The Beltway Bandit

An online journal of politics, culture, and sports

Thursday, March 04, 2004

THE MONEY GAME -- Senator John Kerry has begun to raise money for the general election against George W. Bush, who will be enormously well-funded since he has pledged his policies to the biggest donors he can find. Although Kerry begins at a big disadvantage against Bush in the fundraising battle, there are plenty of sources he can tap now he is the nominee.
In its most recent public report, the Kerry campaign said it had $2.1 million cash on hand as of Feb. 1, with debts of $7.2 million. Fund raising has improved, and Kerry's aides said he brought in a record $1.2 million over the Internet in less than 24 hours after locking up the Democratic nomination Tuesday. Like former rival Howard Dean (news - web sites), Kerry hopes to attract legions of small-dollar donors through the Internet.

Milwaukee attorney Robert Habush, former head of the Association of Trial Lawyers of America (news - web sites), supported former candidate and one-time trial lawyer John Edwards (news - web sites) but plans to raise money for Kerry. He expects other attorneys to do the same.

"Considering our president hates us and has taken the trouble to put on his agenda a restriction of patients' and consumers' rights, I think it would be very easy to get trial lawyers engaged against President Bush," Habush said.

Among those lending Kerry a hand is Melvin Weiss, a New York attorney who stuck to the sidelines until his party settled on its nominee. He even formed a coalition of like-minded "Interested Democrats" who resisted candidate pleas for cash during the primaries.

With the nomination settled, the longtime Democratic fund-raiser plans to pursue as many $1,000 to $2,000 donors as he can for Kerry. New York venture capitalist Alan Patricof, a former fund-raiser for Wesley Clark (news - web sites), also has begun raising money for Kerry.

"We're all going to get behind him," Weiss said. "The Democrats want a winner and they're very pleased that the primary, what I consider sometimes a squandering of money, is over."

Kerry should be able to raise $1 million or more at a New York fund-raiser planned for April, Weiss said.
Kerry has raised about $24 million from donors as of Feb. 1 and spent nearly every dollar he took in, relying on personal loans of $6.4 million to keep his campaign alive in early January before his string of primary victories. He hasn't ruled out spending more of his own money, spokesman Michael Meehan said.

"Senator Kerry will leave open all of his options. He's going to do whatever it takes to beat George Bush," Meehan said.

The campaign finance reports of Kerry's former rivals suggest there are also plenty of big-dollar donors to be tapped. If everyone who gave $2,000 to Kerry's primary rivals sent that much to Kerry, it would yield more than $35 million for him, an analysis by the Political Money Line campaign finance tracking service found.
Think about that last part. If everyone who donated $2000 to one of Kerry's primary rivals gave the same amount to Kerry, he would instantly be flush with cash. That one should be a no-brainer.

THE WON'T OWN UP -- With devastating clarity, Eric Alterman of the Center for American Progress reveals how the editors of The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal, the Chicago Tribune and countless other newspapers around the country credulously regurgitated false Bush administration claims about Iraq and now refuse to admit their errors.

BUSH'S CAMPAIGN ADS -- His first three TV ads are downright bland, with lots of generalities and few facts for us to check. No, that's not according to me, it is according to the non-partisan Anngenberg Center Fact Checker. Have a look.

STRONGER THAN EVER? -- Normally Democratic candidates emerge from the primaries battered, bruised and broke. Well, the Kerry campaign might be nearly broke, but he's not battered or bruised, at least not to the extent that Democratic presidential candidates normally are at this time, according to The Wall Street Journal.
"I don't think there's ever been anyone healthier," says Democratic pollster Paul Maslin, who advised Howard Dean's campaign. Adds nonpartisan opinion analyst Karlyn Bowman: "It is rare that a primary campaign strengthens the nominee. This campaign has clearly done that."
Comparing Kerry to the other recent Democratic nominees, the Journal finds
Mr. Mondale set out with in 1984. The former vice president was battered as an old-style, interest-group Democrat that year by primary rival Gary Hart, and later lost to Mr. Reagan in a landslide.

Four years later, Michael Dukakis was forced to struggle with a persistent challenge from rival Jesse Jackson throughout the spring and early summer. In 1992, Bill Clinton emerged as nominee-in-waiting wounded by the Gennifer Flowers scandal, as well as attacks on his truthfulness.

All three of those men trailed their Republican general-election opponents in early-March polls. Mr. Kerry, by contrast, has pulled ahead of Mr. Bush in several national surveys on the strength of solid support from the Democratic rank-and-file.

In March 1992, for example, Mr. Clinton trailed President George H.W. Bush in large part because he was losing roughly one-fourth of Democratic voters. In the most recent Gallup Poll, which showed Mr. Kerry leading the current President Bush, 51%-46%, he was losing just 7% of his party's voters.

"You probably have to go back more than 50 years to find a nominating process less divisive," says Geoff Garin, pollster for retired Gen. Wesley Clark's primary campaign. "There is no meaningful group of disaffected Democrats coming out of this process."
Why? Well, the Journal offers one explanation:
That is largely a result of intense animosity toward Mr. Bush among Democratic regulars. In that polarized environment, primary voters showed no hesitation in abandoning earlier allegiances and shifting to Mr. Kerry once he emerged as the front-runner. They also showed little appetite for intraparty squabbling, which deterred rival candidates from launching damaging attacks.
But Senator John Edwards [D-NC] has another explanation:
"Sen. Kerry has fought back in this campaign, and he's won because his heart is good," Mr. Edwards said in quitting the race1 Wednesday in the same gracious fashion that other fallen contenders have displayed.
I think this good news is a mixture of both Kerry's resilience and the fervency of Democratic desire to destroy George W Bush.
Fueling such disciplined performances, aside from ire toward Mr. Bush, is the party's hunger to regain a share of power in a nation's capital now dominated by Republicans.

"I've never seen Democrats so energized," boasts Democratic National Chairman Terry McAuliffe.
The Journal article ends by noting that Senator Kerry is better positioned in the polls than any recent Democratic nominees. At this time 20 years ago Walter Mondale trailed Ronald Reagan by five points [and lost by 20 points]. Michael Dukakis trailed George H.W. Bush by 12 points at this time 16 years ago [and lost by six points]. Bill Clinton trailed George H.W. Bush by six points at this time 12 years ago [and won by five points]. Even in 2000, Al Gore trailed George W. Bush by five points [and won the popular vote]. George W. Bush has a huge advantage in funds right now, but no Democratic candidate for president has looked this strong this early in the election cycle in a long, long time. Let's keep building on that lead. If you want to help John Kerry narrow that money gap with George W. Bush, you know what to do.

THE DAY AFTER DOWN UNDER -- For the last three years New Zealand, a previously obscure two-island nation right next door to Australia, has basked in the glow of worldwide attention. For that, they can thank the most famous Kiwi of all, "Lord of the Rings" director Peter Jackson. Now, however, the three-movie series is over and New Zealanders are contemplating a return to life in the shadows. What can be done about this? Well, getting Jackson to work on a movie version of "The Hobbit" would be a start.

TURNCOAT OUT -- Turncoat Senator Ben Nighthorse Campbell [R-CO] has announced he will not seek re-election this year. Campbell was going to be tough defeat this year, despite a recent scandal in his congressional office. Former Colorado Senator and Presidential candidate Gary Hart flirted with a run at Campbell, but then backed away. Hopefully, now, Hart or another Democratic heavyweight in Colorado, will reconsider and go after the seat. It's a possible pick-up for the Dems and we need every chance we can get.

SLOPPY JOE -- Sloppy with the truth, that is. Senator Joe Lieberman [D-CT] spoke yesterday about the upcoming presidential campaign and bemoaned the partisan nature of such affairs, filled with attacks, condemnations, and divisiveness. Funny, I wonder why Joe didn't think of that during his recent run for the Democratic nomination, when he spent most of his time attacking his fellow Democrats, especially one-time frontrunner Howard Dean.

Tuesday, March 02, 2004

JOHN KERRY FOR PRESIDENT -- The primaries are essentially over and John F. Kerry is our worthy nominee. Onwards and upwards and no stopping until we get to the White House.