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Iowa Presidential Watch's

The Democrat Candidates

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

John Kerry

excerpts from the Iowa Daily Report

May 2003

… Associated Press reported that Kerry’s political action committee raised $878,000 in soft money during the month before a ban on contributions from corporations and labor unions went into effect. (5/1/2003)

… Washington Post headline: “Clinton Sits Out Democratic FeudDean Campaign Sought Ex-President in Dispute With Kerry” Veteran political reporter Dan Balz reported yesterday: “The presidential campaign of former Vermont governor Howard Dean tried to draw former president Bill Clinton into a dispute with the campaign of Sen. John F. Kerry (D-Mass.), but the former president said he wanted no part of the feud. At the same time, Clinton threw an unexpected challenge to the candidates with strong words of praise for Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld, and encouraged his fellow Democrats to start a serious debate over reforming the military in ways Rumsfeld has advocated. Dean and Kerry continued to spar with each other in advance of Saturday’s Democratic debate in South Carolina, with Dean’s campaign offering Clinton in defense of its candidate on the question of whether the United States will remain the lone military superpower in the world…’I don’t want to get in the middle of Dean and Kerry,’ Clinton said in a telephone call yesterday from Mexico City, where he was making an appearance…’In all probability, we won’t be the premier and economic power we are now’ in a few decades, he said, pointing to the growth of China’s economy and the growing strength of the European Union….But he said he did not want to be misunderstood. ‘I never advocated that we not have the strongest military in the worldI don’t think a single soul has thought I was advocating scaling back our military.” (5/2/2003)

… Headline from this morning’s NH Union Leader: “Lieberman leads in new national poll” Report says survey – released yesterday by Sacred Heart University in Connecticut – has Lieberman with 20.2% followed by Gephardt (16.7%) and Kerry in third with 10.7% -- followed by Dean (6.5%) and Edwards (4.2%). (5/2/2003)

… Boston Globe headline – “Kerry admits to an error in boast about 1st speech” The Globe report yesterday by Glen Johnson said: “Senator John F. Kerry said yesterday that he will stop declaring that his first speech on the floor of the US Senate highlighted his support for the Roe v. Wade decision on abortion rights, a recollection he has learned is not true. As he has campaigned for the presidency, the Massachusetts Democrat has on numerous occasions stated that his maiden speech as a senator was about abortion rights. Kerry did so last month before a group of women in Des Moines, as he pledged to nominate only supporters of abortion rights to the Supreme Court. But the Congressional record shows that Kerry’s first speech in the Senate, on March 19, 1985, was made in opposition to President Reagan’s push to build 21 MX missiles. A States News Service report at the time said that Kerry’s planned remarks were reduced to a relatively brief four minutes, because more senior colleagues wanted to speak and floor debate was limited to 10 hours.” (5/2/2003)

… Greg Pierce reported – under the subhead, “Gephardt’s loss” -- in the “Inside Politics” column in yesterday’s Washington Times: “’Rep. Harold Ford Jr. spurned entreaties by allies of Rep. Dick Gephardt and endorsed Sen. John Kerry for the Democratic presidential nomination,’ the anonymous Prowler writes at ‘Kerry didn’t have to work hard for the Tennessean’s nod, which is all the more surprising when you consider the two don’t know each other very well. In that case, it also speaks volumes about where Gephardt stands with his House colleagues and where his campaign may be headed …Ford’s jump to Kerry is the latest blow to Gephardt’s attempts to line up his own caucus’ support in his campaign. With Democratic House leader Nancy Pelosi still refusing to throw her support behind him, his campaign, which is floundering in Iowa and New Hampshire, is already looking like an early loser in the primary season.” (Iowa Pres Watch Note: The Ford endorsement is a bigger deal that just one congressman – because it includes the endorsement of Ford’s father, longtime Congressman Harold Ford Sr. and access to their TN campaign operations. For more, see the 4/29 Morning Report.) (5/2/2003)

… For Lieberman, it’s too bad every state isn’t South Carolina – because he leads the Dem field in awareness, favorability and ballot preference among likely SC Dem voters. According to an American Research Group survey (conducted 4/24-29), almost half of the state’s Dem voters are still undecided (47%)but Lieberman has nearly one-fifth (19%) the vote. Three wannabes are bunched together behind Lieberman – Gephardt 9%, Kerry 8% and Edwards (who was born in Seneca, SC) 7% with Sharpton at 3%. The 2% players are Dean and Graham, while Biden (who’s not an announced candidate), Hart (who’s not an announced candidate) and Moseley Braun (who is an announced candidate) register in with 1%. Bringing up the pack – Kucinich and Gen/CNN war analyst Clark with solid 0% showings.(5/2/2003)

Two of the Dem wannabes – Graham and Lieberman – were among the missing when Senate Democrats blocked floor action on consideration of the Priscilla Owen judicial nomination. The vote: 52-44 with two Dems (Miller of GA, Nelson of NE) joining Republicans, but 60 votes are required to invoke cloture on the nomination. The other Dem senator-candidates, Edwards and Kerry, -- obviously – voted against the Owen nomination. Senate Dems indicated they plan to filibuster her nomination – meaning they would be running duel filibusters against both the Owen and Estrada nominations. Meanwhile, the Washington Times reported yesterday that Senate Republicans are studying strategies to break the filibusters. (5/3/2003)

… In a conference call from San Francisco that was reported by several media outlets, Kerry said it will take years – regardless of who’s elected president – to balance the federal budget. Kerry: “It’s a matter of political honesty. There is no politician in America who is going to balance the budget this year or next. And any politician who says he is going to do that is lying to you.” He added, “There are deficits as far as the eye can see.” (Iowa Pres Watch Note: Let’s see now, Kerry wants Americans to believe he’s an expert on matters of “political honesty” – the same John Kerry all Massachusetts thought was Irish for all those years, the same John Kerry who told Dem audiences his first Senate speech was on pro-abortion issues? And then, it was revealed his grandfather was Jewish and his first Senate floor speech was in opposition to President Reagan’s Strategic Defense Initiative.)(5/3/2003)

… Speaking of Kerry’s commitment to political honesty, the account of Kerry’s distortion of his pro-abortion Senate speech was featured in Greg Pierce’s “Inside Politics” column in yesterday’s Washington Times. Under the subhead “Kerry’s boo-boo,” Pierce summarized the Boston Globes report about Kerry’s assertion that his first Senate speech was about Roe v. Wade. (For more on the Globe coverage, see yesterday’s – 5/2 – Morning Report.) (5/3/2003)

… More from the ABC/Washington Post poll:’s Langer also reports that Lieberman has now established a “statistically significant lead” over the other Dem wannabes. He notes that Lieberman is “likely the best-known Democratic candidate by dint of his exposure as Al Gore’s running mate on the 2000 ticket” – but that the ABC News/Washington Post showing is “numerically his best in any national media-sponsored poll this year.” The Big Three – the group that’s topped most recent polls – continued their dominance: Lieberman 29%, Gephardt 19%, Kerry 14%. All others in single digits, but the surprise is Moseley Braun in fourth with 6%. The rest: Edwards at 4%, three – Sharpton, Graham and Dean – at 3%, and Kucinich 2%. (5/4/2003)

… Pre-debate handicapping and analysis from yesterday’s Los Angeles Times: “Each candidate has begun to try to establish distinguishing characteristics: Kerry has sought to capitalize on his medal-winning service in the Vietnam War – where he served in a Navy unit in the Mekong Delta – to establish in voters’ mind his competence on national security issues. That could be a key in running against Bush’s record as a wartime leader Dean, a strong critic of Bush’s policy toward Iraq, has received warm receptions from Democrats who opposed the war. The early support Kerry and Dean have attracted [was] likely to make them targets [during last night’s debate]. Edwards, an attorney before winning his Senate seat in 1998, raised more money than any of the candidates during the first three months of this year, with many of the contributions coming from trial lawyers. Lieberman, who was Al Gore’s vice presidential running mate in 2000, is seeking to appeal to party centrists. Gephardt has set out a detailed health-care proposal that aims to provide coverage for nearly all Americans – an issue dear to many Democrats. Graham, who was governor of Florida for eight years and is now serving his third Senate term, has touted himself as the most experienced candidate.” Times’ staff writers James Gerstenzang and Mark Z. Barabak concluded their report: “Braun, Sharpton and Kucinich are liberal underdogs in the race who are seeking to present themselves as realistic alternatives to the more prominent candidates.” (5/4/2003)

… Excerpt from Los Angeles Times coverage: “Nine Democratic Presidential candidates, trying to kick-start their race to oppose President Bush in the 2004 election, agreed Saturday night it was time to turn Bush out of the White House but agreed on little else.” The Dems, in fact, wasted little time focusing on their main target. Kerry: “I’m running for president to put our economy back on a track that will get America back to work. The one person in America who does deserve to be laid off is George W. Bush.” Sharpton: “The way to move a donkey is to slap the donkey. I’m going to slap the donkey until the donkey kicks and we are going to kick George Bush out of the White House.”…On the Iraq war – Lieberman took issue with Dean’s argument that Saddam wasn’t a threat, saying: “Saddam Hussein was a threat to the United States and, most particularly, to his neighbors. We did the right thing by fighting this fight, and the American people will be safer as a result.” Sharpton said, however, that “we could have disarmed Hussein by working with the United Nations.”(5/4/2003)

… New Hampshire columnist Jack Kenny – under the headline, “Whatever he says, Kerry’s no ‘Dixie Chick’” in yesterday’s New Hampshire Sunday News  – writes that if Dixie Chicks singer Natalie Maines “wants to speak her mind again it probably won’t take very long and would not distract too much from the harmony of the music. Meanwhile, we have the likes of U. S. Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., to entertain us. Kerry, a Presidential hopeful, visits here often and is trying to recover from what radio talkmeister Don Imus called ‘a Dixie Chicks’ moment, when he called for a ‘regime change’ here in America …Last week Kerry was attempting to ‘clarify’ the statement. ‘It was not about the President and it was not about the war. It was about the election.’ But don’t expect him to apologize and don’t expect him to pose nude for any magazine. The White House has already passed judgment on his appearance (‘He looks French’) and no one would mistake him for one of the Dixie Chicks, anyway. ‘Vive la differance!’”(5/5/2003)

… Washington Post coverage of the Saturday South Carolina Dem debate by political reporter Dan Balz: “The Democratic presidential candidates tangled here over Iraq and who can keep the country safe, and they differed sharply over how to provide health care to all Americans in a lively debate that helped kick off the next phase of the battle to become the party’s challenger to President Bush in 2004. Sen. Joseph I. Lieberman (D-Conn.) pointedly criticized former Vermont governor Howard Dean for opposing the war in Iraq and attacked Sen. John F. Kerry (D-Mass.) for seeming to be ambivalent about supporting Bush on the war. ‘No Democrat will be elected president in 2004 who is not strong on defense, and this war was a test of that strength,’ he said. Kerry disagreed, saying that his quarrel was over whether Bush had exhausted all other options for disarming Iraqi President Saddam Hussein before going to war. But he said he supported that objective. ‘There’s no ambivalence,’ he said. Dean said Bush had waged ‘the wrong war at the wrong time’ and said the United States could face new threats if Iraq falls into the hands of Islamic fundamentalism. But he said he was ‘delighted to see Saddam Hussein gone,’ a stronger declaration than he has made previously.”  (5/5/2003)

More post-debate reaction: From AP’s Nedra Pickler – “Democrats pursuing the presidency emerged from their first primary debate with deep divisions over foreign policy, health care and tax cuts and no clear front-runner to challenge President Bush. After Saturday night’s 90-minute confrontation at the University of South Carolina, Democrats were left with a field of nine candidates who face a long, tough challenge to sell themselves as the best opponent to unseat the popular Republican incumbent. With eight months until the first nominating contest in Iowa, several among the nine have head starts in money, experience and organization.” Pickler says those four – all members of Congress – are Edwards, Kerry, Lieberman and Gephardt.  (5/5/2003)

Kerry continues to insist his “regime change” comment was just a quip, but apparently nobody in New Hampshire remembers laughter when he made it. From New Hampshire – The Union Leader political reporter John DiStaso, in his column, wrote that Kerry isstill trying to explain his recent call for a ‘regime change’ in Washington. The latest attempt came [last] Tuesday in Alabama. He said, ‘When I fought in Vietnam and fought for my country, I didn’t give up my right to make quips and to participate in the debate.’ We don’t recall any reports of people laughing in Peterborough when he made the comment. ‘That’s because it wasn’t a joke,’ said a Democratic onlooker. ‘It was red meat he was throwing out to the crowd – and probably wishes now that he hadn’t.’”(5/6/2003)

Kerry won’t be making any quips or statements about ‘regime change’ – or anything else – in the immediate future since he’s been sidelined with a hoarse voice. He told syndicated radio superstar Don Imus yesterday that allergies and a spring cold caused him to lose his voice. Associated Press reported that Kerry has rescheduled a planned policy speech on Wednesday until later this month to rest his voice. He’s also cancelled a New York campaign appearance Thursday in New York – but his campaign folks said that’s due more to a scheduled Senate Finance Committee meeting (to discuss the president’s tax cut proposal) than his vocal challenges. The Union Leader in New Hampshire reported this morning that Kerry also postponed a scheduled noon appearance there Thursday – at Central High School in Manchester.   (5/6/2003)

… More post-debate analysis: Washington Post’s Dan Balz – headline, “Debate Bares Democrats’ Great Divide” – wrote in yesterday morning’s editions: “Democrats are united in their determination to send President Bush back to Texas in November 2004, but the first debate of the presidential campaign exposed the limits of that unity and the near-total absence of consensus about how best to challenge the president in the general election. The president was barely a presence at Saturday’s 90-minute debate on the campus of the University of South Carolina, attacked from time to time for his tax cuts and record on the economy but hardly the main focus of the nine candidates on the stage. Instead, the Democrats turned on one another – in some cases to bare serious differences over the war in Iraq or how to expand health care coverage; in other cases to reveal personal animosities and to begin in earnest the jockeying for position in what now promises to be an especially tough battle for the nomination.” Balz noted that during the debate Kerry and Dean “attacked one another” Edwards attacked Gephardt Lieberman “attacked any number of his rivals” …Graham and Sharpton, at different points, “urged their fellow candidates to aim their fire at the president, rather than give the Republicans ammunition to use against the Democratic nominee – but to no avail.” (5/6/2003)

An aspiring First Lady – recognized in a Washington Post headline as “The Ungaggable Teresa Heinz” – speaks. Lloyd Grove in his “The Reliable Source” column in yesterday’s Washington Post wrote: “Fabulously wealthy Teresa Heinz, wife of Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry, dishes an earful to writer Lisa DePaulo in the upcoming issue of Elle magazine – such as her ambivalence about taking her second husband’s surname and her requirement of a prenuptial agreement with the 59-year-old Massachusetts senator, whom she wed in 1995. ‘Now, politically, it’s going to be Teresa Heinz Kerry, but I don’t give a [bleep], you know?’ explains the 64-year-old Heinz, who generally uses the surname of the late senator John Heinz (R-Pa.), who was killed in a 1991 plane crash. ‘There are other things to worry about.’” Among other tidbits from Heinz Kerry – Everybody has a prenup. You have to have a prenup …You can be as generous or as sensitive as you want. But you have to have a prenup.” …”Her views on marital fidelity: ‘I don’t think I could have coped as well’ with a mate’s philandering as Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N. Y.) has.” Update: While CNN anchor Judy Woodruff was reading one of the Heinz/Kerry quotes during a like report yesterday afternoon she started coughing, choked up –and the network cut to a commercial. (Iowa Pre Watch Note: Woodruff probably is not the first – or last – to choke up while reading the comments. She returned to host her daily “Inside Politics” show.)  (5/7/2003)

They haven’t exactly been acting like buddies over recent weeks – or during last Saturday night’s debate – but Dean and Kerry probably have more motivation this morning to escalate the two-wannabe exchange of charges and countercharges: A new New Hampshire poll shows them in a 23%-all deadlock. The Franklin Pierce College poll (conducted 4/27-5/1) indicates they have left the rest of the field in the political dust with Lieberman a distant third (9%) and Gephardt in fourth (8%). An indication of the overall situation – Dean and Kerry have 23% each and 31% are undecided, leaving the other nine wannabes (and potential wannabes) included in the poll to divide up the remaining 23%. Making the poll even stranger, two non-candidates – Hart and General Wesley Clark – are next, registering 2% each. Then, at 1% -- Edwards, Graham, Kucinich and Moseley Braun. Sharpton, as in most NH polls, registered a solid 0%. Two more notes: The number of undecideds dropped 7% -- from 38% a Franklin Pierce poll early last month.  Although most of the Dem candidates are not well-known in New Hampshire, six of the wannabes have higher unfavorable ratings than favorable impressions – Clark, Graham, Hart, Kucinich, Moseley-Braun and Sharpton. The worst unfavorable ratingSharpton (60%) to a 5% favorable showing, followed by Hart (52% unfavorable, 23% favorable).(5/7/2003)

When Senate Republicans attempted – and failed -- for a fifth time to try to break the Democratic filibuster against judicial nominee Miguel A. Estrada, only one Dem wannabe voted against it: Edwards. That’s because the other three senator-wannabes – Graham, Kerry and Lieberman were AWOL from the Senate on Monday. The vote was 52-39 on the Estrada filibuster this time, but 60 are required to proceed with the nomination. The Senate also confirmed – on a 66-25 vote – Ohio Supreme Court Justice Deborah Cook for the U. S. 6th Circuit Court of Appeals in Cincinnati. Same lineup – Edwards voted no with Graham, Kerry and Lieberman absent. (5/7/2003)

From Rich Galen’s “Mullings” column on the South Carolina Dem debate: “John Kerry and Howard Dean really don’t like each other. Dean is trying to climb down from the Leader-of-the-Anti-War-Faction cliff on which he placed himself. Kerry can’t let more that seven minutes go by without reminding everyone of his service in Vietnam. Both are tiresome …Dick Gephardt bothers everyone else because – even though his health care plan is wrong in its conception – Gephardt is the ONLY candidate who has come up with an original idea.” (5/7/2003)

With Kerry’s anticipated arrival in Iowa tomorrow (unless he’s still using the lost-my-voice-ploy to skip campaign events), it’s a good time to point out that the Washington Times – under the headline, “Kerry’s revisionist history” – said yesterday in an editorial that Kerry was “rather slippery on the ‘Imus in the Morning’ radio show Monday, where he rewrote history – not long after his presidential campaign had accused Vermont Gov. Howard Dean of ‘pathological recklessness with the facts.’ To hear Mr. Kerry tell it, in 1993 Bill Clinton inherited a lousy economy. Without the benefit of a single Republican vote, Mr. Kerry’s fairy tail continued, Mr. Clinton’s deficit-reduction plan, which congressional Democrats passed in the summer of 1993, singlehandedly destroyed the deficit monster…As history records, it wasn’t until the Republican Congress forced the president’s hand that a credible path to a balanced budget was ultimately achieved. No amount of puffing from Mr. Kerry can change this fact.” (5/8/2003)

Des Moines Register caucus watcher Thomas Beaumont – under the headline, “Democrats to descend on Iowa in May” – writes that the state’s Dem caucusgoers will have “a chance to see each of the nine Democrats running for president in person during May.” He noted that Moseley Braun will make her first visit to the state as a “declared candidate” and Sharpton is scheduled to make his first visit since February. Five of the candidates are expected in Iowa over the coming weekend, but the big May day is a week from Saturday when all the candidates except Kerry and Lieberman are scheduled at a “town hall meeting” sponsored by the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME). Beaumont reported that Lieberman won’t attend because he observes the Jewish Sabbath on Saturdays and Kerry had a prior commitment to address a New Hampshire law school graduation, but will address the AFSCME meeting by satellite.(5/8/2003)

Item from caucus column by the Des Moines Register’s Thomas Beaumont: Subhead – “A Grand Old Poll” Beaumont wrote: “A poll conducted by a Republican firm out of Davenport and released last week shed little light on the caucus race, with former caucus winner Gephardt of Missouri leading. Lieberman, Kerry, Dean and Edwards followed Gephardt, according to a poll released by Victory Enterprises, the political consulting firm run by former Republican Party Chairman Steve Grubbs. Gephardt has almost 30 percent, Lieberman had about 12 percent and Kerry had 10.6. But the results were based on responses from only 150 Democrats contacted for the poll, in which 400 people were asked to rate their approval of President Bush. It provides a look at the race so far, but from a sample hardly large enough to get an accurate picture of the candidates’ real support.” (5/9/2003)

From Lloyd Grove’s “The Reliable Source” column in yesterday’s Washington Post: “Razor-tongued Sen. Fritz Hollings, who memorably noted that Bill Clinton was ‘as popular as AIDS in South Carolina’ and once referred to a Jewish colleague as ‘the senator from B’nai B’rith,’ is not known for his gentle quips. So folks took notice when the 81-year-old South Carolina Democrat, greeting Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) before last Saturday’s televised debate in Columbia, sharply needled the presidential candidate and his liberal media consultant, Bob Shrum. ‘John, do you want to win or do you want to lose?’ Hollings asked pointedly as he indicated Shrum, whose class-warfare rhetoric was blamed by some for contributing to Al Gore’s defeat in 2000. Yesterday Shrum told us: “I’ve known Hollings since I met him at the 1960 Democratic convention when I was 16 years old, and whenever I see him he usually teases me. I love the guy.” (5/9/2003)

Headline from this morning’s Sioux City Journal online: “Kerry gives Bush thumbs-up for carrier landing” Report from Des Moines by Todd Dorman says Kerry said “he will not join a chorus of Democrats criticizing President Bush for the headline-grabbing landing on a U.S. aircraft carrier last week.” Excerpt: Kerry said “he’s ‘grateful’ to the president for thanking U.S. troops. Kerry made a quick campaign trip to central Iowa Friday…’It’s the prerogative of the commander in chief,’ Kerry said, ‘These troops worked hard. They’ve been out there a long time. I think they appreciated his visit. Speaking as a pilot, I was jealous of his stick-time, and not a bad photo,’ he said.”  (5/10/2003)

The Union Leader political reporter John DiStaso – under the headline “Kerry: Bush tax cut plan ‘ridiculous’ waste of funds” – wrote that Kerry “called New Hampshire reporters from Capitol Hill yesterday to label President Bush’s tax cut plan an ‘incredibly inefficient, ridiculous’ waste of federal revenue. The Massachusetts senator is a member of the Senate Finance Committee, which debated scheduled votes on the plan yesterday. Kerry said he filed an alternative plan to cut the payroll tax by $765 a person. He said he knows it will not be in the final version passed by the Republican-controlled Senate because it simply does not have enough support. Kerry called the Bush plan a ‘cheap political trick’ to convince average Americans that the economy will be spurred on by tax that Kerry said clearly would benefit the wealthy Kerry called yesterday’s committee meeting ‘one of the disappointing moments of the administration in terms of its choices.’”(5/10/2003)

The Boston Globe online – under the headline, “For Kerry and Kennedy, chill is gone …Campaign puts thaw in relations” – reported: “A few years ago, Senator John F. Kerry parked his car in a Capitol Hill space some thought was reserved for the handicapped and an aide to his home-state colleague, Senator Edward M. Kennedy, called the newspapers to alert them. Snickers echoed through Kennedy’s suite in the Russell Senate Office Building. Curses filled Kerry’s quarters across the hall. There was tension between the two offices, and at times, Kennedy and Kerry themselves. Kennedy had a reputation as the liberal lion of the Senate and the embodiment of Massachusetts politics. Kerry, in the eyes of some of Kennedy’s staff, was a like-minded opportunist who rode Kennedy’s coattails in Washington and Boston while pursuing his personal political agenda. So when Kerry announced his intentions to run for president – the office Kennedy tried to win in 1980 – many who knew the two men expected backbiting. Sure enough, rivals whispered that Kennedy secretly supported another candidate, Senator John Edwards of North Carolina, and that any public endorsement of Kerry – as Kennedy delivered at the National Press Club in January – was a sham …This week, Kennedy took the rare step of opening his Washington home to Kerry and inviting friends in the labor community for dinner with the candidate. It is a constituency with which Kennedy has close ties and which otherwise might be expected to support Representative Richard A. Gephardt of Missouri, a candidate for the Democratic nomination.” (5/12/2003)

Kerry -- at Dem statewide event in Michigan – caters to and reinforces labor union rhetoric and (mis)perceptions. Headline from yesterday’s Detroit News online: “Kerry targets state’s lost jobs” The News said Kerry – who spoke at Saturday night’s annual Jefferson-Jackson fundraising event in Detroit – told the audience “they should help him unseat President Bush in 2004. That way, he said, he can do something about the 2.5 million lost jobs across the country, 200,000 of them in Michigan Kerry is the first presidential hopeful to appear in Michigan. His stop underscored Michigan’s more visible role in selecting the party’s nominee …He [Kerry] said Bush needs to shift his focus from the war to the economy. ‘It’s time to remind Americans that landing on an aircraft carrier doesn’t make up for a failed economic policy,’ Kerry said. Noting President Bush’s emphasis on fuel-cell vehicles, Kerry said: “I know who I want to build that car. I want it built in America. I want it built in Michigan. And I want it built by the UAW. Nearly 350,000 union members live in the Detroit area, according to the U.S. Department of Labor. Many are United Auto Workers members.”(5/12/2003)

The Union Leader – under the headline, “University official says Kerry invitation unlikely” – carried an Associated Press report from Columbia, S.C. about the status of Kerry’s invitation to speak at Bob Jones University. AP’s Jim Davenport reported: “Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry has said he would speak at Bob Jones University and would ‘challenge the university on some of its views,” according to his campaign. A school spokesman made it clear Friday that an invitation would not be forthcoming. ‘Is he crazy?’ Jonathan Pait asked. Any politician, Republican or Democrat, ‘would be inviting media scrutiny’ similar to what happened to George W. Bush in the 2000 presidential race, the spokesman said. Last weekend, as the Democrats gathered in South Carolina for the first debate, Kerry was asked if he would be willing to speak at the university. Kerry said he would, a response his campaign described as a ‘spontaneous but a serious answer.’ Questioned Friday, school officials said no invitations have been made to the nine Democratic candidates although President Bob Jones III said he would consider inviting Democrats.” (5/12/2003)

On CNN’s “Capital Gang” Saturday, Novak (from the CNN rush transcript) gave the following assessment of the Dem campaign – “The only candidates who have any excitement are those who can’t possibly be elected president. My friend Al Sharpton is not going to be elected president. Governor Dean is not going to be elected president. And what you have is that there was some hope that John Kerry was Mr. Excitement and boy, he looked more dreary in that debate than anybody. They said he had some – people said he has laryngitis, or hay fever, that he didn’t look good. The thing about Joe Lieberman, who has the name ID, I really can’t find any Democrat who thinks he’d going to be the nominee.  (5/12/2003)

The Des Moines Register reported on Saturday that Iowa House Dem Leader Dick Myers of Iowa City said that Gephardt and Kerry “stand the best chance of beating President Bush.” Myers, who has not endorsed a candidate, said: “Gephardt has got to do well here. If he doesn’t, why, he probably will not survive.”   (5/12/2003)

Leftover from last week – commentary on the first Dem debate in James Taranto’s “Best of the Web Today” column on An excerpt: “No doubt Kerry doesn’t need any lectures in courage from a pipsqueak like Dean, but why is he even dignifying Dean’s comments with a response? Unfortunately, this is par for the course for Kerry. He’s constantly whining that people are questioning his patriotism, lecturing him on courage, etc. For a man who served with valor and distinction in Vietnam, he sure is a big baby. As for Dean, he backed away from some of his recent statements for which Kerry and others had rightly criticized him. He proclaimed himself ‘delighted to see Saddam gone’ (last month he said he didn’t know if Saddam’s ouster was good or not), and he said he wouldn’t allow America to lose its military superiority (last week he suggested that such a decline was inevitable).”(5/12/2003)

Lieberman was one of three senators to miss the latest cloture votes to end the filibusters against the judicial nominations of Miguel A. Estrada and Priscilla Richman Owen. The other three Dem senator-wannabes – Edwards, Graham and Kerry – were present and voted against ending the filibusters. Lieberman also was the only Dem presidential candidates missing when the Senate voted 96-0 to add seven eastern European nations to NATO – Bulgaria, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Romania, Slovakia, and Slovenia. (5/12/2003)

Veteran Washington Times political ace Donald Lambro – under the headline, “Kerry gets high liberal marks on defense” – reported: “Sen. John Kerry has the most liberal voting record on defense legislation of all of his Senate rivals for the Democratic presidential nomination, according to several advocacy groups that rate lawmakers’ votes. The Americans for Democratic Action, one of the nation’s oldest and most liberal advocacy organizations, gives the Massachusetts senator a stellar 93 percent score for the votes he has cast on national security amendments and bills during his Senate career – from questioning antimissile defense systems to supporting nuclear test-ban treaties. His grade is by far the most liberal among the top tier of Senate Democratic candidates seeking their party’s nomination for president in 2004.” Lambro wrote that the ADA ratings indicated Edwards was Kerry’s nearest rival with a grade of 71.5 percent, followed by Lieberman (51%) and Graham (48%). The report noted three of the senators supported the resolution approving use of military force in Iraq with Graham opposed.(5/13/2003)

And now comes one of the toughest challenges of being an Iowan – no off-color jokes, please – as most Americans can’t even name a Dem presidential candidate while they become household names (and café visitors) in places like Eldon, Strawberry Point and North Buena Vista. reported last night that the most common response to a question about whether respondents could name “any Democratic presidential candidates” was a resounding 66% that answered, “No, cannot recall any.” That means 34% -- presumably residents of IA, NH, SC and the candidate’s respective home states – could name at least one Dem wannabe. The numbers: 9% know Lieberman is running for the Dem nomination followed by Kerry (7%) and Gephardt (6%). The order – Graham at 3%, Edwards and Sharpton at 2%, Dean at 1% and the others with a combined 4%. (Iowa Pres Watch Note: Watch out – Graham, who just announced a week ago, obviously has captured the momentum while Lieberman continues to build on his 2000 V.P. run. That, by the way, is Sharpton moving up on the outside. Yes, it really is too bad Hillary’s not in the field – yet – because she’d show the wannabes bow to create headlines, not to mention that she’s already well known for various reasons.)(5/14/2003)

Chicago Sun-Times columnist Steve Neal – under the online headline, “Battle-tested Kerry emerges as top gun among Democrats” – wrote: “He’s got what it takes. Sen. John Kerry of Massachusetts, who is gaining momentum in the race for the Democratic presidential nomination, delivered a winning performance in the first nationally televised debate of the 2004 presidential season. In his closing remarks, he declared that the nation’s next chief executive must take the lead in making health care accessible to every American, improving the quality of public schools, ending the nation’s dependence on foreign energy sources, and ‘making America safer, stronger, and more secure.’ What gives Kerry, 59, an edge over the Democratic pack is that he projects a sense of command and has a record of substantial accomplishment. The former commander of a gunboat on the Mekong Delta has a chance to become the first veteran of the Vietnam War to win the presidency of the United States …Among the reasons that Kerry is gaining momentum is that he is viewed by a growing number of Democrats as their party’s best hope against President Bush. How would Kerry match up? His 1996 re-election provides some clues. Republican Gov. William Weld, who won with 71 percent in 1994, challenged Kerry as his first move toward a presidential bid. Weld led in early polls. But Kerry fought back, waged a terrific campaign, outpointed Weld in a series of debates, and won a third term. If Kerry wins the ’04 nomination, it will be a contest.” (5/14/2003)

Kerry – who was scheduled to announce an $80 billion health care plan at a Des Moines hospital today – has postponed the planned high-profile event to return to Washington for votes on the tax cut package. Aides indicated he hopes to reschedule the health care announcement tomorrow. In an interview with AP’s Mike Glover in DSM, Kerry “sought to cast the schedule shift in the best possible light, scrubbing an important campaign event for a vote on principle. ‘The tax bill is so important to all the things we need to do as a country,’ said Kerry, arguing the tax cuts made dealing with health care issues vastly more complicated.” (5/15/2003)

In what is rapidly becoming the most anticlimactic event of the 2004 Dem presidential campaign so far, Kerry is expected to surface somewhere in Iowa – Hampton? Ottumwa?  Des Moines? – sometime soon (maybe today?) to finally outline his version of health care insurance. The main problem and challenge for Kerry, however, is that most Iowa Dems probably have read or heard about the Kerry health package. Kerry was scheduled to deliver his Health Care Grand Plan in DSM yesterday – but he backed off to return to DC for votes on the tax-cut legislation. The Quad-Cities Times reported that Kerry had planned to use yesterday’s health care announcement (and apparently his expected DSM news conference today) to outline an $80 billion health care initiative “intended to rein in skyrocketing costs while providing insurance coverage to 95 percent of Americans.” (5/16/2003)

National political reporters scurried around, in wake of Gephardt announcing congressional endorsements, to see how the Dem wannabes are doing in the endorsement derby. From yesterday’s Los Angeles Times – under headline, “Gephardt Leads Pack in Endorsements by Colleagues” – staff writer Nick Anderson wrote: “In the jostling among Democratic presidential contenders for endorsements from elected officials, Rep. Richard A. Gephardt of Missouri laid claim Wednesday to being king of the hill – Capitol Hill, that is.” The Times report said Gephardt “scooped up the formal backing” of House leaders Pelosi and Hoyer – and 28 other House members – which places him “well ahead of his rivals in the hunt for congressional support.” The endorsements, Anderson noted, are important because congressional Dems are among the 800 “super-delegates” eligible to vote on the eventual nominee at the party’s national convention. The count, according to the Times coverage: Lieberman has a dozen, Dean has four, Kerry has “at least four” and Moseley Braun has two Illinois congressional backers. (Note: For the Quad-City Times, the Gephardt announcement was a local story. The Times’ Ed Tibbetts reported that Dem Rep. Lane Evans – who represents the Illinois side of the Quad-Cities – was among those endorsing Gephardt’s candidacy. The Times noted that Evans, the ranking member on the House Veterans Affairs Committee, has been a “beneficiary” of Gephardt’s campaign help over the years.)(5/16/2003)

Headline from the Boston Herald: “Kerry made his Bones in secret club – like Bush” Report by Andrew Miga said that Kerry “expounds on many issues in his presidential campaign, but he’s completely silent on one topic: his membership in Skull and Bones, Yale’s infamous secret society. ‘John Kerry has absolutely nothing to say on that subject. Sorry,’ said Kerry spokeswoman Kelley Benander. Kerry is a respected senator and a decorated Vietnam War combat veteran, but 36 years after he was initiated into what has been called the ‘ultimate old boy network,’ he’s wary of breaking the ultra-exclusive club’s strict secrecy code. There’s also another high-profile member of the club: President Bush. Bonesmen already are buzzing over the prospect of the first Bones vs. Bones presidential race should Kerry win his party’s nomination and face Bush in 2004. ‘Bones don’t care who wins,’ said author Alexandra Robbins, whose book ‘Secrets of the Tomb’ pierced the secrecy shrouding the 171-year-old society. ‘If Kerry wins, it’s still a Bones presidency.”(5/16/2003)

After weeks of attacking each other and spending the past week or so pretending to be universal health care experts, the Dem wannabes in Des Moines yesterday shifted their focus to red meat politics – attacking GWB. Associated Press Iowa watcher Mike Glover reported that virtually all of the Dem contenderscharged that Bush is pushing tax cuts for the rich as the nation’s economy staggers and budget deficits swell.” Quote from Kerry – in New Hampshire, but addressing the AFSCME forum by phone: “Under this president, America is off course. Time and time again, he [Bush] has chosen to protect the privileged at the price of progress for the whole nation.(5/18/2003)

The Washington Times reported this morning that Kerry “blamed the Bush administration yesterday for not doing enough to prevent last week’s terrorist bombings in Saudi Arabia, saying it was not enough to warn that an attack was imminent and ask for protection …’It’s the obligation of this administration to make sure that they are doing something, and you don’t do it by passing on a communication and then sitting there. You have to be engaged,’ Mr. Kerry, Massachusetts Democrat, said on CBS’ ‘Face the Nation.’ …The Bush administration ‘got overly focused on Iraq’ and is in ‘complete disarray’ as opposed to the al Qaeda network, which Mr. Kerry said ‘never went out of business.’”(5/19/2003)

Headline from this morning’s The Union Leader – “Kerry would draft students for community service” Coverage by senior political reporter John DiStaso: “With a sharp dig at President George W. Bush, Democratic Presidential candidate John Kerry yesterday proposed a new federal requirement that all high school students perform community service before receiving their diplomas. ‘High School Service’ is a component of a new $3.5 billion program Kerry unveiled yesterday in calling for ‘a new era of national service’ and an effort ‘to make national service a way of life for each new generation of Americans.’ He would spend $2.5 billion of the total on having the federal government pay the state college tuition of youths who commit to community service for two years. Kerry, who said he’d pay for the ‘easily affordable’ program by closing at least one tax loophole, would also withhold federal aid to universities that ban campus ROTC programs Kerry said Bush and the Republicans have used calls for volunteerism as meaningless ‘punch lines’ and ‘commonplace backdrops for political events – background music for their march to replace shared sacrifice with selfishness.’” (5/20/2003)

Editorial in today’s The Union Leader assails Kerry’s latest brainstorm see headline at top of this Morning Report – “Someone needs to acquaint Sen. John Kerry with the U.S. Constitution, specifically the 13th Amendment. In Manchester on Monday, Kerry unveiled his plan for the conscription of every American teenager into involuntary servitude Kerry can call his program ‘High School Service’ or ‘community service’ or whatever he wants. It’s still involuntary servitude, and it’s still unconstitutional. Even if forcing people to work X number of hours (Kerry suggested between 50 and 100) for a diploma were constitutional, it would remain morally wrong and strategically unsound. Kerry argues that drafting teenagers into volunteer work in their communities will reinvigorate a charitable spirit in America. Of all the candidates currently running for President, Vietnam veteran Kerry should know that drafting young people into service to their country fuels contempt for, not love of, one’s country and government …Neither Kerry nor John Edwards, who has a similar proposal, has sufficiently explained how voluntarism, by definition freely given, can be compelled, or why the federal government must institute this compulsion now. This is not a right vs. left issue. But both sides should be just as outraged by Kerry’s and Edwards’ readiness to dispense with personal freedom. And both sides need to work together to squash this idea immediately.” (5/21/2003)

IOWA DEM WANNABE POLL CITED. Under the headline, “Field of 9 down to leaders, longshots” – Donald Lambro reported in yesterday’s Washington Times: “The nine-member field of Democratic presidential candidates has been effectively whittled down to about three or four top contenders in the early nominating contests, with everyone else nearly off the radar screen. Democratic strategists say it will be difficult for anyone to catch up to Missouri Rep. Richard A. Gephardt in the Jan. 19 Iowa caucuses, where the former House Democratic leader has widened his lead to 25 percent or more. His closest rival, Sen. John Kerry of Massachusetts, trails behind in second place with 13 points, according to pollster John Zogby. None of the other candidates is running even close to the two front-runners in the state. Former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean, who was catapulted into contention earlier this year as a result of his opposition to the war in Iraq, has fallen back in the caucus state, drawing around five points. Sen. Joe Lieberman of Connecticut doesn’t fare much better than that. Freshman Sen. John R. Edwards of North Carolina is ‘barely on the radar screen’ in Iowa, Mr. Zogby said.” Lambro wrote the rest of the field – Moseley Braun, Sharpton, Kucinich and Graham – are “at 1 percent or 2 percent or register no support at all.” In making his case that the field is narrowing down, Lambro also noted that Kerry and Dean lead the Dems in New Hampshire with Gephardt and Lieberman following – and “the rest of the field registering 1 percent or less.” He noted, however, that Lieberman has been leading in national polls at 19 percent, followed by Gephardt (14%) and Kerry (12%).(5/22/2003)

Kerry has joined other wannabes including Graham, Edwards and Hillary (if she chooses to run) – among the Dem candidates who would lose to the president in their home states. (KCVB-TV) reports that Kerry “received some startling news Wednesday from his own back yard” – a poll by the research institute Mass Insight indicating that he trails President Bush by 6 percentage points. KCVB said the exact numbers for the poll, which surveyed 500 Massachusetts voters at the end of April, were not released. The report said the latest results are “in stark contract to a similar poll taken by the group in January. Back then, Kerry had a commanding 16-point lead in Massachusetts in a theoretical matchup with the president.” (5/22/2003)

When the Senate voted Tuesday night (7:24 p.m. EDT) – by a 51-43 margin – to end a 10-year ban on research and development of low-yield nuclear weapons, only one of the Dem presidential candidates was present and voting: Lieberman. The other three Senate wannabes – Edwards, Graham and Kerry – were among six senators recorded as not voting. Lieberman (along with Harkin and Hillary) voted for a Democratic amendment to keep the ban. Grassley joined with Republicans and a couple Dems to end the 10-year restriction on nuclear arms R&D. Quote worth quoting: Ted Kennedy – “This issue is as clear as any issue ever gets. You’re either for nuclear war or you’re not. Either you want to make it easier to start using nuclear weapons or you don’t…If we build it, we’ll use it.” (5/22/2003)

Reports and headlines from the coverage of the EMILY’s List forum – which attracted seven of the nine Dem candidates – were included in yesterday’s Morning Report, but some of the comments and accusations against the Bush Administration should be noted and remembered: Kerry – “I can’t wait to remind this country that landing on an aircraft carrier with a Navy pilot doesn’t make up for the lack of an economic plan or a security plan for the United States…The Supreme Court is at stake in this race as never before in modern history…We don’t need a second Republican Party.”(5/22/2003)

Illinois poll revealed. Excerpt from coverage of the Dem candidates by Chicago Sun-Times Washington Bureau Chief Lynn Sweet: “In a poll of 1,000 Illinois Democratic Senate primary voters conducted by one of the Illinois U.S. Senate candidates from April 22-24, Braun and Rep. Dick Gephardt (D-Mo.) led the pack with each polling 17 percent.” Lieberman had 16%, Kerry 11%, Dean 5%, Edwards 4%, Sharpton 2%, and Graham 1%. The poll has 26% as undecided with a margin of error of 3.1%. More excerpts from the Sweet coverage: “For months, Edwards has been making trips to the Chicago area to woo local donors, fund-raisers and the political elite…an Illinois Senate campaign shared the poll with the Sun-Times on the condition that its name not be used because it did not want to get involved in presidential politics. The poll, in an oversight, forgot to include Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-Ohio). In looking at the bottom rungs of an April ABC News poll, Braun polled 6 percent to 4 percent for Edwards and 3 percent or less for Dean, Sharpton, Graham and Kucinich.”(5/23/2003)

Headline from today’s The Union Leader: “No front-runner, Democrats plot strategy for nomination” Analysis by AP’s veteran political reporter Ron Fournier: “The campaign for the Democratic presidential nomination will pit the tortoises against the hares, three patient plodders hoping to overtake three confident sprinters after the race’s first lap.” Fournier described Kerry, Gephardt and Dean as “the pacesetters. Following the traditional nomination path, they are seeking victories Jan. 19 in Iowa or eight days later in New Hampshire to build momentum for the first multistate showdown Feb. 3.” He wrote that three others – Lieberman, Edwards and Graham – are “betting their candidacies on a largely untested theory that they can wait until Feb. 3 or beyond for their first victories. They will need a lot of money and a bit of luck to pull it off. At least one of the slow-starters, Edwards, may air the campaign’s first ads early this summer to jump-start his bid.” Another excerpt: “Eight months before the first vote is cast, no front-runner has emerged in a campaign that may last just six weeks in early 2004, according to Democrats in key states and the candidates’ own strategists…After the Feb. 3 elections in Arizona, South Carolina, Delaware, Missouri, New Mexico and Oklahoma, eight more states plus the District of Columbia select delegates in the next three weeks. Then comes Super Tuesday on March 2, when California, New York and at least seven other states choose delegates. After that big day, more than half of the 2,161 delegates needed for the nomination will have been awarded.”  (5/26/2003)

Los Angeles Times headline from Sunday – “Democrats’ Plans Could Be Costly… Party analysts fear the presidential candidates’ spending proposals will undermine their economic argument against reelecting Bush.” Times political ace Ronald Brownstein writes – “Even with the federal government facing record budget deficits, many of the 2004 Democratic presidential contenders are advancing much larger spending programs than Al Gore was willing to risk as the party’s 2000 nominee. Some Democratic analysts are increasingly concerned that these substantial new proposals may threaten the party’s ability to challenge President Bush in next year’s election on what could become a major vulnerability: the federal budget’s sharp deterioration, from record surplus to massive deficits, during his presidency. ‘At some point, the Democrats will be called to task to see if their own programs meet the fiscal test they are holding up for the Bush administration,’ said Elaine Kamarck, senior policy advisor to Gore in 2000. Already, the spending proposals – especially for health care – are emerging as a key divide in the Democratic race. Three leading contenders – Sens. Joseph I. Lieberman of Connecticut, John Edwards of North Carolina and Bob Graham of Florida – are questioning whether health-care plans by three rivals – Sen. John F. Kerry of Massachusetts, former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean and, especially, Rep. Richard A. Gephardt of Missouri – are affordable, economically and politically. Yet the pressure to produce bold ideas attractive to Democratic primary voters may be triggering a spending competition that will make it difficult for all of the candidates to hold down the cost of their agendas. And that prospect has Republicans practically salivating at the opportunity to portray the Democrats as recidivist big spenders.” (5/26/2003)

Associated Press reported over the weekend that Lieberman – with 27 % -- leads among Dem voters in Michigan. The EPIC/MRA poll published in Sunday’s Detroit Free Press had Gephardt (19%) in second Kerry (15%) holding down third. The other six candidates were in single digits with one in five Michigan Democrats undecided. In a separate EPIC/MRA poll of Democrats, Republicans and independents 48% said they would vote for President Bush with 41% saying they would vote for “the Democratic candidate for president.” (5/26/2003)

On Sunday, the Washington Post’s Lois Romano – headline, “Military Record May Gain Role in 2004 Presidential Race’ – wrote: “Since the election of Bill Clinton in 1992, a candidate’s military service has seemed an issue of the past, one that intrigued the news media but not necessarily the voters, who in the past three presidential elections have rejected war veterans in favor of candidates who managed to avoid combat at the height of the Vietnam War. But perhaps for the first time since Dwight D. Eisenhower rode his World War II service into the Oral Office in 1952, candidates for the White House today must face the possibility that – for an electorate scarred by terrorism and coming out of war in Afghanistan and Iraq – military service has taken on a new relevancy. Sen. John F. Kerry (Mass.) – the only one of the nine Democratic presidential with battlefield experience – has made his military record a centerpiece of his campaign. President Bush put the issue of military leadership at front and center earlier this month with his showy landing on the USS Abraham Lincoln – complete with flight suit emblazoned with ‘commander in chief.’ The dramatic images surrounding Bush’s on-deck address to the troops that day made it abundantly clear that the president – who spent the Vietnam War stateside in the Texas National Guard – will flaunt his military leadership in his bid for reelection. According to a Washington Post survey, 29 percent of Americans say that when considering a candidate for president, it is ‘extremely’ or ‘very’ important that the person has served in the military. Among Democrats, that rises to 31 percent…The day after Bush’s speech, Kerry met with veterans in South Carolina and pointedly noted that his military experience makes him qualified to take on a wartime president. ‘I don’t have to sit in the Situation Room and be taught everything…I learned a lot on the front lines,’ he said. In a later interview, Kerry was blunt about his strategy. ‘If the president is going to wear a flight suit on deck, I have one to match, so to speak,’ he said. ‘If we want to make those comparisons, I think it can become dangerous territory for them. If he can talk to the troops, I can talk to veterans. And my experience is a little more real.” (5/26/2003)

The Washington Times yesterday reported that Gephardt dominates while Graham and Kucinich lag in endorsement battle. Headline: “Gephardt takes early lead in ‘endorsement primary’” Coverage by Times’ Charles Hunt says Gephardt “leads the pack of presidential hopefuls in the so-called ‘endorsement primary.’ Earlier this month, Mr. Gephardt announced endorsements from 30 House colleagues, including Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, California Democrat, and Minority Whip Steny H. Hoyer, Maryland Democrat…Sen. Joe Lieberman, Connecticut Democrat, has the second-highest number of endorsements from congressional colleagues – 12 – from eight states, including fellow Connecticut Democratic Sen. Christopher J. Dodd.” The Times report continues to note that Edwards has “rounded up support from six congressmen from his state and one more from Texas,” Kerry has is supported by Sen. Edward Kennedy and three other members of Congress, Dean has endorsements from both Vermont senators and two House members, Moseley Braun has two congressional endorsements, and Sharpton announced last week that “he had the support of Rep. Jose E. Serrano, New York Democrat.” Graham and Kucinich haven’t listed any endorsements yet, but the Times noted “Mr. Graham’s office said he has not yet sought endorsements from fellow legislators.” The significance of the endorsement battle – outside of generating media coverage and showing a support base – is that members of Congress are voting super-delegates to the Democratic national convention. (5/28/2003)

Headline from Sacramento Bee on new AP report from DC last night – “John Kerry cites Bush campaign goals in donor appeal” The report by Associated Press’ Sharon Theimer said Kerry is “using President Bush’s fund raising to motivate his donors, urging them to help counter the $200,000 or more each member of Bush’s new ‘rangers’ fund-raising group will raise. ‘I think I have an agenda that can change our nation’s direction for the better – and it starts by getting the Democratic Party thinking big again,’ the Massachusetts senator wrote Tuesday in an e-mail appeal. ‘To make that happen, we must first beat the Bush money machine – but that won’t happen by magic.’…Kerry said the [Bush] rangers will be ‘dominated by special interests and Republican fat cats…Bush’s fund raising is ‘putting the Democratic nominee at a distinct financial disadvantage,” Kerry wrote.”(5/28/2003)

Headline from yesterday’s San Francisco Chronicle: “Kerry pushes for health care in Bay Area visit…Bush opponent tours hospital in Peninsula” The Chronicle’s Carla Marinucci reported: “Massachusetts Sen. John Kerry toured a San Mateo County hospital overburdened by scores of new patients – including laid-off dot-commers – to highlight his health care proposals and argue Tuesday that President Bush ‘has offered nothing’ to address the medical needs of working Americans…Chris Lehane, a spokesman for Kerry, said the senator – on his 15th trip to California – intended to stress how the Bush administration’s economic policies have had a ripple effect on health care, education and a variety of issues that affect every American. ‘John Kerry stands as the only candidate in the field who can take these issues directly to George W. Bush,’ he said. In San Mateo, Kerry pushed his $72 billion health care plan, which he said could eventually cover 96 percent of Americans, and nearly 99 percent of all children without health insurance. ‘It is the only health care plan that has been offered in this country than deals with bringing down costs for all Americans,’ he said…Kerry, responding to a question about health care for undocumented immigrants, said the country needs ‘immigration reform,’ but ‘it is important for us to recognize that the children of an undocumented immigrant are Americans’ who deserve health care, proper nutrition and education.”  (5/29/2003)

More from the San Jose Mercury News coverage: “To campaign successful in the early caucuses and primaries in Iowa and New Hampshire, candidates must raise money in places like California and New York. They have been coming West for months, courting support from Silicon Valley, San Francisco, Hollywood and Los Angeles. Sens. John Kerry of Massachusetts and John Edwards of North Carolina have been two of the most successful. Each has raised more than $1 million in the state.” The report noted that Kerry, Gephardt and Lieberman were scheduled in CA this week, and Graham is due in next week. (5/29/2003)

The Boston Herald – headline “GOP seeks to link Gore with Kerry” – reported: “GOP operatives have already launched a shadow campaign branding Sen. John F. Kerry as a carbon copy of another Democrat maligned as aloof and phony: Al Gore. ‘Wherever he goes, Kerry walks in thinking he’s the smartest guy in the room – and he just has to show it,’ said one Massachusetts Republican, echoing party insiders. ‘Gore was the same way. They’re really birds of a feather.’ Kerry aides, however, consider such comments from Republicans a back-handed compliment, saying it shows that the Bush team views Kerry as the strongest potential challenger. ‘If you go behind the fence at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, into that dark, secret room where George Bush and Karl Rove are plotting the race, I guarantee you the candidate who strikes the most fear in their hearts is John Kerry,’ said Kerry spokesman Chris Lehane, who also served as Gore’s campaign spokesman…Gore, the former vice president who began the 2000 contest as a favorite against Bush, struggled to shed the same disparaging labels in his troubled White House bid three years ago. ‘Gore and Kerry are a couple of pompous guys,’ said former Reagan White House political director and GOP analyst Lyn Nofziger. ‘You don’t see much humility in either one. They seem very pleased with themselves – and that can sure hurt in the long run.’Kerry strategists contend such harsh tactics will only backfire. ‘If these guys think they’re going to run the 1988 Michael Dukakis campaign all over again, they’re in for a rude surprise,’ said Lehane, asserting that Kerry is a decorated Vietnam combat veteran with strong national security credentials.”  (5/29/2003)

Vilsack names Gephardt, Kerry and Dean as the top three in the nine-wannabe field. Fox News reported: “Iowa’s Democratic caucus voters are weighing the candidates and have some bad news to would-be presidential contenders – not many of them can count on making it very far in the primary season. Democratic Iowa Gov. Tom Vilsack, the unofficial gatekeeper of the crucially important first presidential caucuses in the nation – scheduled for Jan. 19, 2004 – said that with eight months to go, he has already narrowed down the field of nine to three serious contenders – Missouri Rep. Dick Gephardt, Massachusetts Sen. John Kerry and former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean. ‘The first tier is Gephardt, Dean and Kerry. They either have very aggressive organizations or they’ve spent a lot of time in the state,’ Vilsack told Fox News. This could come as tough news for the likes of Sen. John Edwards of North Carolina, Joe Lieberman of Connecticut and Bob Graham of Florida, whom Vilsack relegates to second-tier competitors. The Iowa governor has all but anointed Gephardt the man to beat if the former House minority leader can win over Iowa’s influential labor unions. ‘If Gephardt gets those endorsements as I think folks expect him to, then he’s clearly in the driver’s seat. If he fails to get those endorsements, it’s going to be a very, very competitive race,’ Vilsack said.” (5/30/2003)

If it weren’t for this morning’s Sioux City Journal, Kerry’s visit to Sioux City yesterday might have gone largely unnoticed. Headline – “Kerry pushes health care, national service plans” Bret Hayworth coverage says Kerry was on familiar turf Thursday speaking with fellow military veterans at Sioux City VFW Post 1973…Meeting with a dozen veterans gathered around five tables, Kerry took a folksy manner in completely avoiding the podium and sitting down with the men. The first presidential candidate to visit Sioux City without a suit-and-tie, he was attired in khakis and running shoes.” Excerpts: “He said his [health care] plan wasn’t a case of yet another Democrat putting forth a big-government solutionKerry also discussed his plan to engage more than one million Americans in national service. He said the vets in attendance understood how to give back to their countries, that citizenship is a two-way street. Kerry said, ‘When I am president, I am going to grow national service in America.’…Kerry spoke at length on the problems experienced by war veterans, particularly with underfunded Veteran’s Administration hospitals.”   (5/30/2003)

Florida Dem political ace named to No. 2 slot in Kerry campaign. The Miami Herald’s Peter Wallsten – whose byline usually appears on reports about the Graham candidacy – reported that Kerry has “named one of Florida’s leading Democratic political operatives to a senior post in his presidential campaign. Marcus Jadotte, formerly chief of staff to U.S. Rep. Peter Deutsch, D-Pembroke Pines, is now Kerry’s deputy campaign manager – the campaign’s No. 2 staff job. The appointment is a coup of sorts for Kerry, of Massachusetts, who is raising money and campaigning aggressively in Florida despite the fact that the state’s favorite Democratic son, U.S. Sen. Bob Graham, is one of his rivals for the party’s presidential nomination.” The Wallsten report continues that Jadotte, 31, could “help Kerry navigate primaries in key southern states such as South Carolina, Georgia and Florida. Kerry, a Vietnam veteran, and Graham, former chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, are touting themselves as the most credible wartime rivals to President Bush, but each is battling the impression that he is a regional candidate – Kerry in the Northeast and Graham in South. While recent polls suggest that Sen. Joseph Lieberman of Connecticut would place a distant second behind Graham in the Florida presidential primary, Kerry has raised the most money in the state behind Graham...A spokesman for Graham, Jamal Simmons, said Wednesday in an interview: “We wish Marcus well, but not too well.’ ” (5/30/2003)

Leftover from earlier in the week (Tuesday), Boston Herald headline: “Republicans grin as Dean attacks foe” Andrew Miga reports from DC: “You can almost hear Republicans cheer whenever the sniping breaks out between Democratic presidential hopefuls Howard Dean and Sen. John F. Kerry. ‘Howard Dean is pretty much doing our dirty work,’ laughed one senior Massachusetts Republican. ‘We’re enjoying the show for now.’ The bitter feud between Kerry (Mass.) and the former Vermont governor has provided plenty of fireworks and political theater as the 2004 White House race unfolds. Kerry and Dean pointed accusatory fingers when they shared the stage at the Democratic debate in Columbia, S.C., earlier this month, squabbling over health care, gay rights and who is fit to be president. Dean’s caustic criticism has, to some degree, slowed Kerry’s early ascension to the top tier of Democratic candidates. Dean’s unabashed liberalism has forced Kerry to court his party’s left wing. Dean has made strong inroads in New Hampshire, a must-win state for the Bay State senator. Most Democratic analysts agree that Kerry botched a golden opportunity to lift himself from the pack at the South Carolina debate, sparring with Dean instead of offering a positive message.” (5/30/2003)

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