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Campaign Roadblog, 1/29/04

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.


Thurs. Jan. 29: The day after his big win in New Hampshire, Kerry rolled out his national campaign, jetting off to Missouri and South Carolina on Wednesday.

There was an obvious shift in the dynamic of the campaign as the effort to cover seven states in seven days plays out. Wednesday signaled the arrival of a regular chartered airplane – as opposed to mostly bus trips in Iowa and N.H. – and fewer events; there was only one campaign event today.

After sleeping at home in Boston, Kerry arrived at Hanscom Field in Bedford, Mass. for the first leg of his Feb. 3 campaign, which would take him to St. Louis. Prior to boarding, Kerry told reporters that although he's taking his campaign across the country, he's not changing his mindset.

"I expect to compete with the same underdog mentality, with the same quality of 'every vote counts,'" Kerry said.

During the flight, the senator tossed a football with staff in the first-class section of the Miami Air charter (wonderful service, wonderful food, by the way), then sauntered back and chatted with the press.

Again, in looking forward, Kerry continued trying not to sound overconfident. "There's plenty of time for Monday morning quarterbacking," he said, referring to questions about how he won Iowa and N.H. "But I have a nomination I have to try to win. I have to stay focused on each one of the states."

Kerry was greeted in St. Louis by Mayor Francis Slay, who has endorsed him, and by a multi-car motorcade that included St. Louis' finest and two fire trucks.

At St. Louis Community College, Kerry delivered a 25-minute speech to a crowd of around 800, mixing in new material culled from his Q&A sessions with voters in Iowa and N.H., as well as hitting some of his standard stump lines more smoothly than usual. His jokes at the top of speech were also bit better than normal, including one crafted especially for the Missouri audience. "This is the 'Show-Me State' and we're here to show George Bush the door!"

Before his remarks, Kerry accepted the endorsements of Iowa Gov. Tom Vilsack (What took him so long? It's been a week since Kerry won Iowa), and former Missouri Sens. Jean Carnahan and Tom Eagleton. Eagleton, who was briefly the Democrats' VP nominee in 1972, cracked, "John, hear that thunderous applause (for me)? I'd make a terrific vice president."

Kerry's Thursday features an endorsement by South Carolina Rep. Jim Clyburn in Columbia and a candidates' debate in Greenville.
--Steve Chaggaris

Sen. John Edwards, D-N.C.

Thurs. Jan. 29: Call it "Whirlwind Wednesday" for Sen. John Edwards: he hit South Carolina in the morning, Oklahoma in the afternoon and Missouri in the evening. The day began in Orangeburg, S.C., where Edwards kicked off his "Bringing It Home" campaign. Then he bopped off to Durant and Tulsa, Okla., where the temperatures where in the mid-40s and the sun was shining. It was Edwards' 13th trip to Oklahoma, and between the warmer weather and huge crowds, it was definitely a bright day for the candidate.

After hitting the Sooner State, the campaign quickly jetted off to the Show Me State. Again, Edwards encountered larger then expected crowds in both Springfield and St. Louis. In Springfield, several voters reminded me it's the home of Attorney General John Ashcroft. They told me they had even elected a dead person: Mel Carnahan. The point is, and as Edwards said in a media avail earlier today, Missouri is a "wildcard" state.

Now, with Dick Gephardt out of the race, Missouri is a key state for the remaining Democratic contenders. Edwards made it a point to begin his Missouri speeches talking about Gephardt and letting the voters of Missouri know how much he respected the congressman. Since the state belonged to Gep before Iowa, and no candidate had focused any attention there, the voters are bound to see an influx of candidates and ads in the next few days. In fact, the Edwards campaign hit the airwaves first thing this morning.

From the whirlwind of South Carolina, Oklahoma, Missouri, and back to South Carolina today, the Edwards camp is using every opportunity to reach out both to crowds of voters and the crowd of media that swarms around him at every event. While Edwards didn't return to his Raleigh, N.C., headquarters to do satellite interviews, like Howard Dean did at his home base in Vermont, he certainly got on the radar of voters in several key Feb. 3rd primary states. And that is exactly what he intends to do for the next several days (he has trips planned to Oklahoma, New Mexico and maybe Missouri for a possible debate).

But, as suspected, the main focus will be South Carolina. This is the "do or die" state for Edwards, and since he chose not give up his Senate seat, you can be sure that this man is not ready to go home unemployed next week.
--Alison Schwartz

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

Thurs. Jan. 29: For the past month, Gen. Wesley Clark has been pitching his standard stump speech to liberal New Hampshire voters, a largely white, homogenous group. Wednesday, Clark took his message on the road, testing his message on voters from Oklahoma, New Mexico and Arizona.

Rather than driving, as he did in N.H., Clark now has to fly from state to state across the span of the country, which means his schedules are even more exhausting. But in the words of Clark senior strategist Chris Lehane, "As the days are getting longer, we become stronger."

Gone are the days when Clark's town hall-style meetings ran more than an hour and a half, complete with a lengthy question and answer period. In fact, the campaign no longer calls them "Conversations with Clark;" on the press schedule they're described vaguely as "General Wesley Clark greets supporters." The stump speech is shorter, punchier and, today, the general took only a handful of questions.

"This is our first stop after New Hampshire, and we are so happy to be in Oklahoma," he said to about 350 enthusiastic supporters at Oklahoma State University's Tulsa campus. "We like to say we came in first in the non-New Englanders in that primary," he exclaimed.

All things being equal, Oklahomans are more conservative than their New Hampshire counterparts, as was Clark's tone. He talked about the four values he learned growing up in Arkansas – patriotism, faith, family and inclusiveness – but he never spoke so candidly about his faith while on the trail in N.H.

"I took my profession of faith when I was nine years old at the Pulaski Heights Baptist Church, and I accepted the Lord as my savior," he told the crowd. "Of course like anybody else from the South, I can quote the scriptures, and I know what each book says and I've got my favorites too," he said.

And while he did refer to it later in the day, Clark did not include "sexual orientation" in his list of groups to be protected under the law in his inclusiveness tenet.

After shaking hands as headed out the door, Clark did interviews with local press while Mrs. Clark met with voters outside. She shook hands, accepted books and photographs for her husband to sign, and asked the voters their opinion of "American Son," the short film on Clark's life presented to the crowd before his appearance on stage.

Ever the campaigner, Clark shook hands with flyers in the gate area of Tulsa's airport before boarding the 737 charter to Albuquerque.

After a quick drive through the desert to an American Legion, Clark addressed veterans and supporters. Then he did something he would never do in the Granite State: he greeted the crowd in Spanish. "Continuaremos en Ingles por favor," Clark said after a few lines.

He went on to deliver his stump speech with a few bonus themes. After Clark asked vets to stand and be recognized, he continued, "And since we've got so many veterans here, I just want to say when I'm president, we're going to take care of our veterans."

The third and final speech of the day was held at a children's recreation center in a poorer Phoenix neighborhood. Police cruisers blocked the street, while police officers on horseback sat outside and several more stood on foot by the door.

While addressing the overflow crowd, Clark added a few lines on community in the family values portion of his stump. He said federal money given back to the states would be used to "restore the community based policing and law enforcement activities, neighborhood associations, and all the activities we need to make our communities safer and better places to live." He passionately added, "We are going to help our communities. That's a family value and it's ours."

When the campaign touched down in Oklahoma City at the end of the day (yes, we ended up two hours from where we started in the morning), it was after 1 a.m. Although he has never campaigned before, Clark does have a little experience coping with long, stressful hours. Earlier this week he told reporters he got more sleep out on the trail than he did as a four-star general in Kosovo.

But even the campaign trail can be draining. When an Albuquerque voter told him to get some sleep, Clark admitted, "Oh, it's been awful."
--Bonney Kapp


Wed. Jan. 28: Do I detect a note of change in the Lieberman camp?

When asked in New Hampshire whether he would continue beyond the Feb. 3 states, the senator said, "Yes." However, when asked the same question Wednesday at a press avail at the National Health Policy Forum at the University of Central Oklahoma, Lieberman replied "I'm an optimist ... I intend to go on".

A slight change but some register that things are not "better than expected".

To look at him, you wouldn't see any change. Last night on the charter from New Hampshire to Oklahoma, Lieberman slept most of the way. No anger, no tears, no huddles with his staff.

This morning, the press hounded deputy campaign director Brian Hardwick looking for some scoop. He refuted the AP's report that senior aides were urging Lieberman to drop out. "The AP report is false. No one who was in that room said such a thing," Hardwick stated. The room on N.H. primary night was peopled with Lieberman's family, Hardwick, Mark Penn, Mandy Grunwald and chief of staff Sherry Brown. Hardwick also said that he was with Lieberman from 4 p.m. Tuesday through this morning and had not heard any phone calls to the senator to that effect.

Hardwick acknowledged that Lieberman did speak with Sens. Chris Dodd of Connecticut and Thomas Carper of Delaware and that Lieberman's staff presented him with the campaign's money situation and "what it would take to play in the Feb. 3rd states." He also said that Lieberman and his staff "knew essentially where they would place in N.H."

Lieberman's plan is to focus on Oklahoma, Delaware and South Carolina, and to play up his moderate side. Who knew that mainstream could be marketed as the new alternative?
--Tali Aronsky


Mon., Jan. 26: "That's me, that's me!" The shout came from the balcony of the Palace Theater in Manchester, N.H., where Howard Dean had just started to tell a story.

The story was about a man he had met the night before at yet another New Hampshire town hall. During the Q & A the previous night, a 28-year-old man named John waited patiently by a microphone for about 20 minutes. When his turn finally came to ask the governor a question, John launched into his own story.

He was unemployed in New Hampshire, he explained. John moved to Vermont and got a job as a dishwasher. But then, John said, he got sick.

But with enthusiasm and pride he shouted about he saw a doctor for two dollars... and then had a cavity filled for three dollars. "And I still got the lollipop," John told the audience.

John was so pro-Dean, the candidate felt the need to promise the audience that the young man was not a plant. After telling his story to the audience, John made his way to the stage to shake Dean's hand. He said something off mike, and Dean then announced to the crowd that John now owns his own business, working as a piano tuner.

During his standard stump speech, Dean usually tells two or three stories about folks he has met on the campaign trail. Today, while talking to a packed theater in Manchester, Dean started to tell the story of the young man he met the previous night.

And that's when the shout came out from the balcony. "John?" Dean asked looking up. John was there one more time. The governor asked his young supporter to tell his own story, which John shouted to the hall with heartfelt enthusiasm. After telling his story, John added one other thought to demonstrate his support for Dean: "Some people heard Howard Dean scream and it made them run away. I heard Howard Dean scream and it made me wake up!"
--Eric Salzman

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