Secrets of Past Elections Revealed! (2004)


After every presidential election since 1984, Newsweek has printed the best gossipy stories, revealing all the whining and backbiting of America's greatest spectacle. Linda Rodriguez has gone through Newsweek's archives to pick out some memorable moments from recent elections. Today she wraps up with Bush v. Kerry.

In the midst of the Iraq War, on the heels of September 11, George Bush sought re-election. Everyone knows he won, but here's what happened backstage.

Cassandra complexes

It was a difficult election year for George W. Bush, 43rd president of the United States, and his daughters knew it "“ in fact, Jenna Bush, one of George's twin daughters, had a dream that her father lost the election. Though better known for boozing it up than for prescient dreams, Jenna took the dream seriously "“ it so frightened her that she and her sister, who had previously remained aloof from the political process, began campaigning for their father.

Alexandra Kerry, John Kerry's 30-something daughter, also had a premonition of sorts "“ unfortunately for the Massachusetts senator, however, his daughter's vision came true. After a particularly brutal day out on the campaign trail stumping for her father, Alexandra broke down weeping in her father's arms. She told the elder Kerry that she believed the Republicans would steal the election. Kerry comforted her in response, saying that he wouldn't let that happen.

Alexandra, a budding filmmaker herself, also worried about her father's stiff appearance on TV "“ so much so that she jokingly offered filmmaker Stephen Spielberg $5 to talk to her dad about how to come across better on television.

Money talks "“ and so does John Kerry

Kerry did his best to make sure that the Republicans didn't steal the election, including recruiting an army of 10,000 lawyers. Kerry, like Bush, also had access to some of the best political minds in the nation. Unlike Bush, however, Kerry couldn't seem to keep himself from calling them. He called them so much that his handlers took away his cell phone "“ twice.

Both candidates could afford the cleverest political operatives "“ this was the first election that broke the $1 billion campaign barrier, and both candidates had amassed more money than had ever been raised in presidential campaign in American history. Of course, the power of $1 billion in available campaign funds is a little undermined when your opponent has also raised the same amount, but that didn't seem to matter to our would-be presidents.

The bipartisan administration that could have been

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John Kerry so badly wanted Republican Sen. John McCain to be his running mate that he offered to substantially "“ and officially "“ expand the role of the veep to include Secretary of Defense and complete control of the administration's foreign policy. McCain flatly refused, saying, "You're out of your mind. I don't even know if it's constitutional, and it certainly wouldn't sell."

The little known "Palme de Bitch-Slap" award

Mark McKinnon, the man behind Bush's television ad campaign, awarded himself his own highest praise for the "Troops-Fog" ad, which portrayed John Kerry as a flip-flopper on the issue of the Iraq war. The award was "the coveted Palme de Bitch-Slap," he called it, a play on the Canne Film Festival's Palme d'Or honor. For his birthday that year, a few fellow campaign staffers bought him a small golden "Palme de Bitch-Slap" statuette, which McKinnon proudly displayed on top of his television.

Karl Rove, Miller man

Among chief campaign strategist and possible Sith lord Karl Rove's favorite words and phrases: "Bloviate" (in reference to Kerry's debate style), "Yeah baby!" "Attawaytogo!" and "It's Miller time!" During the campaign, Rove also conducted Saturday morning planning meetings with a group he called "The Breakfast Club."

Super T rocks the White House

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Previously: 1984, 1988, 1992, 1996, 2000