Campaign countdown: What the hell to do about Kevin?
Kevin Rudd last night gave his his first real interview since being knifed as Prime Minister while still recovering from the knife of the surgeon. Both wounds are evidently still very painful.
A very frail sounding Rudd spoke to a very sympathetic Phillip Adams and confirmed that he would campaign for Julia Gillard and attend the Labor Party launch, but on a couple of conditions:
I will be there but on the condition that I don’t have a major relapse before then and secondly, that I’m not a distraction from what I think is a pretty serious debate about what sort of future we want for our country and I don’t think it’s a debate which we can allow - with only two and half weeks to go before D Day, that we can’t allow to be trivialised.
He’s right about the need not to trivialise the election. But it’s no trivial thing to have the bloke who was the Prime Minister only a few weeks ago, watch on as the woman who deposed him makes her headline campaign speech.
So what’s Kevin to do? Stay at home and he’s a destabilising force, go along and he’s a destabilising force. It’s like attending an ex-girlfriend’s wedding without the opportunity to get drunk.
My advice would be to call a sickie. Rudd was making it very clear to Adams last night that he was in a lot of pain, enough to literally floor him when he had the initial attack:
I was sitting down to write a few thoughts down and suddenly I felt a little uncomfortable in the mid-section and then it spread and then it spread and then I was curled up in a ball on the floor.
He stressed that the surgery he’s undergone is no walk in the park and would have to be seeing a specialist; so just run with that and send along a herogram to the launch.
Some Labor insiders are tipping an emotional reunion, on stage hands in the air together style, but that would just be confusing for everyone involved - the electorate included.
Rudd also denied that he was the source of recent leaks that are savaging Julia Gillard’s chances election, albeit in a classically Kevin kind of way:
I said that in response to a question concerning the Laurie Oakes story and consistent with that plainly the position I’ve adopted is one you honour the cabinet processes. So the source isn’t from me. I see Mr Tanner had things to say today. You know there are lots of people out there who have access to Government information, lots and lots.
He also took a swipe at his confidant turned biographer assassin David Marr, who wrote such a scathing assessment of the ex-Prime Minister’s personality:
Look I think if people are going to engage in pop-psychoanalysis they should at least be qualified for it. So I will leave that little barb to one side.
But one thing was clearly evident from last night’s interview: Rudd is seriously concerned about an Abbott led Coalition taking out this election, and it’s his role now to stop that:
Well, the bottom line is I can’t just stand idly by at the prospect of Mr Abbott sliding into office by default.
He even went as far to warn against people casting protests against his political assassination:
That when people go to cast their ballot that they know, whatever their feelings are about recent developments and recent events related to me that that’s of second and third and fourth level importance, what’s at first level importance, absolute first level importance is the future direction of the country.
But whether it’s robust campaigning or conspicuous absence, Rudd is going to continue to be the huge elephant in the ALP party room for the rest of this campaign.
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