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Campaign Roadblog, 1/20/04

As the race for the White House heats up, CBS News reporters are out on the road covering the presidential candidates. They'll be sharing their observations, impressions and anecdotes from the campaign trail in our daily Roadblog.


Tues. Jan. 20: Dick Gephardt returned to his hometown of St. Louis to say goodbye to a political career that began just blocks away more than three decades ago. "

Today my pursuit of the presidency has reached its end. I am withdrawing as a candidate and returning to private life after spending a long time in the warm light of public service," said an emotional Gephardt at today's press conference.

After a disappointing finish in last night's Iowa caucus, Gephardt seemed at peace when addressing the crowd of reporters. "Every day of my working life I have sought to bring positive change for the hard working men and women of this country," he said.

As the reporters traveling with him on the campaign trail know very well, Gephardt's family is the most important thing in his life and they were an integral part of his vision for America's future. "I love my family. The silver lining in all of this is that I'll finally get to see them. Jane, Matt, Chrissy and Kate are my life and to them I will always be grateful," he said.

He gave hugs to a few members of the press that have been traveling with him and wished us well. He said he had spoken with all the other candidates and they all had gracious things to say. He has no plans to endorse another candidate

From the Super Eight Motels of Muscatine to the Union Halls of Mason City, Dick Gephardt spent his campaign empathizing with the plight of working class families. It is sometimes said that in politics, nice guys finish last. Never has that seemed more appropriate.
--Ben Ferguson


Tues. Jan. 20: Talk about kicking a man when he's down. A day after a disappointing third-place finish in the Iowa caucus and operating on just two hours of sleep, a slightly hoarse Howard Dean was interrupted four times tonight during a speech in Concord, N.H.

The first heckler started screaming and waving a Confederate flag almost as soon as Dean took the stage. He was quickly escorted from the gymnasium as the governor called for security. Moments later, a second heckler began screaming but this time Dean had a new plan: he broke out into song. Completely impromptu, Dean began singing the "Star Spangled Banner," and was instantly joined by the hundreds of supporters gathered to see him.

The heckler was successfully drowned out and removed from the venue.

Later, in separate incidents, two more hecklers tried to disrupt Dean's speech. They too were escorted from the event.

At least some of the hecklers said they were supporters of fringe candidate Lyndon LaRouche and were seen handing out LaRouche literature.
--Eric Salzman


Tues. Jan. 20: What started out as an unexpectedly low-key day for John Kerry turned into a surprising win for the Massachusetts senator.

"I feel like 'Comeback Kerry,'" he told a small group of reporters as he watched the returns. "And I like it."

The day started out with a 7:30 a.m. phone call to reporters from the campaign informing us that Kerry would skip the first three events of the day to rest his hoarse throat. He wound up beginning his public day at 4:15 p.m. at a rally in Ames. Then it was off to greet caucus-goers as they arrived at their precincts at Urbandale High School. The campaign chose that location because its 1,400 caucus-goers make it one of the largest in the state.

Kerry shook hands with voters and when he encountered one Dean supporter he said, "Well, I guess I can't get (your vote)." The supporter responded, "Well, once you get there, I'll support you over Bush."

As the entrance poll results began trickling in, an air of disbelief wafted through the press filing area at the Hotel Fort Des Moines, where Kerry was holding his post-caucus party. Disbelief because those of us who have been covering Kerry for months could not fathom the fact that he was on his way to receiving 38 percent of the vote and that the months-long frontrunner, Dean, would come in third.

Kerry told reporters that he had spoken to Dean, Dick Gephardt and John Edwards. He mentioned that he called Gephardt, and that Dean and Edwards called him. Kerry "congratulated" Edwards, saying he had "achieved a lot." He said Dean "was gracious."

As the returns came in, mayhem began to set in as the number of journalists and cameras increased exponentially. After Kerry's victory speech, a throng of cameras and supporters tried to follow him into a quiet, secure room where he was conducting interviews with the TV networks.

The night was just beginning, however, as the candidate and press boarded a plane at around 2:30 a.m. to be in Manchester, N.H., by 6:30 for a morning of events and a week of working from behind in the Granite State.
--Steve Chaggaris

GEN. WESLEY CLARK, U.S. Army (retired)

Tues. Jan. 20: Monday was the last day General Clark had New Hampshire virtually to himself, before the rest of the candidates, finished with Iowa, pour in. He spent a full day campaigning – in South Carolina. But by the time the Iowa caucus results were coming in, Clark was back in the new center of the political universe: Manchester, N.H.

The campaign's first stop in New Hampshire was a pizza joint. Clark personally picked up 14 pies to take to hungry volunteers at his Manchester headquarters, and two chocolate cupcakes for his staff. He might have bought more, but the general only had $1 bills in his wallet. "I need an ATM," he said to his aide, Amad Jackson, while paying at the counter.

At the request of communications director Matt Bennett, Clark rode from the pizza place to the headquarters in the press bus. Since there was no press release on his pizza restaurant appearance, the full-sized bus only held four members of the press. "It's getting sparse in here," he said when he came on board.

Fortunately for the general, when he carried the pizza into his hot and humid headquarters, the room was filled to capacity. Reporters and cameras took up every inch of space not taken by volunteers decorating signs and making phone calls.

As his volunteers cheered, Clark gestured to the pizza and told reporters that his "new" New Hampshire strategy was to "eat, drink, be merry, and keep [the] energy level up."

The volunteers needed the sustenance. One volunteer described his long days handing out fliers, making phone calls, writing to newspapers and putting up yard signs. "At the end of the day, you look around and you're like, 'Wow, I'm working on a presidential campaign.' There's no other job in the world I could work a 14-hour day for and not get paid for and love," the young man said.

After greeting volunteers and surprising a few voters by making personal phone calls to appeal for their support, the general appeared on "Larry King Live" in front of a backdrop of his Manchester volunteers.

He said John Kerry's Iowa victory showed that "voters make the decisions" (not Dean's endorsements) and that he would run a positive campaign (not negative like Kerry's). Ever the optimist, Clark implied he was looking forward to a crowded state, saying, "Let's get going."

As the night wore on and the results became increasingly clear, one senior staffer exclaimed, "All bets are off; there's no front runner."
--Bonney Kapp


Tues. Jan. 20: Timing.

By Lieberman standards, Lieberman had a great event Monday night. The Black Brimmer, a Manchester ballroom, was pepped -- full of supporters; red, blue and white balloons; "Joe 2004" signs; and energy. Joe pumped the air with his fists as he spoke. The crowd was all jazzed up and there was renewed vigor in the candidate's voice; quite a feat following days of 16-hour nonstop canvassing of the Granite State.

However, you would have been hard pressed to see a clip of this event Tuesday morning. And not for lack of trying.

The Iowa caucus was the first time voters went to the polls. Finally, there were some real numbers for the pundits to chew on. And on the morning after surprise victories by Kerry and Edwards, and losses by Dean and Gephardt, coverage of Joe Lieberman was hard to find, an endorsement from the Manchester Union Leader notwithstanding.

In the brambled world of politics, trees may fall all the time but someone's got to be around to hear it.
--Tali Aronsky


Mon. Jan. 19: After appearing on several of the morning shows, Sen. Edwards began his public events Monday at Top Value Foods, a minority-owned grocery store in Des Moines. Since it is Martin Luther King's birthday, Edwards took this opportunity to talk about himself and his background in the South. Edwards often talks about the impact that segregation had on him as a young boy, and he told the crowd how appropriate it was to have the caucuses on this special day. "People died for the right to vote," he said.

Edwards then made a stop in Cedar Rapids where he talked to voters in a small diner. He's now heading to Davenport before returning to Des Moines around 5 p.m. Edwards will have a little down time until his campaign staff and supporters gather at the Savery Hotel around 8 p.m.

Edwards seemed tired this morning and his voice was a little hoarse. After all, he flew all over Iowa yesterday and when he returned around 11 p.m., he went to his headquarters to thank all of the volunteers and staffers for their hard work. "He came to rally the troops and close the deal," said one aide, adding, "It was really cool of him."

Edwards is using these last remaining hours to get into the three major media markets: Des Moines, Davenport and Cedar Rapids. His speeches have been short and sweet. It's actually the first time since I've been on the trail that we're ahead of schedule.
--Alison Schwartz

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