As the campaign focus shifts to domestic policy in anticipation of the next two debates, the candidates mixed post-debate jabs into their weekend speeches on the home front. But if voters were hoping for news reports that elucidated actual policy positions, they didn’t get it in a Sunday piece by New York Times’ David Halbfinger on Kerry’s Saturday speech in Orlando, billed “A New Choice for Middle-Class Families.”

As one alert Campaign Desk reader pointed out, the report did not offer any details about the alternative choices that Kerry was ostensibly offering. The array of Kerry quotes that Halbfinger provided were limited to the candidate’s attacks on Bush’s economic record (and his jabs at Bush’s debate performance), with only two fleeting references to what Kerry would do:

By contrast, Mr. Kerry said he had a message for every “middle-class American family that’s struggling to build a better life for themselves and for their family: I’ve got your back. I’ve got your back because I know what you’re going through.”

Mr. Kerry has distilled his critique of Mr. Bush to four main areas in which he says he offers a better plan: jobs, health care, tax policy and energy policy.

Curious, we wondered, did Kerry really so miserably fail to outline what he might do in each of those areas?

So we checked out a transcript of his speech. And we found that the candidate did, in fact, spell out what he would do in specific detail.

Although there may be nothing new there for “been-there-done-that” reporters who have heard the stump speeches repeatedly, voters who are still figuring out what the candidates’ positions are, or who are just now turning their full attention to the campaign, still need to hear what choices are being offered.

Susanna Dilliplane

Susanna Dilliplane is a contributor to CJR.