Campaign Roadblog, 2/8/04

Campaign 2004 Bus Election
With the primaries as hot as they get, CBS News reporters are out on the road covering the candidates' every move. They'll be sharing their observations, impressions and anecdotes from the campaign trail in our daily Roadblog.


February 8, 2004: Maine, in a word, is different.

With 24 delegates to divvy up among the Democratic contenders, Maine is another one of those caucus states. The difference in Maine is that candidates can actually enter the caucus halls themselves and speak directly to voters.

Howard Dean, trying to create some sort of momentum going into his do or die state of Wisconsin, spent the day hitting seven caucus sights. Beginning in Bangor, where Dean addressed a crowd of about 100 supporters willing to brave the outdoor temperatures of "Why didn't I wear a hat," Dean continued on to a firehouse in Oakland, high schools in Waterville and Lewiston, a middle school in Auburn, and so on and so forth.

Caucus attendance varied from just a couple dozen people in places like Oakland to well over 1,200 enthusiastic voters in Portland. In each venue, Dean had the opportunity to make a brief appeal for support. One advantage to the system in Maine was no need for the candidate to urge those in the audience to get out to vote. Everyone in the room was there for just that - which made the process extremely efficient.

Dean tried out a new approach to what he hopes will be perceived as a one on one duel with Senator Kerry. The governor asked his audiences how it would look for President Bush to turn to his opponent in the general election and ask: you supported me on the war, you supported me on No Child Left Behind, and you supported me on some of the tax cuts... why not support me now for President?

Dean is trying to distinguish himself as a more stark alternative to George Bush and perhaps a more electable Democrat than John Kerry.

In other Dean news - his press corps received a true Maine treat thanks to some seriously persistent whining. The group of journos tired of stale breakfast buffets, turkey sandwiches, and airplane food received 25 authentic Maine lobster rolls aboard the flight out of Maine en route to Wisconsin.

--Eric Salzman


Feb. 8, 2004: Kerry picked up two more primary wins Saturday as he unveiled a line of harsh attacks on President Bush and his administration during a swing through Tennessee and Virginia.

He won Michigan and Washington easily, perhaps too easily: at around 3 pm, his campaign released a copy of a speech he was to deliver Saturday night in which he thanked Michigan and Washington even though one vote hadn't been counted yet.

Kerry began the day in Nashville, Tennessee and upon first glance, he was clearly well-rested, an extremely rare condition for him these days. The rally was attended by several hundred at Belmont University where he was introduced by former Gov. Ned McWherter, who endorsed Kerry Saturday, and Rep. Harold Ford Jr., who's been behind Kerry since last April.

Ford tried to quell any worries that the northeasterner Kerry couldn't win in the South. "Some say this tall guy from another part of the country doesn't understand" the South, Ford said. "Someone who hunts, who has three Purple Hearts, he understands the needs of... the South better than George Bush."

Kerry himself addressed the issue as well adding, "I'm not worried about coming down South and talking to people about jobs, schools, health care and the environment... I think it's the president who ought to worry about coming down here."

He also unloaded on Bush and his administration, ratcheting up his criticism Saturday. "This is the most nonsense, lack of common sense, selfish, self-involved group of people I have ever seen," Kerry said.

At a news conference Saturday afternoon and at a speech Saturday night in Richmond, Kerry tossed the word "extreme" around several times to describe the Bush administration and its policies. Among the items Kerry labeled "extreme: the Bush tax cuts, Attorney General John Ashcroft, "running deficits, Bush's foreign policy, as well as the way Bush and the Republicans campaigned against John McCain in 2000 and Sen. Max Cleland in 2002.

"They're extreme, we're mainstream. And we're going to stand up and fight back," he said at Saturday night's Virginia Jefferson-Jackson Dinner.

Earlier, he defended the use of the word "extreme" as being an accurate description, not a label or negative tactic.

"I'm not labeling, it's an adjective that describes their administration," Kerry argued.

Saturday night, it was learned that AFSCME will pull its endorsement of Howard Dean. Kerry's camp said they've kept open the lines of communication with the union and hopes to be the beneficiary of this development.

Sunday, Kerry received the endorsement of Gov. Mark Warner, D-Virginia, and, outside the Governors' Mansion in Richmond, he reacted to President Bush's comments about the Iraq war and the economy on "Meet the Press."

He also responded to the questions about Bush's National Guard service saying he respected anyone's "choices of conscience" regarding Vietnam but "when you make your choice, I think people have an obligation to at least live out the choice they make."

Kerry also continued dodging the question of a proposed state constitutional amendment in Massachusetts regarding gay marriage. On Saturday, when asked about it, he said he hadn't "seen all the text." When a Boston Herald reporter offered to read the two-sentence amendment to him, Kerry said, "People are looking and evaluating it, and seeing if it has any impact on civil unions or partnership rights." Sunday, he avoided another question on the subject. Kerry has said he supports civil unions but not gay marriage.
--Steve Chaggaris


Sat. Feb. 7: On a day that Edwards' main rival John Kerry is hoping to do well in the Michigan and Washington primaries, Senator Edwards spent his day jetting from Tennessee to Wisconsin to Virginia. Since he decided to skip Washington and not focus on Michigan, he's now putting all of his efforts into the February 10th and 17th primary states (Virginia, Tennessee and Wisconsin).

A critical component of Edwards' campaign is that he can do well in the South. Last week he proved that he could win his home state of South Carolina, but with the primaries moving to Virginia and Tennessee, Edwards is not as confident that he will have the same results as S.C. In fact, at a press avail earlier today, Edwards said that this is a long term process and they need to be competitive and place in the top two (but not that he necessarily has to win). He said that this is a war of attrition and they are narrowing the field down to two.

Edwards began his morning at the University of Memphis. As the crowd waited for him to arrive, they were playing the Beatles, Bill Withers and Marc Cohn ("Walking in Memphis"). There was also an Elvis impersonator that was trying to attract a lot of attention, but much to his dismay, the focus this morning was on Edwards and not Elvis.

While the campaign has moved from city-to-city/state-to-state, the stump has more or less remained the same, with the exception of a few tweaks here and there.

For instance, today he talked a little more about health care in Tennessee than he normally does, and he criticized Bush for not having his own proposal for what he'd do about this issue. "Bush leads a sheltered existence and needs to be out in the real world doing what I am doing," said Edwards.

Furthermore, Edwards usually ends his stop by mentioning all of the petty attacks by the other candidates. He constantly says, "If you are looking for the presidential candidate that can do the best job sniping at the other candidates, then you have lots of other choices. That's not me."

Along those lines, this morning he added that the attacks have been as recent as yesterday and voters will continue to hear them. What Edwards was referring to were the attacks by Clark about Edwards' record on support for veterans. He was asked about it again today and Edwards said that he will continue to focus on his positive message.

As for his rivals, Edwards is also asked repeatedly if he plans to attack Kerry. Edwards response is that he will continue to campaign the same way that he has been doing all along - outlining a positive vision for America.

However, he did say that he'd point out the distinctions between his rivals, particularly Kerry and himself. It seems like the media and political analysts are desperately waiting (and in some ways hoping) for him to go negative, but so far he has not strayed far from his original optimistic course of action.

After Virginia and Tennessee, the next big state is Wisconsin. While many of the pundits are characterizing it as a must-win state for one of the candidates, Edwards says that this is also part of the nominating process and not one single state is the end-all be-all. He already has ads up in Wisconsin and plans to put up a big fight there. He says that Wisconsin is "wide open" and he thinks that in the next 10 days more people will begin focusing on the state.

Edwards anticipates that the same thing that happened in other states (I assume he means Iowa in particular), will happen in Wisconsin and the momentum will become even stronger after Tennessee and Virginia (especially if he does well in the Feb. 10th states).

At a stop in Milwaukee this afternoon, Edwards was greeted by hundreds of members of the Union of Needletrades, Industrial and Textile Employees (UNITE), a union of 500,000 members nationwide that have endorsed him.

Edwards reminded the crowd that the union stood by him when he ran for the Senate in 1998 and because of them he was able to defeat the Jesse Helms political machine and now he's the senior Senator from North Carolina. He also told the union members that his mother and brother were part of unions and because of that they were able to get health insurance. A common message for Edwards is to remind people that he is one of them and that he understands what they are going through.

Even if Edwards does not win any of these three states, he'll still continue to fight for the nomination. There are several big primaries on March 2nd, and so long as the Edwards camp has enough money (which they keep saying they are in the best financial shape they've ever been in), it seems like he will fight til the very end.

For now, the strategy is to do well in Virginia, Tennessee and Wisconsin and to dwindle it down to a two-man race between Kerry and Edwards. Then the real showdown will begin.
--Alison Schwartz


Fri. Feb. 6:On the eve of the two largest primary contests to date, Michigan and Washington state, Kerry spent Friday campaigning in the Wolverine State - visiting a church in Detroit, receiving endorsements in Warren, and rallying the troops in Flint.

He waxed religious for the first time this year at the Second Ebenezer Baptist Church in the Motor City and was joined by a slew of high-profile state Democrats: Gov. Jennifer Granholm, former Gov. James Blanchard, Sens. Carl Levin and Debbie Stabenow, and former Sen. Don Riegle.

At one point, Kerry referenced the first two Commandments, love the Lord as thy God and "love your neighbor as thyself." He then turned political saying those Commandments are "the story. That's the whole deal right there."

"But from a lot of people who profess it, I don't see a whole lot of loving your neighbor like thyself," Kerry added in a veiled reference to conservatives.

He then referenced the classic Rep. Barney Frank one-liner on abortion: "There are some in this country who think life begins at conception and ends at birth," adding that he feels conservatives "abandon" children after they're born.

Kerry also apologized to the congregation of mostly African-Americans - in front of whom he used the term "separate but unequal" to describe education and health care - for being a no-show at a forum held Thursday in Detroit that was attended solely by Rev. Al Sharpton.

"I'm running a national campaign. I had to be in Maine yesterday to pay them the same kind of respect I'm paying you today," said Kerry, who neglected to mention the New York City fund-raiser he attended later in the day Thursday that was the real reason he wasn't in Michigan last night.

Later in the morning, Kerry met up with Rep. John Dingell, D-Mich., and former candidate, Rep. Dick Gephardt, who both officially threw their support behind him. All who spoke at the event, including Kerry, focused heavily on jobs and increasing manufacturing jobs in this labor-heavy state.

Gephardt spoke to reporters later and was asked about how he overcame their differences on NAFTA; Gephardt has been a strong opponent of it, Kerry voted for it but supports the enforcement of labor and environment standards.

"I believe when John Kerry is president, we will help him bring about a new trade policy in this country that will be good - not only for American workers but for workers all over the world," Gephardt said. "The quest here has to be to get the standard of living and environmental conditions to come up all over the world. I'm convinced that John Kerry will lead toward that conclusion."

Friday afternoon, Kerry toured a M-TEC facility in Flint, a partnership between manufacturers and Mott Community College that trains students for manufacturing jobs. Laurie Moncrieff, president of Schmald Tool & Die, whose company is involved in the M-TEC program, spoke to Kerry and complained that federal funding cuts are hurting the program and that current trade deals are hurting as well, sending jobs overseas.

Regarding the lack of enforcement of labor and environment standards in NAFTA, she said: "Nobody followed through on that. Not Clinton, not Bush."

Kerry interrupted her: "I will."

Saturday, Kerry spends the day in Nashville, Tennessee and the evening in Richmond, Virginia in advance of the Tuesday primaries in those states.
--Steve Chaggaris

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

Fri. Feb. 6: Wesley Clark routinely distances himself from Washington, D.C., when addressing voters. "I'm not a professional politician; I'm not a Washington insider," Wesley Clark said on Thursday to Nashville voters. "I'm somebody who's a leader in public service, but I'm not part of the Washington scene."

This week in Tennessee, Clark made it clear that this trait is one that separates him from his opponents. "It seems like my worthy opponents in this race—they're good people—I like them, but they are part of that culture," he said. "While they've been talking and debating about issues, I've been out in the U.S. Armed Forces, making decisions and leading."

Last month in New Hampshire, Clark touted his campaign as "a strong, positive campaign," refusing to even say opponent Howard Dean's name let alone take a swipe at his record. That same day in January, Clark's senior strategist Chris Lehane suggested it would not always be Clark's strategy. "There's a time for all seasons in any campaign, and campaigns are always about comparisons and contrasts," he told CBS News. "And I'm sure as this campaign moves forward, people are going to compare Wesley Clark's leadership approach to leadership approach or lack thereof of other candidates."

The season appears to have changed in the Clark campaign. Clark's momentum peaked in New Hampshire; he has neither John Kerry's frontrunner status nor John Edward's buzz factor. As the must-win Tennessee primary nears, Clark has begun to make an effort to separate himself from his rivals, especially John Edwards - who the campaign believes is Clark's main competition as alternative to John Kerry.

"Both [Edwards and Clark] are from the South, haven't spent much time in politics, and there's not a whole lot of daylight between how they feel on the issues; he's going to talk about what it takes to be president and make point that he has it and John Edwards doesn't," explained Communications Director Matt Bennett. "It's the point in the cycle where it makes sense to do this. It's crunch time."

At a press availability Wednesday, Clark issued a long litany of pointed swipes against on Kerry and Edwards, the two candidates now perceived as hurdles to a Clark nomination.

"You got a lot of people in this race who are criticizing No Child Left Behind, but my opponents in this race — John Kerry and John Edwards — both voted for it. Or take the issue of civil liberties. People are worried about the Patriot Act and what it does, and a lot of people are criticizing it. John Edwards and John Kerry both voted for it. Or take the case of the war in Iraq. A lot of people are criticizing what happened there. But John Kerry and John Edwards both voted to give President Bush a blank check," Clark said in Jackson, Tenn., this week.

And he didn't stop there. Clark accused Edwards of being a "freshman Senator" who voted to cut funding for veterans. "When it came down to deciding between special interests and veterans, Senator Edwards blinked and he didn't support our veterans," Clark said on a local Tennessee talk radio program.

At a Radford, Virginia, rally Friday night, Clark took the liberty of informing voters about an Associated Press story on allegations that Senator Kerry promised federal positions to contributors. "I don't know whether it's true or not, but it's the appearance of this that makes people upset about Washington because ordinary people don't get that," he said.

While Mr. Kerry has not yet addressed Clark's attacks, Mr. Edwards said Clark took his votes "out of context." Edwards' press secretary Jennifer Palmieri issued an even stronger response, calling Clark's criticism "absurd." In a statement, Palmieri wrote "Unfortunately, this is what politicians do when they are losing — they dip into the gutter and throw whatever they find, whether it is true or not."

[Editor's Note: As is typically the case in politics, campaigns spin records and votes. Clark says Edwards voted against "closing corporate tax loopholes to prevent across the board cuts to veterans' healthcare." Meanwhile Edwards campaign says Senators McCain and Hagel voted for the same bill; that the vote in question was a vote "against any across the board budget cuts." It's suggested voters do their own research on this matter.]

Clark may not call himself a "professional politician," but he has become entrenched in politics. In a Clark campaign advisory issued to reporters on Clark's radio interview, the campaign wrote ""Democratic presidential candidate General Wesley Clark will deliver remarks that will include a serious new hit on Edwards."

But when asked by reporters about the recent attacks, Clark denied his campaign was taking a negative tone. "First of all I want to make it clear that I'm not attacking anybody. I'm only trying to clarify the differences between myself and the other candidates," he said on Friday. "I like John Edwards and I like John Kerry; they're both good men. But I think candidates have an obligation to explain what their differences are."

Although voters aren't wild about mud-slinging campaign tactics, most know it's a necessary evil in politics. "I don't like when they attack each other, but I do think he does need to draw the distinctions between himself and what he has to offer," said Clark supporter Lynn Myrick of Mt. Juliet, Tenn. "I think he's addressing this idea because everyone's wondering which one to vote for--and who would be the best."

As to not leave a bitter taste in the mouths of voters, Clark has been concluding his recent events on an idealistic, positive note. "But I also have a dream in my heart," Clark said in Nashville Friday morning.

With his voice lowering, Clark reaches out to voters who appear to hang on his every word, nodding their head in agreement and rewarding him with applause at its conclusion.

"When I was a youngster I believed that every person could do better in their lives than their parents. I believed it was possible to work hard to get an education, to get a job and raise a family and make the country better. And what I've seen over the past few years in America is youngsters are losing their hope for that dream. I don't want that dream to die. I'm the person who can best bring jobs, bring healthcare, bring education, bring safety and security to America. I want our children to regain that American dream that we believed in and that's why I want you to vote for me. I want to bring that dream back to America."
--Bonney Kapp


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.
--Eric Salzman


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.
--Ben Ferguson


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.
--Tali Aronsky