Friday, November 14, 2003

Clark Campaign, Suffering But Surviving, Announces They're Skipping NH Debate

On the same day that Gallup's national poll numbers find him sliding into third place behind Dean and Lieberman (with Gephardt nipping at his heels), Wesley Clark announced that he will be skipping a DNC sponsored debate in New Hampshire on December 9. He had a previously scheduled fundraiser that he plans to attend in New York.

Clark has slid from a high of 22% among national Democrats and Democratic leaners in late September to 14% as of earlier this week. Meanwhile, Howard Dean gained slightly with 17% and Joe Lieberman has regained the number two spot from Clark at 15%.

James Pindell of points out that it's "an odd no-show for a candidate that has spent more time in New Hampshire than any other candidate in the last three weeks." He also notes that Clark will probably not win the state's primary, but is certainly "hoping for a third place victory."

One would assume that, following the announcement that Clark is backing out of the running in Iowa, the New Hampshire primary is not something that the Clark campaign should be taking lightly.

posted by Scott | 11/14/2003 | |

Public Financing: Kerry Opts Out, Clark Stays In

John Kerry has announced that he will be joining Howard Dean and President Bush in declining federal matching funds for the 2004 race. It's not exactly unexpected, but it does mark the first time since the current campaign finance program went into effect that two Democratic candidates have opted out of the system.

Despite his rejection of the matching funds, Kerry is holding himself to the $45 million dollar national spending limit in the primaries. By contrast, Dean did not limit himself.

Wesley Clark was also being eyed as a potential opt-out candidate, but has announced that he will stay within the system. Clark has a bit of an advantage in accepting the matching funds as he got off to a late start in raising campaign money. As such, he also began spending money later than the other candidates, which means it will take him longer to meet the per state spending limits imposed on candidates accepting public financing.

posted by Scott | 11/14/2003 | |

Wednesday, November 12, 2003

Kerry Beats Dean To The Punch With Bush-On-Carrier Ad

The photo-op that scared the hell out of every Democrat on May 1, 2003 will definitely be coming back to haunt Team W in 2004. May 1 was the day that Karl Rove held the USS Abraham Lincoln off the coast of San Diego so President Bush could don a flight suit and land on the deck of the carrier to declare "Mission Accomplished" to the adoring media. Well, as we now know, the mission was not accomplished. Since May 1, more American soldiers have perished in Iraq than during the actual "combat operations" declared over on that day.

Howard Dean announced that he would be running ads using the May 1 footage, but the Kerry campaign came in first, announcing that their ads would begin airing soon in Iowa and New Hampshire. Expect all of the candidates and the national party -- not to mention some interest groups -- to use the footage in future campaign spots.

Bush has since disavowed the "Mission Accomplished" banner, claiming that it was the sailors aboard the Lincoln who put the banner up -- not his staff. That still doesn't really explain how Bush got into the flight suit, though. He's yet to blame that on any American sailors. But give it time...

posted by Scott | 11/12/2003 | |

Clark Supports Amendment Banning Flag-Burning

Retired General Wesley Clark let it be known earlier today that he supports a federal ban on flag burning. It may seem a bit silly for a Democratic Presidential candidate to support a stock GOP platform point, but it's an issue extremely important to many veterans of all political stripes. As such, it's not surprising that Clark made the announcement on Veterans Day at a speech at an American Legion hall.

House members Dennis Kucinich and Dick Gephardt are the only other Democratic candidates who support the amendment. Candidate and veteran John Kerry does not support the amendment, saying -- quite colorfully -- "if I saw someone burning the flag, I'd punch them in the mouth because I love the flag, but the constitution that I fought for preserves the right of free expression." Clark, though he supports the ban, said that patriotism "goes a long way beyond the American flag."

posted by Scott | 11/12/2003 | |

AFL-CIO Doesn't Back Bush - Some Unions Get More Specific

AFL-CIO chief John Sweeney called Team W "anti-worker, anti-union and anti-progress" in an AP interview conducted this week. He also had some interesting comments about labor favorite Dick Gephardt in light of tomorrow's impending joint announcement from SEIU and AFSCME on their endorsement of Howard Dean.

Sweeney called Gephardt "tough enough" to stay in the running for the AFL-CIO's endorsement despite a tough challenge from Dean. Still, he pointed out that no candidate has yet to receive the support of two-thirds of AFL-CIO members required to nail down the endorsement.

Elsewhere in the land of union politics, sixteen of the twenty unions backing Gephardt are set to start running ads in Iowa critical of NAFTA and its supporters (read: former supporter Howard Dean). The group, calling itself the Alliance for Economic Justice, will be running the ads over the next two weeks in Iowa's major markets.

posted by Scott | 11/12/2003 | |

Tuesday, November 11, 2003

Jordan Firing Causes Shockwaves At Kerry Campaign

Following the firing of campaign manager Jim Jordan, campaign spokesman Robert Gibbs and deputy finance director Carl Chidlow have quit the Kerry campaign in protest.

There isn't too much to explain here. Many people within the Kerry camp felt the Jordan firing was handled very poorly and blame Kerry's problems on the candidate himself -- not those working within the campaign.

The really interesting part here is the "who's next?" speculation coming hot on the heels of the Gibbs and Chidlow departures...

posted by Scott | 11/11/2003 | |

Monday, November 10, 2003

Kerry Fires Campaign Manager

John Kerry has fired campaign manager Jim Jordan today, replacing him with Senator Kennedy's chief of staff, Mary Beth Cahill. The campaign has asked Jordan to stay on as a senior adviser, but there is no word yet on whether Jordan will accept the offer.

As readers of this blog know, the Kerry campaign has had trouble catching up to that of Howard Dean for quite some time now. Before Dean was the darling of primary voters and large unions, he was chipping away at John Kerry, calling him "the anointed one" and attacking him for supporting the Iraq war. In response, Kerry's communications advisor Chris Lehane went intensely negative on Dean, possibly turning some voters off and eventually leading to Lehane's firing from the campaign.

Now the conventional wisdom says that the Kerry campaign has been too cautious and needs a change of tone -- hence the Jordan firing.

I can't honestly say what the story is inside the Kerry campaign. But with faltering poll numbers and so much internal campaign chaos, the story cannot be good.

The good news may not come for the Kerry campaign, in fact, until later this week when Kerry is expected to announce his intentions on accepting federal matching funds for his campaign. It's quite possible that he could forgo matching funds and dip into his wife's Heinz Ketchup fortune to self-finance his campaign.

posted by Scott | 11/10/2003 | |

Sunday, November 09, 2003

Independent Voters Trending Away From Bush

A Newsweek poll has found a solid majority of independent voters leaning towards voting against George W. Bush in 2004. 53% of independents oppose Bush's reelection with only 40% in favor. Predictably, 86% of Republicans favor Bush's reelection and an identical number of Democrats are opposed.

There's no telling what this could mean for the Democrats, though with a fairly even ideological split in the United States, the support of independent voters will be crucial to an election of a Democrat to the White House in 2004.

posted by Scott | 11/09/2003 | |

Gephardt Takes Iowa Lead

Finally some good news for a campaign that needs it. Dick Gephardt has pulled into the lead in the Iowa caucuses. Howard Dean held the lead as of July, at 23% to 21% for Gephardt. Today the numbers have Gephardt at 27%, Dean at 20%, and John Kerry with 15%.

New York's Newsday puts forward the possibility that Dean's Confederate flag comments are to blame for his falling polling numbers. But with the polls being conducted months apart, there are certainly other factors to consider.

Both Wesley Clark and Joe Lieberman have stopped campaigning in Iowa. Lieberman lost 5% between July and November. Both he and Gephardt have been hawkish on Iraq, so that may have more to do with Gephardt's boost.

Gephardt has also been very open about his must-win strategy in Iowa, where he has focused much of his campaigning -- which has involved a great deal of sniping at Howard Dean.

Whatever the reason, these poll numbers show that Dick Gephardt is certainly still in this race.

posted by Scott | 11/09/2003 | |
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