Thursday, October 23, 2003

Dick Gephardt Will Win Iowa

Or at least that's what likely primary voters in Iowa are telling Zogby International. Joking aside, I cannot see Gephardt losing Iowa. Dean's his only serious competition and I think he'll be too focused on winning New Hampshire to beat Gephardt. After all, New Hampshire's still a tight race with three or four serious contenders in the running. And Dean cannot lose South Carolina too badly, lest he be seen as completely unacceptable to Southerners.

This isn't too say that Gephardt won't quit soon after Iowa, but he simply cannot lose the same state he won in 1988. If he does, it's all over. A win in Iowa, however, could pour some fuel on the fire. Dick Gephardt could very well be the sleeper candidate of 2004.

posted by Scott | 10/23/2003 | |

Who Is Joe Lieberman And What Is He Doing In The Democratic Primary?

I'm not going to summarize this one for y'all because I think it's important that you actually read it for yourself. That said, I will give you a brief rundown.

Rick Perlstein of the Village Voice writes that Joe Lieberman's campaign -- tearing down his fellow Democrats for being too liberal, claiming only a "moderate" like himself can win the general election -- is damaging the party and its chances to win in 2004, no matter who the nominee turns out to be.

Check it out.

posted by Scott | 10/23/2003 | |

Wednesday, October 22, 2003

Clark's Round Two: Economic Policy

Wesley Clark is diligently laying out his policy proposals one by one in a series of four carefully managed speeches. Earlier today came his pitch on economic policy.

Before taking a look at the function, allow me to comment on the form. It's smart for late entrant Clark to put his ideas out there in this format. Rather than piecing together his platform from soundclips spread out over months and months of campaigning, voters have everything handed to them in a neat little wonky package. Other candidates have done this on single issues, of course. Health care comes to mind immediately. But Clark's measured approach seems to be what's called for in a field of nine candidates with very few looking ready to drop out.

Okay, so on to the red meat.

- If you make over $200,000 a year, kiss your Bush tax cuts goodbye. Savings: $1.1 trillion (over 10 years).
- Tax loopholes will be sealed. Savings: $300 million.
- The estate tax is coming back, but not if you own a small business or a family farm. (It will play well politically, but it smells like a potentially huge tax loophole to me.)
- Repairing global relationships to bring in more foreign aid to Iraq. Savings: $125 billion.

There were not a ton of specifics, but at least Clark can now say that he's put forth his economic platform. And the language behind it has the right idea. Example: exempting family farms and small business from the estate tax. Besides the fact that they will continue to call it the "death tax," this pulls the rug out from under Republican rhetoric on the issue.

He also pledged to make the tax code "simpler, fairer, more progressive, and pro-growth." While all Americans (even liberals) have been known to complain about their taxes, most of them aren't complaining about their rates. They're complaining about the time and aggravation spent simply doing their taxes. So tax simplification may the perfect spoonful of sugar to make the tax hike medicine go down. After all, the tax code is now much larger under Team W's watch than ever before in history. I can't imagine what Steve Forbes would say about that.

posted by Scott | 10/22/2003 | |

Monday, October 20, 2003

Lieberman, Clark Campaigns Not Competing In Iowa

The campaigns of Joe Lieberman and Wesley Clark have announced that their candidates will not actively run in January's Iowa caucus.

As much as I'd like to write one story here and fill in the blanks with "Clark and Lieberman," that would be a gross oversimplification. These are two very different stories.

The Lieberman campaign will be concentrating its efforts in other early primary states like Arizona, South Carolina, Oklahoma, and Delaware (which we already knew) as well as New Hampshire (which seems mildly insane considering recent polling). The claim from Joe's camp is that Iowa voters are too liberal to ever choose a candidate like Lieberman, so they will instead focus their efforts on the more conservative early primary states.

That seems to neglect two factors. First, though the campaign says they are moving much of their Iowa staff to New Hampshire and increasing staff in the other states, this kind of shake-up could scare some staffers right out of the campaign altogether. Secondly, conventional wisdom dictates that Democratic primary voters -- even in more conservative states -- tend to be pretty liberal. So, say what they will, this seems like it could be the beginning of the end for the Lieberman camp.

The Clark campaign not running in Iowa is a different story, mainly because they never had any real presence in Iowa to begin with. But that of course doesn't diminish the importance of the state's caucus. Also, the timing of Clark's announcement is somewhat unfortunate, as he may have been able to benefit from Lieberman staffers jumping ship in Iowa -- especially since he picked up so many free agents in the aftermath of Bob Graham's exit from the race.

Here's where the stories come back together. Iowa promises to be a battleground state in the 2004 general election. Should Clark or Lieberman be the party's eventual nominee, it will be difficult for them to explain to Iowans why they effectively blew off their state in the primaries. The voters who will be most bothered by this are likely to be partisan Democrats. However, expect Team W to hammer home the issue, claiming that Clark or Lieberman does not really care about the voters of Iowa. This could certainly sway undecided voters in the state.

posted by Scott | 10/20/2003 | |

Sunday, October 19, 2003

Lieberman Calls Clark And Dean "Rookies"

This morning's heavily hyped ABC "This Week" coverage of the Lieberman campaign found Joe taking a serious shot at Wesley Clark and Howard Dean, saying that they're too inexperienced to serve as President. Lieberman said "Howard Dean has been a governor" and "Wes Clark is new to politics," making them "rookies" in the field.

Well, then Dean and Clark are in decent company, with Bill Clinton, Ronald Reagan, Jimmy Carter, and Franklin Roosevelt being just governors and Eisenhower and Grant being just generals.

As if to highlight his desperation Joe also made the case that, if Democrats are looking for an angry candidate, he's their man. After the Florida debacle, Joe claims, "you'd have to go a long way to find two people angrier than Al Gore and me."

If Lieberman wants to sell angry, he's going to have to start acting angry. Not exactly the most convincing image for the man.

posted by Scott | 10/19/2003 | |

Clark Campaign Targets Crucial Voter Base: Baseball Fans

Almost as soon as got the e-mail from the Clark campaign, the newswires came alive with the story. The pitch? "Make a contribution to Clark for President on behalf of your favorite baseball team!"

Even the Clark campaign has got to admit there are some striking similarities between this and the Dean campaign's Big Bat campaign contribution gimmick. But hey, whatever's clever if it brings in the money, I guess. As long as it's legal, of course.

No one knows how successful Clark's Baseball Challenge will be, though the first day saw $2,500 in contributions. Marlins fans (or maybe Yankee-haters) won game one of the challenge (fitting, I suppose) by about $500.

posted by Scott | 10/19/2003 | |
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