The Beltway Bandit

An online journal of politics, culture, and sports

Saturday, January 31, 2004

DESPERATE DEAN -- He hires a top lobbyist to run his campaign after the ruin of Joe Trippi and now he has the nerve to attack John Kerry as a servant of the special interests.

Senator--squash that little man like a bug.

CLINTON ON KERRY -- Former President Bill Clinton is not endorsing any Democratic candidates for president yet, but he had some nice things to say about Senator John Kerry.
"I don't think it's fair to say he can't be elected, or that he's too far to the left," Clinton said of Kerry, the Massachusetts senator who has won both the Iowa caucuses and the New Hampshire Democratic presidential primary in the last 10 days.

The former president, considered by many in his party as a centrist, spoke after a reporter asked whether Kerry was "a little too liberal" to win the general election in November should he be the Democratic nominee.

Clinton recalled that Kerry had been helpful when Clinton was in the White House trying to reverse large budget deficits. Among other things, Clinton raised taxes in 1993 to do so and Kerry voted for that increase.

"All I know is when I was trying to reverse 12 years of what we've had for the last four, where we were taxing less and spending more ... and we were running this huge deficit, he (Kerry) was there to help," Clinton said of Kerry.

"I think he was good on security, good on fiscal responsibility, good on welfare," Clinton added.
The Kerry campaign needs to get those good words out to Democratic primary voters everywhere.

KERRY LEADS IN VIRGINIA -- According to Political Wire John Kerry enjoys a 32%-17% lead in Virginia over Wesley Clark. The Virginia primary will be held February 10.

KERRY WINS MORE SUPPORT -- Two major unions in upcoming primary states have endorsed John Kerry for president.
In Washington, the Communications Workers of America, with 700,000 members, endorsed Kerry and Michigan's largest teachers union, the 157,000-member Michigan Education Association, gave its support. A third union, the Sheet Metal Workers International Association, plans to announce its backing next week.
Howard Dean is counting on winning these two primaries to make up for John Kerry eating his lunch everywhere else. Hopefully, these endorsements will help deliver these two primaries and put an end to the Dean campaign once and for all.

KERRY ATOP CONNECTICUT -- According to a new Hartford Courant poll John Kerry has a huge lead over Joe Lieberman in the latter's home state of Connecticut. Kerry holds the support of 43% of Connecticut Democrats and Lieberman only 18 percent. Also, by a 2-1 margin, Connecticut Dems want Lieberman to get out of the presidential race.

Listen to your people, Joe.

Friday, January 30, 2004

FEBRUARY 3 POLLS -- According to a new MSNBC/REUTERS/ZOGBY POLL John Kerry is either leading in all these states or poised to take the lead:

NORTH CAROLINA
John Edwards -- 25%
John Kerry -- 24%
Howard Dean -- 9%
Wesley Clark -- 8%
Joe Lieberman -- 5%
Al Sharpton -- 5%

The thing that shocks me there is that Sharpton commands only five percent of vote right now. I suspect that's not accurate and his actual support is higher. The question is, how much higher? The fewer votes for Sharpton, the more for Edwards and Kerry.

OKLAHOMA
Wesley Clark -- 27%
John Kerry -- 19%
John Edwards -- 17%
Howard Dean -- 9%

MISSOURI
John Kerry: 45%
John Edwards: 11%
Howard Dean: 9%

ARIZONA
John Kerry -- 38%
Wesley Clark -- 17%
Howard Dean -- 12%

Dean's decline is unmistakable and Clark, aside from Oklahoma, has failed to catch on. Kerry's strong showing in South Carolina is most gratifying and is probably understated by the poll. According to Zogby, the South Carolina poll did not take full account of the impact of the endorsement of Kerry by Jim Clyburn, the hugely-influential African-American Democrat from that state.

All in all, good news for the good guys.

KERRY v. BUSH -- I'll begin Poll Friday with a look at the national scene. According to a new Rasmussen poll John Kerry is neck-and-neck with George W Bush in a hypthetical [but increasingly likely] election. John Kerry currently commands the support of 45% of the electorate and George W Bush commands the support of 44% of the electorate.
There are several reasons for the Senator's surge. Initially, his gains reflected the fact that Kerry became the front runner on the night of the Iowa caucuses. Another is that the Democrats have enjoyed a surge of positive publicity resulting from coverage of Iowa and New Hampshire.

At the same time, things have not gone as well for the President. Just before Iowa, Bush introduced an immigration proposal that was not well received. His State-of-the-Union address was overshadowed by the Democratic nominating process, and confidence in the economy has been declining.

Some Republicans indicate that they believe the public will eventually reject Kerry because he is a Massachusetts liberal. However, at this point in the process, just 37% of Americans identify the Massachusetts Senator as a liberal. Thirty-nine percent (39%) of Americans view him as a moderate while 11% say he is a political conservative.
For his own sake, I sure hope George W Bush's string-pullers have got more than just calling Kerry a liberal in their arsenal. For the country's sake, I hope not.

NO WONDER -- I just read the article about Joe Trippi in the latest issue of GQ and I have to say: No wonder. The amateurishness. The obsessive inferiority complex towards John Kerry, which is masked by exaggerated contempt. It's all there. It explains a lot.

No wonder.

Thursday, January 29, 2004

I THINK I SEE WHERE THIS IS GOING -- Rabidly anti-Kerry journalist/homonculous Mickey Kaus has suddenly become Howard Dean's biggest fan. Could it be because he hates Kerry and Democrats so much that he wants Dean to win the nomination so George W Bush is virtually assured of a second term?

Hey, just asking.

BUSH'S FUZZY MATH -- Those of us who followed the debate over Mr Bush's Medicare giveaway to the pharmaceutical industry knew it was going to cost taxpayers a lot more than the $400 billion over ten years promised by the Bush regime. It didn't take long for us to be proven correct.
President Bush's new budget will project that the just-enacted prescription drug program and Medicare overhaul will cost one-third more than previously estimated and will predict a deficit exceeding $500 billion for this year, congressional aides said Thursday.

Instead of a $400 billion 10-year price tag, Bush's 2005 budget will estimate the Medicare bill's cost at about $540 billion, said aides who spoke on condition of anonymity. Bush will submit on Monday a federal budget for the fiscal year 2005, which starts next Oct. 1.

Bush just signed the Medicare measure into law last month. While it was moving through Congress, Bush, White House officials and congressional Republican leaders had assured doubting conservatives that the bill's costs would stay within the $400 billion estimate.

Some conservatives voted against the legislation anyway, and many of them are already angry that Bush has presided over excessive increases in spending and budget deficits.

"I'm not the least bit surprised," said conservative Rep. John Shadegg, R-Ariz., who voted against the Medicare bill in November and who said he had heard that the cost estimate would rise. "Historically, our estimates of what these programs will cost have been so far off as to be meaningless."

White House budget office spokesman Chad Kolton would not comment on the Medicare figures. But an administration official, speaking on condition of anonymity, acknowledged that the estimate would rise to nearly $540 billion.
...
Bush's new budget will also estimate this year's budget deficit at about $520 billion, the congressional sources said. That would easily surpass the $375 billion shortfall of last year, the highest deficit ever in dollar terms.
You didn't misread that. This year's budget deficit will be about $520 billion. But don't close your eyes. Every time you blink the projections are proven wrong and the numbers get higher and higher and worse and worse.

This is the most fiscally inept and irresponsible administration in the history of the United States. It must be stopped. This year.

KERRY STRONG IN MISSOURI -- And that is putting it mildly. The primary is not until February 3, but John Kerry has raced out to a commanding lead in Missouri, with 41% support among likely primary voters, according to a new poll from Survey USA. John Edwards is second with 17% [that's 24 points behind for anyone who does not wish to do the math] and 16% for Howard Dean. Since Dean is skipping the Missouri primary, look for his numbers to fall and that support to go to other candidates. Hopefully, most of it will fall behind the frontrunner.

MODERATES TURNING ON BUSH? -- One of the less-noticed aspects of voting in the New Hampshire primary was the huge number of independents who voted in the Democratic primary and what those independents think about the state of the country. The results are not encouraging for Mr Bush.
In Tuesday's primary, independent voters played a major role, making up almost half - 45 percent - of New Hampshire's record Democratic primary turnout of about 200,000. Seven in 10 independents who voted in the primary said the nation's economy is not in good shape, according to an exit poll conducted for The Associated Press and television networks by Edison Media Research and Mitofsky International.

Almost nine in 10 said they were worried about the direction of the nation's economy in the next few years. Eight in 10 said the Bush tax cuts should be canceled altogether or only for the wealthy. The views about the economy of independents who voted in the Democratic primary were almost as sour as those of Democratic voters.
What is interesting is that, comparatively speaking, New Hampshire's economy is doing fairly well. Sure, there is unemployment, economic dislocation and suffering in New Hampshire, but all those things are worse--sometimes far worse--on most other states. I'll be following this story closely in the future primaries, as I think it has much to say about how the race will shape up in the general election.

BUSH IS SPENDING MADLY -- It appears George W Bush never met a government spending program he didn't like. The latest government agency to get a big boost in spending is the National Endowment for the Arts. That's right. In a time of war and $500 billion deficits, George W Bush proposes to give the NEA a $15-20 million increase in funding. Does this man have no shame?

CAP ON WMD -- The invaluable Center for American Progress has done its homework and followed the bread crumbs along the road to war with Iraq. The lies of the Bush administration--and their current attempts to pretend as if no lies were told--have been utterly laid bare by the Center for American Progress. I reprint part of it here, but I urge you to look at the entire thing here.
AP reports, "since he resigned as the top weapons hunter in Iraq, David Kay's public statements have sparked widespread questioning of the Bush administration's main justification for war: to remove an imminent threat posed by Saddam and his supposed weapons." However, instead of explaining why it ignored repeated warnings from the intelligence community that the White House's WMD case was weak, newswires report the Administration responded by "denying it ever warned that Saddam Hussein posed an 'imminent' threat to the United States." But a closer look at the record shows the Administration not only used exact phrase "imminent threat," but also buttressed it with claims that Iraq was a "mortal threat," "urgent threat," "immediate threat," "serious and mounting threat," "unique threat," and a threat that was actively seeking to "strike the United States with weapons of mass destruction" – all just months after Secretary of State Colin Powell admitted that Iraq was "contained" and "threatens not the United States." See a long list of the Administration's "threat" rhetoric in this new American Progress backgrounder.

"IMMINENT THREAT," PART I: White House spokesman Scott McClellan yesterday lashed out at reporters yesterday saying "some in the media have chosen to use the word 'imminent'. Those were not words we used." But almost exactly a year ago, it was McClellan who said the reason NATO should go along with the Administration's Iraq war plan was because "this is about imminent threat." Similarly, when White House spokesman Ari Fleischer was asked whether America went to war in Iraq because of an imminent threat, he replied "Absolutely."

"IMMINENT THREAT," PART II: Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld was asked whether Iraq was an imminent threat and replied affirmatively, citing 9/11 as justification: "Go back before September 11 and ask yourself this question: Was the attack that took place on September 11 an imminent threat the month before or two months before or three months before or six months before? When did the attack on September 11 become an imminent threat? Now, transport yourself forward a year, two years or a week or a month...So the question is, when is it such an immediate threat that you must do something?" And despite the Administration's efforts to pass the blame for failure to find WMD onto the intelligence community, Rumsfeld essentially admitted that the intelligence community had, in fact warned the White House of the weakness of its WMD case – yet still raised the "imminent threat" specter. On 9/18/02, he said "Some have argued that the nuclear threat from Iraq is not imminent - that Saddam is at least 5-7 years away from having nuclear weapons. I would not be so certain."

"GATHERING" THREAT: McClellan told reporters that the White House only "used the phrase 'grave and gathering threat.' We made it very clear that it was a gathering threat." According to the Roget's Thesaurus, "gathering" is a direct synonym of "imminent". A synonym, we might recall, is defined as "a word having the same or nearly the same meaning as another word" – meaning the White House's continued attempts to differentiate between the use of "imminent threat" and "gathering threat" are hollow and silly semantics. It was President Bush who said in October 2002 that Iraq was a "gathering threat" – and has continued to repeat this phrase for the next two years.

"IMMEDIATE" THREAT: Once again, Roget's Thesaurus defines "immediate" as a direct synonym of "imminent" – and the Administration also repeatedly used this phrase to describe Iraq. Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld told Congress on 9/19/02 that "No terrorist state poses a greater or more immediate threat to the security of our people and the stability of the world than the regime of Saddam Hussein in Iraq."

"URGENT," "UNIQUE," "TERRIBLE, " "MOUNTING" THREAT: Other phrases of similar hue to "imminent" were also repeatedly invoked by the Administration to play on America's post-9/11 fears. The phrases "urgent" and "unique" threat were also repeatedly invoked. As President Bush said on 11/23/02, "The world is also uniting to answer the unique and urgent threat posed by Iraq." He said on 10/2/02 that "the Iraqi regime is a threat of unique urgency." Vice President Dick Cheney said on 1/30/03 that Iraq poses "terrible threats to the civilized world." Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld said on 1/29/03 that "Iraq poses a serious and mounting threat to our country."
As I noted below, this is a gigantic scandal waiting to explode the moment the American media decides it is more important to do its job than to serve the interests of the most irresponsible and dishonest administration in American history.

BUSH IRAQ WMD LIES EXPOSED -- The Bush administration has been defending itself in the controvery over what it really knew about Iraq's WMD program before the war by saying that what it believed might have been false, but it was also believed by foreign intelligence agencies and the same intelligence had been provided to President Clinton. The Financial Times:
But critics say neither claim stands up to scrutiny. "They are continuing the misrepresentation that occurred before the war, and pretending they were just saying what everyone else was saying. It just isn't true," says Joseph Cirincione, director of non-proliferation with the Carnegie Endowment.

US intelligence conclusions on Iraq in fact changed dramatically during the Bush administration, according to unclassified Central Intelligence Agency documents and portions of the October 2002 intelligence estimate declassified by the White House last year.

In the last report presented to Congress during the Clinton administration, the CIA said: "Iraq has probably continued low-level theoretical R&D associated with its nuclear programme" - a conclusion borne out by Mr Kay's findings that Iraq had a "rudimentary" nuclear weapons programme.

The 2000 report also said Iraq had "likely" used the period since it expelled UN weapons inspectors in December 1998 to reconstitute prohibited biological and chemical weapons programmes.

Those assessments remained unchanged until the first half of 2002 when the White House first seriously contemplated a war on Iraq. From there, an increasingly alarmist series of reports culminated in the CIA's top-secret national intelligence estimate in October 2002.

That document claimed with "high confidence" that "Baghdad is reconstituting its nuclear weapons program", that Iraq had renewed production of chemical weapons and that it had establish a large-scale, concealed biological weapons capability. None of those conclusions has been borne out.

The administration may find more cover in its claim that other intelligence agencies also thought the worst about Iraq. Mr Kay himself bolstered this argument yesterday, pointing out that the Germans in particular believed Iraq had weapons of mass destruction. "It turns out we were all wrong, probably, in my judgment, and that is most disturbing."

But international intelligence on Iraq's programmes was far from uniform. Jacques Chirac, France's president, told CNN last March there was "no evidence" that Iraq had a nuclear weapons program. And Vladimir Putin, Russia's president, when asked in October 2002 about the CIA's conclusions, said: "Russia does not have in its possession any trustworthy data that supports the existence of nuclear weapons or any weapons of mass destruction in Iraq."

Further, the International Atomic Energy Agency, an arm of the UN, reported to the UN Security Council on the eve of the war that "after three months of intrusive inspections, we have to date found no evidence or plausible indication of the revival of a nuclear weapons programme in Iraq".
The shocking lies of the Bush administration on Iraqi WMD are becoming ever-more-clear with each passing day and their attempts to explain it all away ever-more-pathetic. It's time the supine American press began pointing out the truth instead of rolling over and playing fetch for the White House.

DESPERATE GAMBLE -- Sensing danger in a round of February 3 primaries in hostile environments, Howard Dean has decided to skip those primaries and head straight to Michigan to campaign there in the February 7 primary. Michigan is a delegate-rich state and Dean is clearly hoping to use it as a firewall against further losses. A big upset win in Michigan, Dean hopes, will resurrect his candidacy and inject new enthusiasm into his now-dejected troops. This move is also an indication of the financial distress the Dean campaign is in, despite raising at least $40 million--more than any other Democrat.

Even if Dean is defeated by Kerry in the Michigan primaries, I wouldn't be surprised to see him battle on to the February 17 primary in Wisconsin, where he would count on a big turnout of Madison liberals to carry the day for him.

I understand why Dr Dean is doing this. It's a desperate gamble of a desperate man who clearly counted on winning the nomination fight with a devastating one-two knockout punch in Iowa and New Hampshire. While his campaign suddenly changed tack after the New Hampshire defeat and started talking about the campaign as a long slog, that was something they clearly did not expect and had not anticipated. I think all this Dean talk about organization in states beyond Iowa and New Hampshire is about as convincing as his talk of organization in Iowa and New Hampshire. Dean has people, but not the right people. His kids in orange caps have been consistently out-maneuvered by the grizzled veterans of state politics that have flocked to the Kerry campaign--and who continue to do so.

One final point: As I noted below, the husband of Michigan Governor Deborah Granholm is a close political ally of John Kerry. Make of that what you will.

GOP SLEAZE MACHINE EYES KERRY -- The Bush election campaign has shifted gears towards the new Democratic frontrunner, John Kerry, but their attacks on him will look pretty much like their attacks on Howard Dean.
"This week's front-runner is very much like the front-runner of two weeks ago: a Northeast liberal who motivates his support based on anger and negativity," said Bush campaign spokesman Terry Holt.

At the same time, there is debate within Bush's administration and inside his re-election headquarters about how hard to strike at Kerry, of Massachusetts, who won the Iowa caucuses and the New Hampshire primary.

Some of Bush's political advisers take credit for successfully tarring Dean as an angry liberal, and are now suffering a kind of buyer's remorse. They wonder whether their criticism fueled the rise of Kerry — a more formidable candidate, in the estimation of some campaign officials.

He is a decorated Vietnam War veteran, knowledgeable about domestic and foreign affairs, and has a certain gravitas and strength as a debater.
Apparently, the other Democrat who Republicans fear is Senator John Edwards [D-NC], with his folksy southern charm and "two Americas" populist appeal. A John-John ticket is looking better and better.

Wednesday, January 28, 2004

KERRY WITH EARLY LEAD IN MISSOURI -- Senator John Kerry has the early lead in Missouri, according to a new poll by the Kansas City Star. Kerry commands the support of 25% of Missouri voters who plan to vote in the February 3 primary. John Edwards is in second place with nine percent, Dean has six percent, and Wesley Clark has three percent. Thirty-five percent of Missourians who plan to vote are undecided, so the race is up for grabs right now, but clearly John Kerry is the front-runner right now. His endorsements, as noted below, by important cogs in the Democratic state machine, should help Kerry win further support. More good news for the man who will beat George W Bush in November.

KERRY WINS ENDORSEMENTS -- Fresh off his victory in New Hampshire, Senator John Kerry is racking up endorsements in anticipation of taking his campaign national for the February 3 primaries and caucuses.
His primary victory reaped immediate dividends in the form of endorsements from former Sens. Jean Carnahan and Tom Eagleton in Missouri.

Rep. Jim Clyburn of South Carolina, the dominant black politician in his state, also intends to endorse Kerry, according to campaign and other officials.

Carnahan, the widow of former Democratic Gov. Mel Carnahan, lost her seat in the 2002 elections. Eagleton retired from the Senate rather than seek re-election in 1986. Still, their decisions to stand with Kerry underscored the extent to which his candidacy is beginning to draw the support of well-known Democrats from around the country.

Sen. Jon Corzine of New Jersey, who holds a key party fund-raising post as head of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, announced his support on Tuesday.

Clyburn's decision, in particular, was a coup for Kerry and a setback for Edwards, who has said he must win the South Carolina primary.

"Representative Clyburn is a leader in the African-American community," said Stephanie Cutter, a spokeswoman for the Massachusetts senator. As many as half the state's primary ballots next week may be cast by black voters.
Okay, I'm not putting too much emphasis on a lot of these endorsements. I don't think Carnahan and Eagleton do too much for Kerry--or anyone else, for that matter. Dick Gephardt's endorsement would be nice, though. However, it is not big names that make endorsements valuable, it is the resources those endorsers can bring to bear. Howard Dean racked up a lot of big names--Al Gore, Tom Harkin, Bill Bradley--but those men could deliver few resources. The state parties in Iowa and New Hampshire were both strongly for John Kerry and that helped the Kerry campaign win. The endorsements of County Executive Kathryn Shields and St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay are good ones for Kerry, though, since they control the Democratic party machine in those areas and can deliver its assets to the campaign.
Of course, no campaign wins without a strong candidate, regardless of the endorsements its receives.

One final point: The endorsement of Rep. Clyburn [D-SC] will help. Congressman Clyburn wields enormous influence in the South Carolina Democratic party, especially among the African-Americans who dominate it. If Clyburn can put his machine to work delivering votes in South Carolina's vast black neighborhoods, John Kerry can finish, at least, a strong second place in the state.

KERRY LAPS FIELD IN NATIONAL POLL -- A new Rasmussen Reports national poll has John Kerry with 33% support among Democrats, twice the 17% which favor second-place Howard Dean. John Edwards is just behind at 16% and Wesley Clark claims the support of 10% of national Democrats.

CLYBURN FOR KERRY? -- In his column in today's Wall Street Journal, Al Hunt writes that Rep. James Clyburn [D-SC] will endorse John Kerry for president. This is a momentous achievement for Kerry. Clyburn is the most influential African-American political voice in a state where African-Americans are critical to the chances of any Democrat. In light of this, I hope the Kerry campaign will actively contest South Carolina. The state does not belong to John Edwards or Al Sharpton. Of course, we saw in Iowa what Senator Tom Harkin's [D-IA] endorsement was worth to Howard Dean, but if Clyburn can deliver more than Harkin could, this shakes up the race for South Carolina and puts John Kerry back in the mix.

EXIT POLLS -- The exit polling from New Hampshire is interesting and illuminating. Donkey Rising at Emerging Democratic Majority has got the rundown:
About one third of New Hampshire Democratic primary voters said flat-out that electability ("can beat Bush") was more important to their vote than issues. Among those voters, Kerry walloped Dean 56 percent to 14 percent. Then, when you look at the specific issues that voters said were most important to their vote, Kerry was way ahead of Dean among the 60 percent of New Hampshire voters who selected the economy and jobs, health care or education, the top three issues in the nation, according to most national polls.

Among health care voters, Kerry led Dean 43 percent to 26 percent; among economy and jobs voters, Kerry led 48 percent to 18 percent and among education voters Kerry led 44 percent to 23 percent. In fact, the only issue voters among whom Dean led were Iraq voters, who favored Dean over Kerry by 37 percent to 33 percent.

Looking at top candidate qualities motivating voters, we find Kerry again doing hugely well among voters who selected "can beat Bush" (62 percent to 10 percent for Dean) or experience (58 percent to 9 percent) and beating Dean by about his margin of overall victory among those who selected "cares about people" or "positive message". Dean, on the other hand, only won among those who selected "stand up for beliefs" (47 percent to 21 percent for Kerry) or "shake things up" (46 percent to 13 percent). But those send-em-a-message and protest voters were only 36 percent of the primary voters, hence Dean's poor overall performance.

This skew in Dean's support is underscored by some of the other (very few) categories where he beat Kerry. He beat Kerry among those who described themselves as "very liberal" (15 percent of primary voters) by 41 percent to 30 percent. And he beat Kerry among those who want to repeal all the Bush tax cuts (32 percent of primary voters) by 37 percent to 34 percent.

The demographics of Dean's support were also not impressive. He lost every age category to Kerry except those 18-29 (where he led by just 34 percent to 33 percent). He lost every income category. He lost every education category, only coming close to Kerry among those with a postgraduate education. He lost among both union and nonunion households (so much for the SEIU/AFSCME endorsements). He lost veterans and non-veterans. He lost those who own a gun and those who don't. And he lost independents and got creamed among moderates.
What's interesting is that Dean's campaign has sold its candidate as one who can appeal to liberals because of his rhetoric and moderates because of his record. The former appears to be true, the latter does not. Howard Dean likes to brag that he got an A rating from the NRA and that means he will connect with culturally conservative voters. Then why couldn't he win the votes of gun owners in New Hampshire? Why did he lose the moderate vote to John Kerry, a man with a more liberal record? Good questions the Dean campaign should be asking itself.

ANOTHER BLACK EYE FOR LABOR -- If you thought having both their candidates [Dean and Gephardt] do poorly in Iowa was bad for organized labor, the pain just got worse last night. Despite the endorsement of two huge unions, the SEIU and AFSCME, Howard Dean easily lost the votes of New Hampshire union households to John Kerry last night. The only major union to have endorsed John Kerry is the firefighters union, but that's not such a terrible thing. When the TV cameras are on, do you think John Kerry would rather be standing next to SEIU President Andy Stern or a bunch of firefighters?

Of course, none of this need actually be bad for organized labor. John Kerry is, in my opinion, the Democratic candidate most likely to defeat George W Bush in November. [The primary voters of Iowa and New Hampshire appear to agree.] Kerry might not be the ideal candidate for organized labor, but he would sure as hell be better than another four years of George W Bush. It might be time for some of these unions to consider their options and get aboard the winning campaign. After all, it's better to stand on the winning dais than the losing dais. Andy Stern and his pals might have to stand behind the firefighters, but at least they'd be there.

KERRY AD BLITZ BEGINS -- Some of the other campaigns, especially Wes Clark's, have been running TV and radio ads in the seven states of the February 3 primary for some time. John Kerry has not. He pulled most of his troops out of those states and moved them [and their resources] to Iowa before the caucuses, in an all-or-nothing gamble to give his flagging campaign a shot in the arm. It obviously worked. Immediately after the Iowa victory, Kerry sent those operatives back to the Feb. 3 states and added more from the defunct campaign of Dick Gephardt. Now, John Kerry's ad blitz for the Feb. 3 contests begins.

Kerry will run ads in all seven states, which, to date, appears to be the most ambitious plan of any of the remaining candidates. The Dean campaign is stopping momentarily to reconsider its strategy. I expect John Edwards to focus, "like a laser," as Bill Clinton would say, on winning South Carolina, since he publicly staked his entire campaign on that primary last night on CNN, in response to a question from journalist/Bush propagandist Bob Woodward. Reverend Al Sharpton will also focus on South Carolina, where he thinks the state's large African-American population [about half of all voters in the South Carolina Democratic primary will probably be black] can propel him to a third-place finish and nab a few precious delegates to the July convention. General Clark will probably focus on Oklahoma, where he is currently leading in every poll I've seen, and South Carolina, where a second-place finish would look good. Clark will also make a strong effort in Arizona, where he is well-liked and within striking distance of poll leader John Kerry.

I'm a little suspicious of campaigns that stop to consider their strategy at moments like this. I'm talking about the Dean campaign specifically, but the question is larger than that. John Kerry took a lot of heat [much of it deserved] for running a rickety campaign through most of 2003. When Kerry shook up his campaign late in the year, firing top operatives like Chris Lehane and focusing more on a positive message [which Lehane opposed], he was criticized again. However, Kerry needed to make a change and he not only did it before the primaries began, he did it far enough before the Iowa caucus that his new team had time to make their presence felt. Veteran Boston campaign wizard Michael Whouley came out to Iowa and shook up the campaign, excellent work he appears to have duplicated in New Hampshire, where Kerry lagged in the polls by 20 points only a few weeks ago. Dean, however, might be shaking up his campaign right now. That's very risky, but he probably figures he has nothing to lose. I'm not sure what he can do about it now, though. I think his entire campaign strategy was to win in Iowa and New Hampshire and then ride a wave of inevitability there. He has organization in the Feb. 3 states because he has so much money, but it is hard to view any of those states as natural Dean territory. Even New Mexico will be difficult for him now. Dean spent two years and more than $20 million in Iowa and New Hampshire and has zero victories and only a handful of delegates to show for it. His aura of inevitability is gone and the awe the media other campaigns felt for the Dean operation has turned to contempt. Dean can certainly soldier on to the February 3 primaries, but he's got to start winning soon and I don't see those contests as ideal for him. Aside from Vermont, New Hampshire was Dean's strongest state. He couldn't even stay within 10 points of Kerry there. What does that tell you?

DISHONEST DUBYA ACTION FIGURE -- My brother sent this to me. Enjoy!

Tuesday, January 27, 2004

JOEMENTUM -- Joe Lieberman's non-concession speech is pitiful. He's bragging about finishing in fifth place, ahead of Dennis Kucinich. Says he is staying in the race. Someone needs to tell Joe: When you're dead, lie down.

BEHOLD THE DEANIACS -- Rats. Give 'em time to calm down, of course, but if they're going to get their licks in, so am I.

EDWARDS STEPS UP -- Give it up for John Edwards, who admitted to Bob Woodward on CNN that he has to win South Carolina. He's got more guts than Howard Dean and his nonsensical babble about energizing his grass roots.

DEAN ON LARRY KING -- Okay, Larry King is a dope and his first question to Howard Dean was about The Scream. Jeebus, let's move on from that, shall we? Enough of it. Dean was doing fine for awhile and he was nicely controlled throughout. His smile was very fake, but that's to be expected and you can't hold it against him.

He swerved off the ranch for me, however, when he said he didn't need to win primaries, he just needed to keep energizing his grass roots? Eh? What the hell does that mean? This is a primary battle. You have to win primaries to win enough delegates to win the primary. Dean is spouting nonsense. Then he goes and makes it worse by saying his campaign is about more than just changing presidents, it's about changing the country. Uh, nice sentiment, but don't you think changing presidents is pretty necessary to changing the country? Changing it for the better anyway.

What's the matter with that guy?

KERRY BY 10? -- CNN's Wolf Blitzer just said his network is projecting that Kerry will win New Hampshire by about 10 points. Anything in double digits is a huge win!

CNN CALLS IT FOR JOHN KERRY -- CNN just declared John Kerry the winner of the New Hampshire primary. That's good news for the good guys. Two weeks ago Kerry was languishing in a distant third place in the state and now he has won it. Great work by Kerry. He was outspent in New Hampshire by Howard Dean and Wesley Clark had the state to himself while Kerry was risking everything on a win in Iowa. All in all, it's most satisfactory. I want Kerry to win by as much as possible, but any win is a good one.

NEW HAMPSHIRE ELECTION -- Watching CNN right now. Wolf Blitzer says Kerry has a small lead over Howard Dean, with Edwards and Clark dueling for third place. A loss for Kerry would severely slow his momentum. A fourth-place finish for Clark would look very bad for him, considering he spent months in New Hampshire after deciding to skip the Iowa caucuses.

Monday, January 26, 2004

MARIST POLL GOOD FOR KERRY -- A new Marist poll out today puts John Kerry in first place in the New Hampshire primary with 37% support. Howard Dean is in second place with 24% and Wesley Clark and John Edwards have 11% each. Joe Lieberman is just a notch behind, in fifth place, with the support of nine percent.

SUFFOLK & WMUR POLLS -- The latest WMUR poll shows John Kerry leading Howard Dean 37% to 22% and the latest Suffolk University poll shows John Kerry leading Howard Dean 36% to 20 percent. Have a look.

BOSTON GLOBE HAS KERRY ON TOP -- A new Boston Globe tracking poll has Senator John Kerry maintaining a big lead in New Hampshire, with 37% support right now. Dr Howard Dean is second with 17% support and Senator John Edwards is in third place with 12 percent. General Wesley Clark commands just 11 percent support and Senator Joe Lieberman enjoys the support of only seven percent of New Hampshire primary voters.

More good news for John Kerry. Let's keep it coming--especially on Tuesday night.

KERRY SURGING IN MICHIGAN -- Yeah, the good news keeps rolling in for the Kerry campaign. It seems voters outside of Iowa and New Hampshire are catching on the fact that John Kerry is a patriotic progressive who can beat George W Bush like a drum in November. The latest to give a boost to the Kerry campaign are the Democrats of Michigan, who support Kerry 37% to 14% for second place Howard Dean.

Thanks to the mighty Upper Left for finding it before me.

ADDITION TO THE BLOGROLL -- Scroll down a bit and look on the right under the weblog heading and you will notice that I have added a new blog. It's called Upper Left and is run by Shaun Gale, who hails from the Pacific northwest. Have a look, I think you'll like it.

CLOSE RACE IN OKLAHOMA -- A new American Research Group poll has John Kerry in third place with 17% support. General Wesley Clark is in first with 23% of the vote and John Edwards has 18% support. Essentially, then, Kerry and Edwards are in a dead heat for second place. Howard Dean has fallen from 24% down to eight percent. Hopefully, Senator Kerry can win New Hampshire convincingly and use the momentum from the victory to top both Clark and Edwards in the Oklahoma primary, which will take place on February 3.

KERRY LEADS IN ARIZONA -- Two new polls show John Kerry with a slight lead over General Wesley Clark in Arizona. The Arizona Republic poll shows John Kerry with 19% support in Arizona, with General Clark at 17% and Howard Dean with 14 percent. Thirty-four percent of people polled were undecided, so the race is obviously very fluid. The American Research Group poll shows John Kerry leading with 24% to 21% for General Clark. John Edwards is at 15% and Howard Dean has fallen from 26% to 10% very quickly.

NEW HAMPSHIRE POLLS -- The latest American Research Group poll has John Kerry out in front with a strong lead, ahead of Howard Dean 38% to 20%. John Edwards and Wesley Clark are behind with 16% and 15% respectively.