say they welcome it and consider it an opportunity because "it reminds voters of Vietnam and George Bush can't compete," said Cutter.

The president "can't prove his attendance in the Guard" during Vietnam, and Dick Cheney said he had "other priorities," said Cutter.

Finally, Kerry has faced this in every election and has beaten it, Cutter said.

Thursday, 4/8/04: Breaking the Rules?

In a move sure to spark controversy, a founding member of the left-leaning online political special interest group is resigning to join the John Kerry campaign and coordinate the Democratic presidential candidate's online campaign.

FOX News has learned Zack Exley has left and joined Kerry's campaign Wednesday. and its various political action committees have been one of the staunchest critics of the Bush administration on the War on Terror and the economy.

By raising money over the Internet and paying millions of dollars for newspaper and TV ads attacking the president, has become one of the most prominent voices among Democratic critics of the Bush administration.

Federal law prohibits presidential campaigns from "coordinating" with outside special interest groups. While some communication is allowed, campaigns and special interest groups are prohibited from coordinating their messages and ad buys.

Republicans have long said such outside special interest groups are violating special laws by running ads that clearly advocate the defeat of President Bush, even though the exact words "vote for Kerry” or “defeat Bush" do not appear in the ads.

The Bush-Cheney re-election campaign and the RNC have already filed a complaint with the Federal Election Committee and last week asked the FEC to stand down on considering the complaint so that the GOP could take it directly to federal court.

Several special interest groups, known as 527s for the section of the tax code that creates them, have close ties to the Kerry campaign. The Media Fund is run by former Kerry campaign manager Jim Jordan.

For Zach Exley, formerly of, to join the Kerry campaign will prompt immediate GOP criticism. spokesman tells FOX News that Exley will cut off all communication with his former colleagues and work exclusively for the Kerry campaign within the law.