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Campaign Roadblog, 1/7/04

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 7: Both staff and press were abuzz about the image of Howard Dean and Bill Bradley on stage together at Tuesday's endorsement events held in both New Hampshire and Iowa. Yes, the endorsement was a nice boost for Dean - but in New Hampshire, it sure made him look short as the men stood side by side on a level stage. In Iowa, on the other hand, Dean had a platform to stand on in order to compete with the former basketball player's stature.

But all that aside, there was one more interesting thing about the image on stage. It had the look of a possible ticket. Gov. Dean addressed the issue Tuesday while speaking with reporters on his campaign's press bus in Iowa.

"I hadn't thought of that. It is an interesting idea," Dean said. "Look, I am not anywhere near thinking about that and I need the Iowa voters to support us in the caucuses. If they want a new Democratic Party that's what they'll do and they'll send us that message."

--Eric Salzman

Joe Lieberman

U.S. Senator, Connecticut

Wed. Jan. 7: A sign of the times? Howard Dean used to have a tracker following Joe Lieberman. He doesn't anymore. Now, Wesley Clark does.

The Dean spy was a young man with light brown curly hair. He went everywhere that Lieberman went. He'd stand at the back, take it all in, and furiously type out notes on his laptop. If you didn't know any better, you'd think he was just another Lieberman intern or a college kid tuning in to Lieberman's event.

But all that typing ended a week and a half ago. Nowadays, the resident spy is from the Clark camp. This one is older in appearance and sports a reporter look: mini-cassette recorder in one hand, reporter's notebook in the other. He has longer hair that he runs his hand through whenever he gets nervous, like yesterday, when I spotted him and took his photograph during a Lieberman roundtable in healthcare reforms.

But hey, that's the nature of the beasts: his is to spy and mine to report on the spies.

--Tali Aronsky

John Edwards

U.S. Senator, North Carolina

Tues. Jan. 6: Sen. Edwards loves to begin his day with a five-mile run (or at least allocate time in the day for it), but when the temperature outside is 1 degree and minus 19 with a wind chill then that becomes a little difficult. And Edwards wasn't very happy with the treadmill at the Mason City Holiday Inn, so no running today. He's dressed quite spiffy in his dark navy suit and light blue tie; no red white and blue tie like he usually wears.

He's skipping the NPR debate, saying that he's enjoyed the debates but times have changed and he wants to meet more one-on-one with voters. He did a radio call in this morning for ½ hour and according to his Iowa press secretary it went really well (the media wasn't told about it and by the time we tuned in on the press van it was over).

With less than two weeks until the Iowa caucuses, Edwards gets right to the point. "I need you to caucus for me." It's that simple. He needs a strong finish in Iowa and/or N.H. to give him ammunition for the Feb. 3rd primaries.

Edwards tells the voters that they need to pick someone that they will be proud of, someone that their children and grandchildren can be proud to call their president. And he says that it's not enough to say what's wrong – we need to say what we can do to make it right. When people ask Edwards how he can change America, he reminds them that cynics didn't build this country … OPTIMISTS did.

One voter said to Edwards that every presidential candidate comes through Iowa and makes promise after promise. Edwards replied by saying, "I am not like every other politician." And this is the theme of many of his stump speeches in recent days. Edwards points out that he's NOT a Washington insider and sticks to his word. (For instance, when he ran for his Senate seat he said that he'd never take a dime from PACS and DC lobbyists, and he never ever did.)

In a cute moment one woman asked about Elizabeth and how she'd be as the first lady. Edwards was like "Oh I think she'd be spectacular!"

--Alison Schwartz

John Kerry

U.S. Senator, Massachusetts

Tues. Jan. 6: The day started at a Democratic activist event in Ames, Iowa, with around 200 people in attendance – pretty good considering the wind chill at the time, 8 a.m., was between 10 and 20 below zero. Started out with his standard stump speech but added one new thing: overtime rules. He referred to an AP story that reported that the Labor Department had suggestions to businesses about how they could avoid paying workers overtime. Kerry teed off saying, "We don't have a broken budget in the United States of America, we've got a broken set of values at the head of our government, and we need to stand up and undo it."

His stump was 22 minutes, the first time in four days that it went over 20 minutes. He then took 29 minutes of questions from the audience on nuclear weapons, health care, education, and social security among others.

It was back to Des Moines for the two-hour NPR debate. Nothing of note, though Kerry and Dean got into it a little over tax cuts. "Dean and Gephardt's proposal to get rid of the tax cut raises taxes in several different ways." Dean called the charge "hogwash." Gephardt later took a dig at Kerry's tax plan saying it would harm Social Security, which Kerry denied.

Following the debate, Kerry taped an interview with MSNBC's Hardball; then it was back on the bus to Cedar Rapids. Kerry came to the back of the bus to talk with the press. While munching on a protein bar he talked about how he may fare in Iowa on the 19th: "A lot of people in the country wrote us off altogether and a lot of other people have just held us in third position all the time... so if I was third – close – and close is very close to the others, then that's a surprise."

The evening event in Cedar Rapids took place at a union hall (Retail Wholesale Department Store Union) and there were around 150 in attendance – standing room only in the room that was legally allowed to hold 104, according to the fire code sign on the wall. He gave a 25-minute stump, again mentioning the overtime issue, and answered 21 minutes worth of questions.

During Q/A, Kerry called on a man wearing a colonial-type white wig who went on for a few minutes about how he was a Republican candidate for president and that the Sioux City newspaper wrote a front page story about him and that the Democrats should be talking about him as well as Bush. He asked Kerry, "Why don't the Democrats talk about me?" Kerry quipped, "Listen, man, I just gave you a lot of free time, don't you think?"

--Steve Chaggaris

Wesley Clark

Retired U.S. Army General

Mon. Jan. 5:
Clark's new stump speech didn't score points with one elderly woman from Exeter, N.H. When Clark was shaking hands after the speech, she said, "The questions and answers were great. The first part I didn't like."

To which Clark asked, "You didn't?"


"Well, I'm sorry."

"Don't spend your time bashing and don't underestimate the intelligence of the audience."

"OK, well thank you for the feed back ma'am."

Later, when asked about the environment at a Dover, N.H., town hall meeting, Clark spoke about how when he was the base commander at Ft. Erwin in California, he worked to take the Desert Tortoise off the endangered species list.

"I don't want to get into too much detail," Clark said, "but just so you understand, this tortoise lives in the desert. It only drinks twice a year. And it only wee-wees after it drinks. And if you ever touch it during the rest of the year and it goes to the bathroom, it's going to die of dehydration. So they're really, really sensitive-they can't be touched or picked up."

Definitely too much detail.

--Bonney Kapp

Dick Gephardt

U.S. Representative, Missouri

Sat. Jan 3: In comments to reporters after a speech in Dubuque Iowa, Gephardt reaffirmed his belief that it is going to be a Dean-Gephardt race. When asked about what happens if he looses Iowa he declined to comment, saying he doesn't answer iffy questions. "Dean's going to win New Hampshire; I'm going to win Iowa."

When asked about the $3.1 million he received in matching funds, he said we obviously would prefer to have the most money but feels if you can "win in the early states and keep the momentum you can win this thing."

Some who attended his rallies today challenged Gephardt's nice guy image and wondered when he was going to take the gloves off? "Like he said you have to be nice and tough but I'd like to see a little more inner toughness. I'd like to see (he and Dean) go head on head and he has to challenge him a little bit more." said Ralph Robovsky of Maquoketa Iowa.

Gephardt said he gets tough when it comes to issues he believes in, like social security. "They will only cut and privatize social security over my dead body," said Gephardt.

In speeches later in the day his anger was more pronounced. Getting more red in the face when calling Bush's foreign policy a miserable failure.

A personal observation: When you see Howard Dean, a normally angry person, get angry and point his finger it seems natural and you expect it. When Gephardt tries to do the same it seems scary and awkward because he is not a normally hot tempered person.

--Ben Ferguson

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