Friday, April 04, 2003

Clock's running, John...

The AP is reporting that John Edwards is well aware that he has a decision to make: Senate or White House. His North Carolina poll numbers are suffering as he spends most of his time either in the Senate or campaigning for the Democratic nomination. State law allows him to run for both (ala Lieberman as both VP and CT Sen in 2000), but North Carolinians aren't going to let that happen. And even if they would let that happen, the state GOP won't.

"The longer he stays out, the more damage he does to his chances to be re-elected," said Bill Cobey, chairman of the North Carolina Republican Party.

Should Edwards pursue the presidency, Erskine Bowles is ready to run again (even though he lost to Elizabeth Dole back in November). People in both parties are apparently expecting Edwards' decision to come this fall.

posted by Scott | 4/04/2003 | |

Thursday, April 03, 2003

According to the AP's Political Notebook, Howard Dean has reached a deal with Simon & Schuster to publish a book on his life and campaign platform in November of 2003. "In it, the former Vermont governor will discuss his positions on health care, social justice, education, balancing the federal budget and the environment."

No comment from the campaign and no hint as to the title. David Rosenthal at Simon & Schuster, however, did comment, "Howard Dean has captured the imagination of the media and many party activists... This book is a chance for him to present his platform and ideology to the broadest public."

Great news for the Dean campaign, who I'm sure jumped at the opportunity to talk about something other than Iraq for a change.

PS - Dean has also joined Gary Hart as another blogging Dem...

posted by Scott | 4/03/2003 | |

Wednesday, April 02, 2003

Ladies and gentlemen, we have an issue...

Allow me for a moment to be so pompous as to suggest that John Kerry is a better man for heeding my advice. As if that wasn't pompous enough, I'm now going to block quote myself:

Kerry's problem seems not to be staying on message, as his critics charge, but rather communicating that message to Democratic voters. ... [He] is a sitting U.S. Senator who not only has to keep the Democratic base happy (who may lean antiwar), but also has to work with pro-war senators in a few years should this whole presidency thing not work out. One would hope, however, that Kerry's service in Vietnam, coupled with his progressive legislative record, would give him a bit of a cushion with which to soften the impact of bold statements made one way or the other.

Well, apparently Mr. Kerry is either a big DemWatch fan or it's just another case of "great minds think alike." (Either way, it works out well for me, doesn't it?) In a speech delivered today at a library in New Hampshire, Kerry made the case that not only would he make a better president than W. (wouldn't they all...), but that America is going to need a new president when this war is over. America's image abroad has already suffered a great deal under the current administration's policies and it can afford no more, Kerry explains.

"Because of the depth of this breach, because of the anger that exists with many countries and their leaders ... I don't think they're going to trust this president no matter what." He added hopefully, "I believe we can have a golden age of American diplomacy."

Not content just to take on Team W's foreign policy, Kerry branched out on the offensive. On the administration's education platform, Kerry smartly criticized, "You can't build charter schools fast enough for an entire generation." It seems that, in addition to finding his cash flow, Senator Kerry has also begun to find his stride.

posted by Scott | 4/02/2003 | |

Three quick notes:

1. Fundraising.
It's a really sad commentary on the state of today's privately financed election process that one of the only stories on the presidential race able to seep through the cracks of wall-to-wall war coverage is about fundraising. Reducing the finance process to little more than a (w)horse race, much was made of John Edwards' ability to raise $7.9 million in Q1 2004. But here comes Kerry down the stretch, bringing in $7 million to add to the $2.9 million left over from his Senatorial fund. We know they can't run without the money, but that doesn't mean we have to like it...

2. Gary Hart.
The man is spending an awful lot of time running for president for a man who is not running for president. Therefore, I say he's running for president. Figure that one out.

3. Al Gore.
I swear, I would not be the least bit surprised if he came back into the race just in time for the New Hampshire primary (or the Michigan primary, as the case may wind up being). He's quiet, but gets vocal at key moments on key issues. And the demand is there. The sleeper candidate of 2004? We shall see.

posted by Scott | 4/02/2003 | |

Don't make me pull this car over!!!

Democrat big daddy Terry McAuliffe yesterday demanded that the presidential candidates play nice.

In an interview, the chairman advised the candidates to not "go after fellow Democrats," and to "make sure the focus is on George Bush and not on each other." The party hierarchy is clearly fearful of any 'scorched earth' campaigning.

Focusing attention on Howard Dean, Christopher Graff of the AP points out that candidate's continued criticism of the others' support for the Iraq war resolution as well as the president's tax cuts. However, no mention is made of Dennis Kucinich's angry plea for an immediate end to the Iraq war, nor Al Sharpton's suggestion that he may run as an independent in 2004.

Those seem to be slightly more important worries for Democrats than Howard Dean at the moment. However, Terry McAuliffe is the man behind the wisdom that Paul Wellstone's memorial service "cost [Democrats] the election." Sure, he acknowleged the fact that the GOP had the advantage of a war-time president in office and out on the campaign trail, but still... It's difficult to put forth an image of a unified party when the party chairman blames a crowd of distraught Minnesotans for the results of an entire election cycle.

Once again I go back to the wisdom of Bill Bradley - we should have supported Maynard Jackson when we had the chance.

posted by Scott | 4/02/2003 | |

Tuesday, April 01, 2003

NOW he's done it...

That lovable progressive scamp of the U.S. House of Representatives Dennis Kucinich has officially buried himself in a hole ten miles deep today, formally and officially calling for an end to the war on Iraq. An Associated Press report quotes Dennis the K. as demanding ten times during a speech on the House floor, "stop this war now."

Thanking God for Kucinich making him look moderate tonight is former Vermont Governor Howard Dean.

In all seriousness, Kucinich never really stood a legitimate chance of winning the nomination, but many antiwar Democrats will certainly appreciate Dennis's impassioned articulation of their views. At the very least, you've got to give the guy credit for committing political suicide in defense of his beliefs ...

posted by Scott | 4/01/2003 | |

Today's Washington Post offers up a portrait of the candidate Lieberman, fishing for votes in - where else - a New Hampshire coffee shop. It's an interesting portrayal of the confused stagnation that the Democratic primary race has become since the start of the Iraq war. It also spells out some of the troubles that the Vice-President-elect is going to have winning the Democratic nomination, even if he may be the most well-known candidate and offer the most centrist credentials of anyone in the running.

Speaking on the topic of the day - Iraq - Lieberman promises that "there is not one inch of difference between me and the commander in chief." Not exactly the stuff that endears one to the Democratic base. But his some of his more fiery rhetoric - that of a man done wrong, out for justice - may yet energize the base. Lieberman believes he's the right man to take on Team W. and win "because Al Gore and I did it in 2000." Now that's the kind of talk that will get the Democrats all riled up.

In fact, this may be the one arrow in Joe Lieberman's quiver that he's not quite ready to fire. Republican partisans and pundits still go ballistic at the mere mention of "Florida"; "Get over it!" is the battle cry. For all of his bipartisan snuggling up to Bush, Lieberman may just be building political capital.

After all, who better to remind voters of "Florida" than A) someone who is not seen as a staunch Democratic party liner and B) one of the guys who actually had a personal stake in "Florida". Republicans who describe the kind of bipartisanship they would like to see from Democrats continually reference Lieberman. "The Democrat Joe Lieberman" is referenced almost as often as "the liberal New Republic."

There is even evidence in the Post article to support the idea that Lieberman's pro-war stance may not hurt him all that much in the primary. One antiwar coffee shop patron says, "I respect that you basically know where you stand with him," citing Kerry as another Democrat who's been "waffling" when it comes to Iraq. (See below.)

But as Harry Truman famously declared, "if you give the people a choice between a Republican and a Republican, they'll choose the Republican every time." Will his wisdom once again be confirmed in 2004? It might. Citing one diner who "thinks Lieberman is terrific," the article notes that the man was "a Republican who will support Bush."

posted by Scott | 4/01/2003 | |

Monday, March 31, 2003

The much-threatened boycott of a rescheduled (read: first in the nation) Michigan primary is starting to pick up some steam.

Earlier pledges to back New Hampshire's first primary status from John Kerry, John Edwards, Joe Lieberman, and Dick Gephardt was contradicted only by (surprise!) Howard Dean.

In a story in today's Manchester Union Leader, Lieberman strengthens his support for New Hampshire's primary primacy, but doesn’t go so far as to promise a boycott. "I don’t think we're going to get to that point, so I'm going to wait... But I believe New Hampshire has been, should be and will be the first-in-the-nation primary."

So what Joe is saying is that he really doesn’t approve of what Michigan is doing, but he really can’t afford to mess with those auto-worker votes. And what Howard Dean is saying is that the last two presidents didn’t need to win New Hampshire to win the big enchilada and he doesn't either. (So much for those McCain comparisons...)

posted by Scott | 3/31/2003 | |

Sunday, March 30, 2003

Syrup with that waffle, Mr. Kerry?

John Kerry, who's been suffering endless political ear-flicking from Howard Dean over his noncommittal stance on war with Iraq, is starting to be called out for murkiness on other issues. In a 1992 speech at Yale, Kerry referred to affirmative action as "inherently limited and divisive" and that "somewhere within that vast apparatus conjured up to fight racism there exists a reality of reverse discrimination, that actually engenders racism." The "reverse discrimination" argument against affirmative action is one most welcome within the confines of the Republican base, not typically among Democratic primary voters.

In response to the AP, Sen. Kerry has said, "What I objected to then, and still do today, are racial quotas that divide America and create resentment." That's relatively consistent with a statement to the Senate made in January in memory of Martin Luther King, Jr. "The White House moved to undermine the University of Michigan's effort to live by the core conviction that diversity is America's strength. What else can you call the decision to describe Michigan's good faith efforts as a "quota system" when it's not?"

So, if I have this right, affirmative action is good, quotas are bad. That seems to be the safe Democratic candidate answer these days.

However, Howard Dean still isn't letting up. "To this day I don't know what John Kerry’s position is ... If you agree with the war, then say so. If you don't agree with the war, then say so, but don't try to wobble around in between."

Not that he has much choice since, public records that they are, Kerry is unambiguous about having voted for last year's use of force resolution. At the California Democratic Party State Convention on March 14, Kerry said, "I firmly believe that Saddam Hussein is a brutal dictator who must be disarmed. But I also believe that a heavy-handed approach will leave us to carry the burden almost alone." On March 20, at the beginning of the war, Kerry's official statement read in part, "We want to complete the mission while safeguarding our troops, avoiding innocent civilian casualties, disarming Saddam Hussein and engaging the community of nations to rebuild Iraq."

Kerry's problem seems not to be staying on message, as his critics charge, but rather communicating that message to Democratic voters. Dean is in the enviable position of not having to worry about the political fallout from what he says. He's a retired doctor and governor who would like to be president. That's it. Kerry, on the other hand, is a sitting U.S. Senator who not only has to keep the Democratic base happy (who may lean antiwar), but also has to work with pro-war senators in a few years should this whole presidency thing not work out. One would hope, however, that Kerry's service in Vietnam, coupled with his progressive legislative record, would give him a bit of a cushion with which to soften the impact of bold statements made one way or the other.

posted by Scott | 3/30/2003 | |
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