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Campaign Roadblog, 1/14/04

Campaign Roadblog

CBS News reporters are out on the road covering the 2004 presidential race. They'll be sharing their observations, impressions and anecdotes from the campaign trail in our daily Roadblog.

Howard Dean

Former Governor, Vermont

Wed. Jan 14: Leave it to the Dean campaign to make a little news on a day their candidate has no public events. This time, it's another high profile political ... appearance.

It's not an endorsement, per se, according to Dean campaign spokesman Doug Thornell, but on Sunday the 18th, the day before Iowa voters go to caucus to kick off (finally) the 2004 Democratic presidential contest, Gov. Dean will fly to Georgia in order to attend church with former President Jimmy Carter.

Dean often cites President Carter on the stump, saying stuffing envelopes for Carter was his first foray into politics.

President Carter's son Chip, who has no official staff role with the campaign, has been stumping for Dean across Iowa for the past eight weeks according to Dean campaign manager Joe Trippi.

Trippi also said Carter's former campaign manager Tim Kraft is practically living at Dean Iowa headquarters having coming on board recently as a senior adviser.

While there might not be an endorsement forthcoming on Sunday, the Dean campaign is betting a public appearance between their candidate and the former president will send a clear message to Iowa voters just a day before caucuses.

--Eric Salzman

John Kerry

U.S. Senator, Massachusetts

Wed. Jan. 14: Kerry began the day speaking to veterans in Waterloo, Iowa, where he announced that over 10,000 veterans will caucus on his behalf next Monday. Helping mobilize veterans will be the four Bolanos brothers, the only four brothers who served in Vietnam at the same time, who have come to Iowa from El Paso, Texas to volunteer for Kerry.

Having almost kicked the cold that's been dogging him the past two days, Kerry held three town-hall meetings Tuesday in Independence, Manchester and Vinton. Turnout in Independence and Vinton was over 100 each, while the 40 or so at the Manchester event was described as large by the campaign. Aides said that Delaware County, where Manchester is located, is heavily Republican and in 2000 only had 200 people attend the Democratic caucus.

At both the Independence and Manchester events, a Howard Dean staffer gave the press a handout headlined, "Kerry Misleads on Iraq Policy." Perhaps it's the next step in Dean's promise not to be a "pincushion."

The Dean handout reads: "John Kerry is now claiming that he was the first candidate to propose a plan for post-war Iraq and reconstruction. Unfortunately for Mr. Kerry's already sagging credibility, this claim happens to be untrue."

When I asked the Dean staffer whether this was "officially sanctioned by the Dean campaign," he responded, "Yes."

Not knowing about the handout, Kerry scolded Dean for a TV ad "attacking Democrats." He told reporters after the Independence event, "I regret that apparently he's chosen to end it on this negative note."

By nightfall, Kerry was the only Democratic candidate campaigning in Iowa. His last event of the day was the second installment of his musical has-been tour ("The Albums from the Attic Tour," perhaps?): a performance from singer Carole King. The Cedar Rapids concert came a week after Peter, Paul and Mary's Peter Yarrow sang "If I Had a Hammer" repeatedly at Kerry events over a four-day period. No word on whether Kerry's trying to lure Arlo Guthrie, Brewer and Shipley, or Country Joe McDonald to aid his campaign.

The 1,900-seat, newly renovated Paramount Theater was near capacity with mostly Kerry supporters and local Democrats, though the free show was open to the public. During his remarks, Kerry touched on his stump speech and talked a little about King, briefly mentioning her former boyfriend, singer James Taylor. "If you all get me out of here with the push we need, I promise you a James Taylor-Carole King concert!" Kerry exclaimed to wild applause.

King played a nine-song set including favorites such as "Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow" and "Natural Woman." She wrapped up the show with the song Taylor made famous, "You've Got a Friend," riffing, "Ain't it good to know we got John Kerry as a friend."

--Steve Chaggaris

John Edwards

U.S. Senator, North Carolina

Tues. Jan. 13: If Sunday's endorsement of Sen. John Edwards by the Des Moines Register wasn't enough good news, Edwards appeared Monday on the FRONT page of The New York Times. This, coupled with the overall increase in attention he's been getting in recent days, is all great news for the North Carolina senator, who is banking on a strong finish in Iowa. While several weeks ago this may have seemed implausible, with just one week to go before the caucuses, it may not be so farfetched. In fact, a poll released by Zogby Monday has Kerry at 16 and Edwards at 12 (note: poll was taken over three days, Fri.-Sun., but Zogby says he wouldn't expect any effect from the DMR endorsement to show until tomorrow). A strong finish in Iowa is important, if not critical, if Edwards is to move forward with his campaign.

After participating in the Brown/Black Forum debate Sunday night, Edwards began his day talking about rural America. He says he will bridge the divide between the small towns and farms of rural American and the group of insiders who get what they want. "Small farmers are the heart and soul of this country," says Edwards. He delivered his message in the form of a speech (versus a more informal type of stump), which is something that he's been getting noticeably better at lately. Usually he takes Q and A after speaking, but at his first event he did not. That's something that bothered one undecided voter. "I am choosing between Edwards and Gephardt, but I'm leaning towards Gephardt because he took Q and A after his speech." It seems that everything counts, and at this point in the game Edwards can't afford to miss a beat.

A message that's becoming part of Edwards' stump is his ability to beat George W. Bush. The Democrats will obviously want to pick a candidate they feel can defeat Bush, and Edwards thinks he can do just that. "You're looking at the candidate that can go head to head with George Bush in the North, the Northwest, and talking like this [he points to his mouth as he refers to his Southern drawl] in the South." He adds, "The South is my backyard, not George Bush's backyard."

The crowds are getting bigger, but it's hard to tell if it's because they're coming to see Edwards, or because the caucuses are just around the corner. Either way, Edwards needs to win over these undecided voters, and so far it seems like he's doing a good job. "I'm leaning towards Edwards," says Sherry Lester of Sioux City. He's easy to understand and I like what he says about helping to keep jobs in this country." As for the DMR endorsement, Lester says she was really pleased about it and was disappointed by some of the other candidate's endorsements – like Harkin and Gore supporting Dean. "He also exudes energy," says Lester of Edwards, "and he reminds me of Kennedy," an opinion voiced several voters.

Edwards will be in Des Moines on Tuesday morning, and then jet off to New Hampshire for two events. After that, it's all Iowa all the time.

--Alison Schwartz

Dick Gephardt

U.S. Representative, Missouri

Mon. Jan. 12: Gephardt campaign manager Steve Murphy, in a conference call with reporters on Sunday, again warned about outsiders (non-Iowans) infiltrating the caucuses. He said while there are no restrictions on who can come to caucus, there are restriction on who can vote. He is also worried that entrance polling may have validity problems because of the way that numbers are reported from the precincts.

Murphy also tried to do damage control on a statement by Gephardt at the end of a speech in Norwalk that "I have to win in Iowa to win the nomination and take on George Bush." He usually dances around this question. Murphy said it was a moot point because Gephardt is going to win in Iowa; it will be a bigger blow to Dean to lose than Gephardt because Dean is the frontrunner.

Asked why Gephardt is stagnant in the polls, Murphy said you cannot poll for a caucus when voter turnout is so important; no one is really moving in the polls and everyone is kind of stuck with a large undecided still there.

--Ben Ferguson

Joe Lieberman

U.S. Senator, Connecticut

Mon. Jan. 12: The Black and Brown debate in Des Moines on Sunday was a weird debate. However, all the candidates seemed very much in character: Howard Dean got most of the attacks/attention and tried to run things; John Kerry was in the shadows and came off as presidential and aloof; Joe Lieberman, Carol Moseley Braun and Al Sharpton were fighting for some playing time.

At one point, Lieberman said, "I was beginning to hope someone would attack me," and Sharpton was heard telling moderator Lester Holt during one of the early breaks, Iif I don't get more talking time soon, I am outta here." Johnny Boy Edwards remained ever optimistic and hopeful for the future, while Dennis Kucinich still hammered to get our troops out of Iraq.

Sharpton did dig in to Dean, though, on the issue of the lack of color in Dean's Vermont government. This could prove a harbinger for February 3rd states, when the South/ African-American vote comes out, especially in South Carolina.

In the end, perhaps the real winner of the debate was Wes Clark. He was up in New Hampshire and above the fray.

Later in the spin room, Lieberman spun his non-question about having all the Democratic candidates sign a letter to President Bush urging him to implement the bipartisan election reform law passed last year. I couldn't quite figure out of this was a media/debate ploy by Lieberman for some attention or if it simply pointed to his not yet being over the 2000 election. Either way he got some teasing for his long-windedness from John Kerry, who said, "I was going to ask Joe Lieberman a question, but given his long question, I was afraid his answer might be ... longer than Britney Spears' marriage."

--Tali Aronsky

Wesley Clark

Retired U.S. Army General

Fri. Jan. 9: Clark met his entire press corps, which seems to be growing by the hour, at the L.L. Bean factory outlet store in Concord, N.H., Thursday morning. While waiting for the general to arrive, Clark senior adviser Chris Lehane bought a hunter's hat, the kind with the earflaps, and director of press advance Sunny Gettinger purchased a red down jacket.

Although Clark met some shoppers and asked for their support along the way, the purpose of the visit wasn't retail politics on the trail. Clark needed a new sweater. Yesterday, at his Peterborough town hall meeting, he wore a tan argyle sweater that looked suspiciously like his brother-in-law Gene Caulfield's argyle sweater. Turns out it was one and the same.

Upon questioning from reporters, Clark was forced to explain. "I took the sweater off the back of my brother in law," he said under pressure. "I was cold. He had a nice, warm sport coat on and I had this thin coat. We had a mix-up, so I needed a sweater."

After holding up different options to his concerned staff (one brown sweater got cast aside when Clark said, "That's a warm looking sweater, but I need something with a little more, you know, style") he decided on a forest green crew neck. It was an extra-large, tall, but it was the right color and, most importantly, it was wool, not cotton. The entourage followed Clark to the men's changing room, where we eagerly awaited the fashion show. Clark came out wearing a baggy green sweater, looked at the cameras and said, "This is so unfair."

Since Mrs. Clark was not there, Clark called on his argyle sweater-owning brother in law for his opinion. "It's too big," was Caulfield's verdict. Thankfully, a staffer found the same sweater in a large. Clark emerged from the changing room for the second time, modeling the sweater for the press as photographers snapped photos. Clark bought the sweater ($19 and change) and wore it out of the store.

--Bonney Kapp

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