SEN. JOHN KERRY, D-Mass.
Wed. Feb. 4: "For the second time in a few days, a New England patriot has won on the road."
Prior to an all-night flight from Seattle to Boston, Kerry celebrated his wins in five of Tuesday's seven primaries speaking to a crowd of a couple thousand at the Seattle Sheraton. He traveled to Washington in a forward-looking campaign move, getting a jump on Saturday's caucuses there.
With Howard Dean a non-factor Tuesday night, Kerry wound up talking about two of his competitors: John Edwards and Joe Lieberman.
After landing in Seattle, Kerry was informed that it looked like Edwards would have a huge win in South Carolina. His response: "I expected it. I haven't been down there as much... coming in second is enormous given where I'd been."
Later during his election night speech, when "Fire" by Seattle's own Jimi Hendrix flanked his remarks, he congratulated Edwards, "for his showing in South Carolina tonight and his spirited campaign."
Kerry also praised Lieberman on the night he bailed out of the race, saying the Connecticut senator and his wife Hadassah, "brought great steadfastness of belief and principle" to the campaign. He said "their spirit will be missed from this trail but not from our nation's dialogue."
Kerry's day started in Phoenix where a miniscule 14 supporters showed up on the airport's tarmac to send him and Reps. Norm Dicks and Adam Smith of Washington off to the Evergreen State.
In Spokane, 500 turned out to hear his stump speech, which included a new jab at President Bush's budget proposal, calling it a "joke."
Kerry's Spokane event was at an airport hangar approximately 100 feet from the plane he and his traveling press arrived on. However, in order to get back on the plane, everyone had to be bussed to the main airport terminal, then herded through security before being bussed back to the plane. As if that wasn't time-consuming enough, another 40 minutes was spent waiting in the plane on the tarmac, with Kerry and Reps. Dicks and Smith on board, until the traveling NBC correspondent finished her live shot for the network news.
After a red-eye flight to Boston, the senator will spend Wednesday off the campaign trail; his first day off since New Year's Day. On Thursday, he stops in Portland, Maine, in advance of Sunday's primary there. Then he's off to Michigan for Thursday night and Friday, ahead of that state's primary on Saturday.
In other news, Kerry will begin TV advertising in Virginia and Tennessee, next Tuesday's two primaries, to potentially ward off Edwards in the two Southern states. No word on whether Kerry will buy time in the expensive Washington, D.C. TV market, which beams into northern Virginia; reportedly Edwards will not be running ads there.
Endorsement watch: The American Federation of Teachers, the nation's second largest teachers' union, will endorse Kerry on Wednesday.
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 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.