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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

January 1-15, 2004

Kerry talks business

Sen. John Kerry has been trying to appeal to business owners in New Hampshire. While he has offered several proposals to encourage business, his latest release takes a personal approach. Recalling his days as a muffin and cookie shop owner, Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry is proposing new measures to help small businesses, including making it easier for them to compete for federal contracts.

Kerry, in remarks prepared for delivery Friday, called for less bundling of federal contracts, which groups together smaller contracts and can make it harder for small businesses to compete for them. He said the number and size of bundled contracts has reached a 10-year high.

Although the total number of federal contracts has increased 7 percent under President Bush (news - web sites), according to Kerry, the small-business share has dropped by 14 percent to just 21 percent. He wants to increase that to 30 percent.

In 1976 Kerry opened a cookie and muffin shop called Kilvert and Forbes in Boston's Quincy Market, which he said gave him firsthand knowledge of the challenges of running a small business.

Kerry said he would make it easier and more affordable for businesses to invest in technology. He called for changes to the tax laws to allow small businesses to immediately write off technology investments, rather than having to space out the tax breaks over several years.

Small businesses are drowning in tax paperwork, Kerry said, especially those that do business in multiple states. He wants to allow state and federal employment tax returns to be filed on a single form.

To make it easier for small businesses to set up pension plans, which Kerry said can cost as much $20,000, the Massachusetts senator supports a pension pooling fund to help share the cost among multiple companies. (1/2/2004)

Kerry: drugs for veterans

John Kerry had this to say about drugs and veterans:

"Just last month, George Bush signed a big giveaway prescription drug plan that lavished billions of dollars on pharmaceutical companies and HMOs and left our seniors high and dry. Now, as if it's not enough to shortchange our seniors, George Bush is cutting drug benefits for the men and women in uniform who served our country and even risked their lives in defense of our freedoms. George Bush wants to double the copayments for prescriptions for our military retirees, so that he can have additional funds for wealthy tax cuts or irresponsible policies that leave Americans no better off.

"I can't wait to stand up when Donald Rumsfeld and George W. Bush question the patriotism of Democrats, I'm going to remind them that the real definition of patriotism begins with keeping faith with those who wear the uniform of our country.

"When I'm President, I will keep my word with those that defend our nation. I will fight to make prescription drugs more affordable - by negotiating lower prices and canceling giveaways to pharmaceutical companies and HMOs and using the money to make prescriptions even more affordable.

"It's bad enough that Halliburton gets big contracts in Iraq while soldiers go without body armor. Here at home prescription drug companies get windfall profits while military retirees are told to pay more for prescription drugs. That is wrong and we must stop it." (1/3/2--4_

Kerry: opponents raise taxes

The Manchester Union Leader reports on Sen. John Kerry taking a page out of the Sen. Joe Lieberman playbook, accusing Dean and Gephardt of raising taxes:

“I think the people of New Hampshire care about the children’s tax credit. Now, Howard Dean and Dick Gephardt are going to get rid of it. They’re going to raise taxes on middle-class New Hampshirites. I don’t want to do that,” the Massachusetts senator told reporters less than a month before the state’s Jan. 27 primary.

“I think it matters that John Kerry, my economic plan, is not going to raise income taxes, middle-class taxes on New Hampshire citizens. That’s not sniping. That’s a very important policy difference,” he said.

Both Dean and Gephardt would get rid of all of President Bush’s tax cuts and spend them many times over on proposed social programs. (1/3/2004)

Kerry’s Vietnam profile

The Washington Post profiles Sen. John Kerry’s service in Vietnam and how it has colored his time in the U.S. Senate. (1/3/2004)

Kerry’s women’s outreach

Kerry is launching a women’s outreach campaign. However, he claims to have the only one and Clark already announced aspects of an appeal to women and others are sure to follow… here is the Kerry announcement:

“Former Governor Jeanne Shaheen will be joined by Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney (D-NY) and Vanessa Kerry, John Kerry’s daughter, in Concord tomorrow. Shaheen, Maloney, and Kerry will lead a panel discussion on important issues facing women and will highlight John Kerry’s lifetime advocacy for women and families. The discussion will be a part of the nationwide launch Monday of “Women’s Voices on the Trail,” which includes events in Iowa with John Kerry and online chats.

Women’s Voices on the Trail is the only national outreach initiative for women being promoted by a candidate for president. Led by Women for Kerry national co-chairs Susan Liss and Robin Leeds of the Clinton Administration, Women's Voices on the Trail will enable women across the country to influence policy and mobilize voters in support of John Kerry.

Jeanne Shaheen is New Hampshire’s most popular Democrat and serves as the National Chairwoman of John Kerry’s Presidential Campaign. Carolyn Maloney, a sixth term Congresswoman from New York City, is the former chair of the Congressional Caucus for Women's Issues. Vanessa Kerry is a third year medical student who has been on the campaign trail stumping for her father throughout the country.” (1/5/2004)

Kerry’s toke

Sen. John Kerry is on a 4-day Iowa with folk music legend Peter Yarrow of Peter, Paul & Mary. Yarrow travels with the Senator as his opening act.

This had interesting results at the Story County Democrat event in Ames, IA. Howard Dean attended the event and joined Yarrow and Kerry while Yarrow led the signature song, “Puff the Magic Dragon:”

As the folk star began his signature song with an unintended double meaning, Kerry mouthed a few words then took his index finger to his thumb, pursed his lips, and feigned a marijuana toke. (1/5/2004)

  • "My friends, for us to win the presidency, we have to have a nominee who has the temperament and the experience, who has the capacity to give America confidence that we know how to make our nation secure," said John Kerry.

  • “I think endorsements are dubious. Look, Gore endorsed him and the race isn’t over,” John Kerry said.

  • “We're fighting for a White House that's not the site of a daily reunion by old buddies looking for new favors," said John Kerry.

  • “I think endorsements are only effective if they come with a lot of work and support. I’ve been involved with lots of candidates in the past who didn’t have big name endorsements and still won the New Hampshire primary. I think what’s important here is what John Kerry has to say to voters in New Hampshire,” said New Hampshire’s former Governor Jeanne Shaheen who helped Al Gore Defeat Bill Bradley.


Kerry stump speech  (1/6/2004)

Sen. John Kerry has moved his message onto the economy and is still hoping that he can get a bump out of Iowa into New Hampshire. He is spending his own money and fundraising is going poorly for his campaign. However, Kerry has honed his message and delivering his lines well. One of the things that he has accomplished is to relearn the usage of the English language. He no longer sounds like he is in debate on the Senate floor:   click here for full text

John F. Kerry tax policy position

Would create a tax-relief fund of $50 billion for states over two years to end college tuition increases and help cover health-care expenses. Plans to preserve and expand middle-class tax cuts approved by Bush, including the child tax credit and the reduced marriage penalty, while abolishing tax cuts to those who make more than $200,000. Supports a crackdown on corporate tax breaks.  (1/6/2004)

Kerry’s $25 billion to states

Kerry coupled his Monday economic proposal with a series of efforts to end the drain of American jobs overseas, largely by shifting tax policies to reward companies keeping jobs in the United States.

Most polls have shown Kerry in third place in the race for Iowa's leadoff caucuses, trailing Howard Dean and Dick Gephardt. Kerry has stepped up the pace of his campaign in recent weeks and was seeking to draw attention with a high-profile speech touting his efforts to boost the economy.

In remarks prepared for delivery Monday, the Massachusetts senator downplayed recent reports of economic improvement, arguing that most workers haven't felt any change.

"In an economy that grew 8 percent last quarter, the average American got to bring home an extra 3 cents for every hour of work," he said. "That's the slowest wage growth in 40 years."

Kerry's proposals included:

* Setting aside $25 billion a year for two years to aid states struggling with budget deficits. States have boosted college tuition and taxes, more than offsetting tax cuts President Bush (news - web sites) has pushed, Kerry said.

* Raising the minimum wage, which hasn't been increased since 1996.

* Providing a tax credit on the first $4,000 a year a family spend on college tuition. He would have a 100 percent credit on the first $2,000 and a 50 percent credit on the second $2,000.

Many Democrats have worried that signs of economic improvement have dimmed their hopes of ousting Bush, but Kerry discounted that improvement.

"They may be celebrating this so-called recovery in the White House and on Wall Street, but it's not so rosy in the houses down on Main Street," he said. "America can do better than a Bush-league recovery - we can have a real recovery that reaches every American."

Kerry argued that the nation would be better served by strategic investments in key infrastructure areas, including creating an education trust fund to bolster local schools. He put no price tag on that fund.

Kerry underscored an earlier proposal giving workers a $10,000 tax deduction for the expenses of training or other steps taken to improve job skills.  (1/7/2004)

Kerry: pocketbook watchdog

Sen. John Kerry announced in a speech to New Hampshire business leaders that he would appoint a "director of personal economic security" to protect workers' pensions and retirement benefits, crack down on identity theft and ensure fair housing lending. The appointee also would oversee efforts to enforce financial consumer protection laws, develop new ways to help people save money and promote programs to educate them about the financial world. (1/7/2004)

  • "But here's what I won't do: I won't raise taxes on the middle class or cut basic benefits for children and older Americans," John Kerry said. "Hard working Americans have already had to deal with George Bush — and they don't need more pain."   (1/7/2004)

NPR Debate

"I don't know of a case where a Democratic candidate for president has been elected who called for a massive increase in taxes on the middle class," Connecticut Sen. Joseph Lieberman said. "These are our people," said Joe Lieberman

"If I can begin to breach the gap between Bill Bradley and Al Gore, and bring in people who have served long periods of time in Washington, and all the enthusiastic supporters we have, then I think I may be the right candidate to beat George Bush," Howard Dean said.

The NPR sponsored debate found the Democrats once again arguing about whether tax cuts are tax cuts and whether tax increases are tax increases. Each Democrat candidate has a plan to increase taxes, however, in Dean’s case he believes that his increase is a cut and that Bush’s tax cut is an increase.

Sen. John Kerry took Dean’s repeal of all of the Bush tax cuts to task "Everybody in Iowa will pay additional taxes at 15 percent and the marriage penalty will be reinstated," Kerry said. "Now, there's a terrific message: Democrats in America, if you get married, you ought to pay more taxes. I think it's wrong."

Dean said Kerry's argument was "hogwash," adding: "We cannot keep telling people we're going to give them all the programs they want and then there's not going to be any sacrifice of any kind." (1/7/2004)

About those poll numbers

Des Moines Register columnist David Yepsen offers some good advice to those who are watching the poll numbers. He suggests that the numbers may underestimate a couple of candidates. Dean's support is coming from a lot of younger voters, and those people are big cell-phone users. Pollsters find it hard to contact the correct cell-phone numbers when they make random calls of likely voters.

Another candidate to be careful about is Dick Gephardt and his labor support. The question is --  will a high percentage of the 95,000 Iowa union members show up? They certainly have more than one reason to be motivated… if nothing else than to make sure the service unions don’t take over the entire union movement.

Another group that is not on the usual caucus attendees that pollsters probably have underrepresented on their call list are the military veterans John Kerry is attracting. (1/8/2004)

Kerry on tax increases

Sen. John Kerry pushed the difference between his position on taxes and that of Howard Dean and Rep. Dick Gephardt. In doing so he utilized Angela Runkel, a 36-year-old nurse and reservist, who has five children under age 17. Like most middle class families she said she and her husband struggle to pay bills and put money in savings. She made her point in a conference call with reporters on Wednesday. The Des Moines Register reports Kerry made the point that Dean and Gephardt would deny Runkel her child tax credit under their plan to repeal all of Bush’s tax cuts:

Kerry said Runkel saved $2,200 last year because of the child tax credit, a credit he said Vermont Gov. Howard Dean and Missouri Rep. Dick Gephardt wanted to take away. Kerry said his support of middle-class tax cuts was a fundamental difference he has with the other front-running Democrats.

Kerry also issued the following release:

There is an important issue that has long been a fundamental difference in the campaign: raising taxes on the middle class. Cutting middle class taxes is a core value for me, and it’s been a bedrock position of mine in the campaign. I strongly disagree with anyone who would raise taxes on the middle class.

Howard Dean and Dick Gephardt want to increase their taxes. Their plan would raise taxes $2000 for a typical family with two kids. That's real money - more than a half a year of groceries and more than half a year of utility bills - including heat and water – and almost a year of health care premiums.

I think this is wrong. Middle class families have taken enough of a hit in this economy -- with rising health care costs, higher energy costs, and lower pensions. The last thing they need is another hit. We should not balance the budget on the backs of middle class families. We should stand up for them. That's what I will do.

Yesterday, in the NPR debate, Dean said this is "hogwash" and he wouldn't change his position. But today, even his own advisors say they are urging him to soften the blow to the middle class, and are worried about the politics of raising taxes on the middle class by $2300.

For me, helping the middle class is not about politics, it's about my fundamental values. We need leaders who help out the middle class all the time - not just when the heat is on. (1/8/2004)

Kerry on immigration

"President Bush promised that America's relationship with Latin America would be a centerpiece of his foreign policy. Until now, he has ignored that promise, breaking faith with Hispanic Americans and Latin America. Bush has also failed to follow through on his promise to work with Vicente Fox, leaving that relationship in tatters.

"Bush's policy rewards business over immigrants by providing them with a permanent pool of disenfranchised temporary workers who could easily be exploited by employers. Bush's proposal fails to address the plight of immigrants coming to work in the United States by not providing a meaningful path to becoming legal permanent residents. And if Bush is really concerned about the plight of immigrants coming to work in the United States he should tell his party to stop the heartless and divisive politics the Republican Party is employing in California to get a new Prop 187 on the ballot for next year's election, and a similar effort in Arizona to victimize immigrants for the failures of government and an unstable economy.

"As president, I will support sensible reform of our immigration system that protects workers and also provides employers with the employees that they need. I will immediately resume our dialogue with President Fox and put in place an earned legalization program that will allow undocumented immigrants to legalize their status if they have been in the United States for a certain amount of time, have been working, and can pass a background check. This makes sense for the economy, provides fairness to people in our communities who have worked hard and paid taxes, and will also allow us to strengthen our homeland security by bringing undocumented workers out of the shadows and into the light of greater accountability." (1/8/2004)

Kerry’s workers bill of rights

Click here to read  John Kerry’s speech on his ‘workers bill of rights”:    (1/8/2004)

Poll watching

Des Moines TV KCCI-Channel 8 news poll shows Dean with support from 29 percent of likely caucus-goers, followed by 25 percent for Gephardt, 18 percent for Kerry and 8 percent for North Carolina Sen. John Edwards. Thirteen percent of those polled said they were still undecided about whom they will support in the Jan. 19 caucuses. The poll has a 5 percent margin of error.  (1/9/2004)

N.H. tracking poll

Howard Dean is reported to be at 35 percent of likely primary voters in the New Hampshire poll. Clark was at 18 percent while Kerry had 12 percent. Joe Lieberman at 8 percent, Dick Gephardt at 6 percent, John Edwards at 3 percent, Dennis Kucinich at 2 percent, and Carol Moseley Braun and Al Sharpton at less than 1 percent, and 16 percent said they were undecided. (1/9/2004)

Kerry: yes to marijuana

Sen. John Kerry told an audience of college students he opposes federal prosecutions in medical marijuana cases in states that have legalized the practice, pledging to reverse Bush administration policy on the issue. Kerry also stated that he would reverse the ban on student aide for students convicted of drug use according to the Manchester Union Leader:

Asked whether he would repeal federal law that denies federal student loan assistance for individuals convicted of drug offenses, he said it would depend on the offense.

“If the offense is use, yes,” he said. But “if the offense is selling, no.” (1/9/2004)

Kerry: Dean’s Enron

Sen. John Kerry states Howard Dean has launched a new television ad where Dean says Washington has prioritized companies over workers -- specifically Enron. Dean's ad claims "Washington" has allowed these corporations to gouge consumers and hurt their workers. The ad is scheduled to run in Boston and Greenville. Kerry said that the irony is that as Governor of Vermont, Howard Dean gave tax breaks to huge corporations including Enron:

"As Governor, Howard Dean supported tax breaks for Enron, formed his own secret energy commission, and bowed to big utility companies. He wants to bring the Dean-Cheney model to Washington. That's not change. We already have that," said Kerry spokesperson Stephanie  (1/9/2004)

  • 'People are comparative shopping right now, and in the case of some candidates there may even be some buyer's remorse and people are beginning to look around,' he said. 'I think there's an opportunity over these next weeks to define what this race is really all about -- and I'm a fighter,'" said John Kerry. (1/9/2004)

The push is on

Howard Dean was rescued by what was called a tourniquet endorsement by Sen. Tom Harkin. Dean’s numbers have been eroding under withering attacks by his opponents. He has stemmed that tide first with Bill Bradley’s endorsement and now by the Iowa Democrat Godfather Tom Harkin. Harkin and Al Gore campaigned in Iowa to bolster the faithful and breathe life into the stalled Dean campaign that had begun to show slippage in Iowa, New Hampshire and nation wide.

“If we are going to take our country back, we’re going to have to take our political system out of receivership,” Gore said. “We’ve got to take our country back from the special interests.”

Harkin said, “I’m going to spend the next nine days — day and night — doing what I can to ensure that Howard Dean wins the Iowa caucuses.”

Dean did take a side trip to Illinois to stir up the AFSCME union there. Dean addressed an Illinois convention of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees. Although the union is backing him already, Dean said he must energize rank-and-file members

Dick Gephardt is in a political life or death struggle and has closed in on Dean’s lead to within the margin of error in polls. Dean leads Gephardt 25 percent to 23 percent, with Sen. John Kerry at 14 percent and Sen. John Edwards right behind at 13 percent, according to a Reuters/MSNBC/Zogby poll. Gephardt continues to predict he will win Iowa.

There is much in this campaign that is now going under the radar screen of public view. There will be a barrage of direct mail hitting Iowa’s mailboxes in the coming days. Dean has already sent out a direct mail piece specifically against Kerry on the issue of electability. The mailer references Kerry is hurting in his home state of Massachusetts and if his home state will not support him he can’t beat Bush. The NY Times reports on some of the mailings:

“Howard Dean Tried to Deny Supporting Republican Medicare Cuts — But He Got Caught," blares one glossy mailing from Representative Richard A. Gephardt recently sent to voters. On its cover: a clench-jawed Dr. Dean with the tabloid-style headline "CAUGHT."

A mailing from Dr. Dean says Senator John Kerry is "Bad for Iowa Farmers." Mr. Gephardt and Mr. Kerry, another mailing from Dr. Dean asserts, "are running one-state campaigns" and stand no chance against President Bush.

One of the aspects of mailings are the targeting of audiences.. women of a certain age on an issue… Catholic communities like Dubuque, Carroll and Sioux City and farmers in certain size counties as examples. This is the time that a message is honed for a particular audience and the opposition doesn’t know what is happening and can’t respond in time.

One of the key factors besides creating viable groups is the turnout aspect of the campaign. There are really only two campaigns -- Dean’s and Gephardt’s, that have full-blown capabilities of identifying and turning out their voters. Kerry has some capabilities but not even close to the other two, and Edwards has the least of the top four candidates.

Dean’s inability to beat George Bush remains a key part of his opponents’ themes. Both Kerry and Gephardt carried that theme on the Sunday Talk shows and in their stump speeches as well. Gephardt stresses political experience and Kerry stresses foreign policy experience. Gephardt pushes hard, saying voters will not elect Dean over Bush because of his constant misstatements.

"They look at who has steady hands, experience, doesn't make mistaken statements every day that have to be clarified the next day," Gephardt said.

Both Gephardt and Kerry came short of saying that Dean could not beat Bush if nominated and both said the reason they were seeking the nomination was to beat Bush.

Kerry brought in the star power of Sen. Edward Kennedy to campaign for him in eastern Iowa. Kennedy was asked about the differences between his and Kerry’s vote on the war according to Reuters:

"If he (Kerry) had been president we wouldn't be at war in Iraq," Kennedy told reporters after addressing a rally of a few hundred people organized by the Kerry campaign.

Kerry also received the endorsements of Iowa newspapers: the Quad City Times in Davenport; The Iowa City Press Citizen; and the Burlington Hawkeye. The Quad City Times in endorsing Kerry said that he was an extraordinary individual, but most important of all he listens:

He ponders questions, asks follow-ups and answers thoughtfully. He appears to be continually learning, whether it is the kite-surfing he took up a couple years ago, the guitar lessons he has put on hold during this campaign, or asking our opinion on Mississippi River lock expansion.

Kerry could be facing trouble from John Edwards campaign, which is only a few percentage behind Kerry in the latest poll. Edwards received the Iowa’s largest newspaper’s -- the Des Moines Register -- endorsement. The paper said it was his time. Edwards has been plagued by questions of being too young. The Register said in the editorial:

John Edwards is one of those rare, naturally gifted politicians who doesn't need a long record of public service to inspire confidence in his abilities. His life has been one of accomplishing the unexpected, amid flashes of brilliance.

Edwards is handicapped by not having the money or organization Kerry has. This tightening of the race makes not only first and second a race, but it is shaping up that third and fourth between Kerry and Edwards could be equally exciting. This could ruin Kerry’s bump out of Iowa and take him out of the race entirely.

Interestingly, Kerry could get some help from from an unlikely source – Howard Dean. There is a move to offer excess votes to Kerry in the caucus to keep him alive to take votes from Wesley Clark in New Hampshire. Des Moines Register columnist David Yepsen writes about it in his column:

There's talk in his campaign of trying to help Kerry win second place here. The gambit goes like this: Once Dean sees he has won the most delegates at a caucus, any extra Dean supporters will be shifted to Kerry's preference group to help Kerry beat Gephardt for second. The idea is that an unexpected second-place showing for Kerry in Iowa would help boost Kerry against Wesley Clark for second place in New Hampshire, and Clark is the guy Dean fears most in the contests down South.

Meanwhile, Dean is renewing his attacks on President Bush and Washington. Dean slammed the President regarding his plan to come up with a new space vehicle that could take America to Mars. At one stop where he said the President wanted to go to Mars a member of the audience shouted at Dean, “ send him.” Dean replied, "I have news for you. The president already is on Mars. He has no connection to what's going on in ordinary communities anywhere."

Dean also treated a Republican who challenged him at an Oelwein, IA stop with his much waited for public anger. The Republican rose to ask that candidates quit the bashing of Bush.

"Please tone down the garbage, the mean-mouthing of tearing down your neighbor and being so pompous," said Dale Ungerer, a 66-year-old retiree from Hawkeye.

Dean began by calmly replying: "George Bush is not my neighbor."

However, when Ungerer stood and tried to interrupt, Dean shouted: "You sit down. You had your say. Now I'm going to have my say."

Dean did just that by offering his typical Bush bashing tirade that indicated his Christian teachings weren’t about loving his neighbor, according to Reuters:

"George Bush has done more to harm this county right here with unfunded mandates, standing up for corporations who take over the farmers' land, making it impossible for middle class people to make a real living, sending our kids to Iraq without telling us the truth first about why they went," Dean said.

"It's not the time to put up any of this 'love thy neighbor' stuff ... I love my neighbor, but I'll tell you I want THAT neighbor back in Crawford, Texas where he belongs."

After leaving the meeting Unger was questioned by most of the reporters who had been following Dean. "This is the president of the United States," he said. "I don't think that's being a good neighbor to ordinary working people."

In the end, it’s all about delegates. It’s all about being in Boston in late July and winning a majority of the 4,325 delegates to lead the Democrat party against Bush. And the first votes in electing delegates to that convention are cast on January 19 … in Iowa.  (1/12/2004)

Black & Brown debate

Eight Democrats gathered for the Black and Brown debate and Al Sharpton nailed Howard Dean on the issue of race. Dean had made the statement earlier in the campaign that he was the only candidate talking about race to white audiences. Sharpton challenged Dean on his record of hiring minorities in top cabinet posts while Governor of Vermont (Dean’s record reveals a great big zero…). It resulted in a heated exchange between the candidates:

"If you want to lecture people on race, you ought to have the background and track record," said Sharpton.

"I will take a back seat to no one in my commitment to civil rights," Dean said, pointing out he had the most endorsements from members of the black and Hispanic congressional delegations.

"I think you only need co-signers if your credit is bad," Sharpton responded later when he had the chance.

It didn’t stop with Sharpton and Dean. Carol Moseley Braun took on Sharpton as well.

“You can always blow up a racial debate and make people mad at each other. But I think it's time for us to talk about, what are you going to do to bring people together?" she said.

Sharpton referenced the fact of Dean lecturing Democrats on race throughout the campaign, adding: "I want him to be accountable since he brought up race. That's not racial hysteria; that is accountability."

Sen. John Kerry leveled some of his harshest criticism at President Bush once again making the case that the war on terrorism isn’t a war but a police law enforcement effort:

“This president is actually playing to the culture of fear in our country. The war on terror is far less of a military operation and far more of an intelligence-gathering, law-enforcement operation…. And in order to fight an effective war on terror, we need unprecedented cooperation with other countries. The very thing this administration is the worst at is they push other nations away from us.”

One of the more humorous lines came when Rep. Dennis Kucinich was asked his opinion about going to Mars as President Bush is expected to suggest:

“You know, first of all, I've been wondering why the president would, while we're still in Iraq, talk about gong to the moon and going to Mars. Maybe he's looking for the weapons of mass destruction still.”

Sen. Joe Lieberman fumbled in this debate and was not up to the shorter time frames of the debate format. He had a proposal to ask all the other candidates to sign a letter to President Bush to enforce the new voter law but he couldn’t get his question out in time and looked foolish.

Dean also had trouble with the format – he wanted a ‘plant’ from the audience to answer his question and was denied.

Clearly Edwards was the candidate who gained the most from this final debate -- if anyone did. However, with no one breaking away from the pack or committing a disastrous mistake, the candidates emerged from the final debate still locked in a tight race to the Iowa Caucuses finish next Monday night.

[For the full transcript, go to the Washington Post.]  (1/12/2004)

Kerry: Dean’s hogwash

Sen. John Kerry’s campaign issued the following statement on Dean’s undefined plan to reform taxes:

Howard Dean is going to raise taxes on America’s Middle Class. His own policy advisors say that his plan to balance the budget will squeeze $2300 a year more out of middle class families. That’s what we know.

Now Dean is playing “Gotcha!” with the middle class by claiming to have a tax plan but insisting on keeping the details secret. Dean also hasn’t explained how he will meet his pledge to balance the budget in six years and fund all the new spending he has proposed while on the stump.

Why is there no plan? Because what he proposes is impossible. Unless, of course, Dean proposes to slash Medicare as he did in 1995.

“Howard Dean has redefined ‘hogwash’ as when you openly oppose tax cuts for the middle class one day and then promise a secret plan the next,” said Stephanie Cutter, spokeswoman for the Kerry Campaign. Every day that goes by without any plan from Howard Dean leaves Americans wondering: What is Howard Hiding?”

As every day passes, voters in Iowa and New Hampshire are left with a decision: To support a candidate like John Kerry who considers middle class tax relief a bedrock principle or a candidate like Howard Dean has doesn’t have any idea what he would do to provide middle class tax relief and won’t until after eight states have already held presidential primaries.

The Dean campaign has kept Shoot-From-The-Hip-Howard under wraps for days to keep him from revealing anything about his plan. Now they are hiding his policy people from him.

Is this the kind of policy development we can expect from a Dean White House? One where staff has veto power over what Dean can say and where plans are developed in secret and only after political pressure breaks the back of their long-held beliefs.

America’s middle class deserves better than to be treated as an afterthought.  (1/12/1004)

  • "I think it is going to be very difficult for a person, in the post-September 11th world, who has no foreign policy experience, no national security experience, no military experience, very difficult to stand up against a wartime president," John Kerry said.

  • “Last time they issued the alert, I think everybody thought they ought to start looking around for somebody suspicious or somebody that they rarely find, like a compassionate conservative,” said John Kerry.


IA Governor’s wife endorses Kerry

Sen. John Kerry had Iowa Governor Tom Vilsack and his wife Christie as guests at his home in Massachusetts. Kerry was a gracious host and it paid off, according to Christie -- it made a strong enough impression that Christie endorsed the Senator.

Kerry invited her into a discussion of policy matters he was having with Gov. Tom Vilsack at the Kerry home in Massachusetts. This left the impression he was a strong advocate for women.  Christie also sees Kerry’s military service as a strong asset in facing Bush  (1/13/2004)

Kerry’s snowball fight

At the Mt. Pleasant, Iowa, endorsement by Christie Vilsack, Sen. John Kerry and the press got into a snowball fight. According to ABC News Kerry campaign reporter Ed O'Keefe, it was the snowball fight of the year:

Driving off the porch, the 60-year-old Senator quickly surveyed the scene and, without hesitation, took the most aggressive tactic possible, driving straight at his pen and pad-less opponents. A daring move, mind you, as he immediately faced hostile fire from ABC on the right. Doing his best "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon," Kerry jumped and with both legs in the air managed to avoid what seemed to be an inevitable hit.

Kerry continued his counter-offensive, pointing his right index finger at his intended target: David Halbfinger of the New York Times. Halbfinger fired a solid pitch; the Senator was only glanced, slowed but not stopped, and thus forcing Halbfinger's retreat into the neighbor's yard. Picking up fresh arsenal from the Governor's ice-soaked lawn, the Senator and the reporter charged simultaneously, locking arms, before there was a final peace. (1/13/2004)

 Kerry & Kennedy

The Washington Post reports on some private conversations between Ted Kennedy and John Kerry:

Sen. Edward M. Kennedy (D-Mass) shared with reporters what he described as a "private moment" with Sen. John F. Kerry (D-Mass.) as he campaigned Saturday in Iowa with the Democratic presidential candidate.

"John, did you ever think when you were a young man that you would grow up to be a hero in Vietnam, get elected to the United States Senate and be a candidate for the presidency of the United States, a winning candidate?" Kennedy said he asked Kerry.

"He said, 'No -- boy, am I lucky,' " Kennedy recounted. Then, Kennedy said, Kerry turned to him and asked, "When you were young, did you ever think that you would grow up to be the uncle-in-law of an Austrian-bodybuilder Republican governor of the state of Cauli-fooor-nia?"

"I said, 'No, but aren't I lucky?' " Kennedy said.   (1/13/2004)

Kerry: joined Carole King

John Kerry joined singer-songwriter Carole King at a “Women for Kerry” concert in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, at the Paramount Theater. Carole King is spending the week in Iowa talking to undecided caucus-goers to rally support for Kerry. King is best known for her songwriting success in the 1960’s and 1970’s with hits like “I Feel the Earth Move” and “It’s Too Late”.   (1/13/2004)

  • "Partisan Democrats have a different perspective than the general electorate, and more moderate people may not be sympathetic to Dean's style," said McGrath, a Central College professor. "Senator Kerry perhaps could do better in that regard."  (1/13/2004)

Iowa battleground

Iowa Sen. Tom Harkin appeared on Iowa Public Television for a one on one interview with Des Moines Register political columnist David Yepsen and critiqued the race for President and revealed some of his reasons for endorsing Howard Dean. The inferred message and reason for endorsing Dean probably came back when he offered advice to Wesley Clark to not pass up the Iowa Caucuses. He told Clark that if Howard Dean wins Iowa and New Hampshire that Dean will be unstoppable.

The prospect of choosing an early nominee and ending the bloodletting that is going on clearly was a big factor in Harkin’s decision to endorse Dean. Harkin admitted that he had a difficult time choosing who to endorse and that many Iowans were asking him who should they vote for. So, he has come into the arena and is lending his weight to Dean through direct mail letters and phone calls to friends urging them to support Dean.

Harkin believes that Dean has a better organization on the ground in Iowa than Dick Gephardt.

While Dick Gephardt was making a speech in New York about the world is a dangerous place and Dean isn’t capable of handling the job, Dean was releasing a new TV ad in Iowa while he was in Vermont doing satellite interviews with local television stations in Arizona, Oklahoma and New Hampshire. The ad in Iowa follows the red meat anti war rhetoric that launched him into the lead:

"Where did the Washington Democrats stand on the war?" the narrator of the Dean ad asks. "Dick Gephardt wrote the resolution to authorize war. John Kerry and John Edwards both voted for the war. Then Dick Gephardt voted to spend another $87 billion on Iraq."

"Howard Dean has a different view," the ad says.

Gephardt’s message was, “We're deciding whether foreign policy is reduced to bluster and recycled Cold War taunts or whether we have a real and sustained commitment to break the cycle of poverty and ignorance."

Dean had stand ins helping out in Iowa yesterday. Actor Martin Sheen and Hollywood director Rob Reiner were doing media and crowd appearances as they flew around Iowa.

"As the acting president of the United States," Sheen roared to thunderous applause, "I am here to announce that next Monday, January 19, is Howard Dean Day in America!"

Dean is in Iowa again today beginning a bus tour of the state. The media crush is beginning to grow exponentially. Clearly the story will build with the lead story being between Gephardt and Dean and whether Gephardt stays alive after Iowa being the question along with can anyone stop Dean.

On that front, it is going to become even harder after Sunday when Howard Dean makes a trip to go to church in Plains Georgia with Jimmy Carter. Carter is going to say nice things about Dean, and it is likely to be some of those words will be said in a religious context. How is Wesley Clark going to stop Dean in the South again?

Hopefully, Dean will not show up in a Playboy interview after the visit. However, Dean is the cover of the Jan. 16 Rolling Stone magazine and there is an interview.

The third seat out of Iowa is still a question. Register columnist David Yepsen is frequently quoted for having said there are three tickets out of Iowa: first class for first place; second class for second; and stand by for a third place finish. The race for third place is still in doubt, which means that Kerry could be in serious trouble. Edwards has been catching fire and has even come under attack from Dean lately. Edwards acknowledge the attack yesterday.

‘The reason we have got so much traction and such an extraordinary response in Iowa is because I've focused on a positive, uplifting message," Edwards told a crowd in Manchester, New Hampshire. "And it's ironic that that message is working and therefore I'm being attacked."

Edwards is handicapped in Iowa because he doesn’t have the organizational effort going for him the way that Sen. John Kerry does. So, the race for third may not be a fair fight in Iowa provided that Kerry stays on message and keeps the wheels on his campaign.

Part of the disparity that may play out between Kerry and Edwards is the Veterans who Kerry is directing an organizational appeal towards.

A source close to Kerry says the effort to organize veterans is "unprecedented in Iowa." The vets are "hard to identify, hard to find, and hard to bring to the caucus process." The Kerry campaign has veterans calling other veterans -- the vets respond better to fellow veterans calling them than to some 19-year-old, a senior campaign aide says. This senior aide says "it doesn't take that many voters to shift a precinct." Kerry's campaign claims 10,000 vets will caucus for him on Monday.

Iowa seems to have its own version of’s amateur ad campaign contest. However, it is not television ads but radio. Dale Todd of Cedar Rapids is organizing a "draft Clark" movement in the state aimed at encouraging caucus-goers to select Clark. He has raised enough money to put a ad on some of the major radios in Iowa. You can cover the state with buys on 16 radio stations for about $50,000 a week for saturation. They did not report how much money they had to spend. However, they did release what the ad will say.

"You can caucus for Wesley Clark for president," the ad says. "That's right, you can caucus for Wesley Clark. And let's get real, Democrats. Are we going to nominate a candidate who can capture our imagination but can't actually beat George Bush?"

Sen. Tom Harkin said that he thought Democrats could get behind Dean after he wins the nomination. It doesn’t look like that will be a ‘hundred percenter…’  (1/14/2004)

Kerry responds to Dean

Unable to explain his indefensible plan to repeal middle class tax cuts in debates, town halls or press conferences, Howard Dean has launched a misleading new 30-second television ad in New Hampshire charging that John Kerry and other candidates were “defending Bush tax cuts.”

The fact is John Kerry voted against the final Bush tax legislation and as president will repeal the Bush tax cuts that benefit the wealthy and will preserve and protect the middle class tax cuts, such as the child tax credit, elimination of the marriage penalty, and reduced marginal tax rate on the first $14,000 of family income.

Dean has spent the last week explaining, clarifying, backtracking and continually changing his own position on middle class tax cuts, including saying that the middle class “never got a tax cut.” After his own advisors admitted that his trillion-dollar tax increase would cost middle class families $2,300 a year, Dean came under pressure to unveil a new middle class tax reform plan.

Most recently, Dean said that any middle class tax cut would have to wait until the budget is balanced (he has estimated that will take six or seven years) and he has yet to offer his plan to actually balance the budget.

“If Howard Dean has a plan to dull the pain of his own middle class tax increase and balance the budget, then he has a duty to share that plan with the people of New Hampshire before they vote on January 27, rather than hiding behind slick and misleading 30-second TV ads,” said Kerry spokesman Mark Kornblau.  (1/14/2004)

Kerry highlights national security

Sen. John Kerry’s campaign is going to combat Wesley Clark’s credentials by flooding New Hampshire with Kerry’s national security friends. The campaign announced that United States Generals, national security experts, and veterans will be campaigning throughout this week in New Hampshire for Kerry. Lt. General Claudia Kennedy (Ret.), Brigadier General Stephen Cheney (Ret.), Former Assistant Secretary of State Rand Beers, Former Ambassador Joe Wilson, Governor Jeanne Shaheen, foreign policy expert Nancy Stetson and dozens of veterans will lead a three-day campaign swing in New Hampshire, because they believe John Kerry is the best candidate to take on George Bush on national security issues.

Today, Lt. General Claudia Kennedy (ret.), the highest ranking woman in the U.S. Army, will join Governor Jeanne Shaheen to host a “Women’s Voices on the Trail” discussion in Manchester on pressing issues facing women, and will highlight John Kerry’s lifetime advocacy for women and families.

On Wednesday, Beers, Cheney, Wilson and Stetson will lead a forum on important national security issues and discuss John Kerry’s foreign policy experience and homeland security record.

On Thursday, Kerry’s “Veterans Brigade” will make several New Hampshire stops on their way to Iowa. The Veterans Brigade, a busload of Massachusetts veterans supporting John Kerry for President, will stop at the VA Hospital in Manchester, Liberty House Veterans Shelter, and speak with undecided veterans across the state. Veterans are backing John Kerry because they know as President, John Kerry will provide mandatory funding for veterans health care, grant full concurrent receipt to disabled veterans, fairly compensate soldiers and their families for their service, reduce the strain of the military by increasing active-duty troops and streamline the Veterans Administration to make it more responsive.

The Veterans will also host a screening of the new documentary, Brothers in Arms -- the film that tells the story of the unique friendship forged by John Kerry and his five crewmates on a swift boat in the Mekong Delta in 1969 during some of the worst fighting of Vietnam War.

Lt. General Claudia Kennedy held a variety of command and staff positions throughout her career, including Commander, 3d Operations Battalion, U.S. Army Field Station Augsburg, Germany; Commander, San Antonio Recruiting Battalion, U.S. Army Recruiting Command; and Commander, 703d Military intelligence Brigade, Field Station Kunia, Hawaii. Brigadier General Stephen A. Cheney, USMC (Ret) retired from active duty in 2001 following a tour as the Commanding General, Marine Corps Recruit Depot/Eastern Recruiting Region, Parris Island, South Carolina from June 1999 through June 2001.

Rand Beers, formerly President Bush's special assistant for combating terrorism, is now a counselor to Kerry on national security. Ambassador Joe Wilson served a distinguished career as a diplomat for more than twenty years. He was the acting U.S. ambassador in Iraq during Operation Desert Shield and the last U.S. official to meet with Saddam Hussein before the first Gulf War. He was assigned in 2002 by Vice President Dick Cheney to investigate claims that Iraq was trying to buy Uranium for Niger. Governor Jeanne Shaheen is the former governor of New Hampshire and the Granite State’s most popular Democrat. She is Chairwoman of John Kerry’s Presidential Campaign. Nancy Stetson is John Kerry’s chief foreign policy aide. She is best known as an Asia expert and helped Kerry develop his policy on Vietnam.  (1/14/2004)



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