As I see it, what Kerry needs to do tonight is call George Bush more strongly than ever on his out-of-touch mentality and non-starter agenda on the economy, healthcare, housing, homeland security, and foreign policy (really shouldn’t be hard to do given the mountains of evidence and the damning lived experience of Americans, so he better not screw it up), and connect personally with the voters in the room and thus vicariously with the ones on TV (doesn’t seem to be his strong suit, but I’m rooting for him).
Good news is, Bush can’t just make hopeful, earnest promises this time around. Unless, that is, he manages to convince America that he’s been born again again since the last debate, and so his record from his first term, like the way he spent the early part of his life, is off-limits. I honestly think a partial acknowledgement of some mistakes, domestically or abroad, would humanize Bush and pull some of his 2000 supporters back onto the reservation. But his strategists, based on the two debates so far, seem to think that would bring down the whole house of cards. So his marching orders seem to be denying all errors and pinning all problems on terrorism or Clinton. Which offers some great opportunities to John Kerry to take him down – if he knows how to use them.