Former President Bill Clinton offered John Kerry advice on how to reinvigorate his candidacy, and Mr. Kerry enlisted more Clinton advisers for his campaign. By By ADAM NAGOURNEY and DAVID M. HALBFINGER.
The conversation and the recruitment of old Clinton hands came amid rising concern among Democrats about the state of Mr. Kerry's campaign and criticism that he had been too slow to respond to attacks on his military record or to engage Mr. Bush on domestic policy. Among the better-known former Clinton aides who are expected to play an increasingly prominent role are James Carville, Paul Begala and Stanley Greenberg, campaign aides said.
"It's very simple," Mr. Johnson said in an interview yesterday, describing what he said would be the template for Mr. Kerry's speeches and advertisements in the weeks ahead. "It's: 'Bush has taken us in the wrong direction. If you want more of the same for the next four years, vote for President Bush. If you want a new direction, John Kerry and John Edwards.' It's not complicated. Failed policies, jobs and the economy, health care."
Mr. Begala, who said he would remain a CNN commentator, said he was delighted with the changes. He added that Mr. Bush had succeeded over the past month in transforming the race from a referendum on an incumbent president to a referendum on Mr. Kerry.
"It was an enormous shift," Mr. Begala said last night. Then, referring to Karl Rove, a top Bush strategist, he added: "And it required the cooperation of the candidate. And you know what? The Kerry campaign is no longer cooperating. Sorry, Karl."