Ah hah! I've found some references from 2000. I was right: the media treated the Gore campaign much as they are now treating Kerry's.
[T]he contrast with Texas Gov. Bush could hardly be sharper. From the beginning, Bush has relied on a hometown trio: chief strategist Karl Rove, campaign manager Joe Allbaugh and communications director Karen Hughes. Despite little experience in presidential campaigns, they have moved through this year's difficult GOP primaries and into the general election winning credit, by and large, for being sure-footed and tight-lipped.
Gore, running in his fourth national campaign, has gone through repeated upheavals in a campaign marked by shifting strategies and second-guessing. Staff shake-ups last September and again last month have brought on board and elevated a revamped cast at the top of the campaign.
Several senior Gore advisers interviewed at the campaign headquarters here and elsewhere in the country acknowledged that there was unease on several fronts. They said the campaign had drifted and lost focus since the primaries. They expressed concern that Mr. Bush's move to placate moderates after his sharp turn to the right in the primaries was more swift and successful than they expected.
Gore's problem, though, is that he's been struggling for well over a year to introduce -- and reintroduce -- himself to voters. To define and redefine himself. Eight years the understudy, he has been overshadowed by President Clinton and denied credit for the nation's prosperity.
One of Gore's biggest hurdles, reflected in the polls, is that at least four of 10 Americans don't like him, won't vote for him and haven't shown much inclination to change their minds.
Kerry's people should be concerned that most of Gore's turmoil occured before the DNC convention. Gore surged from that show and pulled into a slight lead shortly thereafter. Kerry has be dropping in public opinion and in the race ever since his convention. He will not have another chance to surge until October. That means a whole lot of pressure on him.