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The 2004 Presidential Election was one of the hottest re-election campaigns in history. President George Bush and Senator John Kerry fought hard for America's vote. And as a result voters flocked to the polls.
"I think the reason so many people turned out to volunteer, turned out to vote, turned out to be small donors is because both George Bush and John Kerry talked about the big issues," said Bush-Cheney campaign manager Ken Mehlman.
Mehlman and Kerry-Edwards campaign manager, Mary Beth Cahill held a forum at the George Bush Presidential Library Wednesday afternoon.
Mehlman said the 2004 presidential campaign was one of strong political parties. Cahill agreed and said a major challenge for the democrats had to do with finances. Cahill said from March to May there was no money for television ads.
"And then the fact that the democratic convention was about 5 weeks before the republican convention, we had both accepted federal financing, thus, it was incumbent on us to try to hold on to our money through August," said Cahill.
In a question and answer session, Cahill and Mehlman talked about a polarized country. Many don't dispute that America is divided over such issues as Iraq, abortion, and gay marriage. Mehlman said it's because many of these issues are being decided in courtrooms, not the voting booth.
"One of the great things about democracy is that it's cleansing, we can argue it out. We have a vote, you win, I accept it, but if a judge takes the decision out of a public forum to be decided, then neither side feels like they had their day in court so to speak," said Mehlman.
In the end, audience members wanted to know how the democratic party plans on staying strong after such a loss.
"The people who are going to run in 2008 or the people who run for the Senate in 2006 have to find a way to be as appealing to young people as the campaigns were this year and to speak to their real concerns," said Cahill.
Mehlman added that the republican party will continue to work on securing social security as a way to attract young voters. He also sees new technology as a way to fuel grassroots campaigns.