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Wednesday, September 01, 2004 - Sources: Democratic leaders urge Kerry campaign changes - Aug 31, 2004 - Sources: Democratic leaders urge Kerry campaign changes - Aug 31, 2004: "Sources: Democratic leaders urge Kerry campaign changes
Campaign refutes reports of shake-up
Tuesday, August 31, 2004 Posted: 6:19 PM EDT (2219 GMT)
NEW YORK (CNN) -- Democratic leaders, increasingly concerned that John Kerry's presidential campaign is adrift, are urging the presidential nominee to make changes in his staff before Labor Day, according to some party sources.
If not, said one party strategist, 'it could be too late.' Sources say major changes could come at the campaign's highest level.
The concern, according to these sources, is that Kerry has failed to effectively respond to attacks from Republicans and criticism of his military service in Vietnam, particular ads from a group calling itself Swift Boat Veterans for Truth.

Several campaign sources dismissed talk of a "major" shake-up. But these sources acknowledge there will be some changes in the coming days and some "evolving roles" at the campaign's senior level.

"We don't have a Carville or a Begala," said a senior Kerry official, referring to Democratic strategists James Carville and Paul Begala, who masterminded Bill Clinton's successful 1992 campaign. "We can't mimic what happened in 1992."

The worry voiced by some Democrats comes as Republicans meet in New York for their nominating convention.

Much of the Democrats' criticism -- which is coming from donors, top strategists and elected officials -- was directed at Mary Beth Cahill, who was hired to run Kerry's campaign after the senator fired campaign manager Jim Jordan in late 2003. Democrats are also urging the candidate to overhaul his media strategy, led by communications director Stephanie Cutter.

There's no indication that Kerry will fire Cahill or Cutter, or change their titles. Cahill has spent the past several days with Kerry at his home in Nantucket, and she also met with the candidate at a private home Monday for 90 minutes. Kerry met with her again, along with his finance chairman, Louis Susman, on Tuesday morning.

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