Campaign Roadblog, 1/21/04

Campaign 2004 Bus Election CBS

As the race for the White House heats up, CBS News reporters are out on the road covering the presidential candidates. They'll be sharing their observations, impressions and anecdotes from the campaign trail in our daily Roadblog.





FORMER VERMONT GOV. HOWARD DEAN

Wed. Jan. 21: Last night, Howard Dean was supposed to return to Vermont for a previously scheduled day without public events. Instead, he spent the night in New Hampshire in order to address staff and supporters at his state headquarters in Manchester this morning.

Dean, sounding hoarse and looking a little tired, presented his plan for an overhaul of the financing of presidential campaigns. The candidate wants public financing for all federal elections. Dean also wants a tax credit for the first $100 of contributions to a presidential candidate. Tomorrow, at yet another Democratic candidate debate, Dean will call for a $250 limit on campaign contributions with a 5:1 public match.

After his speech at headquarters, Dean headed for the van waiting outside to take him to the airport. As was the case twice last week in Iowa, the campaign ended up in a heated moment with the gathered press. With reporters, photographers and camera crews gathered outside the door and in the path to Dean's van, word went out to staff to clear a way for the governor.

Before the staff could react, Dean was on his way out. An aide tried to barrel his way through the waiting press, only to end up flailing with a determined reporter. The aide fell against some of the people in the crowd and another staffer was struck during the commotion as Dean moved toward the van.

On the way to the airport, Dean stopped by a Dunkin' Donuts, where he shook hands with patrons, received a $500 check from a supporter and again tried to work within the confines created by an abundance of photographers. After the stop, Dean flew back to Vermont where he did a whirlwind round of satellite interviews with television stations located mainly in New Hampshire or Feb. 3rd primary states.

Advisers to the governor expect their candidate to focus for the next few days on his message of removing special interests from politics. Staffers, however, are scrambling to come up with a way to shift the kind of press Dean has been receiving over the past week, and particularly, the past 48 Hours. Some staffers see New Hampshire as a must-win state for Dean and are making contingency plans should the governor fail in a state where he once held a commanding lead in the polls.
--Eric Salzman


SEN. JOHN KERRY, D-Mass.

Wed. Jan. 21: A bleary-eyed John Kerry and a worn-down press corps arrived in Manchester, N.H. at 7a.m. Tuesday, fresh from Des Moines and Kerry's shocking win in the Iowa caucuses.

Kerry was greeted by hundreds of supporters in hangar at Manchester Airport. He briefly celebrated his Iowa victory but stressed that he's still the "underdog" in New Hampshire. He hit most of the lines from his stump speech but also took a couple of shots at President Bush and Wesley Clark. About Mr. Bush and the State of the Union, Kerry quipped, "He'll talk about going to the moon... well, we're going to send him back to Texas instead!" As for the Clark, Kerry indirectly hit the general on his admitted GOP voting history, declaring, "I'm a lifelong Democrat."

Following the rally, Kerry stopped by Dobles Chevrolet to meet with employees. An indicator of the newfound interest in his candidacy: there were at least 75 members of the media, four times the average that followed him in Iowa, swarming around Kerry when he bravely answered a reporter's question. Another indicator: an uptick in Internet contributions to his campaign. According to Kerry spokeswoman Stephanie Cutter, Kerry's campaign brought in $250,000 from the time of his victory speech Monday until noon Tuesday. If this keeps up, a second mortgage to keep his campaign solvent may not be in order.

The senator caught a couple of hours of shuteye following the event before a town-hall meeting in Pembroke with a couple of hundred voters. During the Q&A, Kerry's fatigue was showing. After a night of very little sleep and a week of intense campaigning, he looks tired and continues to battle a raspy voice. He took a question about a prescription drug benefit and turned it into a rambling 12-minute answer covering his whole health care plan.

Kerry and his wife Teresa then traveled to Concord to speak before a Carole King concert organized by the campaign. They didn't stay for the performance because Kerry had to watch the State of the Union at the Chaisson family home in Concord. Afterwards, he braved the cold to give a brief response from the Chaisson's porch. Guess what: Kerry was critical of the president's remarks.
--Steve Chaggaris


GEN. WESLEY CLARK, U.S. Army (retired)

Wed. Jan. 21: In his first day with company on the campaign trail in New Hampshire, Gen. Clark chose safe terrain for his first event when he held a rally at the Clark '04 headquarters in Manchester.

Speaking to supporters waving signs and sporting Clark buttons – along with a slew of reporters – Clark made it clear that John Kerry is no longer just an inconvenience; he's a threat to a second-place finish in New Hampshire.

Clark made sure to (indirectly) distinguish his 34-year military career from Kerry's service in the armed forces, by saying, "I'm the only candidate who's done high-level work on foreign policy, foreign affairs and national security." He continued: "I'm the only one who can stand toe to toe with George W. Bush, critique him and hold him accountable on taking this country to Iraq, and on failing to do what he should have done before 9/11."

As polls showed Kerry creeping past Clark, the general asked his volunteers for help: "I want you to call every home; I want you to ring every doorbell and reach every heart in N.H. Let'' get to work!"

Following the speech, the campaign must have decided Clark should also "get to work" in the retail politics department. A quick diner stop-by was scheduled at a Goffstown sub shop, to pick up lunch and greet a handful of unsuspecting patrons.

"I had to ask why all the cameras were here. They told me it was for Wesley Clark," one young patron told me. Her friend shrugged in response saying, "At least you knew who he was."

While the traveling press had seven Clark-free hours to, according to the schedule sent out via e-mail, "file/eat/exercise/run errands," Clark spent the rest of the day doing things candidates do when they're not with us.

"We actually [had] a very packed day," said Clark's traveling press secretary Jamal Simmons. He went on to explain Clark made phone calls and did a series of interviews before holding a State of the Union-watching event at Manchester's Palace Theater.

Clark delivered his standard stump speech and anticipated the president's address would be "smoke and mirrors designed to hide the stark fact that he has no real plan for our future."

The crowd of about 900 watched the State of the Union on a giant projection screen, and treated it like a silent movie. When their "villains" (Bush, Cheney, Ashcroft, DeLay) appeared on screen, the audience booed and hissed. When the camera cut to Ted Kennedy shaking his head in disapproval, the "hero" got cheers and applause. In the free-for-all, the audience shouted out reactions to the speech, and each time the president pronounced nuclear incorrectly, many helpful people corrected him.

Clark sat in the fourth row, paying close attention to every word. When his eyes weren't trained on the screen, he was taking notes, filling several pages of a notebook.

Following the address, Clark answered questions from the audience, often citing Mr. Bush's speech.

He accused the president of not having "but one half-ounce of compassion in that speech," for failing to mention issues like poverty.

"I took notes on that State of the Union speech. I don't believe I heard any single thing about the environment," he said when asked about the subject (someone in the crowd told him the president addressed renewable energy).

"You heard it in the president's speech this evening. Where he is using his actions in Iraq to explain other actions in the Islamic world. In other words it's the idea of carrying a big stick and using it occasionally. What I found is people around the world don't like that. They might even call you a bully."

Clark ended his first day at 11:30 p.m. in Manchester's Sheraton Four Points. In what will be a long week of crisscrossing the small state on the same roads as the other seven candidates, Clark said, "Well, I haven't seen anybody, so it's the same as always to me."
--Bonney Kapp


REP. DICK GEPHARDT, D-Mo.

Tues. Jan. 20: Dick Gephardt returned to his hometown of St. Louis to say goodbye to a political career that began just blocks away more than three decades ago. "

Today my pursuit of the presidency has reached its end. I am withdrawing as a candidate and returning to private life after spending a long time in the warm light of public service," said an emotional Gephardt at today's press conference.

After a disappointing finish in last night's Iowa caucus, Gephardt seemed at peace when addressing the crowd of reporters. "Every day of my working life I have sought to bring positive change for the hard working men and women of this country," he said.

As the reporters traveling with him on the campaign trail know very well, Gephardt's family is the most important thing in his life and they were an integral part of his vision for America's future. "I love my family. The silver lining in all of this is that I'll finally get to see them. Jane, Matt, Chrissy and Kate are my life and to them I will always be grateful," he said.

He gave hugs to a few members of the press that have been traveling with him and wished us well. He said he had spoken with all the other candidates and they all had gracious things to say. He has no plans to endorse another candidate

From the Super Eight Motels of Muscatine to the Union Halls of Mason City, Dick Gephardt spent his campaign empathizing with the plight of working class families. It is sometimes said that in politics, nice guys finish last. Never has that seemed more appropriate.
--Ben Ferguson


SEN. JOE LIEBERMAN, D-Conn.

Tues. Jan. 20: Timing.

By Lieberman standards, Lieberman had a great event Monday night. The Black Brimmer, a Manchester ballroom, was pepped -- full of supporters; red, blue and white balloons; "Joe 2004" signs; and energy. Joe pumped the air with his fists as he spoke. The crowd was all jazzed up and there was renewed vigor in the candidate's voice; quite a feat following days of 16-hour nonstop canvassing of the Granite State.

However, you would have been hard pressed to see a clip of this event Tuesday morning. And not for lack of trying.

The Iowa caucus was the first time voters went to the polls. Finally, there were some real numbers for the pundits to chew on. And on the morning after surprise victories by Kerry and Edwards, and losses by Dean and Gephardt, coverage of Joe Lieberman was hard to find, an endorsement from the Manchester Union Leader notwithstanding.

In the brambled world of politics, trees may fall all the time but someone's got to be around to hear it.
--Tali Aronsky


SEN. JOHN EDWARDS, D-N.C.

Mon. Jan. 19: After appearing on several of the morning shows, Sen. Edwards began his public events Monday at Top Value Foods, a minority-owned grocery store in Des Moines. Since it is Martin Luther King's birthday, Edwards took this opportunity to talk about himself and his background in the South. Edwards often talks about the impact that segregation had on him as a young boy, and he told the crowd how appropriate it was to have the caucuses on this special day. "People died for the right to vote," he said.

Edwards then made a stop in Cedar Rapids where he talked to voters in a small diner. He's now heading to Davenport before returning to Des Moines around 5 p.m. Edwards will have a little down time until his campaign staff and supporters gather at the Savery Hotel around 8 p.m.

Edwards seemed tired this morning and his voice was a little hoarse. After all, he flew all over Iowa yesterday and when he returned around 11 p.m., he went to his headquarters to thank all of the volunteers and staffers for their hard work. "He came to rally the troops and close the deal," said one aide, adding, "It was really cool of him."

Edwards is using these last remaining hours to get into the three major media markets: Des Moines, Davenport and Cedar Rapids. His speeches have been short and sweet. It's actually the first time since I've been on the trail that we're ahead of schedule.
--Alison Schwartz
  • Joel Roberts

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