Could this sink the Kerry campaign? Yes and no.
If it is traced back to the Kerry campaign or the DNC then they can minimize the damage. They fire someone and issue a statement about it being a rogue operation. They could even say that the staffer was simply recreating documents that must have existed.
The real damage is threefold:
- With less than two months to the election, any time the Kerry campaign spends explaining itself is time lost from campaigning.
- The Kerry campaign has been countering the SwiftVets by saying that they lied. With a dirty trick on their own record the SwiftVets look pretty clean.
- With no message, the Democrats keep hoping to derail Bush by raising questions about his service record. This is the 4th or 5th time it has come up. It doesn't stick but they keep trying.