You have got big problems, and it aint going to work to act like they don't exist. Here's #1 for you to chew on: People don't like you. Democrats in general aren't crazy about you.
Sure, it's not your fault, per se. The media, even nominally neutral entities like the big networks and CNN, are being dragged along by the riptide stirred up by the shit laid on you by Fox. The Republicans fight dirty? Big surprise there.
But you have let them define you in the majority of citizens eyes. Even people who support you are disheartened by the constant drumbeat of the negative crap they see on TV and read in the papers, even when they know it's largely bullshit.
And your problem is right there -- you have failed to take control of how the public sees you. That sawed-off shit John O'Neill gets more airtime talking about you than you do. Until you figure out how to get people excited about you as a person, you can't hope to counter all that crap.
I saw you speak live in Iowa, and there's a side of John Kerry that's not getting out in front of the public. I see you as a very serious person who has always done what you sincerely thought was right rather than what was popular. You even seemed humble at times, as though you're really trying to do what's best for everyone, and that it's not about you. That's a laudable attitude in the abstract, and I hope you retain some humility as you go along.
Well here's the deal. It is about you. It's about whether people think that you will make good decisions. And you're the only person that can convince them of that. Sure the whole 'waffler' smear is stupid, but you can't just ignore it. You have to say over and over that a legislative career, because of politics, means that you end up on a lot of different sides of votes, and that it's easy to make a misleading attack ad by taking individual votes out of context.
And THEN you have to state the principles that will guide your decisions. Moreover you need to look at specific decisions that President Bush made, and say how you would have decided something different, and why. In sentences with no more than one subordinate clause, and completely free of subjunctive phrasing.
Starting today, you need to junk your current stump speech, as well. You're at your best when you talk plainly about concrete issues. Be careful about your facts. Don't just reel off talking points, or you're no better than President Bush.
You can't depend in this election on winning just because you're not George W Bush. Bush can be disarming and likeable. He likes to state simple solutions to problems simply. He smiles a lot. You always look like your hemmerhoids are acting up, or that your dog just died.
Anyway, good luck with your campaign. I'll be voting for you.
PS If you need some hot jams for your rallies, I can SO totally hook you up.