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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

December 1-15, 2003

Dear Mr. President,

Sen. John Kerry wrote the President a letter charging him with failure in the manufacturing sector. The letter was pointedly aimed at the President’s trip to Michigan. President Bush touted the good economic news while he was in Michigan and promoted tort reform.

Writing a letter is a frequent campaign trick to call out the opponent. It is a good trick to use when you are not getting any attention. It is the old fashion way of calling your opponent out. The odds are that the President will not respond. Here is a copy of the letter:

Dear Mr. President,

Over the past three years, this country has lost one out of every seven manufacturing jobs – 2.7 million jobs. To date, your Administration’s only plan to save manufacturing is to create a new government position -- the “Assistant Secretary for Manufacturing and Services” within the Department of Commerce. This simply just isn’t acceptable and amounts, in my view, to a dereliction of duty on the economic front.

As you give your speech on the economy today in Michigan, I hope you will finally offer a long overdue plan to restore the nation’s manufacturing base, which has been eroded under your watch. Your Administration has stood by and watched as the loss of manufacturing jobs – including 110,000 in Michigan -- has undermined the strength of our economy and the bread and butter for millions of America’s working families.

Not only are manufacturing jobs good jobs but they are critical to overall economic growth, technological innovation, and a high standard of living for Americans. In fact, over the past ten years manufacturers have performed nearly 60 percent of all research and development in the United States and have paid over one-third of all corporate tax payments to state and local governments. (12/2/2003)

Kerry attacks Ashcroft

Sen. John Kerry appeared on the campus of Iowa State University and continued on his ‘first 100 days in office’ theme saying that he would restore our commitment to civil liberties. The Des Moines Register coverage of the Kerry speech indicates:

He contends that Ashcroft has gone overboard in carrying out provisions of the Patriot Act, which contains law enforcement tools to combat terrorist threats in this country.

"I voted for the Patriot Act right after September 11th, convinced that, with a sunset clause, it was the right decision to make. . . . But George Bush and John Ashcroft abused the spirit of national action after the terrorist attacks. They have used the Patriot Act in ways that were never intended and for reasons that have nothing to do with terrorism," Kerry said.

He said he would stop "roving" wiretaps, restrict authority to seize library or business records, and provide more oversight of searches that don't require notification.

His other proposals include increased efforts to stop money-laundering by terrorist groups and other criminals, and improving communication among intelligence and law enforcement agencies.

The Boston Globe covered the story as well and is more complete in its coverage. The story also runs at length on National Public Radio. The Globe offers the following:

Kerry said one of his first acts as president would be to replace the Patriot Act -- which he voted for -- with a new law that kept some of the act's provisions, such as tougher penalties for terrorists, while also strengthening civil liberties protections. He said the federal government would stop indefinite detentions of US citizens, and guarantee legal and other rights for those who are held. (12/2/2003)

Kerry’s moves

Sen. John Kerry continued his Iowa College Tour visiting the University of Northern Iowa and the University of Iowa. He stressed education at UNI, which was previously known as the Teachers College before becoming a university. The Waterloo Courier coverage of the events showed that some students had changed from Howard Dean to Kerry. However, Kerry remains back in third place behind both Gephardt and Dean:

UNI sophomore Courtney Blake, an early supporter of rival Democrat Howard Dean, said she decided to back Kerry after hearing about his educational policies.

"He lit a fire in me, I guess," Blake said of Dean. "And then I stepped back this fall and looked at their policies and both their ideas. On the surface, Dean's looked good, but when I dug a little bit deeper, Kerry's made a lot more sense."

Blake especially liked Kerry's "Service for College" plan. The program would allow students to earn the equivalent of four years' tuition to one of their state's public universities in exchange for two years of public service.

Kerry’s attack on Bush was harsh and he used a twist on his “Real Deal” theme, "Ask any teacher in America what kind of deal George Bush has given children in America, and they'll tell you it's a raw deal," Kerry said.

In Iowa City Kerry was joined by Congressman Earl Blumenauer, D-Ore., a leading legislator on environmental issues who has endorsed Kerry. Kerry said he would establish a "toxics task force" within the Environmental Protection Agency to identify and address the nation's top toxic threats. (12/3/2003)

Peanut butter & jelly brigade

A Manchester Union Leader story covers Kerry’s speech in Boston where he tried to recruit students to join his campaign over break.

“It was students who became known as the ‘peanut butter and jelly brigade,’ who went up to New Hampshire and knocked on doors and handed out leaflets and talked to people in houses and told them what was wrong with the war in Vietnam,” Kerry told the auditorium filled with students. (12/3/2003)

Rally round the flag

Massachusetts Senator John Kerry announced his state’s campaign and their joining to help him in Iowa and New Hampshire as well. Kerry released a 2,096 Steering Committee of Kerry Patriots today and the Massachusetts’ chairs who will lead the campaign’s efforts in his home state. These committee members will also canvass in New Hampshire, make phone calls to undecided voters in IA and NH and travel in early primary states in January as “Kerry Travelers”. In a rally at Boston University today, Kerry also urged students to join his “peanut butter brigade” and volunteer and canvass during January “Winternships”

Recent polls have shown that Kerry would lose his home state to Dean. This effort is clearly an attempt to dispel those rumors. Kerry in making the announcement sounded a little like Howard Dean in his “take back America” remarks. You know -- the one where he tells everyone the power is in this room, it is with you, and you have the power to take your America back.

“George W Bush is going to find our own secret weapon—he’s going to find an army of volunteers with the courage to change America and the energy to get it done. I couldn’t have come this far without all of you, and I can’t get it done in January without you either,” Kerry said. (12/3/2003)

Change everything

Candidate John Kerry, in a speech to the New York Council of Foreign Relations, announced his new plan to stem "a widespread and widening network of terrorists," such as targeting Saudi Arabia for sanctions and naming a special ambassador to the Mid East. Kerry also said that he would reverse President Bush’s foreign policy.

Kerry said that he would consider naming former Democratic Presidents Clinton and Carter as well as James Baker, secretary of state in the first Bush White House to the Mid East post.

Kerry's campaign said he would announce tough new actions to deny terrorist sanctuaries, cut off terrorist financing and improve intelligence. He also planned deal with what the campaign called Saudi Arabia's "marriage of convenience with terrorists," including imposing economic sanctions unless the Arab nation cracks down on terrorism.

Kerry said American can't neglect its role in resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in the Mid East -- a breeding ground for terrorist activity. He pledged to appoint a presidential ambassador to the peace process, who would report directly to him and to the secretary of state.

Kerry is trying to use Howard Dean’s lack of foreign policy as reason to disqualify Dean for President. Look for Dean to respond with accusations about how Kerry and the others are disqualified because they voted to go to war.

Kerry's campaign manager, Mary Beth Cahill, touted his foreign policy pitch in a fund-raising letter to supporters. She said he would "immediately declare the Bush policy of unilateralism over" as president, and urged backers to donate $60 before Kerry turns 60 on Dec. 11.  (12/3/2003)

Barney Frank’s visit

Kerry announced that Barney Frank would be campaigning in Iowa for him. In announcing Frank’s visit Kerry made no mention of the fact that Frank is an openly gay Congressman. Kerry said about Frank’s visit, “I am proud to have the support of Barney Frank, my friend and colleague from Massachusetts. He is a champion of the progressive causes that the people of Iowa care about - improving healthcare, supporting our schools, protecting our civil liberties, and chartering a smarter course internationally. Together we have fought to give the American people the real deal they deserve.”  (12/3/2003)

Kerry’s policy fallout

Senator John Kerry’s speech to the NY Council on Foreign Relations continues to receive coverage and rebuke from Wesley Clark. Clark took exception to Kerry’s including the name of former Secretary of State James Baker under President H.W. Bush on a list of names that he would consider being a special Mideast ambassador according to Reuters:

"Sen. Kerry's suggestion that he might use Bush family consigliere James Baker as a special envoy to the Middle East is offensive," Clark's spokesman Matt Bennett said, referring to Baker's role in the 2000 presidential recount vote in Florida which led to Bush's election.

"Baker, who was the driving force behind George W. Bush's theft of the 2000 election in the Florida recount, helped to disenfranchise thousands of voters," Bennett said.

Kerry also said he would "launch a 'name and shame' campaign against individuals, banks and foreign governments that are financing terror." "Those who fail to respond will be shut out of American financial markets," he said. He also said he would challenge Saudi Arabia on the issue of funding violent, radical groups. "The Saudi government now claims to be cracking down on terrorist financing, but frankly their actions have not matched their words," he said. (12/4/2003)

Manchester Mayor endorses Kerry

Sen. John Kerry will receive Manchester Mayor Robert Baines endorsement today at a news conference at Manchester Central High School. (12/5/2003)

Kerry scrambling

Sen. John Kerry knows he is in trouble and is doing everything he can to turn around his campaign. The latest two polls show him losing ground rather than gaining it in New Hampshire. A Washington Post story reveals the candidate’s frenetic efforts:

Even before the latest numbers in New Hampshire, Kerry said he recognized that time was of the essence. "I need to campaign like a bandit over the course of the next weeks and make sure people are clear about my candidacy," he said, "and I intend to make them clear."

Kerry recognizes that his voting for the war remains his biggest hurdle:

What he must now do, Kerry said, is "make sure people understand that I have the qualities of leadership to get us out of this problem, that everything that happened I foresaw [and] warned the president about -- in fact that my position was 100 percent consistent from day one and unequivocating." (12/5/2003)

Kerry has wrong strategy

Dante J. Scala, an associate professor at Saint Anselm College and a research fellow at the College’s New Hampshire Institute of Politics, offers an analysis of Kerry’s campaign approach casting himself as a populist. The professor points out that the last populist who won New Hampshire was Jimmy Carter and that the rest have lost. His analysis of how to win is on New Hampshire Politics online:

To win, then, Kerry must either:

• win back support among liberal Democrats, the constituency least likely to respond to a populist message.

• hope that a competitor (Wesley Clark? John Edwards?) cuts into Dean’s support among liberal Democrats, while Kerry fends off Edwards, Clark, and Joe Lieberman among moderate-to-conservative Democrats and manages to increase his support there. How much can Kerry, a senator with a solidly liberal voting record from a very liberal state, hope to increase his standing among such voters?

• hope that in the week between Iowa and New Hampshire, he can cast himself as the “stop Dean” candidate to whom all non-Dean voters would flock. If Richard Gephardt wins Iowa, this will not work because Gephardt will claim that role for himself. If Gephardt loses to Dean in Iowa, this probably still will not work because Clark, Edwards, and Lieberman will all find it in their interest to keep Kerry from becoming the “stop Dean” candidate in New Hampshire.

The ultimate problem for Kerry, of course, is that he does not enjoy the luxury Clinton and Mondale had to fight another day after New Hampshire. It is difficult to see why the national media would give the benefit of the doubt to a candidate who cannot win in his own backyard. The only way Kerry becomes the “stop Dean” candidate is if he stops Dean on January 27. And it’s tough to see how a populist pitch will make that happen. (12/5/2003)

Wash his mouth out with soap

Sen. John Kerry has moved into an X-rated campaign. He is quoted in the Rolling Stones Magazine as having used the ‘F word’ in describing President Bush. The NY Post is covering the story and kids in New Hampshire are asking Kerry if it is appropriate language, according to the Post:

"I voted for what I thought was best for the country. Did I expect Howard Dean to go off to the left and say, 'I'm against everything'? Sure. Did I expect George Bush to f _ _k it up as badly as he did? I don't think anybody did," Kerry told the youth-oriented magazine.

Brookings Institution presidential scholar Stephen Hess said he can't recall another candidate attacking a president with X-rated language in a public interview.

"It's so unnecessary," Hess said. "In a way it's a kind of pandering [by Kerry] to a group he sees as hip . . . I think John Kerry is going to regret saying this."

Kerry was accurately quoted in Rolling Stone, said spokesman David Wade, adding the X-rated language reflects the fact that Bush's Iraq policy "makes John Kerry's blood boil."

Kerry yesterday angrily cited his war record in Vietnam when asked by a New Hampshire student about charges that it's unpatriotic to attack the commander-in-chief, fuming: "I left some blood on a battlefield that President Bush never left anywhere. (12/6/2003)

Kerry in Florida

"On issue after issue, George Bush has given America a raw deal, and everyone in this room knows it," he said in the text. "George Bush goes to Baghdad to carry around a fake Thanksgiving turkey while he cuts support for our troops and 40,000 veterans are left on a hospital waiting list." (12/6/2003)

Kerry on Baker

“As long as the world sees Halliburton cashing in on what George Bush's campaign manager Joe Allbaugh called the 'gold rush' in Iraq, James Baker or anyone else will be handcuffed by this President's unilateralism.

"George Bush needs to change the policy, not just the personnel.”

"To make up for their failure at Madrid to get the world invested in Iraq’s future, the Bush Administration must take meaningful steps to make Iraq's debt and its reconstruction the world's mission, not just an American one. They must transfer authority for Iraq’s reconstruction to the international community." (12/6/2003)

Max Cleland in Iowa for Kerry

Former US Senator Max Cleland will return to Iowa on Thursday, December 11th and Friday, December 12th to rally support for John Kerry and his campaign for the presidency. Cleland visited Iowa earlier this fall and will return again in January.

Cleland lost three limbs while serving in the Vietnam War. When he returned he became the youngest VA Administrator in history and helped institute “vets centers”, which for the first time offered psychological counseling to combat veterans to heal the emotional wounds of war. While serving as Georgia Secretary of State, Cleland fought for tougher campaign finance laws and implemented the “motor voter” program adding almost one million new registered voters to the system. (12/6/2003)

Kerry’s Madness

Sen. John Kerry is employing one of those wonderful pop-ups on his website. He is not the first -- Dick Gephardt is the first website among the nine candidates to employ pop-ups asking for funds.

Kerry, however, has one that catches your attention with the admonition of “Stop the Madness.” The madness features pictures of Bush, Cheyne and Ashcroft. Also pictured is a blackened photo of smokestack polution, Halliburton and Enron. Cronyism, extremism, pollution, deception and economic failure are the five madnesses that you can explore in depth. Kerry also offers his solutions to these madnesses. Then you can contribute to help stop the madness. (12/6/2003)

Kerry believes in positive thinking

When Sen. John Kerry announced that Manchester Mayor Robert Baines was endorsing his candidacy. He boldly stated that he would still win according to the Manchester Union Leader:

“I’ve been behind before in races,” Kerry told students and reporters gathered in the school library. “I’m known as a good closer, and I intend to be a good closer in this campaign.

“I am going to win this race,” he insisted. “And I will win because I do have a passion — 35 years of it — that I’ve exhibited from the day I came back from Vietnam. I will show a passion and an energy that’s second to nobody in this race.”

Kerry then clarified that by “this race,” he was predicting not only that he eventually will win the Presidency, but that first, “I intend to win New Hampshire. I’m going to do my best to win in New Hampshire. You bet I am.” (12/6/2003)

Kerry’s four steps for Medicare

John Kerry today outlined a four-step plan to restore Medicare and provide ‘real’ prescription drug relief for all Americans. In his first 100 days as President, Kerry will propose a bill that keeps Medicare strong, instead of privatizing it, and allows seniors to choose their doctor, instead of forcing them into HMOs.

“If you want to see a prime example of Republican’s working for powerful interests, just look at this latest Medicare bill. This bill is less about prescription drug benefits and more a prescription to benefit big drug companies. This bill is less about prescription drug benefits and more a prescription to benefit big drug companies,” said John Kerry. “Say what you want about President Bush, it’s clear his powerful campaign contributors get what they pay for. But we’re getting left with the tab. The AARP pays actors to play seniors in TV commercials. But real-life seniors are getting left out in the cold.”

John Kerry’s four-step plan to restore Medicare:

I. LOWER PRESCRIPTION DRUG COSTS – DON’T RAISE DRUG COMPANY PROFITS: John Kerry will change that so Americans can get lower-priced medications.

II. GIVE CHOICES TO SENIORS - NOT GIVEAWAYS TO HMOS: Kerry will make sure seniors can choose their doctors and aren’t forced to join an HMO.

III. EXPAND PRESCRIPTION COVERAGE -- DON’T TAKE IT AWAY FOR THOSE WHO HAVE IT: Kerry will strengthen drug coverage for those who have it – not make it worse.

IV. ASSURE SENIORS HAVE REAL MEDICARE DRUG PLAN -- NOT FORCED INTO HMOS: Kerry will make sure there is always a Medicare-run plan for every senior. There will be access to providers that are fairly reimbursed for their high quality services. (12/7/2003)

Attack Bush for 9/11

Democratic candidate for President John Kerry today stood up to the Bush Administration for their response to the terrorist attacks of September 11th and for failing to provide U.S. soldiers in Iraq with the proper protective body armor.

"After the attack on Pearl Harbor sixty-two years ago, President Roosevelt responded quickly and decisively, not just to go to war with our attackers but also to find answers for what had gone wrong in order to prevent such a tragedy from happening again," said John Kerry. "After the attacks of September 11th, George W. Bush has done the opposite. Where Roosevelt sought answers, Bush has sought to avoid blame by stonewalling the 9/11 commission and congressional inquiries into intelligence failures."

In San Diego today, John Kerry and two of his Viet Nam swift boat crewmates commemorated the sacrifice of those who died in the attack on Pearl Harbor by placing a wreath at the swift boat memorial at the Coronado Naval Amphibious Base where Kerry trained for his service in Vietnam. John Kerry also unveiled details of his plan to improve intelligence gathering, protect U.S. ports, and reimburse military families for body armor purchases. John Kerry's plan:

·        Enhanced Intelligence Capabilities: 1) Fix the information flow between the intelligence and law enforcement communities; 2) Reform domestic intelligence capabilities so that the Director of the CIA is the true director of domestic intelligence with authority and power; and 3) increase the number of linguists in critical languages in our intelligence agencies.

·        Improved Port Security: 1) Develop standards for security at ports for containers and ensure that facilities can meet basic standards; 2) Accelerating timetable for the U.S.-Canada and U.S.-Mexico "smart border" accords; 3) implement security measures for cross-border bridges; 4) pursue moderate safety standards for privately held infrastructure; and 5) develop and fund a system of container security that includes tracking devices.

·        Reimbursements for Body Armor Purchase: One-fourth of the 130,000 U.S. troops in Iraq are still waiting for the latest body armor. In the meantime, family members and friends are paying hundreds of dollars for the updated armor themselves and shipping it to Iraq. On Tuesday Kerry will introduce legislation to reimburse family members who paid money out of their own pockets to provide the personal body armor that the government failed to deliver.

"In the rush to war, this administration failed to adequately outfit military personnel shipping off to Iraq. As a result, many of our fighting men and women do not have the latest technology for body armor. It's a disgrace that their families had to use their own funds to buy the body armor and ship it to Iraq. My legislation will reimburse those families," said John Kerry.

Kerry also noted that the Bush Administration has done very little to improve port security.

"With 95 percent of shipping containers coming in through U.S. ports, we need a President with a real plan to protect our ports from dangerous materials hidden in these containers, not one who continues to ignore real imminent threats to our security. My plan would put in place an affordable technology to track containers and their contents and improve security at U.S. ports," said Kerry. (12/7/2003)

Florida Dem Convention:

I’d rather be in Iowa or New Hampshire

Democrat candidates for President gathered in Buena Vista, Florida for their party’s state convention and preached to over 4,000 of the faithful. The state’s Democrats are still bruised from the recount and subsequent loss to George Bush. They are also upset over the loss of the straw poll and the $100,000 per candidate they were going to collect for allowing the candidates on the straw poll ballot. In addition, the state’s influence in choosing a candidate is nearly zip -- the state’s March 9th primary date is so late that a one of the candidates will already have the delegate-count needed to secure the nomination.

Howard Dean once again showed that he is the candidate with money and organization. Dean’s union friends helped him pack the convention hall. Dean shelled out $50,000 to the Florida Democrat Party so he could receive special treatment. The real cost for Dean in Florida is probably more in the $100,000 range. For the $50,000 price tag, Dean's staff were able to hold campaign-training seminars for their supporters. None of the other candidates made as much effort. Dean’s campaign was also able to practice their National Democrat Convention technique by staging a made-for-television arrival on the convention stage. Hundreds of supporters screamed his name, waved signs, blew whistles, carried banners and delayed the start of his speech with a 10-minute demonstration.

Away from the stage-managed events, Clark and Dean both struggled a bit during their news conferences. Clark, who has praised President Bush and attended a GOP fund-raiser, was repeatedly asked why he did not complain about the 2000 election before he became a Democratic candidate for president.

Florida recount – sound bytes from the candidates:

"We had more votes. We won," North Carolina Sen. John Edwards said.

"I never thought the frontline for democracy would be the United States in the beautiful state of Florida," former Gen. Wesley Clark said.

"Florida is the place where America's democracy was wounded," Massachusetts Sen. John Kerry said. (12/7/2003)

Language flack

Sen. John Kerry’s use of profanity continues to play in the media and editorial columns are beginning to blast away at him as well. Meanwhile, Kerry’s campaign shows no sign of an apology for the foul language in the Rolling Stone magazine interview. Kerry’s campaign issued the following statement:

"John Kerry saw combat up close, and he doesn't mince words when it comes to politicians who put ideological recklessness ahead of American troops," said spokeswoman Stephanie Cutter. "I think the American people would rather Card and the rest of the White House staff spend more time on fixing Bush's flawed policy in Iraq than on Sen. Kerry's language." (12/8/2003)

Kerry lowering expectations

A Boston Globe story reports Sen. John Kerry’s campaign is lowering expectations about his performance in New Hampshire. The campaign is suggesting that second place is adequate because under Democratic Party rules: Candidates who receive at least 15 percent of the vote in a primary or caucus will receive a share of the delegates who will go on to nominate the Democrats' presidential candidate at the party convention in Boston in late July.

Many other prognosticators suggest Kerry’s advantage of being a Senator from nearby Massachusetts with Boston being a dominant media source for Southern New Hampshire. The question persists: if Kerry can’t win in New Hampshire, where can he win? (12/8/2003)

Kerry to address jobs issue

Democratic candidate for President John Kerry will address students at Stanford University on Monday, December 8, at 12:00 p.m. PT / 3:00 p.m. ET where he will unveil his plan to create jobs, invest in technology, and build a 21st Century workforce to compete in a global economy.

President Bush has presided over the loss of 3 million jobs in America, including 425,000 high-tech jobs in California and other technology hubs throughout the nation. Through his plan, John Kerry will bring an end to the nation's so-called "jobless recovery" by assuring the work force has the skills so that America can go back to work and compete in the global marketplace. (12/8/2003)

Kerry asked to fire consultant Robert Schrum

The Boston Globe reports that Jason Kinney, a former speechwriter for ousted Democratic governor Gray Davis, sent a letter to Kerry urging him to fire Shrum for his "betrayal" of the Democratic Party. A political opponent of Kerry's provided the letter to the Globe. Kerry, asked two weeks ago about Shrum's California role, said Shrum was not expected to clear his clients by the Kerry campaign and declined further comment. Yesterday, Kerry spokesman Michael Meehan said he had nothing to add to Kerry's earlier remarks. Shrum, an ally of the Kennedy family, of which Schwarzenegger is a member by marriage, could not be reached for comment. (12/8/2003)

Kerry’s making it up

The Washington Post covers the fact that Kerry’s statements don’t always add up:

Let me tell you something," he said Thursday on the CBS "Early Show." "John McCain was 30 points behind Bush in New Hampshire at this point in time." The point was clear: Kerry, far behind Howard Dean in New Hampshire, would have a come-from-behind victory, just as McCain did over George W. Bush in 2000.

Well, not exactly. At this time four years ago, an American Research Group poll found McCain with a 37 percent to 30 percent lead over Bush in New Hampshire. And a Franklin Pierce College poll put McCain's lead at 15 points. (12/8/2003)

Liberal Frank’s no sale

Rep Barney Frank was in Iowa’s most liberal community, Iowa City. He was there campaigning for his friend Sen. John Kerry according to the Daily Iowan. He stood atop a box with a Kerry banner as backdrop during lunch hour. He delivered the not electable line regarding Kerry’s opponent. It is highly irresponsible to support a candidate who won't be able to beat President Bush.  The paper said that his endorsement confused many in attendance:

UI Student Government Vice President Mayrose Wegmann, who attended the reception, said she was "really confused." "I've always been very impressed with Barney Frank," she said, "but I'm disappointed that a progressive congressman would side with someone who has a poor voting record on progressive issues like the war resolution, the Patriot Act, and tax cuts." She said she does not see the same passion in the Kerry campaign that she sees in the campaigns of other presidential candidates such as Howard Dean and Dennis Kucinich. "I was really confused," Wegmann said. "It seemed like he supported Kerry because he's from the same state and has known him a long time." (12/8/2003)

Death Penalty

The Boston Globe has an article on how Democrats are changing their stripes on the death penalty:

All six upper-tier candidates are on record as supporting at least some application of the death penalty. Moreover, four were opponents who have modified their views -- Howard Dean, John F. Kerry, Joseph I. Lieberman, and John Edwards. Richard A. Gephardt has been a consistent death penalty supporter, and Wesley K. Clark initially said after joining the race in September that he backed a moratorium on executions, but has voiced support of capital punishment as a punishment option for "the most heinous crimes."

The three Democrats who steadfastly oppose the death penalty are all lower-tier candidates in the polls -- Dennis J. Kucinich, Carol Moseley Braun, and the Rev. Al Sharpton. All three have said they would seek to abolish capital punishment. (12/8/2003)

Kerry’s great hair

Jonah Goldberg’s column in the Manchester Union Leader takes exception with Kerry’s seemingly contradictory statements. He also states that Kerry has no chance of becoming President or winning the nomination. He does say, though, that everyone can agree that Kerry has “got very important hair.” Here is a sample of his criticism:

The fact is that short of buying a ranch outside Baghdad, President Bush couldn’t be more clear that we’re in Iraq for the long haul. And if Kerry were concerned about the problems of bugging-out of Iraq, you’d think he would have voted for the Iraq reconstruction package. No, instead, Kerry voted for attacking Iraq but not rebuilding it. Then later, he turned around and criticized both the war and the lack of reconstruction. (12/9/2003)

Kerry on technology

Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry is proposing a broad economic recovery program that ties job creation to technological innovation, investment and training as he campaigns in a Silicon Valley – which is still reeling from the technology bust.

"Today, an agenda for high-tech is an agenda for our economic future," the Massachusetts senator said in a speech to be delivered Monday at Stanford University. "And the promise of the Information Age was more than a bubble — it was a breakthrough from which we will never turn back."

Kerry's praise for Silicon Valley's fabled garage-based startup companies and the soaring possibilities of the Internet carried an ironic note: Former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean catapulted to the top of the field through his campaign's innovative use of the Internet in fund-raising and organization. Kerry had planned to win the Jan. 27 primary in New Hampshire, and then ride on to victory in other states. But with Dean dominating polls in that state, Kerry's aides released a memo over the weekend that said the senator now is "competing for the top three spots in Iowa and top two in New Hampshire."

The memo noted that any candidate who gets 15 percent of the vote will win delegates to the party's national convention next summer. It also cited statistics from the last presidential election that showed 82 percent of New Hampshire Democrats didn't decide for whom to vote until after Jan. 1.

In his remarks at Stanford, Kerry did not mention Dean or any other Democrat by name. Instead, he charged President Bush with having an "anti-science attitude" that had hindered research into stem cells and global warming (news - web sites). He also blamed Bush for the loss of 3 million jobs nationwide, including thousands of high-tech jobs in New Hampshire. Kerry outlined five major goals of his job-creation plan:

·        Encouraging technological innovation by investing in small technology companies, offering tax credits for research and development, and expanding broadband Internet capability;

·        Improving high-tech infrastructure and making Internet access universally available;

·        Strengthening markets by enforcing trade law, preventing intellectual piracy, boosting corporate accountability and balancing the federal budget;

·        Preparing students for the work force by improving math and science education and making college more affordable;

·        Using technology to improve health and safety through biotechnology, stem-cell research and national security. (12/9/2003)

Kerry’s town hall meeting

Sen. John Kerry is taking a page from Joe Lieberman and going to hold a televised town hall meeting, but in Iowa. It shows how important this Midwest state has become to the New Englander. Kerry will hold the televised town hall meeting this Sunday, to be telecast statewide, campaign aides said Monday.

The event will be telecast from Davenport and will be carried live at 11:30 a.m. on KWWL in Cedar Rapids, WHO in Des Moines, WQAD in Davenport, KTTC in Mason City and KTVO in Ottumwa. The event will be aired at noon on KETV in Council Bluffs and KTIV in Sioux City. Roughly 50 Democratic activists who have not yet decided whom they will support in the Jan. 19 caucuses will be selected to attend the event in Davenport, where Kerry will answer questions from the group and by e-mail. The Boston Globe reports that Kerry has boosted his Iowa staff:

In Iowa, Kerry's staff has grown from 88 aides at Thanksgiving to about 100 today -- roughly the same as in New Hampshire, spokesman Michael Meehan said -- and several more aides are expected to go to Iowa shortly. Among them is a leader of Kerry's campaign operation in Arizona, Summer Oesch. Arizona is one of seven states that has a nominating contest Feb. 3, a week after New Hampshire's, making Oesch's move a notable shift in personnel from a state that Kerry hopes to win to a state where Kerry must turn in a strong performance.

Cahill said the Iowa focus would not detract from Kerry's political efforts in the 17 other states where he is on the primary ballot or has filed papers. She predicted Kerry would win at least 15 percent of the vote in several early primaries -- "that's the number we're watching" -- and have the financial resources to outlast his rivals and emerge in a two-way nomination race with Dean by late February or early March. (12/9/2003)

Kerry for children

At a childcare center in Manchester, New Hampshire, John Kerry outlined a three-point plan today to make kids safer and healthier and assure they enter school ready to learn. His plan includes a new Kids Safety Effort requiring safety labels for food allergens and mandatory testing of prescription drugs used for treating children; setting comprehensive standards for early childhood education; and providing health insurance for every child in America. John Kerry believes that we have a moral obligation to cover America’s children. His plan would assure that nearly 99 percent of all children have health care coverage. Kerry’s plan would include:

* A New Deal to Provide Health Coverage to Every Child. Kerry's plan would assure that the Federal government picks up the cost of the nearly 20 million kids enrolled in Medicaid in exchange for states covering kids in the Children’s Health Insurance Program.

* Making Sure All Children Are Eligible. Kerry’s swap plan would require states to cover children in families making up to $60,000; eliminate the current 5-year waiting period for eligibility for legal immigrant pregnant women and children; and enable children with disabilities to keep their health care coverage when their parents return to work.

* Assuring Automatic Enrollment. The Kerry plan would assure every child gets health care coverage by automatic enrolling kids when they come to school with a simple form. Since the Federal government would be picking up the costs for these kids, this would not undermine states' fiscal situation. (12/10/2003)

Special interest “feeding frenzy"

Sen. John Kerry is going up with another new TV ad in Iowa that will expose President Bush’s special interest feeding frenzy. Kerry says in the ad that he will "stand up to the drug companies to lower the cost of prescriptions, take on the insurance industry to finally get health care reform, and break the grip of big oil to make America energy independent."  (12/11/2003)

France would send troops

Sen. John Kerry in an editorial board meeting with the Boston Globe stated that France is willing to send troops to Iraq:

I've talked with a friend of mine who was in Paris the other day who was meeting with President Chirac at length, exploring some ideas, and the clear conclusion was that there is a place where the president is prepared to be involved and even perhaps put troops on the ground," Kerry said.

Pressed, Kerry refused to identify the friend who spoke with Chirac, or offer further details. "I don't want to drag the president of France into this presidential race."

Kerry also expressed that Howard Dean would be "eviscerated" by President Bush's re-election team because of his "enormous deficit" in international experience. Kerry also bashed Bush on foreign policy and expressed that we would never have gone to war if he were President. Then he backed down:

Kerry also added, "If any person in this table believes we would be at war today in Iraq if I were president, you shouldn't support me," saying he had urged Bush before the war to build a coalition for military action in Iraq and not "rush" into battle.

A few minutes later Kerry clarified his remark, saying that "there wouldn't have been a war in Iraq the way we went to war. If I had gone to war, it would have been making real the promises of this president," such as exhausting diplomatic options and building support among Americans and an international coalition. (12/12/2003)


The National Review Online column suggests Sen. John Kerry is helping to lead Democrats into insanity:

"John Kerry put an ad on the air that sort of knocked my socks off," Jay Nordlinger writes in his Impromptus column for National Review Online (

"It reads, in part, 'Kerry will make energy independence a national priority so no American will have to fight for Mideast oil.' That is a breathtaking statement, with its implication that American boys are being made to shed their blood for oil — a stock charge of the lunatic Left," Mr. Nordlinger said.

 "I sometimes feel guilty for thinking that the Democratic Party has gone nuts. But it's hard to ignore the evidence," he said.  (12/12/2003)

Kerry challenges Saudi alliance

Sen. John Kerry, citing the fact that more than a year after the September 11 terrorist attacks the Saudi interior minister (Prince Nayef) told an Arab media outlet that he thought "the Jews" were responsible for the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, alled into question American policy toward Saudi Arabia:

When a senior member of the Saudi ruling family — its top law enforcement officer responsible for tracking down terrorists — promotes wild, antisemitic conspiracy theories to explain away the September 11 attacks, it is time for America to look seriously at our relationship with Saudi Arabia and its reliability as an ally against terrorism.

The war on terrorism requires unprecedented cooperation and diplomacy among the global community — especially among countries in the Middle East. But America cannot afford to hold its nose and play nice with a country whose actions often speak louder than its words when it comes to fighting terrorism. It's time to put the American-Saudi relationship on a frank and balanced basis. Not surprisingly, the Saudi-friendly Bush administration has failed to get this point.

Saudi Arabia's role in financing terrorism is well-documented. A report published by the Council on Foreign Relations tells us that "For years, individuals and charities based in Saudi Arabia have been the most important source of funds for Al Qaeda. And for years, Saudi officials have turned a blind eye to this problem," Kerry stated in a release.

Kerry expressed that it was even more disturbing is the allegation that Al Qaeda continued to receive money from inside Saudi Arabia long after the September 11 attacks. According to the council's report, "some, whose donations go to Al Qaeda, know full well the terrorist purposes to which their money will be put." The Saudi government now claims to be cracking down on terrorist financing, but its actions have not yet matched its words.

Saudi Arabia's support for Islamic extremism here and elsewhere is also well known. Saudi-funded hate speech can be found in schools, mosques and other institutions across the world, fostering hatred of Jews, Christians, Americans and the West. This kind of officially sanctioned bigotry breeds terrorism.

Spokesmen for the Saudis now say that their textbooks are being rewritten to remove "possibly offensive" language and that Islamic clerics are being told to tone down their rhetoric. But we need more than promises. We need to see the new textbooks. We need to hear what the government-financed clerics are preaching.

Likewise, we need to see the fruits of real effort and cooperation on terrorist investigations. Full cooperation has never occurred on the 1996 killings of Americans at the Khobar Towers military complex in Saudi Arabia. Even after this year's Riyadh bombings, we still await the results of the investigation; we still await a detailed report on the crackdown.

And while Saudi officials and spokesmen have said repeatedly that the Saudi government is opposed to every form of terrorism, the Saudi regime openly and enthusiastically supports Palestinian terrorist groups, such as Hamas. The Saudis cannot pick and choose among terrorist groups, approving some while claiming to oppose others.

Maintaining a close relationship with a government that blesses Hamas with their seal of approval can only hinder America's ability to effectively engage in a meaningful Middle East peace process.

And while Saudi officials and spokesmen have said repeatedly that the Saudi government is opposed to every form of terrorism, the Saudi regime openly and enthusiastically supports Hamas. The Saudis cannot pick and choose among terrorist groups, approving some while claiming to oppose others.

One would think that an American president who threatens the world by announcing "you're either with us or you're with the terrorists" would be particularly troubled by the actions of the Saudi regime. But then one would be underestimating the hypocrisy that has become the hallmark of the Bush administration.

This president refuses to come clean on his administration's relationship with the Saudi royal family. Shortly after the September 11 attacks, when airplanes were still grounded, the White House allowed a Saudi charter flight to round up members of the bin Laden family and leave the country without time for an investigation.

Beyond Secretary of State Colin Powell admitting that the flights were "coordinated within the government," the Bush administration has said nothing about why this flight was allowed. Shockingly, we have an administration that is ready and willing to rifle through the e-mails and library books of innocent Americans in the name of fighting terrorism, but refused to trouble the bin Laden family for a moment of its time as it fled America after the worst terrorist attack in our history.

Some may argue that the ties that bind us to Saudi Arabia are inescapable, that our energy dependence on Middle Eastern oil will never allow us to pressure the Saudi regime to reform. I say that this is only true if we allow it to be.

As president, I will not stand by and allow America to be held hostage by Saudi oil. We can unleash the spirit of American ingenuity to meet this challenge.

I have a plan to reduce America's dependence on oil by 2 million barrels a day — about the same amount we import from the Persian Gulf — through investment in clean energy technologies that will increase efficiency and allow us to capitalize on domestic and renewable sources of energy. No foreign government can embargo this type of energy — and no terrorist can seize control of it.

Every day and every year we delay, America will continue to pay a high price for our over-reliance on foreign oil. We spend $20 billion annually on oil imports from the Persian Gulf. Instead of indefinitely sending that money to the Middle East, we should launch an energy strategy to invest in the Midwest and in the rest of America, generating new jobs and new technologies here at home. My energy plan will create 500,000 new jobs, produce 20% of American energy from renewable fuels by 2020, and finally end America's dependence on foreign oil in 10 years.

Our national security requires that we do everything possible to ensure that Saudi promises to join the fight in the war on terrorism are real. Reforms must be genuine, not window dressing, and there needs to be accountability. Our relationship must be frank and open.

So far, in yet another example of the Bush administration's failed foreign policy, this president has been unable and unwilling to stand up to the Saudi regime and make this happen. It is time that America creates a real partnership with Saudi Arabia — a genuine partnership against terrorism,” Kerry concludes in his release to the press. (12/12/2003)

Three dimensional chess

The Feb. 3 Super Seven Primary War has already begun. But unlike the Iowa/New Hampshire races, they will be fought in the media and with organizations. Candidates will have to figure out where they can win and where they can’t. The outcome of it all will decide whether they are still around on Feb. 4. The Washington Post has a good inside look at what is happening:

Now they're all playing three-dimensional chess, studying one another's moves in market after market. "You can find out within minutes of someone going up what their competitive buy is," Trippi said.

The Feb. 3 states’ media buys continue to be shaped by the big two, Iowa and New Hampshire. This is because candidates need to come out of those two races well enough to not be pulled down too far in their targeting of the Feb 3rd round. This means that future resources are being burned in those two states. This may be Wesley Clark’s only saving grace of being left out of the early media attention that comes from the Iowa-New Hampshire connection.

Currently, the top four big spenders in Iowa and New Hampshire are: Dean (spending $440,000 on Iowa ads -- including 2,000-point levels in Des Moines, Cedar Rapids and Quad Cities… this means the typical viewer would see the ad 20 times during that period), Gephardt (spending $100,000 in the must-win state of Iowa from Dec. 9 through Dec. 15, with a maximum 500-point level in Des Moines), Kerry (spending $185,000 in  Iowa and $74,000 in New Hampshire during the Dec. 9-15 period) and Edwards (spending heavily in Iowa, New Hampshire and S. Carolina). (12/12/2003)

Kerry responds to Halliburton

“Halliburton is guilty of shameful war-profiteering, and they need to be held accountable. It’s dead wrong that Halliburton is bilking American taxpayers by overcharging the government $61 million for fuel while our troops on the front-lines are under-funded, overextended, and some have literally been left to buy their own body armor. Think about what $61 million could buy for our troops in need rather than lining the pockets of Halliburton executives. The Bush Administration should be ashamed that they bent over backwards for their biggest contributors while leaving American troops in danger. We need to get our priorities back in order. As president, I will fight the special interests, not coddle them, and I will make sure that no American soldier ever goes without the equipment they need to do their job,” said John Kerry.

Kerry made the accusation that U.S. soldiers serving in Iraq are facing shortfalls in equipment including: 1) special body armor, 2) armored Humvees to protect against guerrilla attacks, 3) advanced anti-missile systems for helicopters.

Body Armor
One-fourth of the 130,000 U.S. troops in Iraq are still waiting for the latest body armor. The Department of Defense says it will be the end of January 2004 before all the troops have been outfitted. $61 million would provide funding to purchase more than 40,000 sets of body armor ($1500 each). John Kerry has introduced legislation requiring the Department of Defense to reimburse family members who paid money out of their own pockets to provide the personal body armor that the government failed to deliver.

Armored Humvees
Only a few hundred of the military’s 10,000 Humvees are armored with steel and thick plastic windows to protect occupants against the guerrilla warfare, they are facing in Iraq. $61 million would provide funding to purchase more than 400 Humvees. ($150,000 each).

Advanced Anti-Missile Systems for Helicopters
There are 600 helicopters in Iraq, many of which do not have anti-missile systems technology. It has been reported that the Illinois National Guard helicopter that was shot down in Iraq killing 15 and injuring 21 soldiers did not have the most updated anti-missile system. $61 million would buy over 1500 anti-missile systems helicopters (or buy anti-missile systems technology for all the helicopters in Iraq between two and three times over). (12/13/2003)

Kerry champions health insurance

"The average Iowa family pays about $1,700 a year on health-care premiums. Under my plan, you'll see real savings of up to $1,000 on that bill. That's $1,000 that can help buy groceries, pay the bills, and give your family a break," Sen. John Kerry is quoted in the Des Moines Register.

Kerry’s cost control plan would have the federal government shoulder 75 percent of costs above $50,000 on insurance claims for employers.

All of the Democrat candidates are proposing some form of government assistance for health care. Kerry’s approach would lower insurance industries costs in covering the most costly insurance claims that are the most expensive for Insurance companies. Kerry said that he would make the savings be passed on to the workers and that would result in $1,000 a year for workers. Kerry is quoted in the Register:

"Make no mistake, I'll fight like no one else to provide coverage for the uninsured. But the major reason Americans don't have coverage is that they can't afford it," Kerry said. (12/11/2003)

Heinz in Iowa

As an indication of how important Iowa has become to the Kerry Campaign, Teresa Heinz Kerry is crisscrossing Iowa with her husband. She is visiting Waterloo and Northeast Iowa over the weekend to meet with voters. On Saturday, she will visit the Payne Memorial A.M.E. church's after-school activity center and then attend a public cocktail reception at the Waterloo Center for the Arts. On Sunday, she will visit with Luther College students at the Vesterheim Norwegian-Museum in Decorah beginning at 11 a.m. (12/13/2003)

John Kerry

"This is a great day for U.S. forces, the Iraqi people, and the world. Capturing Saddam Hussein and ensuring that this brutal dictator will never return to power is an important step towards stabilizing Iraq for the Iraqis.

"Let’s also be clear: Our problems in Iraq have not been caused by one man and this is a moment when the administration can and must launch a major effort to gain international support and win the peace. We need to share the burden, bring in other countries, and make it clear to the world that Iraq belongs to the Iraqi people.

"Today is another opportunity to invite the world into a post-Saddam Iraq and build the coalition to win the peace that we should have built to win the war.” (12/15/2003)

Kerry’s reaction team

The Kerry campaign plans a conference call for 3:00 pm today, on which supporters/advisers Max Cleland and Rand Beers will react to Dean's speech. Kerry has added a foreign policy address for Tuesday in Des Moines titled, "Foreign Policy in a Post-Saddam World: Rebuilding Our Alliances and Iraq." Kerry has added lines to his Iowa stump speech -- "Now all of us are glad that today Saddam Hussein was caught... It's particularly a great moment and we all join together in expressing our gratitude for 4,000 Iowa Guardsmen who are over in Afghanistan and Iraq and for nine sorrowful families that have lost sons already serving their country. Now, we need to do the hard work of diplomacy that should have been done in the first place."

Expect Kerry’s team to follow the line of Dean’s speech on foreign policy that this is about tone and nuance and that Dean is the candidate who thinks calling Hamas soldiers is not a problem… Dean’s not understanding that we took sides in Israel years ago is a problem… Dean’s thinking that we shouldn't use the military in Iraq but we should use them in North Korea is a problem… and, Dean’s thinking that this is a time that underscores if we're going to beat George Bush we need someone who has experience and someone who got this policy right. Kerry still believse there is a long way to go to get it right. Capturing Saddam Hussein is a victory but we need to do what we need to do to be stronger in Iraq."

Sen. John Kerry went ahead with his 30-minute forum in Iowa, which followed directly after coverage of the capture of Saddam Hussein, Sunday. Kerry answered only one question about the war in Iraq. "I believe that the capture of Saddam Hussein is helpful and it's a great moment. But it's a moment," he said. "We need a president who understands the real war on terror is not Iraq. It's al-Qaida, Osama bin Laden."

Kerry offered one difference between himself and the two candidates he is competing against in Iowa, Howard Dean and Dick Gephardt. He did it by obliquely criticizing opponents who support repealing all of the tax cuts enacted under President Bush. He blames them of wanting to raise taxes on the middle class.

It is also reported by the Associated Press that John Kerry encouraged his Iowa supporters the day before at a firefighters training session in Cedar Rapids to stick with his Democratic presidential campaign despite lagging poll numbers and Al Gore's endorsement of rival Howard Dean. (12/15/2003)

Kennedy campaigns

Sen. Ted Kennedy campaigned in New Hampshire for Sen. John Kerry and said that he would be back to help Kerry out more, according to the Manchester Union Leader.

Kerry’s a loving man, Kennedy said, who has fought for years for the issues that matter, from healthcare to the accounting for missing Vietnam soldiers, to his tough stance on environmental issues.

“You don’t see that talked about in any of those national debates,” Kennedy said at one point. He repeated similar statements throughout his speech.

Kerry was committed to important ideas “when there weren’t a lot of television cameras on, and when there weren’t a lot of writers on,” Kennedy said. “It is that constancy of continuity, when he talks about issues like healthcare, or when he talks about issues like the environment.” (12/15/2003)

Piling on Dean

Ed Tibbets of the Quad City Times has a story on how both Joe Lieberman and John Kerry sought to score points on Howard Dean and his anti war stance:

... Both said Hussein’s capture highlights their differences over the war with Dean, who vaulted to prominence on the strength of his anti-war rhetoric, particularly in places like Iowa, where liberal caucus-goers have tended to oppose the war in large numbers.

Lieberman offered his harsh comments several times on Meet the Press during the coverage of the capture of Sadam Hussein. Kerry was in Davenport taping a show to be shown statewide in Iowa where Tibbets interviewed Kerry.

Kerry reminded reporters when Baghdad fell this spring Dean reacted coolly to Hussein’s overthrow. “Gov. Dean said very clearly, he wasn’t sure, I guess he said he supposes it’s a good think to get rid of Saddam Hussein. Well, I knew it was a good thing, on that day. Day one.” The Massachusetts senator also said that had more countries been involved in the war effort, Hussein might have been captured sooner and fewer troops might have lost their lives. (12/15/2003)




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