Sen. JOE LIEBERMAN, D-Conn.
Tues. Feb. 3: Speaking to a crowd of family, friends and supporters at the Hyatt's Senate Ballroom in Arlington, Va., the senator finally accepted defeat, "I will respect the voters' verdict" and "end my quest for the presidency of the United States of America," he said.
But Joe Lieberman still managed to remain upbeat. "Am I disappointed? Naturally, but I'm proud of my message," he said, and he went on to reiterate that message, mainly that only a centrist candidate could win the Democratic nomination and go on to beat President Bush.
Lieberman vowed to continue the fight for values and bipartisan efforts in the U.S. Senate and thanked the people of Connecticut for their abiding support and encouragement.
Looking at his wife Hadassah, his mother Marcia, sister Ellen and all of his kids gathered round him on the American flag-draped stage, the Senator said he felt like a winner, "Everyday when I wake up in the morning I praise God for allowing me to serve the in the Senate and for the great family and friends that I have."
As the crowd cheered "Let's go Joe" for the very last time, the senator stepped off the stage, hugged a few supporters, declined all media interview requests and slipped out a back door.
His staff and spokespersons milled about. All were in agreement that they were OK because the Senator was OK. Deputy campaign director Brian Hardwick told me "I feel really proud of the campaign that we ran. It was honest and full of integrity until the end. We didn't get ugly or snippy."
Spokesman Jano Cabrera quipped, "Everyone's real proud of Lieberman. He engenders the kind of loyalty that you don't see with other politicians."
Loyalty, indeed. Not one of these guys would intimate just when the death toll began to toll, nor would they throw out a guess as to why the Lieberman campaign never really gathered too much momentum or enthusiasm from voters.
Before he addressed supporters, Joseph I. Lieberman called both Sens. John Kerry and John Edwards to offer his congratulations. In his speech to supporters, Lieberman promised to throw his support behind whoever wins the Democratic nomination.
"The most important thing is that we deny Bush a second term," he said. Just who will do that denying remains to be seen.
SEN. JOHN KERRY, D-Mass.
Tues. Feb. 3: Kerry began Groundhog Day, on the eve of seven primaries and caucuses, in New Mexico, also known as the Land of Enchantment (or, more accurately, the Land of Tasty Breakfast Burritos), speaking to around 200 at the University of New Mexico in Albuquerque.
New York Attorney General Eliot Spitzer flew out for the occasion to endorse Kerry, and Gov. Bill Richardson, D-N.M., who hasn't endorsed and probably won't due to his role running the party's national convention, greeted Kerry on stage but didn't speak.
Kerry unveiled a new line the day after his home state New England Patriots won the Super Bowl saying, "It's great to see New Englanders go to Texas and win. ... It sets a great precedent."
"I predicted Adam Vinatieri would win it... with a kick," he continued. "I predict today like father, like son. One term only. Bush is done."
After his remarks, Kerry did a round of interviews with local media from around the country. In between interviews, after he was asked about John Edwards' comments that Kerry can't win in the South, Kerry whispered to his press secretary, "Edwards says he's the only one who can win states in the South. He can't win his own state." Later, his press secretary clarified that Kerry was referring to Edwards standing in head-to-head polls against President Bush in North Carolina.
Then it was off to beautiful Tucson, Ariz., and mid-60s temperatures – the warmest temps Kerry has seen this year. Upon deplaning, Kerry removed his blazer and took questions from the press, including one about Howard Dean's constant jabs at him. "I don't know whatever happened to Gov. Dean's positive campaign," Kerry said, "But it's the shortest-led positive campaign I've ever seen."
Two thousand people attended Kerry's outdoor rally in Tucson where he gave a half-hour stump speech.
After a two-and-a-half hour drive to Phoenix, Kerry addressed the Arizona League of United Latin American Citizens, then he spoke to around 750 at Phoenix College where he was joined by his wife Teresa who has spent the last four days in Arizona and New Mexico.
Endorsement watch: In addition to Spitzer, Kerry received endorsements from Washington Sen. Maria Cantwell, whose state has a primary on Feb. 7; Reps. Mark Udall of Colorado and Ruben Hinojosa of Texas; and three unions: the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union, the Sheet Metal Workers International Association and the National Treasury Employees Union.
SEN. JOHN EDWARDS, D-N.C.
Tues. Feb. 3: With less then 24 hours until South Carolinians go to the polls, a voiceless Sen. Edwards is trekking all across the state, trying to rack up as much support as possible. Besides Al Sharpton, Edwards is the only candidate campaigning in South Carolina today. While the state should belong to Edwards, Sen. Kerry is not far behind in most recent polls. And while the Edwards camp is confident that they have a strong ground game, it remains to be seen how strong an operation the others have (notably Kerry) in South Carolina.
Everyone knows that Edwards MUST win South Carolina or we can say bye-bye to his campaign. With this in mind, Edwards has spent the majority of his time since placing fourth in New Hampshire in the Palmetto State. He has also made trips to Oklahoma, Missouri and New Mexico, but if he loses in South Carolina then any other state is irrelevant, so this is where the focus has been. His ads are saturating the airwaves and his visibility throughout the state is getting him a ton of local media attention. Besides the media, Edwards was joined today by his three children – Jack, Emma Claire and Cate – and his national campaign chair Harvey Gant (the former mayor of Charleston and first African-American to go to Clemson).
The Edwards campaign is ultimately hoping for a Kerry/Edwards match-up. Right now, Kerry has the national momentum and analysts say there is an 80 percent chance that he will get the nomination. In terms of South Carolina, Kerry launched his campaign in Charleston, and yet he has barely spent any time here. The Edwards campaign thinks that he's backed off since he realized that he couldn't compete here. (I'm sure the Kerry camp would beg to differ.)
Furthermore, pundits may argue that Edwards is merely a regional candidate if he only wins S.C. on Feb. 3. But the campaign says he's the only candidate to compete in Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina (besides Kerry, whom they say has spent more money on ads in S.C. than anyone else, but he really isn't competing here). The Edwards camp is also hoping to pick up several delegates in the other six primary states, thereby proving that Edwards is a national candidate.
Assuming that Edwards wins South Carolina, the focus of his campaign will turn to the Feb. 10 primary states: Virginia and Tennessee. He is not planning to compete in Washington state and the campaign has not made it clear what their plans are for Michigan. From the way it looks now, Edwards will also need to win both Virginian and Tennessee, so he can further prove that he's the candidate that win in the South (and no Democrat has ever won without winning at least five Southern states).
Today, Edwards needs to win back his voice. Tomorrow, he needs to win South Carolina. Only then will we know which direction this man is headed.
GEN. WESLEY CLARK, U.S. Army (retired)
Mon. Feb. 2: In Sunday's Washington Post, a headline declared Sen. John Kerry, "Strong in all 7 Races on Tuesday." As the frontrunner's endorsements runneth over and his poll numbers continue to hold steady, most political pundits agree Kerry's nomination appears inevitable.
Last week, Wesley Clark continued to defend his decision to forego the Iowa caucus in order to focus his time and money on New Hampshire, where the payoff was a squeaker of a third-place finish. According to polls, it doesn't appear that finish has given Clark the momentum he was looking for in South Carolina. The latest CBS News poll shows Clark is tied for third there with Al Sharpton, behind John Edwards and Kerry.
In his last swing through the Palmetto State, Clark was asked by a local news reporter if S.C. was special to him since he's from the South. Hedging his bets, Clark responded, "It is and I'm a Southerner, but you know I'm also a next-door neighbor in Oklahoma, and I got relatives out in Arizona, and we vacation a lot in Santa Fe and other places in New Mexico. I'm running a national campaign."
But the campaign confirmed Sunday that Clark would not return to S.C. before Tuesday's primary. Instead, he is sticking to a strict schedule of Oklahoma, Arizona and New Mexico, states where he's polling either first or second. Every day the campaign keeps a full schedule, stopping at least once in all three states in order to maximize local news coverage.
So how much further can Wesley Clark's campaign go? Last week a senior campaign official said the campaign was financially viable at least through the Wisconsin primary on Feb.17. And if Clark wins two of the three states he's currently campaigning in, staffers believe he'll get enough of a boost to continue through March 2, the next major wave of primaries. Another staff member admitted that Clark's chances would greatly improve if Howard Dean won North Dakota, and John Edwards took South Carolina to take away some of Kerry's momentum.
While many supporters who go to hear Clark speak believe he will emerge the nominee, there are some with doubts. "I think he's the best candidate by far," one Oklahoma voter said. "But do I think he'll win? The odds are against him."
Clark's spirits remain high even when he's not shaking hands with voters. "We're going to do well every place we go," he told reporters in South Carolina last week. But no one but the candidate himself knows for sure what he's thinking when the cameras aren't rolling.
REV. AL SHARPTON
Mon. Feb. 2: Have you ever seen a presidential candidate do a 360? I'm not talking about a flip-flop on the issues, they have all done that. I'm talking about a real-life 360-degree spin in the middle of their stump speech. Perhaps filled with the spirit of the church, or maybe just impassioned with the gifts of a true showman, Al Sharpton spoke at three churches in one day ending up in the hometown of the man who he says helped raise him: the Godfather of Soul, James Brown.
In typical Sharpton fashion, he arrived an hour and a half late to the first church. "The reverend might be late but Jesus won't be," he said at the Second Baptist Church in Aiken.
Sharpton stood with James Brown's daughter, Dianna, and disussed the singer's recent arrest on a domestic violence charge. "I don't know what happened," Sharpton said. "But Mr. Brown helped raise me and I'm asking us to pray for him and his wife. Don't get into all of this. We don't know what happened but I know that at every point in my life he was there for me. I'm not going to let people turn me on him or prejudge him. No man has a right to touch a woman but I want you to pray for him and his wife."
At the end of the day there was still a question on some of our minds.
Q: Rev. Sharpton, are you going to James Brown's house to watch the Super Bowl?
A: "Those who know won't say and those who say don't know," Sharpton replied with a wide smile.
Three ambitious reporters, (myself included) with little better to do on a Sunday night in Aiken, S.C., staked out Brown's estate but reaped little reward.
So was the political agitator/preacher eating nachos in front of the big screen with the allegedly abusive Godfather of Soul? As the reverend would say, "That is between (him) and the Lord."
Monday, Sharpton's first stop on his bus trip is the site of the former slave market in Charleston, where he will address the destructive legacy that still permeates the state.
In other news: Sharpton's campaign will be in court to challenge a decision by the Louisiana Democratic Party that may keep him off that state's primary ballot due to a what the campaign calls a technicality.
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, Ariz., 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 U.S. senator. In Arizona, 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.