SEN. JOHN KERRY, D-Mass.
Thurs. Feb. 5:The endorsements keep rolling in for Kerry including one of the biggest out there: Dick Gephardt.
After two weeks of working for it, the Kerry campaign confirmed that Gephardt would travel to Michigan on Friday and announce his support (see related story).
Also backing Kerry on Thursday were a couple of Mainers - former Senate Majority Leader George Mitchell and Gov. John Baldacci - along with both of Michigan's U.S. senators, Carl Levin and Debbie Stabenow.
The Michigan endorsements came on the heels of Gov. Jennifer Granholm's backing last weekend and two days before that state's primary.
Baldacci, meantime, made his announcement at the beginning of a Kerry rally in Portland, Maine, Thursday morning. However, he spoke to the crowd via telephone, because of a rib injury sustained in a car accident on Wednesday.
Over 200 people showed up at the Portland rally one day after a rare day off for the candidate, and it seemed a bit of rust had set in. The clearly tired Kerry battled a cough and fought through his 36-minute stump speech - a good 10 to 15 minutes longer than usual - stumbling over words and missing the punch he has shown in recent weeks.
Following his remarks, he spoke to reporters, firing at Republicans who reportedly are waiting to use the gay marriage issue against Kerry if he gets the Democratic nod.
"Big deal for the Republicans. If they want to choose some kind of ... wedge issue and distort my position, I will fight back very clearly," Kerry said.
"I have the same position that Vice President Dick Cheney does," Kerry added about his opposition to gay marriage but support for same-sex unions. "They ought to talk to Dick Cheney, their own vice president, before they start playing games with this. And we'll find out just how political and how craven they are."
After the Portland event, Kerry and a small group of reporters split from the rest of the pack. The majority of the press corps went on to Detroit for Friday's events while the candidate and press pool headed to New York City for a Kerry fundraiser.
The 16-seat Gulfstream II landed at Teterboro Airport in New Jersey, the same airport Kerry singled out weeks ago when criticizing "corporate executives" who fly out of there on their "corporate jets... (and fly to) their corporate-paid-for-homes... which are deducted" from their taxes.
"There's too much money loose in the American political system today," Kerry said last December in Iowa.
At the Hilton in midtown Manhattan, Kerry's national finance team as well as big donors - some who wore "4JKB4IA" (For John Kerry before Iowa) buttons - gathered to listen to a pitch from Kerry and to raise "more than" $750,000, according to the campaign.
Spotted outside the event, which was closed to the press, were New York State Attorney General Eliot Spitzer, financier Orin Kramer, former New York City public advocate Mark Green, state assembly speaker Sheldon Silver, state comptroller Alan Hevesi and current NYC public advocate Betsy Gotbaum - the latter three all having switched their allegiance from Joe Lieberman.
Speaking of big money, the campaign announced it has raised $5 million since the first of the year, with $4.5 million of that brought in since the Jan. 19 Iowa caucuses.
FORMER VERMONT GOV. HOWARD DEAN
Thurs. Feb. 5: In an early morning e-mail to supporters requesting $50 donations to help with an ad buy, Howard Dean set a timeline for his campaign: Wisconsin or bust.
"The entire race has come down to this," the e-mail begins. "We must win Wisconsin."
After failing to chalk up a win in any of the initial nine caucus or primary contests, the Dean campaign has been facing questions as to when it would finally put a check mark in the "W" column. Dean himself has insisted that the nomination contest is more about amassing delegates than winning specific states.
But eventually, financial and political backers are going to want to see victories. Dean, now on a two-day tour in Michigan, said in the e-mail that he expects "a boost" after this weekend's contests in Washington state, Michigan and Maine. But then his sights are set on Wisconsin.
"A win there will carry us to the big states of March 2 and narrow the field to two candidates," the e-mail reads. "Anything less will put us out of this race."
Dean told supporters, "all that you have worked for these past months is on the line on a single day, in a single state."
While Dean campaigns today and tomorrow in Michigan, followed by a stop this weekend in Maine, campaign aides say it is safe to assume the governor will spend the majority of his time in the week leading up to Feb. 17 in Wisconsin.
Dean's e-mail has already had an impact. More than $125,000 in contributions poured into the campaign via the Internet in less than 12 hours. A Dean campaign spokesperson said more than $26,000 came in between 8:00 and 9:00 am today alone.
REV. AL SHARPTON
Wed. Feb. 4: Months of campaigning yielded just 10 percent of the vote and zero delegates, which makes it hard for the reverend to claim even a moral victory from Tuesday's South Carolina primary. A token delegate was won in Delaware guaranteeing Sharpton a seat at the table at the Boston convention.
But as Sharpton said to CBS News' Byron Pitts this morning, he will be going to the convention even if he has to put on his old jogging suit and "walk from Brooklyn to Boston." He is determined to have his issues heard.
And while he wanted to gain at least a delegate in South Carolina he was still pleased in his own special way.
"If I had told you when you had come on the road with us that I would double Howard Dean and triple Joe Lieberman in south Carolina you would say I'm on crack."
His critics are still vocal even amongst the African American community.
"It has to go beyond symbolic they have to raise an organization," said Kevin Gray, former South Carolina state director for Sharpton, wondering if the reverend's campaign has become more about Sharpton than his voters and their issues. "The leverage is having a network to deliver the black vote," said Gray.
Today's inside baseball story came from one of Sharpton's hometown paper's, the Village Voice. It detailed Sharpton's financial woes and his financial and political connections to Republican political operative Roger Stone. According to the FEC, Sharpton is close to $350,000 in debt. When I asked about the true relationship between the strange bedfellows, Sharpton's campaign manager, Charles Halloran, said, "I think they have respect for each other's skill sets."
But does Stone aid Sharpton in his attacks against his Democratic rivals such as Howard Dean? "If Roger could find some ants on an anthill to divide he'd be back there with a magnifying glass," said Halloran.
In a telling moment, five homeless men and women were hired to stand outside the Second Nazareth Baptist Church, a polling site in Columbia, to hold signs for Sharpton. They were paid $50 for ten to eleven hours of work – less than the minimum wage.
"He could have given us more," said Angela Hair of the Hampton Street winter shelter.
I'm not so sure Angela.
Sharpton flies to Detroit tomorrow morning.
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.