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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

November 16-30, 2003

They came to the big show

The Iowa Democrat Party’s Jefferson Jackson Day Dinner has been a big deal since Gary Hart made it so with then-candidate George McGovern. It still is. The nation and the world’s media came to the show that featured the ultimate star of the Democrats’ -- Hillary Clinton. The event ranks as the end of the preliminaries to the winnowing process. After Iowa there will not be as many candidates as before Iowa. After New Hampshire, there will be even fewer. The whole thing is likely to be over by March and the Democrat presumptive nominee will be recognized.

The fear was that Hillary would make the Democrat candidates look small and the fear was justified. Despite the Democrats’ best efforts -- from being macho playing hockey with firefighters (John Kerry) to handling a medical emergency (Dr. Howard Dean) -- they failed to resuscitate any political oxygen into their own campaigns.

Interview after interview had Democrats attending the event saying that if Hillary were in the race that they would support her over the current candidate they were working for. Hillary’s appearance -- rather than affirm the quality of the Democrat candidates -- affirmed that they are all second-rate choices.

Kerry’s loss

Sen. John Kerry may have lost the most from the event because he is the candidate in the most desperate need to make gains before he falls off the charts and leaves an opening for John Edwards to move up to third place. Kerry’s performance was calculated to gain attention and make him stand out. Kerry’s problem, as most agree, is that he voted for the war and he shares the same constituency as Howard Dean who has captured the anti-war sentiment. Kerry, who even staged a photo opportunity by playing hockey with firefighters whose union has endorsed him, tried to attack the President’s war performance and bring attention to his war hero status. His reference to mission not accomplished in his speech was just one such example. However, he did not move to center stage in the nation’s or Iowa’s attention despite his best try.

Dean’s bandwagon

There is a photo in the Des Moines Register showing Howard Dean in the middle of the street in downtown Des Moines waving to the camera as 47 yellow school busses make a line behind him. Iowans filled 43 of the 47 busses headed to the event.

Edwards not cutting it

John Edwards has been trying to move ahead of Kerry, but his point of attack at the event was Dean and the Dean-crowd’s anger. This from the candidate who says what Americans want is a positive candidate. Edwards must remain viable before he gets to S. Carolina where there now exist tangible efforts by both Al Sharpton and Wesley Clark to cut into the black and Southern mantle of Edwards’ claim to the South’s representative.

The Gephardt question

Dick Gephardt remains the person who is shaping up to be the alternative candidate to Dean. This is in part because they both pull from different spectrums of the Democrat Party unlike Dean and Kerry. However, the question is whether the other candidates such as Kerry and Kucinich, et al, can stay in long enough for Gephardt to be able to whittle away at Dean without all of those who share Dean’s slice of the philosophy of the Democrat Party to coalesce behind Dean.

Gephardt took a different approach to the event his supporters were encouraged not to attend this year's Jefferson - Jackson dinner. Rather, they were encouraged to stand outside. It was part of the campaigns door-to-door campaign in the neighborhoods of Iowa. Their goal is to knock on over 100,000 doors. Then, supporters rallied outside the auditorium prior to the dinner.

"I have differences with some of the other candidates on trade, on health care and on Medicare, and I have talked about some of those in the past," Mr. Gephardt said. "Tonight, I am going to stay to the themes that I have been on, that I can beat George Bush, why he must be replaced and the big ideas I have." (11/16/2003)

Candidates beat up corporate agriculture

The Democrat candidates attending an agricultural forum sponsored by the League of Rural Voters, the candidates urged a federal ban on the ownership of livestock by large meat-packers and touted their plans to bring back jobs to small towns

Dick Gephardt has been running ads in Iowa for some time announcing his opposition to packer ownership of livestock. "If we lose the individual farmer and all of agriculture ends up in the hands of two or three corporations, we're going to lose this country," Gephardt said.

Howard Dean used the fact he was Governor of the small state of Vermont to make his connection with the group. "Agriculture is not just about farming, it's about small-town rural life," said Dean.

John Kerry staid on the theme that everything is going to the rich and it has to be stopped. “Two-thirds of farm subsidies that go to the four largest agriculture firms instead of individual farmers.” He also said that subsidies couldn’t continue to be the answer to low commodity prices. (11/16/2003)

Kerry pushing in New Hampshire

The Manchester Union Leader story tells of how Sen. John Kerry is going to be spending more time in New Hampshire: Kerry has spent more than 17 days in New Hampshire in the past month, and plans another seven days in the state in the next two weeks, according to his campaign. The story also speculates about how this will mean more negative attacks by Kerry on Dean. (11/16/2003)

Kerry: Dean weak on foreign policy

Sen. John Kerry renewed charges in a Des Moines Synagogue that Howard Dean is not up to the challenge of foreign policy. Kerry pointed to the previous problems of Governors having to learn foreign policy on the job. Kerry offered his harshest criticism of Dean regarding his past statements over Israel and Palestine, according to the Des Moines Register article covering the event:

"We are an ally of Israel. And when you say things like "We don't take sides," you send messages that have profound implications on people's perceptions. I've never heard an American politician call ‘Hamas’ soldiers, like Governor Dean did," Kerry said.

This push by Kerry was the a continuation of his line of attack against Dean to use Kerry’s military service and experience on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee to win back Dean supporters to his camp.

Dean also attended the forum separately and was asked what role the United States should take concerning Israel.

"The United States has a long-standing relationship with Israel. But we have to be seen as an honest broker at the bargaining table, as we were under President Clinton and President Carter," Dean said.

The Iowa Jewish community is in the process of choosing a different candidate with the withdrawal of Sen. Joe Lieberman from the Iowa Caucuses. (11/17/2003)

CPR for Kerry campaign

The NY Daily News provided the above headline regarding its analysis of Kerry’s latest attempt to energize his campaign:

Sen. John Kerry, whose political obituary already is being written, has launched a last-ditch effort to compete in Iowa. Kerry, who lags behind Missouri Rep. Dick Gephardt and ex-Vermont Gov. Howard Dean, took aim at the two in weekend appearances designed to make it clear he won't give up the state without a fight. (11/17/2003)

Kerry’s new ad

Sen. John Kerry is going to try and drive a wedge in Howard Dean’s coalition in Iowa with a new television ad on the environment. Recent polls showed that Kerry, while sharing the same demographic group of Iowa Democrats, held an advantage among those calling themselves environmentalist. Excerpts from the ad:

Announcer: George Bush- he let corporate lobbyists rewrite our environmental laws, sided with polluters not taxpayers.

And now he’s trying to rollback the Clean Air Act.

John Kerry. He stopped George Bush and the oil companies from drilling in the Artic and he has a plan for energy independence.

John Kerry: I want to develop alternative fuels and more efficient cars. We’ll create 500,000 new jobs and we’ll never have to send young Americans to war for Mid East oil again.

Announcer: John Kerry. The courage to do what’s right.

John Kerry: I’m John Kerry and I approved this message   (11/18/2003)

Kerry, Dean wrong on guns

Sen. John Kerry took the anniversary of the assault weapons band bill to bring up the fact that he and Howard Dean disagreed on gun control. The Dean campaign pushed back with charges that Kerry is irrelevant because he is from Washington. "Sen. Kerry must've seen the latest New Hampshire poll and decided he would try yet another Washington-insider attack on Governor Dean," said Dean spokesman Matthew Gardner.(11/18/2003)

Kerry would elevate SBA to cabinet post

Sen. John Kerry, still campaigning in Iowa, would elevate the Small Business Administration to a cabinet position. Kerry contrasted his small business plans while portraying the Bush administration as only favoring the big and powerful.

Kerry proposed that the government should raise federal contracts to small business from 14 percent to 30 percent. Another proposal by Kerry would allow short-term tax deferrals that allow growing businesses to reinvest money.

Kerry goes into great detail on his website about the four keys he sees as central to his small business plan. Here are the four points:


(1) Small Businesses A Large Voice in the Kerry Administration

(2) Health Care at One-Third the Cost

(3) Help Small Businesses Get the Tools They Need to Succeed

(4) Strengthen America’s Small Manufacturers  (11/18/2003)

Full faith and credit

Gay marriages

Leading Democrat presidential candidates are bringing back a new states’ rights issue concerning gay marriages. The U.S. Constitution requires states to give full faith and credit in recognizing the actions of other states, corporations and individuals. There is the rub, for if the candidates back gay marriages rather than gay unions granting equal rights to gay couples, then states would have to recognize under the U.S. Constitution the gay marriages of other states. This is why the Democrat candidates are running away from yesterday’s ruling after courting the gay and lesbian community for all these many months.

"As a society we should be looking for ways to bring us together and as someone who supports the legal rights of all Americans regardless of sexual orientation, I appreciate today's decision. As president, I would support giving gays and lesbians the legal rights that married couples get," said Wesley Clark.

However, Clark doesn’t seem to get it in the following statement,

“If the Massachusetts legislature decides to legalize same-sex marriages, it will be up to each state to decide whether those marriages will be valid in their state-- and that is a choice each state, not the courts, will have to make.”

The trial lawyer John Edwards leaves us confused he says he opposes gay marriages and then says he will oppose a U.S. Constitutional Amendment:

“As I have long said, I believe gay and lesbian Americans are entitled to equal respect and dignity under our laws. While I personally do not support gay marriage, I recognize that different states will address this in different ways, and I will oppose any effort to pass an amendment to the United States Constitution in response to the Massachusetts decision.

"We are a nation comprised of men and women from all walks of life. It is in our national character to provide equal opportunity to all, and this is what unites our country, in laws and in shared purpose. That is why today, we must also reach out to those individuals who will try to exploit this decision to further divide our nation, and ask them to refrain from that effort," said Edwards.

John Kerry, a Massachusetts senator, said:

“I have long believed that gay men and lesbians should be assured equal protection and the same benefits – from health to survivor benefits to hospital visitation - that all families deserve. While I continue to oppose gay marriage, I believe that today’s decision calls on the Massachusetts state legislature to take action to ensure equal protection for gay couples. These protections are long over due.”

Dick Gephardt’s response:

"While I support civil unions for same-sex couples, I also support the right of states to make decisions regarding the protections afforded same-sex couples. I do not support gay marriage, but I hope the Massachusetts State Legislature will act in a manner that is consistent with today's Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court ruling.

"As we move forward, it is my hope that we don't get side-tracked by the right-wing into a debate over a phony constitutional amendment banning gay marriage. I strongly oppose such an effort as purely political and unnecessarily divisive at the expense of those who already suffer from discrimination."

Joe Lieberman’s response:

"Although I am opposed to gay marriage, I have also long believed that states have the right to adopt for themselves laws that allow same-sex unions. I will oppose any attempts by the right wing to change the Constitution in response to today's ruling, which would be unnecessary and divisive," said Joe Lieberman

"It takes 40 to tango, and I'm not sure we're there yet," said Sen. Frank R. Lautenberg referring to the number needed to filibuster the Medicare bill. (11/19/2003)

Kerry’s book

Sen. John Kerry’s website features a cover by Atlantic Monthly reviewing the forthcoming book next month by the historian Douglas Brinkley. He will publish the first full-scale, intimate account of Kerry’s Navy career. In writing that account Brinkley has drawn on extensive interviews with virtually everyone who knew Kerry well in Vietnam, including all but one of the men still living who served under him. Kerry also turned over to Brinkley his letters home from Vietnam and his voluminous “war notes”—journals, notebooks, and personal reminiscences written during and shortly after the war. This material was provided without restriction, to be used at Brinkley’s discretion, and has never before been published. (11/20/2003)

Kerry’s new strategy

The Washington Times story highlights the story of the day played out in other stories about how Sen. John Kerry’s new campaign to revive his campaign through changing a “raw deal to a fair deal.” The centerpieces of his new strategy are to establish he is the foreign policy expert, he is the person who can beat President Bush, use environment as wedge against Howard Dean, and show that he has concrete ideas to stick it to the rich and give to the poor (the last being the key issue as to whether you are supporting Bush or not). Excerpt from the Times article:

Mr. Kerry is expected to outline legislation, executive orders and other actions he would take to curb special interests, help the middle class and make U.S. foreign policy more open to allies. A mix of old and new initiatives are designed to reintroduce Mr. Kerry in New Hampshire, where he trails Mr. Dean by double digits in state polls, and strengthen his relatively solid standing in Iowa.  (11/21/2003)

Kerry’s foreign policy

Sen. John Kerry’s website carries a Boston Globe story about how Kerry has a foreign policy conference call nearly every Monday morning.

Nearly every Monday at 4:30 p.m., more than two dozen experts on US national security dial into a conference call and thrash over the Iraq war, North Korean military brinkmanship, nuclear weapons security in Russia, and other issues -- not to solve the world's problems, but to advance Senator John F. Kerry's presidential campaign.

More than any other candidate, Kerry has set up his own version of the White House's National Security Council and assembled advisers with eye-catching bona fides, such as senior foreign policy aide Rand Beers, who until this past spring was President Bush's special assistant for combating terrorism. (11/21/2003)

Another Kerry ad

John Kerry hit the airwaves today with a new television ad in New Hampshire. The 30-second ad highlights John Kerry's record of standing up to George W. Bush and his drug company friends and doing what’s right for America’s families. Text of Ad:

John Kerry: George Bush believes that what’s good for the drug companies and insurance industries is good for America, and he's wrong!

Announcer: John Kerry. He has the courage to take on the drug companies to lower prescription prices for everyone. He’s taking on the insurance industry to lower your costs and get all Americans covered. And his plan gives everyone access to the same health coverage as Members of Congress.

John Kerry: I'm John Kerry and I approved this message because your family’s healthcare is just as important as any politician’s in Washington. (11/21/2003)

Kerry proposes 5-yr ban on lobbying

Unrolling the blueprint for his first 100 days as president, Democrat John Kerry says he would enact tight restrictions on lobbying. In a speech prepared for delivery Friday, Kerry said he would issue an executive order requiring officials in his administration to wait five years after leaving office before lobbying government agencies. President Clinton issued such an order in 1992 but revoked it weeks before leaving office in 2000. (11/21/2003)

Another critical review by Heinz Kerry

The Boston Globe has a story on John Kerry’s wife, Teresa Heinz Kerry, review of the campaigns:

"[Representative] Dick Gephardt's very good, but he's not in[to] foreign relations," Senator John F. Kerry's wife said in an interview amid a tour of Latino shops and restaurants. "And General Clark certainly knows how to make war very well -- he's brilliant -- but he's not a diplomat."

As for Dean, who leads her husband by a double-digit margin in early-voting New Hampshire, Heinz Kerry credited the former Vermont governor with the "smart move" of beginning his own campaign TV ads last summer, but added, "Having said that, it's one thing to be appealing; it's another thing to govern." (11/21/2003)

Kerry’s Indian appeal

"As President, I will work with you to create an unprecedented partnership with tribal governments to improve the lives of Native Americans all over America. That has been far from the case with George W. Bush. He has forgotten, abolished, turned back on the good work that President Clinton did to bring justice to Native Americans and I will turn that around,” said Kerry. “There are many success stories in Indian Country and I want to work with you all as President so that we can hear about more of these successes.” (11/21/2003)

Kerry falls

Howard Dean remains ahead in New Hampshire at 38 percent in the American Research Group poll, but John Kerry's support dropped 7 percentage points to 17 percent. It is imperative to each that they win New Hampshire. Dean and Clark were the gainers of Kerry falling percentage because Twenty-one percent remained undecided from two weeks earlier.

Wesley Clark –7; Joe Lieberman - 5 percent; John Edwards and Dick Gephardt at 4 percent; Dennis Kucinich – 3; Carol Moseley Braun – 1; Al Sharpton - less than 1. (11/22/2003)

The real goods

John Kerry, who has finally become engaged in his campaign, is rolling out the real goods on himself and offering the country his real deal. Kerry’s campaign has launched a two front attack with television ads.  Kerry is taking advantage of the fact that Howard Dean supporters see Kerry stronger on the environment than Dean to run a new ad in Iowa highlighting his record of standing up against special interests to protect our environment. The new ad in New Hampshire is about standing up to Bush and his HMO and drug company friends to lower the costs of prescription drugs and cut the costs of health care.

He has launched a bus tour of New Hampshire where he will outline what he would do in the first 100 days of his Presidency.

“I believe in a Democratic Party of real solutions, of real leaders, that offers a real deal to the American people. I’m running to replace George Bush’s Raw Deal with a Real Deal that stands up to the powerful interests. That’s built on people and products not privileges and perks. And that stands on the side of those who are standing up for what’s right,” said John Kerry.

“It’s a President we’re choosing here. That’s why today I want to lay out some of what I’ll do in the first hundred days of a Kerry Administration to make the Real Deal a reality. In the weeks ahead, I’m going to lay out an Action Plan for the First 100 Days. The specific steps we will take to change America – the steps I will fight for in the early days of a Kerry Presidency.”

And the real deal would:

1. ban lobbying for five years

We will reinstate the five-year ban on lobbying so that government officials - like Bush’s former campaign manager and FEMA director - cannot cash in by peddling influence. We will also shine the light on the secret deals in Washington by requiring every meeting with a lobbyist or any special interest deal inserted into a bill by a lobbyist be made public.

2. First major legislative affordable health care

John Kerry’s first major proposal to Congress will be a realistic plan that stops spiraling healthcare costs, covers every child in America, and makes it possible for every American to get the same health care as any Member of Congress.

3. Reward companies that create jobs not phony corporate profits

We will work to reward companies that create jobs by helping with health care costs, a new manufacturing jobs tax credit and new assistance for small businesses. We will also close every single loophole for companies that take jobs offshore and apply new criminal penalties, such as RICO penalties, on companies that defraud their customers and workers.

4. A new national education trust fund

We will propose a National Education Trust Fund to make sure that, for the first time ever, we fully fund our schools so they have the tools to assure our kids can succeed in the 21st century economy. We will make a new deal on education – if Washington is going to mandate something for our schools, then the funding should be mandatory.

5. End of an era of Ashcroft

John Ashcroft has launched an all-out assault on individual rights, allowing for a wholesale invasion of attorney-client conversations, e-mails and telephone calls. Immediately after the election, John Kerry will name a new Attorney General whose name is not John Ashcroft. We will also fight to protect women’s rights, civil rights and workers rights and enforce anti-trust laws.

6. Repeal Bush assault on the environment &make US energy independent

We will rollback the George W. Bush assault on clean air and clean water and work to strengthen our nation’s environmental laws. Kerry will also put forward a plan to make the U.S. energy independent of Middle East oil in ten years—and create 500,000 jobs by investing in energy renewable sources, such as ethanol, solar, and wind.

7. A new era of national service

John Kerry will call on Americans of all ages – from students to America’s seniors - to serve in our classrooms, after school programs, nursing homes and nursery schools. We will fight to allow students to earn four years of college tuition in exchange for two years of national service. His plan will require mandatory national service for high school kids and enlist a million Americans in service a year.

8. Create a middle class economy and end the privileged class economy

We will fight to repeal the Bush tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans so that we can invest in education and health care. We will also protect middle class tax cuts, such as the child credit and the elimination of the marriage penalty and propose additional tax credits to help middle class families make ends meet.

9. Cut the deficit in half in four years

We will put forward a budget to restore fiscal sanity, eliminate corporate welfare, and cut the deficit in half in four years. However, we will keep our compact to seniors by securing Medicare and Social Security and protecting our children and veterans.

10. Rejoin the community of nations

We will immediately declare the Bush policy of unilateralism over and work to rebuild our shattered alliances all across the globe. We will launch a successful war against terrorism and also restore trust here at home and abroad by making sure that America always tells the whole truth. (11/22/2003)

Poll Watching

Howard Dean in a Boston Globe/WBZ-TV survey of likely voters that has a 5 percent margin of error show Dean locked at the top with Sen. John Kerry in his home state of Massachusetts. In fact poll numbers have Dean at 27 and Kerry at 24. How embarrassing.  (11/23/2003)

Unlikely help

Sen. John Kerry is getting help from unlikely places. However, family is family. Chris Heinz, the 30-year-old son of Kerry's wife, Teresa Heinz Kerry, has quit his job as a venture capitalist to work as a fundraiser and surrogate speaker for his stepfather's campaign for the Democratic presidential nomination. The Boston Globe reports that Chris has some political interests of his own:

Should he run, Heinz said, it would probably be for a congressional seat in his family's stronghold in Western Pennsylvania. And it would be as a Democrat. That would be a switch from his father, the late Senator John Heinz, a Pittsburgh Republican who was killed in a collision between his airplane and a helicopter in 1991. But it would be in line with his mother's decision this year to register as a Democrat after concluding that the GOP had become too conservative and intolerant. (11/23/2003)

Likely help

Sen. John Kerry’s wife is on the campaign trail and the Boston Globe says she’s impressing the folks with her abilities to be an interloper and interlocutor for her husband. She caught one staunch Republican off guard when he told her not to bother, he was supporting the guy in the White House and was a Republican. Teresa Heinz Kerry replied that she was, too, until December. The person did not know that she was formerly married to Senator John Heinz who died in a plane crash before marrying Sen. Kerry. Her fluency in five languages as a former interpreter at the United Nations is also serving her well:

Greeting a man at the counter in Spanish, she is rebuffed in accented English. Recognizing a native of Haiti when she hears one, Heinz Kerry switches seamlessly to French. The disarmed diner smiles and shakes her extended hand. (11/23/2003)

Debate and Medicare in doubt

While the national political spotlight turns once again onto Iowa as the Democratic National Committee sponsors a presidential candidate debate in Des Moines tomorrow, that spotlight has succumbed to the shadow of the Senate debate on Medicare. John Kerry has already announced that he would not attend the debate -- scheduled for 3 p.m. Monday at the Polk County Convention Complex -- in order to join his fellow Mass. Sen. Edward Kennedy in the Senate debate. According to the Associated Press, Kerry called the legislation "a boondoggle for the pharmaceutical industry and a raw deal" for the nation's elderly.

"That is why I am going to join Senator Ted Kennedy to lead the filibuster of this legislation," said Kerry. "Unfortunately that means I will miss the debate in Iowa. But I think the people of Iowa will understand that potential harm of this bill is worth the effort."

In addition, Sen. John Edwards may miss the Iowa debate for the Washington debate as well. “We hope we won't have to miss the debate, but we may have to," said Edwards campaign spokeswoman Jennifer Palmieri.

The real focus of the debate will undoubtedly be the exchange between Howard Dean and Rep. Dick Gephardt. Wesley Clark is sure to tackle the new GOP ad knocking them for knocking Bush’s war on terrorism.

Kerry has made sure that his point will be made on the GOP ad in his absence by putting up an ad in Iowa that starts airing on Monday. The ad starts with the announcer saying, "No, Mr. President, America's united against terror. The problem is, you declared 'mission accomplished' when you had no plan to win the peace and handed out billions in contracts to contributors like Halliburton." Then Kerry appears onscreen and says: "We can't go it alone in Iraq We have to share the burden. We shouldn't be cutting education and closing firehouses in America while we're opening them in Iraq."

 The Iowa debate will be carried live on WHO-TV 13, and rebroadcast at 8 p.m. on MSNBC. NBC news anchor Tom Brokaw will moderate the two-hour debate. Six of the nine Democrats in the race are firm in their participation: Former Illinois Sen. Carol Moseley Braun, retired Army Gen. Wesley Clark, former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean, Rep. Dick Gephardt of Missouri, U.S. Rep. Dennis Kucinich of Ohio and the Rev. Al Sharpton of New York. (11/23/2003)

Kerry’s review

The USA Today has a story about how Kerry is clawing his way back. The strategy of focusing on Iowa and New Hampshire is highlighted:

Focus on Iowa and New Hampshire. More than 65 paid staffers are now working in New Hampshire; the Iowa staff has almost doubled to more than 80. TV ads are on the air in both states, and Kerry's decision not to accept federal matching funds means he won't have to follow rules that limit spending.

The strategy of showing strength in later contests has been sidelined. If he can't win in New Hampshire, his standing in later states isn't likely to matter.

"I intend to win in New Hampshire," Kerry says. He acknowledges that, more than any tactical calculation, his campaign will revive only if he can articulate a more combative, compelling message to voters. (11/24/2003)

Kerry new ad

Sen. John Kerry is responding to the Republican terrorist ad. Here is his press release on the subject:

John Kerry will hit the airwaves on Monday in Iowa with a new television ad to fight back against a recent spot released by the Republican Party regarding George W. Bush’s handling of the war on terrorism.

Kerry spokesperson Stephanie Cutter said, “John Kerry believes that George Bush’s failed and flawed go-it-alone policies have made our country less safe and more vulnerable to terrorism. As President, John will restore America’s leadership, rebuild our broken alliances, and get back to the war that counts—the war on terrorism. If George Bush wants to make this election about national security, John Kerry is ready to take him on.”

Today marks the fifth round of ads from John Kerry’s campaign in Iowa. The ad will be aired in every Iowa media market. It shows President Bush on the aircraft carrier with the “mission accomplished” banner in the background as well as a photo of the Halliburton headquarters. (11/24/2003)

Text of Ad:

Announcer: George Bush’s ad says he's being attacked for attacking the terrorists. No Mr. President, America’s united against terror. The problem is you declared “mission accomplished” but you had no plan to win the peace, and handed out billions in contracts to contributors like Halliburton.

John Kerry: I’m John Kerry and I approved this message because we can't go it alone in Iraq. We have to share the burden with other countries. We shouldn't be cutting education and closing firehouses in America while we're opening them in Iraq.

Kerry’s friends surprised

The Washington Times’ Inside the Beltway reports that the National Association of Manufacturers welcomed Sen. John Kerry’s support of the small and medium manufacturers. However, they were wondering about his lack of past support:

…[T]he National Association of Manufacturers' (NAM) chief advocate for small- and medium-sized manufacturers says he's "heartened to see that another presidential candidate appears to understand just how important small manufacturers are to our U.S. economy."

"This appears to be a turning point for Senator Kerry, who compiled but a 7 percent NAM Key Vote rating during the 107th Congress while Massachusetts was on its way to losing more than 80,000 factory jobs since July 2000," NAM Senior Vice President Patrick Cleary says.

"The senator's new proposals are welcomed, but until he and his political allies are willing to take real action against self-imposed domestic costs, American manufacturers will be hamstrung in the face of unprecedented global competition." (11/24/2003)

Kerry’s bad times roll on

The Boston Herald confirmed with a separate poll that Sen. John Kerry is in trouble in his home state of Massachusetts. Howard Dean would receive 33 percent to 24 percent for Kerry if voting were held today.

Wesley Clark drew 7 percent, followed by Sen. Joe Lieberman of Connecticut at 4 percent and Rep. Richard A. Gephardt of Missouri at 3 percent. The other candidates polled at 2 percent or lower. (11/25/2003)

Corn stalks have ears

The Drudge report nailed the Kerry staff who talked openly in at the Hotel Fort Des Moines bar and it all wound up on the report. Drudge pointed out that even the stripped corn stalks in Iowa have ears:

"The campaign advisers spoke frankly at the hotel's bar on Sunday night about the state of the White House race and their frustrations of living in the shadow of Howard Dean.

"All of Dean's money is coming from Republicans, one member of Kerry's kitchen cabinet told the group. Another adviser asked if that had been researched. No one had an answer.

"The staff said Kerry should — and will — use a motorcycle for campaigning more often.

“The advisers discussed how Kerry should stop trying to defend his Iraq vote and develop how Kerry's the real antiwar protester, not Dean.

"The staffers talked about doing an ad where they would contrast Kerry's antiwar activism with Dean as a draft-dodging ski bum. The ad would feature vault clips of Kerry speaking at antiwar rallies and testifying on Capitol Hill vs. Dean statements on how he could have served in the military, but decided not to.

"The Kerry staffers talked about the possibility of doing a documentary on the campaign, like the one Spike Jonze did with Gore. One frustrated operative said it would help with Kerry's 'aloof' image problem.

"The advisers carelessly talked about how thick Kerry's accent used to be.

"Kerry did the thick accent when cameras were around to sound like JFK, laughed one senior staffer. (11/25/2003)

Kerry’s wife

The Associated Press has a story on Teresa Heinz Kerry campaigning in Seattle. There she called for the detainees in Guantanamo Bay to receive prisoner of war status: "They were captured while fighting a war," Teresa Heinz Kerry said at an informal discussion with minority activists in Seattle. "They should have the rights that other prisoners of war have had."

Heinz Kerry said that denying the detainees the protections of the Geneva Convention is "insulting, ignorant, and insensitive" to the rest of the world. She added that under President Bush, the United States, once known as the standard-bearer for human rights, is now considered a hypocrite. "The arrogance shown by this administration on human rights and in its foreign policy is horrible," she said. (11/25/2003)

Make mine healthcare

Rep. Dick Gephardt and Sen. John Kerry both put up new TV ads on the subject of healthcare. Both of the candidates use personal stories to show their desire to bring all Americans healthcare coverage. After listening to Bob Dole’s erectile dysfunctional problem, listening to Kerry’s prostrate cancer survival is not shocking anymore.

Kerry’s ad makes this point:

"A few months ago, I was diagnosed with prostate cancer," Kerry says in his ad. "I'm cured now, but I was lucky. As a United States senator, I could get the best health care in the world. Most people aren't so lucky, and we need to change that. That's why my plan gives every American access to the same health care that Congress gives itself."

Gephardt's ad features old pictures of him with his son. Here is his ad:

"Thirty-one years ago, our 2-year-old, Matt, was diagnosed with terminal cancer. Our health insurance paid for experimental treatments that saved Matt's life. But in the hospital, we met a lot of parents who didn't have insurance. I'll never forget the terror in their eyes."  (11/26/2003)

Kerry on education

Sen. John Kerry campaign in Iowa called for the creation of a Education Trust fund that would support education and not be subject to political whims according to a Des Moines Register story:

Kerry said the trust fund is needed because education spending today "is vulnerable to presidents like George W. Bush who send new mandates to the states but don't provide the necessary funding," he said. "With the National Education Trust Fund, never again will teachers and parents and students have to worry about the whims of politicians in Washington."

Kerry said his plan would increase federal money for schools from $23.8 billion to about $35 billion by 2008. Kerry’s plan would also:

The trust fund also would pay for special education students and provide a $10,000 tax deduction for educators and other professionals who work in low-performing schools in under served areas, Kerry said.

The federal government also would issue $24.8 billion in school modernization bonds to help states and school districts repair old schools and build new ones.

Tax credits to help parents pay for after-school programs also would be included in his plan, Kerry said.

He said his plan would ensure that chronically disruptive or violent students would be placed in alternative learning environments where they could receive intensive help and the services they need. (11/26/2003)

The erudite mugging

The Boston Globe story by is a must read. Poor Kerry is beat up in ways he may never know, or maybe the subtle and sophisticatedly aloof Kerry might get it. You be the judge:

His campaign on the ropes, Kerry has gone the way of all Bob Shrum candidates. The man who once quoted Andre Gide in admiring his own complexity (``Do not try to understand me too quickly'') now finds that voters really don't get him at all. So he has entered the great consultancy cocoon and emerged as the most unlikely of pseudo-populists, a self-styled road warrior embarking on a bus barnstorming mission to reclaim the state that served as his primary toehold back before blunt, plain-speaking Howard Dean stole it away.

Thus it is that the man who has repackaged his campaign around a slogan - ``The Real Deal'' - so silly it sounds like he's promoting an Evander Holyfield fight has in four sentences offered three clichéd catch phrases, the last recycled from Jimmy Carter's 1976 campaign. All while not so subtly accusing Dean of empty-calorie politics.

Honestly, watching Kerry speak and then file his candidacy papers at the secretary of state's office, you can't help but feel a little sorry for him. Jeanne Shaheen, the former Granite State governor, has added some star power, and her husband, Billy, has helped fire up a claque to clap at the State House, but Kerry looks drawn and exhausted, like a patient badly in need of a shot of Vitamin B-12 and two days' sleep.

That’s enough …go read the story. (11/26/2003)

Missing in action

Sens. John Kerry and Joe Lieberman made a big deal about fighting to stop the Medicare bill and then both skipped out to campaign and didn’t even vote no. Here is what Kerry has to say about the Medicare defeat he took:

John Kerry said, “I cancelled my campaign schedule to return to Washington to fight tooth and nail against this special interest giveaway with a Senate filibuster. We lost that critical vote and I returned to Iowa to take the fight for real, affordable prescription drug relief to the country as I run for President. I fought to stop this special interest giveaway because it offers the wrong prescription for America’s seniors."

"I am traveling on a bus today in Iowa with seniors who understand that this bill is a raw deal and who want to replace George W Bush with a President who has the courage to fight for real prescription drug benefits that helps our seniors, instead of lining the pockets of drug companies and insurance companies. This vote was a big win for drug companies and a loss for America’s seniors. Seniors are going to find out that they were misled by the Bush Administration when they begin to feel the effects of a bill that does not give them more affordable prescription drugs or a quality Medicare plan that allows them to choose their own doctors and their own hospitals. I ask all seniors to stand with me as we take a stand against this sham."

Sen. Joe Lieberman, skiddadled  to Arizona to share the spotlight with President Bush. There he lashed out at Bush and criticized the Republican-backed legislation changing Medicare and providing prescription drugs benefits to seniors.

"This bill gives less in the way of drug benefits to millions of seniors who are low-income. This bill gives billions of dollars to insurance companies."

Lieberman, who came to Arizona on Tuesday to file his presidential candidacy for the state's Feb. 3 primary, said he had cautioned seniors against supporting the Medicare measure. (11/26/2003)

Kerry’s backyard

A Boston Globe story provides insight as to why Sen. John Kerry is having trouble in his home state, as seen through the view of two state Democrat scions:

The Grossman family has been active in Massachusetts and national Democratic circles for decades and has helped raise millions for Democratic candidates and causes. Jerome Grossman, a leader of the peace movement since Cold War days and a pioneer in grassroots political organizing, supports Massachusetts Senator John F. Kerry in his bid to be the Democratic presidential nominee. His nephew, Steven Grossman, a former national and state party chairman and unsuccessful Massachusetts gubernatorial candidate, supports former Vermont Governor Howard Dean. (11/27/2003)

New Hampshire begins in Iowa

Sen. John Kerry has come to the decision that the New Hampshire campaign begins in Iowa, according to the Boston Globe story:

The Massachusetts Democrat is bulking up his political organization in Iowa, spending more time campaigning in the state, and sustaining an advertising blitz that began two weeks ago. His redoubled efforts are designed to try to offset the union support of Representative Richard A. Gephardt of Missouri and the backing that antiwar activists have given former Vermont governor Howard Dean, who are running first and second in recent polls, with Kerry in third place. In New Hampshire, Dean has maintained a double-digit lead over Kerry.

"I believe that the Iowa result will have a major impact on the last eight days of the New Hampshire campaign," said Jerry Crawford, a Des Moines lawyer who serves as Kerry's Iowa campaign chairman. "Dean has created enormous expectations in Iowa. I think the expectation for his victory here creates an enormous opportunity for us. We have a great organization here and a candidate who can exceed expectations. And that can have a great impact on the psychology of the New Hampshire voters." (11/27/2003)

Kerry’s borrowing – Wife’s spending?

The NY Times has a story that is as clear as Sen. John Kerry’s financial disclosure about how Kerry plans to fund his campaign. It also leaves us guessing about what his wife plans to do. (11/27/2003)

Praise and criticism

The following are quotes from the Democrat candidates concerning Bush’s visit to Baghdad as reported in the NY Times:

“It's nice that he made it over there today, but this visit won't change the fact that those brave men and women should never have been fighting in Iraq in the first place," said Jay Carson, a spokesman for Howard Dean.

“The right thing to do for our country. When Thanksgiving is over, I hope the president will take the time to correct his failed policy in Iraq that has placed our soldiers in a shooting gallery," said John Kerry.

"Daring move and great politics. I think these kids need more. I'm sure they were buoyed by his coming, but they need more," commented a spokesman for John Edwards.

Matt Bennett, the communications director for Gen. Wesley K. Clark, said: "We're not going to throw stones at the guy for trying to do a nice thing for the troops. When the president goes and spends time with the troops, that's a good thing." … They made their bed with that `Mission Accomplished' trip, and that's going to be around for a long time," he said. "That's not the last ad you will see with that. I will guarantee you that whoever the nominee is will have that image up."

Jano Cabrera, a spokesman for Senator Joseph I. Lieberman of Connecticut, said: "In fairness, visiting with the troops is exactly what a commander in chief should do. That said, we hope that he's also reassuring them that the administration will eventually have a plan to win the peace and bring our troops home soon." (11/28/2003)

Money can’t buy me love

While it is said that money can’t buy love, the unlimited spending in two small states may decide who the next Democrat nominee for President is. A New York Times story explores what it will mean for Sen. John Kerry and Howard Dean as they blow through the spending limitations  in New Hampshire and Iowa:

Aides to Mr. Kerry and Dr. Dean said the exact amount spent in Iowa and New Hampshire would be based on how much they raised before the end of the year, what their standing is in polls a month from now, and, in Mr. Kerry's case, how much of his own money he ultimately invests in his campaign, or raises by borrowing against his assets.

Candidates opting into the Federal Election Commissions matching funds program are limited to spending $45 million this primary cycle. In addition there are state spending limits of $1.3 million in Iowa and $730,000 in New Hampshire. There are minor ways to get around those limits, like making staff spend the night in neighboring states hotel rooms, flying into adjacent states and renting cars, etc…

Wesley Clark and other opponents have asked Dean and Kerry to abide by these spending limits so that they can compete fairly with the two opting out. Dean has stated that he opted out to be able to compete with President Bush. Dean has left little doubt that he was prepared to break the limits. Kerry, whom it is believed will use his own money, opted out because of Dean. Kerry has said he would abide by the overall $45 million limit, but has not pledged to abide by the state-by-state limits.

The latest expenditure percentages are for the end of September. Dean had spent 18 percent of the Iowa limit and 17 percent of the New Hampshire limit. Kerry had spent 27 percent of the Iowa limit and 33 percent of the New Hampshire limit. Gephardt had spent 27 percent of his spending limit in Iowa. Edwards had spent 33 percent of the allowable amount in Iowa and 40 percent in New Hampshire

The Times article points out that staying inside the limits is not always complied with:

Mr. Gephardt overshot the 1988 state limit by about $457,500, or about 60 percent, allowing him to sweep to victory in Iowa. Four years later, his campaign agreed to repay almost $119,000 of his federal campaign subsidies, and three years later he paid a civil penalty of about $80,000 for that and other violations, according to the Federal Election Commission.

Gephardt is probably in the best situation concerning limitations than his rivals due to his making his stand in Iowa -- if he only puts up a token fight in New Hampshire after Iowa and moves on to the Feb. 3 round. This is because TV ads in Iowa are a lot cheaper than in New Hampshire. In addition, Iowa caucuses are more of an organizational battle versus New Hampshire’s open primary process that relies on expensive TV ads.

The place where the spending cap campaigns are most vulnerable is from Kerry and Dean’s direct mail blitzes, sure to be utilized greatly with their unlimited spending status. The NY Times covers the advantage in their story:

And aides to Dr. Dean and Mr. Kerry said they would flood Iowa and New Hampshire with mail in the final weeks of the campaign, a crucial advantage because mailing costs in the final 28 days of a campaign, when voters are presumably paying the most attention to the race, are counted against the spending limit. In Iowa in particular, late mail has historically proved to be a damaging means of attack.

"You can do it below the radar screen," Mr. Hildebrand said.

Steve Hildebrand is a Democratic strategist who ran Al Gore's winning campaign in the Iowa caucuses in 2000. (11/28/2003)

Kerry’s volunteerism

Sen. John Kerry highlighted his volunteer proposals yesterday. He has proposed mandatory volunteer service and college education for volunteer service. He even would allow grandparents to volunteer to provide grandchildren with college tuition. According to the Manchester Union Leader, Kerry volunteered at a homeless veterans shelter by helping to prepare it for occupancy:

Presidential candidate John Kerry yesterday proposed mandatory community service for high school students and free college tuition in return for two years of national service.

The Massachusetts senator outlined his proposal after helping clean woodwork and a stairwell at The Liberty House, a homeless shelter for veterans that is set to open next month.

Kerry provided some specifics about his hopes for the plan:

His community service proposal is a $3.5 billion plan to enlist 1 million Americans in community service that he would pay for by closing tax loopholes.

Kerry said he wants to return a sense of community service to the country.

His service-for-college initiative would offer students the equivalent of their state’s four-year, public college tuition in exchange for two years of national service. He hopes to enroll 500,000 young people a year in the program. (11/29/2003)

Kerry’s hired gun

A Boston Globe article profiles political consultant Michael J. Whouley’s joining Sen. John Kerry’s campaign. Whouley is part of a last-minute Massachusetts contingent joining the campaign. He has played in the top tiers of presidential campaigns before:

Whouley is widely respected in Democratic circles for his organizing prowess, running aggressive field operations to canvass voters, identify caucus-goers, and rally supporters with direct mail and phone banks. He is valued also because he eschews the spotlight; he declined to be interviewed for this profile.

With his gravelly voice and no-nonsense demeanor, Whouley is also known for cutting through the red tape that can strangle a campaign. Last week, Kerry aides in Iowa were buzzing after a call from Whouley won instant approval of the state campaign's direct-mail budget, which had been tied up at headquarters.

"We're happy to have Michael helping us," said Jerry Crawford, Kerry's Iowa campaign chairman. "He certainly knows Iowa and is very well respected out here." (11/30/2003)

Kerry’s not cutting it

A NY Times article goes in depth on Sen. John Kerry. The question that keeps coming back in all of these articles on Kerry is, why isn’t the patrician Kerry doing better? Maybe the answer is just that simple -- it is that he considers himself a patrician:

Mr. Kerry wants it to be simple. "Gary Hart endorsed me the other day by saying, `I subscribe to the quaint notion that when somebody runs for the president of the United States, they ought to be qualified for the job,' " he told an audience in New Hampshire last month. It was a bit of nominal understatement he often uses — one that does nothing to mask a patrician undertone of disdain for both President Bush and his Democratic rivals.

His present wife says that he is not aloof:

Ms. Heinz Kerry said of her husband: "He's not aloof. He's just so goddamned, excuse me, busy. He's so busy that he's off here, he's off there, doing something. That might seem to some people aloof. As I've said, that's something that I had to get used to as well and try to say, `Hey! Hey! Hey! I'm here.' But it's not aloof. It's busy."

The article ends with a review that Kerry has been in tough spots before and come through:

On Feb. 28, 1969, while Mr. Kerry was on patrol in Vietnam, his boat came under hostile fire. With his crew's support, he ordered the boat straight toward the shore, transforming it from a wide horizontal target into a skinny vertical battering ram that hit the beach, where a solitary Vietcong held a B-40 rocket-propelled grenade launcher. Mr. Kerry chased and killed him. (11/30/2003)



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