Iowa 2004 presidential primary precinct caucus and caucuses news">

Iowa 2004 presidential primary precinct caucus and caucuses news, reports and information on 2004 Democrat and Republican candidates, campaigns and issues

Iowa Presidential Watch's

The Democrat Candidates

Holding the Democrats accountable today, tomorrow...forever.

John Kerry

excerpts from the Iowa Daily Report

August 1-15, 2003

Latest Dean-Kerry exchange stretches from Iowa to New Hampshire – and beyond. Gephardt joins in the fray, too. Lieberman and Graham – from the front row seats – chastise combatants. Headline from yesterday’s Boston Herald: “Kerry, Dean tilt over tax issues.” Excerpt from report datelined Dover, NH by the Herald’s David R. Guarino:  “It was a political free-fire zone on the presidential trail yesterday as Democrats John F. Kerry and Howard Dean exchanged fighting words heard from New Hampshire to Iowa. Kerry, the Bay State senator, was in New Hampshire when he slammed Dean's economic policies without mentioning the former Vermont governor - his top rival - by nameKerry chided opponents who want to “take away a tax credit for families struggling to raise their children or bring back a tax penalty for married couples who are starting out or penalize teachers and waitresses by raising taxes on the middle class.’ Only Dean and U.S. Rep. Richard Gephardt of Missouri want to roll back President Bush's 2001 tax cut plan, including the child credit and abolition of the marriage penalty. ‘Real Democrats are straight about who they'll fight for. Real Democrats don't walk away from the middle class,’ Kerry said. Kerry aides made sure reporters had the remarks in hand before a ‘major’ Dean campaign address to union workers in Iowa. The combative Dean shot back that Kerry is a pie-in-the-sky candidate offering health care and tax cuts to all despite economic realities. ‘Real Democrats don't make promises they can't keep,’ Dean told the Associated Press. ‘Working Americans have a choice. They can have the president's tax cuts or they can have health care that can't be taken away. They can't have both,’ he said. A statement later released by Dean said he'll stand up to Bush, ‘even when the polls that day say it might be unpopular.’ Gephardt too called the Kerry critique unfair since his health plan would save Americans money. ‘Most people would end up with more money in their pocket if they pay less for health care - it ends up being a health care tax cut,’ said Gephardt New Hampshire spokeswoman Kathy Roeder. Kerry made his remarks at a ‘fresh air’ forum in this picturesque seaside town. While Dean and Gephardt favor full repeals of Bush's $1.6 trillion tax-cut plan, Kerry wants to preserve the child tax credit, the repeal of the marriage penalty and other, smaller credits. Dean and Kerry have been running first and second in most New Hampshire and Iowa surveys, including a Boston Herald poll this week that put Dean slightly ahead of Kerry among likely primary voters. Republicans charged that Kerry is folding under pressure from Dean's surge and charged he's changed his position on the Bush tax cuts - which the GOP said Kerry previously vowed not to roll back. ‘The pressure from Howard Dean has created a serious identity crisis for John Kerry,’ said Massachusetts GOP Executive Director Dominick Ianno.” (8/1/2003)

More on Dean Vs. Kerry Tax Feud from the sidelines and front row seats – Lieberman and Graham join Gephardt as interested bystanders. Coverage in yesterday’s The Union Leader by AP Iowa caucus-watcher Mike Glover. An excerpt: “Jumping into the fray, Kerry strategist Chris Lehane said the tax issue was a question of ‘whose side are you on,’ and added that Dean ‘needs to be straight and explain that he intends to increase the unfair tax burden on working families.” Before Kerry arrived for his speech in Portsmouth, N.H., Dean’s New Hampshire spokeswoman, Dorie Clark, said, ‘It’s unfortunate that Senator Kerry has decided to launch an attack against Governor Dean. It also is probably not a coincidence that in the last several days two polls have shown Governor Dean in the lead.’ A Franklin Pierce College Poll this week had Dean at 22 percent and Kerry at 21 percent, while a Boston Herald poll showed Dean at 28 percent and Kerry at 25 percent. A spokesman for Sen. Joe Lieberman of Connecticut also criticized Dean’s plan. ‘While the Bush economic plan has been a disaster for the middle class, raising taxes on the middle class would just be piling on,’ said Lieberman spokesman Jano Cabrera. ‘That’s not only the wrong path for economic recovery, but the wrong path for the Democratic Party.’ Another rival, Bob Graham, chastised both Dean and Kerry, calling their economic plans ‘empty rhetoric’ without any details or numbers. ‘Instead of attacking each other, they should be providing real details on how they plan to balance the budget, create jobs and provide middle-class tax cuts to the American people, as my plan does,’ the Florida senator said in a statement.”(8/1/2003)

Get used to it: News accounts of the Dean insurgency vs. Kerry’s efforts to succeed aren’t going away soon. The Washington Times’ Donald Lambro notes that the Democratic Leadership Council (DLC) is pushing Kerry – and trying to stop the Dean momentum. Excerpt from Lambro’s column: “The Democrats' presidential primary war between diehard liberal activists and pragmatic party centrists intensified this week at the Democratic Leadership Council's meeting here. While none of the presidential contenders attended the two-day event, the talk in closed-door strategy sessions and in hotel corridors was all about the threat posed to their party by the insurgency of Howard Dean, the left-wing, antiwar, anti-tax-cut candidate from tiny Vermont. Indiana Sen. Evan Bayh, the DLC's chairman, fired off the first round at the beginning of Monday's session, declaring the party was ‘at risk of being taken over by the far left.’ Mr. Bayh's question to the party's liberal base: ‘Do we want to vent or do we want to govern?’ DLC founder Al From reminded the New Democrat elected officials who packed the hotel ballroom how Walter Mondale called for tax increases at the 1984 convention to the cheers of liberal delegates. ‘We lost 49 states’ to Ronald Reagan, he said. And Democratic pollster Mark Penn, who polled for Bill Clinton, warned of a huge ‘security gap’ among voters who trust President Bush and the GOP to do a better job than the Democrats to safeguard national security in the war on terrorism. ‘If Democrats can't close the security gap, then they can't be competitive in the next election,’ he said. All of them warned that the party would lose next year's elections if it did not match the president's toughness on national defense. None of them specifically mentioned Mr. Dean, but they made it clear that's who they were talking about in interviews with reporters. Who can stop Mr. Dean? The big unreported story at the DLC’s meeting is that Mr. From is positioning his influential DLC network to back Mr. Dean’s chief rival for the presidential nomination, Massachusetts Sen. John Kerry. Mr. Kerry voted for the congressional war resolution to send forces into Iraq, but he has also been sharply critical of Mr. Bush's failure to build a much stronger coalition for the war and for his handling of postwar operations. Still, Mr. From points to Mr. Kerry's centrism on issues such as free trade, his support for welfare reform, and hints that school choice vouchers may be worth trying on an experimental basis. ‘I think Kerry could be a very effective nominee. I think Kerry could run as a New Democrat [in the general election],’ Mr. From told me in an interview. The DLC does not endorse candidates, but Will Marshall, who runs the DLC's Progressive Policy Institute, has been advising Mr. Kerry. And Al From's embrace of Mr. Kerry is the closest he has come to publicly backing a candidate. Notably, he mentioned no one else in the Democratic pack. What worries Mr. From most is the party's weakness on defense in an age of terrorism. ‘The problem with [the Democrats] is that we're not in the debate on national security,’ he said. ‘We're at a time when our country is in peril. The Democratic nominee for president in 2004 has to first cross the threshold on national security so that voters will listen to him on the economy. If we do that we'll have a chance of winning. If we don't, we won't,’ he said.”(8/1/2003)

“Catholics were stunned at the broadside from Kerry, saying he's sure to draw the ire of some 65 million voting Catholics.” – sentence from the following except on Kerry’s call for the Vatican to stay out of American politics. Headline from yesterday’s Boston Herald: “Kerry raps Pope: Senator fuming over gay marriage order” Excerpt from coverage by Herald’s David R. Guarino: “Bluntly telling the Vatican to stay out of American politics, U.S. Sen. John F. Kerry yesterday said Pope John Paul II ‘crossed the line’ by instructing pols to block legalization of gay marriage. A fuming Kerry, taking on his own Catholic Church in the midst of a campaign for president, said Rome should have more respect for America's long-held separation of church and state. ‘It is important not to have the church instructing politicians. That is an inappropriate crossing of the line in this country,’ Kerry said. ‘President Kennedy drew that line very clearly in 1960 and I believe we need to stand up for that line today.’  The Democrat said political concerns are secondary to his moral outrage over Thursday's Vatican statement on gay marriage. ‘Our founding fathers separated church and state in America. It is an important separation,’ he said. ‘It is part of what makes America different and special, and we need to honor that as we go forward and I'm going to fight to do that.’ Catholics were stunned at the broadside from Kerry, saying he's sure to draw the ire of some 65 million voting Catholics. ‘What one often calls separation of church and state guarantees the religion the right to express its convictions,’ said Monsignor Francis Maniscalco of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. ‘To object to religious people's deep moral convictions . . . would also create a problem because it would also (fail to) recognize something the First Amendment guarantees.’ Former Vatican Ambassador Raymond Flynn said Kerry was just wrong. ‘I don't see it as crossing any line at all,’ Flynn said. ‘Too many Catholic politicians want to have it both ways, they want the Catholic vote but then they go ahead and ignore Catholic teaching.’ The Vatican injected itself into the simmering gay marriage debate Thursday, firing off a letter issuing instructions to Catholic politicians to oppose any legalization efforts…The statement followed by a day strong comments from President Bush denouncing gay marriage proposals. Kerry, who supports civil unions but opposes the legalization of same-sex marriage, took pains to say, ‘I believe in the church’ and ‘care about it enormously’ but said church leaders went too far. Alone among Democrats in criticizing the church, Kerry said he didn't weigh the political impact of his statement. ‘This isn't a matter of political calculation, it's simply a matter of strong personal beliefs,’ Kerry said. The Democratic senator also railed against Republicans who this week said Democratic efforts to block the judicial nomination of Alabama Attorney General William H. Pryor were anti-Catholic. One group, the Ave Maria List, ran print ads equating Democrats' opposition to Pryor as saying ‘Catholics need not apply’ to the federal judiciary. ‘That couldn't be further from the truth. This judge is not a good judge,’ Kerry said. ‘He should not be appointed to the court, and many of us who are Catholic voted against him without regard to Catholicism.’  Kerry also continued his criticism of Bush's ‘faith-based’ programs, saying he would end government funding to any religious group.  The White House and Kerry's opponents declined comment.  But the Republican National Committee blamed the sudden attack on the growing popularity of Kerry opponent, former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean. ‘It seems like a very odd political strategy to attack the Catholic Church but Howard Dean is forcing Sen. Kerry to take a number of odd positions on a number of odd issues,’ said RNC spokeswoman Christine Iverson.”(8/3/2003)

Edwards and Kerry discover common bond: Tax delinquencies. Kerry’s tax problem surfaces a day after the political world discovers Edwards’ haphazard record in DC and NC. Headline from Friday’s Boston Globe: “Bank error blamed for late tax payment on Kerrys’ vacation home” Excerpt from coverage by the Globe’s Glen Johnson: “A bank's lapse left more than $10,000 in property taxes owed on a vacation home overlooking Nantucket Sound shared by Senator John F. Kerry and his wife, Teresa Heinz Kerry. Mellon Financial Corp., the Pittsburgh bank that manages the trust owning the property, issued a statement yesterday saying it had failed to pay the fourth and final installment on the couple's 2003 tax assessment. That amount, $9,978.49, was due to the town's tax collector on May 2. When it went unpaid, the couple were assessed interest, leaving the Kerrys $10,326.79 in arrears…’It was our responsibility to make the payment and we are researching this matter to determine why the fourth installment was not paid in a timely way,’ said company spokesman Ron Gruendl. ''We have sent the payment in the overnight mail.’ The amount of delinquent taxes owed could be considered personally inconsequential to the couple, with Heinz Kerry as the heiress to a Heinz ketchup fortune assessed at more than $550 million. The senator is also a millionaire, according to his Senate financial disclosure form. The Nantucket home is one of five the couple share, although Heinz Kerry is considered the sole owner of all but one of them…Politically, the error could prove something of an embarrassment, coming at a time when Kerry, a candidate for the Democratic presidential nomination, is hammering President Bush over the fairness of his tax-cut policy. The news of Kerry's delinquency came the same day one of his rivals for the nomination, Senator John Edwards of North Carolina, conceded tax problems. Confirming a report in The Washington Times, the senator said he was delinquent on more than $11,000 in property taxes due on a house in Washington's Georgetown section. He also said he had been delinquent on several occasions on both property and automobile tax payments in his home state of North Carolina.” (8/3/2003)

In San Francisco, five wannabes outline health care plans with two – Kucinich and Moseley Braun – favoring universal approach over private insurance system.  Excerpts from coverage of forum – at the United Food and Commercial Workers’ convention – by the San Francisco Chronicle’s Victoria Colliver: “While all promised to reduce the number of uninsured, two of the 2004 candidates -- Rep. Dennis Kucinich of Ohio and former Sen. Carol Moseley Braun of Illinois -- supported throwing out the private insurance system in favor of a universal, single-payer plan in the style of Medicare with a prescription drug coverage. Former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean and Sen. John Kerry of Massachusetts, who joined the forum from Washington, D.C., via satellite, proposed expanding government programs to cover more people. Rep. Richard Gephardt of Missouri offered a plan to extend tax credits to businesses to subsidize coverage to all employees. While it's estimated to cost more than $200 billion its first year -- more than any of the plans on the table -- Gephardt promises it will cover 97 percent of Americans. Gephardt wants to repeal the Bush tax cuts, which he called a joke, and put that money into health care…While Gephardt sees keeping the health coverage for those who already have it as an advantage, candidates with a more purist approach to universal coverage criticized his plan for retaining too much of what they considered a broken system. ‘I'm recognizing unless we get the private sector out of health care, we will never have health care for everybody in this country,’ Kucinich told about 4,500 UFCW delegates gathered at the Moscone Center. The union is concerned about health care benefits, especially in light of its efforts to unionize Wal-Mart Stores Inc…Kucinich's proposal to establish a single-payer system would cover all Americans, but critics question whether there is the political will to pass such a sweeping change. Moseley Braun, who also supports such a system, said she wants to shift the cost burden from payroll taxes to income taxes because that would decouple health care from employment. ‘Part of the problem is we have an employment-based system,’ she said, adding that the high cost of health care puts American businesses at a competitive disadvantage with businesses from other countries that do not have to pay for health care. Dean, also a physician, touted the fact he has passed a state budget that included extended health care coverage to Vermont residents. ‘The advantage I have is I have done it,’ he said…Kerry said his plan lowers the cost of premiums by having the government cover ‘catastrophic’ or high-risk cases instead of allowing them to remain in the employee risk pool. He said his plan, which he says would cover 27 million people immediately, would also help people pay for 75 percent of the cost of COBRA, or Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act, which allows employees who leave or who were laid off to pay for their group coverage for a limited time. Kerry said the country needs to stop considering health care to be a privilege. ‘Health care is a right for every single American. We have to cover it.’” (8/3/2003)

Dean-Kerry battle now reduced to dispute over Kerry’s plan for an Internet petition drive on overtime proposal. Dean manager responds by saying the Mass Sen is taking a page “straight out of our book.” Headline from this morning’s The Union Leader: “Kerry to launch Internet petition drive on overtime” Excerpt from report by AP Iowa caucus-watcher Mike Glover: “Massachusetts Sen. John Kerry planned to launch an Internet-based petition drive today aimed at protesting the Bush administration’s proposal to revamp overtime pay standards. Kerry planned to use a meeting with key labor activists to launch the drive, becoming the first to sign the protest petition on his campaign’s Web site.  In remarks prepared for delivery at the event, Kerry warns that under the proposed standards, as many as 8 million workers — including firefighters and police officers — could lose the ability to collect time-and-a-half pay when they work more than 40 hours in a week. ‘For more than 60 years, the 40-hour work week and overtime pay have protected workers from exploitation — and rewarded hard work,’ said Kerry, in remarks provided to The Associated Press. ‘But under the radar screen, while everyone’s attention was focused elsewhere, George Bush has launched a sneak attack on basic worker rights.’ Kerry was launching the petition drive after a private meeting with leaders of the largest union representing state workers, an important player in Democratic politics in the state where precinct caucuses will launch the Presidential nominating season next January. Representing more than 20,000 state workers, Council 61 of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees has a long history of political activism. Kerry was courting favor by focusing on the overtime issues close to the hearts of organized labor.  In addition, Kerry was following in the footsteps of one of his Democratic rivals by using the Internet for his latest effort. Former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean has aggressively used the Internet to build a network of 200,000 volunteers and surpass his Democratic rivals in raising money, much of that money being generated online. Dean campaign manager Joe Trippi dismissed the latest Kerry move.  ‘It’s taking something straight out of our book, and that’s all right,’ Trippi said. In his speech, Kerry focused his fire on Bush, hoping to build backing in one of the cornerstones of the Democratic coalition, in a race that’s increasingly competitive. Polls have shown Dean and Kerry bunched together in New Hampshire, evidence that Dean’s campaign has built some momentum.” (8/3/2003)

Dean, who is making a practice of disrupting plans of other wannabes, now has Kerry campaign divided over whether to go on attack or just go with the flow. Headline from Saturday’s Boston Globe: “Kerry camp split on issue of Dean… Tougher approach winning out, but some have doubts” Excerpt from coverage by the Globe’s Kerry-watcher. Glen Johnson: “Howard Dean's strong fund-raising and recent rise in public opinion polls have created a divide within Senator John F. Kerry's presidential campaign, between aides who want to attack the former Vermont governor to stem the tide and others who believe his wave of support will crest on its own. The views of the more aggressive group, represented by campaign manager Jim Jordan, were reflected this week when Kerry criticized any rival for the Democratic nomination who favors repealing all of the tax cuts enacted since President Bush took office in 2001. At least three of the nine candidates fit that billing, but aides circulated the Massachusetts senator's prepared text before a speech in Dover, N.H., and made it clear that Dean was the intended target. ‘Real Democrats don't walk away from the middle class,’ Kerry declared Wednesday night. ‘They don't take away a tax credit for families struggling to raise their children or bring back a tax penalty for married couples who are starting out or penalize teachers and waitresses by raising taxes on the middle class.’ A more reserved group of advisers is typified by David McKean, chief of staff in Kerry's Senate office. He is among those who believe that Dean's current political celebrity will fade with closer media scrutiny; they foresee an inevitable misstep for his campaign, and they argue that engaging Dean only helps him. Both camps are united in believing that Kerry has built a strong campaign organization, and has successfully husbanded resources for an eventual showdown with Dean and the other Democrats, according to interviews with members of each group and other aides who spoke on the condition of anonymity. The senator is largely focused on executing a game plan that calls for a mid-September public declaration of his candidacy, a round of policy speeches and endorsements aimed at differentiating himself from his fellow Democrats and President Bush, and his first purchase of television time to air campaign commercials in Iowa, New Hampshire, and other early-voting states, several aides said. Dean's political strength was evident last month when he more than doubled his support in a poll of likely voters in California, the state with the most electoral votes. He and Kerry were both in the mid-teens, steady performance for Kerry but an improvement of 8 percentage points for Dean from a similar survey in April. At the same time, Dean raised more than any of his Democratic rivals during the second three months of the year, taking in $7.6 million for the period ending June 30. Kerry raised $5.9 million, which placed him second for the second consecutive quarter, but Dean's finish was a marked improvement over the $2.6 million he raised during the first three months of the year. Dean's rise has prompted the internal debate within the Kerry camp, but Jordan refused to discuss it. ‘I have no comment whatsoever on internal campaign conversations,’ he said in an interview. Jordan professed respect for Dean, saying, ‘He's a serious candidate, as we suspected all along.’ One campaign aide said Kerry's criticism on Wednesday followed reports from Iowa that Dean was planning to attack Kerry. Throughout the week, though, Jordan displayed the sharper tack in dealing with Dean. One flashpoint was the governor's criticism that Kerry and other Democrats in Congress did not sufficiently question whether there were weapons of mass destruction in Iraq before approving a war resolution. ‘Governor Dean is simply reinventing his own position and that of others, and that's the rankest kind of politics,’ Jordan told The New York Times. ‘He was an unemployed doctor with no responsibilities, and it was easy to sit there and take political potshots from the outside.’ The New York Post also quoted Jordan as saying of Dean, ‘Ultimately, voters are going to decide a small-town physician from a small and atypical state is probably not qualified to lead this nation in a dangerous world.’” (8/4/2003)

Kerry engages usual targets – Dean and Bush -- during Iowa visit. Headline from yesterday’s Omaha World-Herald: “Kerry, visiting Bluffs, calls GOP hypocritical” Excerpt’s from report – datelined Council Bluffs – by the World-Herald’s Robynn Tysver: “A proposed national ban on gay marriages is an example of Republican hypocrisy in action, said U.S. Sen. John Kerry, a Democratic contender for president. Republicans espouse states rights except when they have a hot-button agenda that they want to thrust upon the states, said Kerry, who was in Council Bluffs for a political rally Monday. ‘Here all of a sudden they have one of their push-button issues . . . so we're going to tell the states what to do,’ Kerry said. ‘It's a very unfortunate driving of the wedge - that is the lowest common denominator of politics.’ The Massachusetts senator is considered one of the front-runners in a field of nine for the Democratic presidential nomination. He was in Council Bluffs to attend a get-out-the-vote rally for Paul Shomshor, a Democratic candidate for the Iowa House of Representatives …. Afterward, in an impromptu press conference, Kerry spoke about his opposition to a Republican proposal for a constitutional ban on gay marriages. He also talked about his opposition to President Bush's tax cuts, and he criticized the president for going to war without a plan for peaceKerry can’t even launch an Internet petition without engaging Dean. Headline from yesterday’s Sioux City Journal: “Kerry launches petition to oppose labor rules changes” Excerpt from report – datelined Des Moines – by Kathie Obradovich: “U.S. Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., in Iowa to court union votes, launched a petition on his presidential campaign Web site Monday to oppose proposed changes in labor rules that he said would eliminate overtime pay for 8 million Americans. A rival for the Democratic presidential nomination, former Vermont governor Howard Dean, posted a similar petition on his Internet site Sunday, according to Dean's Iowa campaign. The Dean campaign says it has put up more than a dozen on-line petitions since April and suggests that Kerry's new feature is ‘very similar’ to theirs. ‘We welcome all candidates to launch their own on-line petition efforts,’ Sarah Leonard, spokeswoman for the Dean campaign in Iowa, said. Kerry, who signed his petition at an Iowa public employee union hall, cautioned against any claims of ownership over the petition idea: ‘The last person who claimed he invented the Internet didn't do so well,’ Kerry said. Former Vice President Al Gore was often accused of making that claim during the 2000 presidential campaign, in which he won the Democratic nomination and the popular vote in the general election. Both Kerry and Dean are petitioning against the Labor Department's proposal to change rules classifying workers eligible for time-and-a-half pay when they work more than 40 hours a week. Employees classified as professional, administrative or executive who make more than $22,100 a year, including firefighters, police officers, nurses, emergency medical technicians and store supervisors, could be made exempt from overtime pay. The Bush administration has said the proposal is aimed at providing flexibility for workers, who could use compensatory time off instead of overtime pay. Kerry said Republican George W. Bush's administration has ‘the worst jobs record since the Great Depression.’…’It is extraordinary to me that while chief executives in this country are walking away with billions of dollars, the Bush administration is prepared to beat up on the average working person and now suggests that they should not get overtime pay,’ Kerry said.”(8/6/2003)

… “Claim: Kerry Aide Used Gay Smear to Help Defeat Incumbent Senator” – Headline topping Talon News item on GOPUSA. Excerpt from coverage by Jeff Gannon: “In 1996, Jim Jordan, campaign manager for Democrat presidential contender Sen. John Kerry (D-MA), was press secretary for Tim Johnson during his challenge to then-incumbent Sen. Larry Pressler (R-SD). The long, negative campaign resulted in the end of the South Dakota Republican's 22 years in Congress. During the campaign, Pressler was dogged by questions about his health, since his father suffered with Alzheimer's disease. But the most damaging attack was delivered by James Abourezk, the man Pressler replaced in the Senate in 1978. Abourezk brought Alexander Cockburn, author of ‘Washington Babylon’ to speak to a Sioux Falls group. In his book, Cockburn alleged that Pressler was a homosexual. Abourezk admitted repeating the story saying, ‘I told everybody who would listen to me.’ Jordan allegedly sought to take advantage of the accusations, according to a Lisa Lutterman, a Pressler worker. Lutterman told The Mitchell Daily Republic that Jim Jordan was ‘just ugly, mean spirited and boasting that he would help destroy Larry Pressler.’ She said Jordan declared that he was ‘going to take Larry Pressler's liver and rip it out.’ Although Jordan said that no such conversation ‘ever took place,’ South Dakota newspapers followed the story as charges and countercharges kept the scandal alive…  Pressler has always denied that he was gay and in 1998, Cockburn retracted the allegation and withdrew his book from publication in a settlement with the former senator. At the time, the ‘gay smear’ generated little attention outside South Dakota. But in 2003, gay issues are hotly debated. Earlier this year, Jordan's wife, Associated Press journalist Lara Jakes Jordan conducted an interview with Sen. Rick Santorum (R-PA) that touched off a firestorm. Santorum maintained that his comments about the Texas sodomy case were taken out of context by Jordan.”(8/6/2003)

… “Chicago Teamsters break for Kerry” – Headline from yesterday’s Boston Herald. Excerpt: “Less than a week after the powerful Teamsters union endorsed Dick Gephardt for president, the union's second-largest local affiliate is bucking the party line and backing Massachusetts Sen. John Kerry. The 21,000-member Chicago Teamsters Local 705 made its announcement yesterday, the eve of an AFL-CIO meeting in Chicago at which the Democratic candidates will gather for a presidential forum. Gerald Zero, the local's secretary-treasurer, said the choice was not part of any political dispute with the union's leadership and said his local sometimes disagrees with headquarters over political endorsements. ‘We really didn't know they were going to endorse Gephardt or do it this fast either,’ Zero said of the union's decision last week to back the Missouri congressman. ‘We had planned on endorsing Kerry a week earlier. We think Kerry has the better chance to win.’”(8/6/2003)

Kerry defends education vote in New Hampshire – and hits GWB for inadequate funding. Headline from this morning’s The Union Leader: “Kerry faces skeptical teachers at NEA conference Excerpts from coverage by AP’s Holly Ramer: “Facing a skeptical crowd of teachers, Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry defended his vote for the federal ‘No Child Left Behind Act’ on Thursday while criticizing President Bush for underfunding the far-reaching education reform law. Speaking at the National Education Association of New Hampshire convention, the Massachusetts senator repeated his promise to ‘hold this president accountable for making a mockery of the words no child left behind." But some in the audience wanted to hold Kerry accountable for supporting the 2002 law, which requires states that accept federal money to broaden academic testing, triple spending for literacy programs and meet new standards for pupil performance. Cathie Partridge-White asked Kerry how he could say a 1,200-page bill preserves local control over education. Kerry responded that states do not have to accept federal money. He defended his support of the bill's goals, saying it wasn't his fault that Bush has not provided enough money. ‘We can't sit here and pretend there wasn't something to address,’ Kerry said of problems plaguing the education system. ‘Regrettably, this administration turned its back on the deal it made.’ Administration officials and Republican lawmakers have insisted that the law is adequately funded. Kerry acknowledged that the law needs to be changed. ‘I'm on your side,’ he said. ‘I don't want you to have to teach rote. I don't want testing to be the be-all and end-all.’ The answer didn't satisfy Partridge-White, president of the Derry, N.H., teacher's union, but Mary Boland had a more favorable impression. ‘I understand what he's saying. We have to make a start somewhere. And I think if he gets elected, he has enough clout that he could fix it,’ said Boland, a recently retired English teacher from Salem, N.H. Both women were among 250 educators who also heard from Kerry rival, Sen. John Edwards of North Carolina, a day earlier. Noting that Edwards didn't face the same grilling as Kerry, Boland suggested that the group may not have taken him as seriously. He ‘seems like a nice young man, but I'm not sure he has the clout to perform,’ Boland said. ‘He's a neophyte, a nice neophyte, but I don't see him having the clout Kerry would.’”(8/8/2003)

… “Kerry blasts Cuomo for ‘babble’ remark” – headline from yesterday’s The Union Leader. Excerpts from report on Kerry campaign stop in Derry, NH: “Responding to criticism by prominent Democrat Mario Cuomo, John Kerry said yesterday the former New York governor needs to listen more closely to the messages of the nine Democratic Presidential contenders. ‘Cuomo ought to listen to what we’re saying . . . I think people are going to listen not to labels, but what your policies are,’ Kerry said while campaigning in New Hampshire yesterday. On Wednesday, Cuomo labeled the comments by Democratic contenders as ‘babble’ and said they lack a unified voice. He called for former Vice President Al Gore to enter the campaign. Gore has said he was not going to run, but would endorse one of the candidates later in the election cycle. Kerry also said his policies are strongly in line with former President Bill Clinton, despite his promise to keep tax cuts for the middle class. When asked how important an endorsement from Gore would be, Kerry said ‘endorsements are welcome,’ but that they are ‘not the whole deal by any stretch of the imagination.’ Kerry said the election was not about gaining endorsements, but focusing on health care, improving the economy and providing stronger homeland security. The Massachusetts senator toured shops in downtown Derry, played classical guitar and flipped burgers in the kitchen of a restaurant.” (8/10/2003)

Kerry Distortion I: In the “Inside Politics” column in Friday’s Washington Times, Jennifer Harper reported that Kerry has come under attack from medical marijuana advocates. The item: Medical marijuana fans are accusing presidential contender Sen. John Kerry of flip-flopping on the issue to the point where he now essentially embraces the Bush administration's position. The Massachusetts Democrat said Wednesday he'd put off any final decision on medical marijuana because there's ‘a study under way analyzing what the science is.’ But Aaron Houston of the Granite Staters for Medical Marijuana said that just a month ago Mr. Kerry seemed to endorse medical marijuana use, and when asked about the content of his mysterious study, said, ‘I am trying to find out. I don't know.’ Mr. Kerry did say his ‘personal disposition is open to the issue of medical marijuana’ and that he'd stop Drug Enforcement Administration raids on patients using the stuff under California's medical marijuana law. Mr. Houston said that rang hollow. ‘I was embarrassed for the senator,’ Mr. Houston said. ‘He seemed so afraid to take a clear stand that he hid behind a study he knows nothing about — and which may not even exist.’ Mr. Kerry could end up endorsing the same policy as Attorney General John Ashcroft, who shepherded the DEA policy against medical marijuana users, Mr. Houston said — leaving Rep. Dennis J. Kucinich as the most medical marijuana-friendly presidential candidate. The Ohio Democrat has promised to issue an executive order allowing its use.” (8/10/2003)

Kerry Distortion II. Mass wannabe claims blue ribbon in health care derby – after juggling with the ratings. Headline from Friday’s Washington Post: “Experts Question Kerry’s ‘First Prize’ in Health Care Plans” Condensed account of coverage by the Post’s Ceci Connolly: “On the campaign trail and on his Internet site, Sen. John F. Kerry (D-Mass.) boasts that a bipartisan group of policy experts has rated his proposal to reform health care ‘the best’ among those offered by the presidential candidates, including President Bush's plan. He even features a ‘First Prize’ blue ribbon on his Web site. But the statement is, at best, a questionable extrapolation of a recent report on the candidates' health plans, say the analysts who rated them. The10 reviewers cited by Kerry say they did not choose a top health plan and would be at pains to label one ‘the best.’ In interviews, some of them described Kerry's statements as ‘completely wrong,’ ‘patently untrue’ and ‘inappropriate and rather misleading.’ Kerry aides, noting that a bit of puffery is common in campaigns, say the claim results from simple math. They took a set of scores compiled by National Journal magazine on July 19 and tallied them. The result, according to his campaign Web site and press releases: ‘Kerry Wins Health Care Primary! Bipartisan panel of experts say Kerry plan to make health care accessible, affordable for all Americans rates above all other '04 candidates.’ The 10 analysts ‘all agreed that John Kerry's plan is the best choice for doctors, health care workers, businesses and all Americans looking for a solution to the health care crisis that has plagued our country for too long.’…’That's completely wrong in two ways,’ said reviewer Paul Ginsburg, president of the Center for Studying Health System Change. ‘We didn't agree on anything, and we were never asked to give an overall rating.’ National Journal asked 10 policy analysts of divergent political ideology to rate the candidates' ideas for health care in 10 broad areas on a scale of 1 to 5. Categories included the uninsured, pricing, quality of care, government expense and accessibility…Often a high score in one area led to a lower score in another. Rep. Richard A. Gephardt's plan, for instance, scored 4.5 for covering the uninsured, but his ambitious plan is quite expensive, which meant a 1.4 in limiting government costs. Gephardt (D-Mo.) had the highest rating in four categories; Kerry in three. Former Vermont governor Howard Dean, a physician, received the top score for plans to reduce medical errors, while Bush scored highest for minimizing administrative burden. Kerry spokesman Robert Gibbs compared the campaign's exercise to tallying up Olympic scores to determine the gold medalist. ‘Simply adding the scores together, John Kerry's plan received the highest score,’ he said. Kerry policy adviser Sarah Bianchi noted that Gephardt has bragged about the categories in which he scored well. ‘We're both showing the data in a way that makes our best case,’ she said. But the analysts said it would be misleading to tally the figures, because not every category deserves equal weight…Jack Meyer, president of the Economic and Social Research Institute, said Kerry's attempt to compare ‘apples and oranges’ is ‘inappropriate and rather misleading.’ The Kerry campaign's math gave him a 29.2, with Bush in second place with a 28.9. Candidates received ‘not applicable’ if they did not provide enough information, which Kerry aides scored as 0.”(8/10/2003)

Apparently tired of trying to explain his vote for the Iraq resolution, Kerry moves on to another foreign policy issue that he probably knows even less about – Liberia. Headline from the New Hampshire Sunday News – “Kerry raps Bush on Liberia response in Manchester” Report – an excerpt – from Union Leader staffer Mark Hayward: “Democratic Presidential hopeful John Kerry said U.S. troops should have been sent to Liberia sooner and promised he would only commit military personnel abroad if he could face the parents of a dead soldier. ‘The test is whether you can look in the eye of a parent as commander in chief and say, ‘This had to happen,’ ‘ Kerry, a Vietnam veteran, said as he spoke to a family in the city’s North End yesterday. The Massachusetts senator spent about an hour knocking on doors of likely Democratic primary voters on Ray Street. Some 300 Kerry volunteers from Massachusetts and New Hampshire complemented his effort after getting handfuls of literature and a pep talk at Kerry’s Manchester campaign headquarters. They were expected to visit homes in Manchester, Nashua, Concord and Derry. A separate group met in Dover and canvassed there. In speaking with one family, Kerry said he had wanted President Bush to commit troops to Liberia earlier.  ‘We’ve dilly-dallied; we’ve lost lives. It’s a very poor show of the United States of America to do what is right,’ Kerry said. On Wednesday, seven Marines flew into Liberia to coordinate U.S. logistical support for a peacekeeping force of West African soldiers. Some 2,000 Marines are on ships off the coast of Liberia, but Bush has said they will not enter the country until besieged President Charles Taylor departs. Taylor is pinned in the capital by a 2-month-old rebel siege, which has led to the deaths of more than 1,000 civilians and created widespread hunger and sickness.  Kerry said he supported former President Clinton’s military efforts in Kosovo and he would have sent troops to Rwanda, where in 1994 an estimated 800,000 died in genocidal attacks. Kerry, who voted to send troops to Iraq, said Bush should have done more to build an international coalition and legitimacy for the war.” (8/11/2003)

Another view of Philly forum.  Headline from yesterday’s Washington Post: “Dem. Candidates Blast Republicans Over California” Yesterday’s Daily Report carried a story about the Dem wannabes commenting on tax cuts at the Philadelphia forum, but they discussed other topics. This excerpt from the Post – a Reuters report – was one of the most interesting: “Democratic presidential candidates blasted California's recall campaign against Gov. Gray Davis on Monday, calling it part of a larger Republican assault on the U.S. electoral process. At a political forum near the Liberty Bell, seven of the nine Democrats vying for the right to oppose President Bush in 2004 said California was being swept by the same right-wing tactics used against Democrats in Florida and Texas and during the impeachment of former President Clinton. ‘This is an attack on the institutions of our government. That's what Republicans do,’ U.S. Rep. Dick Gephardt of Missouri told hundreds of union leaders at Philadelphia's National Constitution Center. Nearly 200 Californians, including Hollywood actor Arnold Schwarzenegger and porn magazine publisher Larry Flynt, are hoping to replace Davis in a special Oct. 7 recall election sparked by the state's fiscal and economic woes. Republican Congressman Darrell Issa, a wealthy conservative, spent $1.7 million to fuel the petition drive that led to the recall against Davis, a Democrat who was reelected in November. Bush, former governor of Texas, weighed in last week by saying he felt the Austrian-born Schwarzenegger would make a good governor for the nation's largest state, which Bush lost decisively to former Vice President Al Gore in 2000. On Monday, Democratic presidential hopefuls likened the California contest to the political confrontation three years ago in Florida that left the 2000 presidential election to be decided by the U.S. Supreme Court. ‘We may disagree, the seven of us here tonight, on a lot of things. But we don't disagree on this one,’ said Sen. Joseph Lieberman of Connecticut, Gore's 2000 running mate. Some compared the California recall to the wrangling between Republicans and Democrats in Texas over an aggressive Republican redistricting plan. ‘I think it insults democracy in this country. It's wrong,’ said Sen. John Kerry of Massachusetts, who called on California voters to retain Davis. ‘They should overwhelmingly reject this right-wing, ideological interference in the electoral process of the United States of America,’ he added. Two Democratic hopefuls -- Sen. Bob Graham of Florida and Sen. John Edwards of North Carolina -- did not attend Monday night's forum in Philadelphia.” (8/13/2003)

Article of the day.  Cyberattacks fuel latest chapter of the Dean-Kerry rivalry as Deanies raid the Mass Sen’s new Internet venture. Headline from yesterday’s Boston Herald: “Dean fans flog blog, rip Kerry to threads” Excerpt from report by the Herald’s Andrew Miga: “The testy rivalry between presidential hopefuls John F. Kerry and Howard Dean has spilled over to Kerry's new campaign Web log, which has been swamped with mocking messages from Dean backers.Kerry a real Democrat???!!!’ taunted one Dean supporter with ‘Sam’ as an online name. ‘That's a laugh.’  Desperate to capture some of the cybermagic that propelled the former Vermont governor to the top tier of the 2004 Democratic pack, Kerry on Saturday launched a web log, or ‘blog,’ to chronicle his travels and rally supporters. But the Bay State senator's online journal - patterned after Dean's hugely successful - was soon invaded by swarms of taunting Dean supporters, turning cyberspace into the latest Kerry-Dean rift. ‘Right after GWBush, I want to beat John Kerry the most,’ wrote one blogger. Several pro-Dean bloggers lashed Kerry for stealing the former Vermont governor's Internet-savvy campaign tactics. ‘When (Kerry) finds out that Dean has got momentum, he's copying everything from him,’ wrote a blogger identified as ‘copycatkerry.’  The Kerry camp, while dismissing such Internet sparring as campaign pranksterism, insisted the online rants have badly misfired. ‘The Dean trolls have actually fired up Kerry supporters, and increased their energy and excitement to organize for John Kerry,’ said Kerry spokeswoman Kelley Benander. ‘Troll’ is web slang for people who post harassing comments. Some bloggers posted a list of Kerry's missed Senate votes. Others ripped Kerry for backing the Iraq war, for not being liberal enough and for attacking Dean. ‘Kerry and his campaign manager Jim Jordan have been saying nasty things about Dean all along. They attack Dean, we speak back on their blog. Seems fair to me,’ wrote blogger ‘Dave.’  A blogger named ‘Trey Phish Head’ claimed he was a Dean backer and a ‘shallow lonely stoner that lives to spam my enemy.’ Such comments irked Kerry supporters, who responded with a volley of blistering blog entries. ‘Until this stops, I am going to raise hell on the Dean boards, and I encourage all Kerry people to join me,’ ranted a blogger known as ‘Pocki,’ who added angrily, ‘(Dean) is a traitor anyway.’ Another Kerry backer blasted Dean supporters for ‘attacking like trust fund babies.’ The cyberskirmishing prompted an online plea from Dean campaign manager Joe Trippi urging supporters not to post messages on rival blogs. Other pro-Dean bloggers apologized for the vitriolic messages from fellow Dean backers. ‘I am truly embarrassed that some alleged Dean supporters have posted nasty messages,’ wrote blogger ‘Passing Shot.’ Some were frustrated by both sides. ‘All I found on one side are potty-mouthed Deanies - and on the other, snooty Kerryites,’ wrote ‘Lilly James.’ Aides to both Kerry and Dean suggested mischievous Republicans could also be behind some of the anti-Kerry entries allegedly from Dean supporters. ‘Who knows who is actually writing this stuff?,’ asked Benander, noting the difficulty of confirming identities online. Dean spokeswoman Dorie Clark had no comment.” (8/14/2003)

Kerry – in an apparent competition with Dean on farm policy announcements  – outlined his proposal a day before Dean yesterday detailed his proposal just a couple counties away. (See yesterday’s Daily Report for more on Dean’s proposal.) Headline on Kerry’s announcement from yesterday’s Mason City Globe Gazette: “Kerry touts farm reform” Excerpt from John Skipper’s coverage – datelined Klemme:   “Standing in front of a hog confinement operation owned by the DeCoster family, U.S. Sen. John Kerry said Tuesday the ‘corporatization’ of agriculture is destroying the family farm and pledged that as president he would press for reforms. ‘Corporate farmers ought to be regulated like the big-time industries they are,’ he said. Kerry, D-Mass., one of nine Democrats seeking the party’s 2004 presidential nomination, offered a five-point program of reforms. ‘Corporations have an unacceptable concentration of power. We need to restructure environmental laws and we need an attorney general who understands anti-trust laws and enforces them,’ he said. Kerry’s reform plan calls for: Banning the corporate packer ownership of livestock, restructuring the Environmental Quality Incentive Program to ensure it benefits family farmers, requires a comprehensive nutrient management plan and ensures its funds are used as intended, enforcing antitrust laws if a merger reduces competition to the degree that if affects prices to hog producers, protecting independent farmers from discriminatory pricing, and insisting the EPA and USDA work together to work with states to set and enforce environmental protection rules and laws. Kerry met with supporters at the Rose Bowl in Mason City and then headed for Klemme, stopping once to view from the roadside a hog confinement operation south of Ventura. He then went to the site of the DeCoster hog operation about 300 yards from the property of Gloria Goll of Klemme.”(8/14/2003)

In Iowa – where pro-trade policies are pushed by farmers and commodity groups – Edwards and Gephardt brag about leading the fight against trade. Headline from this morning’s The Union Leader: “Democrats court key labor vote” Excerpts of coverage from Iowa Federation of Labor convention in Waterloo by AP’s Mike Glover:   Six Democratic presidential candidates sketched out differences on health care and trade Wednesday as they competed for the backing of organized labor, which is key to securing the party's nomination. North Carolina Sen. John Edwards and Missouri Rep. Richard Gephardt bragged that they've led the fight against trade deals, saying the deals resulted in American jobs being shipped overseas and declining wages. The two men criticized their rivals who have supported trade pacts in the past. ‘Most of them were for those treaties when they were before Congress,’ said Gephardt, wagging his finger. Added Edwards: ‘There are a lot of Democrats have never seen a trade agreement they didn't like.’ Trade is a key issue for organized labor because an effort to expand the North American Free Trade Agreement is pending before Congress. Massachusetts Sen. John Kerry conceded that he had voted for trade agreements during the Clinton administration, but argued that he now opposes expansion of those agreements. ‘During the Clinton years I voted for trade, but we have seen a sea change over those years,’ Kerry said. Florida Sen. Bob Graham said he would push for protections in any trade agreements negotiated with other countries. ‘If we have a level playing field, we can win,’ he said. Kerry, Graham and Connecticut Sen. Joe Lieberman all voted in favor of the original NAFTA, but Kerry and Graham argued that it is now time for additional protections. Former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean said he supported NAFTA because it was good for his state. Dean now wants labor and environmental standards added to it. Ohio Rep. Dennis Kucinich said he would pull out of the World Trade Organization and cancel NAFTA altogether. ‘Anyone who talks about changing it doesn't know what he's talking about,’ he said. Kerry and Graham argued that Gephardt's $200 billion-plus plan to expand the nation's health care system was too expensive, although all of the candidates have their own plans to fix the system.” (8/14/2003)

Could a “dollop of Cheez Whiz” – or absence of “a dollop of Cheez Whiz” – be costly to Kerry’s presidential aspirations? Headline from yesterday’s Washington Post: “Steak Raises Stakes for Kerry in Philly” Excerpt from coverage by the Post’s Dana Milback: “If Sen. John F. Kerry's presidential aspirations melt like a dollop of Cheez Whiz in the sun, the trouble may well be traced to an incident in South Philadelphia on Monday. There, the Massachusetts Democrat went to Pat's Steaks and ordered a cheesesteak -- with Swiss cheese. If that weren't bad enough, the candidate asked photographers not to take his picture while he ate the sandwich; shutters clicked anyway, and Kerry was caught nibbling daintily at his sandwich -- another serious faux pas. ‘It will doom his candidacy in Philadelphia,’ predicted Craig LaBan, food critic for the Philadelphia Inquirer, which broke the Sandwich Scandal. After all, Philly cheesesteaks come with Cheez Whiz, or occasionally American or provolone. But Swiss cheese? ‘In Philadelphia, that's an alternative lifestyle,’ LaBan explained. And don't even mention Kerry's dainty bites. ‘Obviously, Kerry's a high-class candidate, and he misread the etiquette,’ LaBan said. ‘Throwing fistfuls of steak into the gaping maw, fingers dripping -- that's the proper way.’ For Kerry, a Boston Brahmin, this is something of a sore spot. As he seeks to lose his reputation for $75 Salon Cristophe haircuts, Turnbull & Asser shirts and long fingernails to play classical guitar, he has been seen riding a motorcycle and doing other regular-guy things. Appearing out of touch with the common man can be deadly for a candidate. Recall George H.W. Bush's wonderment in the 1992 campaign upon coming across a supermarket scanner, and Sargent Shriver's legendary request for a Courvoisier while visiting a milltown bar in 1972. Kerry spokesman Robert Gibbs insisted that the candidate was ‘not taking a dainty nibble’ of the steak. ‘I suspect that Kerry was thinking about provolone cheese but became distracted by thinking of the more than 3 million jobs that have slipped through the holes of George W. Bush's economic plan.’ The owner of Pat's Steaks, Frank Olivieri, was forgiving, though he points out that Bill Clinton and Al Gore knew to ask for Whiz. ‘It happens,’ he said. ‘I swayed him to the Cheez Whiz. If you're eating in Philadelphia, you eat what I serve you.’ At least Kerry didn't ask for Camembert.”(8/14/2003)

Wealthy wannabe – Kerry – indicates he would consider Social Security means-testing for rich Americans. Headline from yesterday’s Boston Globe: “Kerry hints at reform for Social Security” The Globe’s Glen Johnson – one of a small army of reporters covering the wannabes in IA this week – reported on Kerry’s campaign stop in Webster City. Excerpt: “Declaring ‘I am blessed to be wealthy,’ Senator John F. Kerry said that, if elected president, he would consider some form of means-testing for rich Americans as part of a broader review of ideas to shore up the Social Security system. The Massachusetts Democrat told a group of Hamilton County political activists late Tuesday that one idea bearing exploration is eliminating Social Security payments to the wealthy after they have recouped the money they paid into the federal retirement program during their working life. ‘Rich people are getting checks from poor people, well beyond what they put into the system,’ said Kerry, a millionaire in his own right and the husband of Teresa Heinz Kerry. She is a philanthropist and heiress to the Heinz ketchup empire whose net worth has been estimated at more than $550 million. Kerry said he had a right to recoup his personal tax payments into the retirement system but no need for government support beyond that. A spokeswoman for the AARP said that the nonpartisan association would not comment on candidates' positions, but added that it did not support means-testing for Social Security recipients. Another idea Kerry said he would consider is raising the cut-off point after which people no longer pay into the system. Americans pay Social Security taxes only on the first $86,000 they earn in a year. Kerry said he has heard suggestions about raising that threshold as a way of building up the fund for the pending retirement of the baby boom generation. ‘Maybe people ought to pay up to $100,000 or $120,000, I don't know,’ the senator said. The baby boom generation is expected to put a tremendous strain on the retirement system, and the government projects that Social Security could be insolvent by 2042. But tinkering with Social Security is considered akin to touching the third rail in politics, because poorer Americans have relied on the program since it was instituted by President Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1935. And older Americans who are receiving Social Security checks are an active and potent group of voters. Kerry presented his ideas in response to an audience question. Aware of the potential political peril, he took pains to couch his remarks, both to the county Democrats and to a group of reporters who interviewed him after the appearance. He said he has not committed to the ideas and would consider them only after assembling ‘a group of wise souls who've been through the process’ to conduct a larger review of Social Security. Kerry also said he has decided against two ideas that have already generated protests: raising the full Social Security retirement age beyond 67, and reducing the payments made under the program.”(8/15/2003)

… “Still time for Kerry – but hold the ketchup” – Headline on David Yepsen’s political column in yesterday’s Des Moines Register. Excerpt from column with a Webster City dateline: “John Kerry's presidential hopes in Iowa rest with people like Ramona Timm, a Blairsburg farmer who showed up here Tuesday night to hear the Massachusetts senator. ‘He had some good points,’ she said after his speech to about 75 Hamilton County Democrats. ‘I like Senator Kerry. I like Howard Dean. I haven't had a chance to meet them all yet so I'm open-minded." For Kerry, that's good news. With all the buzz about Dean's momentum or Dick Gephardt's trouble in the polls, there's a tendency by some in the political community to forget it's five months until caucuses Jan. 19, when people like Timm have to make a choice. And Kerry needs every minute of that time. He's running third in polls in Iowa. He started campaigning here later than other candidates, and hasn't spent as much time here. His vote to authorize a war in Iraq caused a number of anti-war Democrats to bypass him in favor of Dean. Then there was the bout with prostate cancer that slowed him down. Now, just when he's trying to put his political flaps down to lift his campaign, the political fiasco in California is crowding out media coverage of - and money for - the Democratic presidential race. It wasn't supposed to be this way. Kerry, a seasoned U.S. senator and decorated Vietnam veteran, was seen by many early on as the national heavy favorite to beat President Bush. He was smart, rich, experienced, conversant on issues and bulletproofed from any Republican inferences he was weak on defense. Unfortunately for Kerry, it hasn't played out that way. His base is being piecemealed. He's lost some of the urban liberals to Dean over the war. He's lost some of the populists to Dennis Kucinich. Gephardt denies him some in the labor movement. Too many Democrats worry he'll be pegged as too liberal, as were the last two Massachusetts Democratic presidential candidates, Edward Kennedy and Michael Dukakis. And there are days when Kerry must feel snake bit. On Wednesday, the Washington Post even wrote a story about how Kerry went to Philadelphia and ordered a cheese steak sandwich made with - horrors - Swiss cheese instead of Cheez Whiz. That's a little like coming to the Iowa State Fair and ordering oysters on the half-shell. John Norris, Kerry's well- regarded campaign manager in Iowa, said such negativism is getting to some of the younger staffers. He said he had to buck them up in this week's staff conference call by saying their jobs are to quietly build the organization, not worry about the buzz. He said Kerry's campaign is picking up key supporters in every county, people who understand the caucus process and can mobilize others…Kerry is also delivering a punchier, less esoteric message. He told reporters here he's ‘coming out of spring training’ and ‘I save my best for last.’ That's good, but it can be risky. He told the audience here the country should consider raising Social Security taxes on incomes above $86,000 or capping the retirement benefits paid to wealthy Americans. Later he said those were just ‘options’ he was considering. There was a time, back in the good old days, when presidential candidates could get away with winging it in Iowa, with trying out new ideas or brainstorming out loud with voters. No more. Not when you are always followed by a half-dozen reporters noting your every word. In Iowa, with one of the oldest populations in the country, you especially don't ad lib on something as politically sensitive as Social Security. Will somebody make sure Kerry doesn't put ketchup on his Maid-Rite?”(8/15/2003)

Kerry main page

Kerry Aug. 16-31, 2003

 top of page

Paid for by the Iowa Presidential Watch PAC

P.O. Box 171, Webster City, IA 50595

privacy  /  agreement  /    /  homepage / search engine