FORMER VERMONT GOV. HOWARD DEAN
Sun. Feb. 1: "This is a challenge to the Democratic party. Do we stand with special interests and the Washington cozy crowd? Or do we stand for ordinary Americans who we have claimed to represent for all the time we have been in power? Now is the time. Who do you stand with? The ordinary people or the folks inside the beltway in Washington?"
Howard Dean was back in Seattle tonight and the crowd was with him. Seattle has been good to Howard Dean ever since this past summer when between 8,000 to 10,000 turned out to see him speak during the "Sleepless Summer Tour." As Dean arrived to the scheduled town hall meeting on health care, he could see supporters waiting in line around an entire city block just to get in to the overflow section of the hall.
Speaking in Tuscon, AZ earlier in the day, Dean seemed emboldened by a Washington Post report claiming Senator John Kerry had accepted more money from paid lobbyists in the last 15 years than any other US senator. In AZ, Dean referred to Kerry as the "hand maiden of special interests."
In Seattle this evening, Dean carried the issue over to the great catch word of the nominating process: electability.
"I don't think somebody's electable if they've taken more special interest money in the last 15 years than any other senator," Dean said. "I don't think somebody's electable if they introduced 11 health care bills and not one of them passed. I don't think somebody's electable if the only bill they ever introduced to help veterans died in committee. We need action not rhetoric from the United States Senate."
The gloves, it would appear are off. Dean knows Kerry took rounds one and two. He is even prepared for Kerry to take round three. But he is laying the groundwork for round four, five, and as his new campaign CEO would have the world believe, the all important round of Wisconsin.
- Eric Salzman
SEN. JOHN KERRY, D-Mass.
Sun. Feb. 1: Kerry's fund-raising ties to special interests, especially since one of the major tenets of his campaign is railing against them, were chronicled in the Washington Post, and to a lesser extent, the New York Times Saturday.
The stories opened the door for Howard Dean to unload on Kerry, going so far as to call him a Republican.
"We are not going to beat George Bush by nominating someone who is the handmaiden of the special interests," Dean said in Tucson, Ariz. Later, he said "It turns out we've got more than one Republican in the Democratic race," and named Kerry.
After a rally in Kansas City, Missouri, where his staff played a new song as he began his speech (the late-'80s hit, "Let the Day Begin" by The Call, which features the lyrics: "Here's to the soldiers of the bitter war / Here's to the wall that bears their names.") Kerry addressed the newspaper articles saying "I've stood up against those interests consistently and I have personally never taken their political action committee money." When asked about Dean's comments before an event in Oklahoma City, Kerry said Dean should apologize.
"Governor Dean has in the course of this campaign made a number of comments that he's had to apologize to other candidates for and I would respectfully suggest that they may be just one more of them," said Kerry.
On another topic, at the tail end of his Oklahoma City event at the Oklahoma Firefighters Museum, he was asked about what his wife would do as first lady. "If you know my wife," Kerry said, "whatever role she wants to play." Kerry then turned on a dime and added, "The national press will take that and run away with that," and added she's not looking for a job in the administration or
Kerry's seven-state cross-country tour of the seven Feb. 3 primary and caucus states continued Saturday with events in Missouri and Oklahoma. He spent the night in below zero Fargo, ND for a day of campaigning on Sunday.
It's interesting to note the sheer number of people that are attending events in states he hasn't visited as a candidate. His wins in Iowa and New Hampshire are propelling hundreds of people – 800 in Kansas City this morning and another 300 to 400 in Oklahoma City this evening – to come out and listen. It was only three weeks ago that Kerry was trying to distinguish himself from the rest of the pack; now he speaks to capacity crowds in places he's hitting for the first time as a candidate.
Also of note is the uptick in endorsements since his Iowa and New Hampshire wins. In addition to the several politician/union endorsements Kerry received on Friday, he received three endorsements from delegate-rich Michigan on Saturday, which holds its primary on Feb. 7. Gov. Jennifer Granholm, Lt. Gov. John Cherry and Rep. Sander Levin all threw their support behind Kerry.
Additionally, it was learned today that the St. Louis Post-Dispatch will endorse Kerry in its Sunday edition writing, "He has demonstrated both toughness and judgment in three decades of public service."
- Steve Chaggaris
SEN. JOE LIEBERMAN, D-Conn.
Sat., Jan. 31: Once a week, every week, Senator Joseph Lieberman takes a break.
He's a Jew who is Sabbath observant, which means that from Friday sundown until late Saturday when three stars sparkle into the night sky, the Senator does not campaign, drive to a town hall or charter a plane to the next state on the primary calendar. Instead Lieberman spends time with his family, prays at the local synagogue, rests and recharges.
Lieberman's lifestyle lends an interesting rhythm to his whole campaign, affecting staffers and journalists alike. No matter what is happening that particular week - drop in the polls, impending endorsement, the need to GOTV (get out the vote) - all who surround Lieberman know that for one day he will be unreachable. While the staffers do work on Saturdays, they know that they cannot reach the Senator. Lieberman will answer no phone calls, e-mails or faxes.
As for the journalists who cover the Senator, they always know that they will have one day to catch up on some sleep, possibly see friends, file an expense report and log some video tape. They will get a chance to catch up on some news and reconnect with the world beyond the campaign bubble.
When I asked the Senator how he manages to pull off his one day a week break, doesn't he get anxious about all the work he's missing, about all the details he's not in on, Lieberman responded "most people can't imagine how I run for president and still observe the Sabbath but I can't imagine how one would run for president and not observe the Sabbath, not have one day off to recharge and re-energize."
Now that's an independent-minded thinker.
- Tali Aronsky
SEN. JOHN EDWARDS, D-N.C.
Thurs. Jan. 29: Call it "Whirlwind Wednesday" for Sen. John Edwards: he hit South Carolina in the morning, Oklahoma in the afternoon and Missouri in the evening. The day began in Orangeburg, S.C., where Edwards kicked off his "Bringing It Home" campaign. Then he bopped off to Durant and Tulsa, Okla., where the temperatures where in the mid-40s and the sun was shining. It was Edwards' 13th trip to Oklahoma, and between the warmer weather and huge crowds, it was definitely a bright day for the candidate.
After hitting the Sooner State, the campaign quickly jetted off to the Show Me State. Again, Edwards encountered larger then expected crowds in both Springfield and St. Louis. In Springfield, several voters reminded me it's the home of Attorney General John Ashcroft. They told me they had even elected a dead person: Mel Carnahan. The point is, and as Edwards said in a media avail earlier today, Missouri is a "wildcard" state.
Now, with Dick Gephardt out of the race, Missouri is a key state for the remaining Democratic contenders. Edwards made it a point to begin his Missouri speeches talking about Gephardt and letting the voters of Missouri know how much he respected the congressman. Since the state belonged to Gep before Iowa, and no candidate had focused any attention there, the voters are bound to see an influx of candidates and ads in the next few days. In fact, the Edwards campaign hit the airwaves first thing this morning.
From the whirlwind of South Carolina, Oklahoma, Missouri, and back to South Carolina today, the Edwards camp is using every opportunity to reach out both to crowds of voters and the crowd of media that swarms around him at every event. While Edwards didn't return to his Raleigh, N.C., headquarters to do satellite interviews, like Howard Dean did at his home base in Vermont, he certainly got on the radar of voters in several key Feb. 3rd primary states. And that is exactly what he intends to do for the next several days (he has trips planned to Oklahoma, New Mexico and maybe Missouri for a possible debate).
But, as suspected, the main focus will be South Carolina. This is the "do or die" state for Edwards, and since he chose not give up his Senate seat, you can be sure that this man is not ready to go home unemployed next week.
GEN. WESLEY CLARK, U.S. Army (retired)
Thurs. Jan. 29: For the past month, Gen. Wesley Clark has been pitching his standard stump speech to liberal New Hampshire voters, a largely white, homogenous group. Wednesday, Clark took his message on the road, testing his message on voters from Oklahoma, New Mexico and Arizona.
Rather than driving, as he did in N.H., Clark now has to fly from state to state across the span of the country, which means his schedules are even more exhausting. But in the words of Clark senior strategist Chris Lehane, "As the days are getting longer, we become stronger."
Gone are the days when Clark's town hall-style meetings ran more than an hour and a half, complete with a lengthy question and answer period. In fact, the campaign no longer calls them "Conversations with Clark;" on the press schedule they're described vaguely as "General Wesley Clark greets supporters." The stump speech is shorter, punchier and, today, the general took only a handful of questions.
"This is our first stop after New Hampshire, and we are so happy to be in Oklahoma," he said to about 350 enthusiastic supporters at Oklahoma State University's Tulsa campus. "We like to say we came in first in the non-New Englanders in that primary," he exclaimed.
All things being equal, Oklahomans are more conservative than their New Hampshire counterparts, as was Clark's tone. He talked about the four values he learned growing up in Arkansas – patriotism, faith, family and inclusiveness – but he never spoke so candidly about his faith while on the trail in N.H.
"I took my profession of faith when I was nine years old at the Pulaski Heights Baptist Church, and I accepted the Lord as my savior," he told the crowd. "Of course like anybody else from the South, I can quote the scriptures, and I know what each book says and I've got my favorites too," he said.
And while he did refer to it later in the day, Clark did not include "sexual orientation" in his list of groups to be protected under the law in his inclusiveness tenet.
After shaking hands as headed out the door, Clark did interviews with local press while Mrs. Clark met with voters outside. She shook hands, accepted books and photographs for her husband to sign, and asked the voters their opinion of "American Son," the short film on Clark's life presented to the crowd before his appearance on stage.
Ever the campaigner, Clark shook hands with flyers in the gate area of Tulsa's airport before boarding the 737 charter to Albuquerque.
After a quick drive through the desert to an American Legion, Clark addressed veterans and supporters. Then he did something he would never do in the Granite State: he greeted the crowd in Spanish. "Continuaremos en Ingles por favor," Clark said after a few lines.
He went on to deliver his stump speech with a few bonus themes. After Clark asked vets to stand and be recognized, he continued, "And since we've got so many veterans here, I just want to say when I'm president, we're going to take care of our veterans."
The third and final speech of the day was held at a children's recreation center in a poorer Phoenix neighborhood. Police cruisers blocked the street, while police officers on horseback sat outside and several more stood on foot by the door.
While addressing the overflow crowd, Clark added a few lines on community in the family values portion of his stump. He said federal money given back to the states would be used to "restore the community based policing and law enforcement activities, neighborhood associations, and all the activities we need to make our communities safer and better places to live." He passionately added, "We are going to help our communities. That's a family value and it's ours."
When the campaign touched down in Oklahoma City at the end of the day (yes, we ended up two hours from where we started in the morning), it was after 1 a.m. Although he has never campaigned before, Clark does have a little experience coping with long, stressful hours. Earlier this week he told reporters he got more sleep out on the trail than he did as a four-star general in Kosovo.
But even the campaign trail can be draining. When an Albuquerque voter told him to get some sleep, Clark admitted, "Oh, it's been awful."