Campaign Roadblog, 3/1/04

Campaign 2004 Bus Election
With the primary season in full swing, CBS News reporters are out on the road covering the candidates' every move. In our daily Roadblog, they share their campaign trail observations, impressions and anecdotes.


Mon. March 1: On the eve of 10 primary contests, Kerry campaigned in Maryland, Ohio and Georgia, in addition to overhauling his schedule for Super Tuesday.

Monday began in Baltimore at Morgan State University where Kerry was joined by several of Maryland's Democratic elected officials, including former Lt. Gov. Kathleen Kennedy Townsend, who was hobbling around on a crutch, senators Paul Sarbanes and Barbara Mikulski, House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer and Congressional Black Caucus chairman Rep. Elijah Cummings.

Kerry continued looking past fellow Democrat John Edwards and kept up his direct attacks of George Bush saying, "There is a better way to make America safe than this president has chosen. This president, in fact, has created terrorists where they did not exist."

Kerry also criticized Bush's budget and the deficit saying "the numbers don't add up."

"We ought to subtract George Bush from the political equation."

The campaign then moved to Ohio State University in Columbus - Kerry's third trip to Ohio in 12 days -- where around 400 turned out to hear Kerry's stump. In looking past Super Tuesday, Kerry tried to explain, in a sometimes characteristic convoluted, long-winded fashion, how his campaign will try to be successful.

"This is going to be a campaign different from campaigns in the past," Kerry said. "This isn't going to be some kind of, you know, we're like them, they're like us, wishy-washy, mealy-mouth, you can't tell the difference deal. This is going to be something where we're giving America a real choice."

In an attempt to connect with the kids, Kerry asked the crowd if they had stayed up to watch the Oscars like he did. Of course, he was just using the question to set up another jab at Bush, pointing out that "Lord of the Rings" director Peter Jackson had "used 25,000 extras" during the filming of the Best Picture. "He has created 25,000 more jobs than George W. Bush, ladies and gentlemen. We ought to give him more than an Oscar!"

What Kerry failed to mention is those 25,000 were New Zealanders, natives of the country where the entire film was shot, not Americans.

After Columbus, Kerry jetted off to Atlanta for his second trip to Georgia in 10 days, where he continued his focus on Bush in front of the several hundred in attendance.

"This is a 'my way or the highway' crowd," Kerry said about Bush and his administration. "And I got news for you. It's time for America to show them the highway."

Kerry's three-day, three-state swing leaves Connecticut, Rhode Island and Vermont as the only Super Tuesday states he hasn't visited since officially declaring his candidacy last September.

Tuesday, Kerry was originally scheduled to hold an election night party in Tampa, Florida, getting a head start on the March 9 primaries. However, several votes on gun laws - including one to extend the assault weapons ban - are forcing a change in plans for the candidate. Kerry will head to Capitol Hill for the first time since November, when he returned for the Medicare prescription drug debate, and stay in Washington, D.C. overnight.

Kerry is expected to spend most of the day on the Hill, working in his office and probably, aides say, hitting the floor at some point to speak. After the final vote, Kerry will watch the returns and attend an election night party at the Old Post Office Pavilion four blocks from the White House.

Endorsement watch: Monday, Kerry received the endorsements of the Cleveland Plain Dealer and the Baltimore Sun as well as a pair of governors: Jim McGreevey of New Jersey and Janet Napolitano of Arizona, whose state held its primary a month ago. Atlanta Mayor Shirley Franklin also endorsed Kerry at his rally in Atlanta.
--Steve Chaggaris


Mon. March 1: "I'm in a New York State of Mind." Perhaps Senator Edwards was listening to Billy Joel's hit song when he went for a morning run in picturesque Central Park yesterday morning, just hours before participating in the CBS debate. After months of conveying a positive message, Edwards got a little tougher in going after his rival Senator Kerry. On issues ranging from jobs and trade to Haiti to North Korea to Washington insider/outsider to gay marriage, the debate was filled with frequent interruptions and more feistiness than previous debates. For a Southerner like Edwards and a New Englander like Kerry, this debate in the Big Apple certainly brought out a lot more attitude, especially from "Optimistic Edwards."

The question everyone is asking: Is it too little too late? After all, voters will go to the polls in less than 24 hours, and with millions of Americans fawning over the glitz and glamour of the 76th annual Oscar's last night, Edwards may not have been able to garner the kind of attention he was hoping for. Unfortunately for Edwards, the only king that the country was focusing on was Peter Jackson's "The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King." While Edwards was not walking down the red carpet, he sure dreams about walking down 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.

After the debate, Edwards continued his stump in the Empire State at rallies in Brooklyn and Albany. While recent polls show him lagging behind Kerry, Edwards still hopes to pick up a significant amount of delegates. He told both the Brooklyn and Albany audiences about the great debate he just had and thanked all the Dean supporters who are helping out with his campaign. Although he doesn't have the endorsement of Dean himself, he's hoping the new people Dean brought to the party and his grassroots organization will help get out the vote in several key states.

Another addition to the stump yesterday was Edwards' youngest kids, Jack and Emma Claire. He said it was hard for nim to focus with them in the background, but it's obvious to anyone that Edwards is happy as a clam when they are on the trail. At one point Jack, 5, was on the stage holding up an Edwards for President sign. The sign was upside down and when he noticed it, he immediately turned it right-side up. Edwards may be a long shot in New York, but as Liz Smith says, "Only in New York KIDS...Only in New York!"

If running five miles on a beautiful day, participating in an hour-long debate and holding two public events wasn't enough for one day, Edwards then went to a private fundraiser. After all, money is magic in a campaign. The campaign said yesterday that they've raised $5.7 million since Iowa, and they plan to have $6 million by Super Tuesday. They never release figures on how much they've spent, but it's safe to say that campaigning on most of the March 2 states is very costly. If they plan to move on to the four March 9 states (Florida, Texas, Mississippi, Louisiana), which the campaign has said they will do, they will need to continue to pray for pesos.

From New York to Ohio, Edwards is spending Monday in the Buckeye State, before wrapping up his night at a Hootie and Blowfish concert in Macon, Georgia. It may not be Billy Joel, but "I Want to Hold Your Hand" may serve Edwards well in the final night before voters in 10 states go to the polls.

In addition to the grueling schedule of running for president, Edwards will also fulfill his senatorial duties and return to D.C. tomorrow for a vote on gun legislation. At night, he'll have a party in Atlanta and then fly to Dallas to begin a March 9 campaign swing. As of now, the schedule consists of stops in Dallas, San Antonio and New Orleans on Wednesday; Jackson, Gulfport and Tampa on Thursday; and Orlando, Fla., on Friday.

Edwards said today that he expects to do well Tuesday and even better next week. That's because all four March 9 states are in the South and Edwards says he naturally has an advantage there. The problem is that if Edwards loses all 10 states tomorrow, the headlines in all the major papers are likely to be "Kerry wins 30 of 32 primaries and Edwards wins ONE." Edwards says he continues to pick up delegates along the way, but at some point (sooner rather then later) he'll be facing insurmountable odds. Maybe, just maybe, he'll need to tune in to Jerry Garcia's "I Need a Miracle."

On the other hand, Edwards could do well in some of tomorrow's primaries (particularly Georgia, Minnesota, Ohio), and then he'll once again get the green light to continue his campaign. As we learned from Wisconsin, the polls are unpredictable, and until the votes come in, there's no telling what can happen. Edwards has seen a surge in the final days before the primaries, and he's hoping for the same thing tomorrow.

Regardless, Edwards promises to forge on. He said today that has not received a single call to call it quits, and despite Al Sharpton's snide comment that "He's only won one primary; he's come in fourth seven times," Edwards still thinks that voters want this race to go on.

He's running out of time, but maybe the Rolling Stones, "Time Is on My Side" will be music to his ears.
--Alison Schwartz