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Friday, July 18, 2003

Franklin Foer argues in the Washington Post that Wesley Clark is still the Democrats' best hope for winning in 2004, even though he will be joining the race late. Foer writes:
Some Democratic consultants have told reporters that it's too late to draft Clark. Seven months out from the Iowa caucus, this warning doesn't make sense. At this date on the calendar 12 years ago, Clinton had barely registered in the polls. Besides, the date shouldn't be an excuse for dismissing Clark but rather a reason for the establishment to coalesce forcefully behind him.

While most people support Clark because they feel he would be strong on national security issues--arguably the Democrats' greatest weakness--Foer thinks that his rhetoric on domestic issues is strong as well:

When he articulates mainstream Democratic issues, as he does on abortion, affirmative action and taxation, he manages to sound like a centrist maverick. In part, he benefits from a southern accent and a cool demeanor. But he also approaches politics as an outsider. This isn't to say that he is a policy ignoramus. On the contrary, he talks about domestic issues with a surprising proficiency. (He didn't finish first in his West Point class for nothing.) Clark's appeal is that he intelligently veers from traditional Democratic rhetoric to make the party's case. Take the gun issue. Instead of hemming and hawing about the Second Amendment, he says, "I have got 20-some-odd guns in the house. I like to hunt. I have grown up with guns all my life, but people who like assault weapons, they should join the United States Army -- we have them." In a flash, he could reverse the damage of 30 years of Republican culture warmongering.

Or consider taxes, on which he uses a straightforward formulation, "The American people on the one hand don't like taxes. None of us do. But, on the other hand, we expect the government to do certain things for us." When these calm explanations come out of his mouth, they sound derived from common-sense consideration, not fidelity to a party line.

I agree that Clark looks like a strong candidate, but it's unlikely that other Democrats in the race will yield to him without a fight. Right now, he looks like a savior to those Democrats who are not satisfied with the current field. But we'll see that he has flaws too once he starts campaigning full-time. If he enters the race, it doesn't automatically follow that he'll win the nomination.
--Posted at 12:31 PM | link

Okay, now Graham's statements about impeachment are getting some more attention. Graham says that he is not calling for impeachment, and sees the issue as "academic." But merely uttering the word "impeachment" will give Graham's campaign some of the media attention that it desperately needs.
--Posted at 12:08 PM | link

Thursday, July 17, 2003

This website is encouraging Senator Joe Biden to run for President in 2004. They're even planning Dean-style "Meetups," beginning August 12. Biden is said to be anywhere from 50-50 to 80-20 in favor of running, according to an article in US News.

--Posted at 5:25 PM | link

Slate's William Saletan reminds us not to make too much out of Dick Gephardt's 5th place finish among Democrats in Q2 fundraising, and 4th place standing among Democrats in "cash on hand." Gephardt has nearly as much money as Dean, and isn't too far behind Edwards in fundraising. Saletan believes that exaggerating Gephardt's fundraising "weakness" will cause people to desert an otherwise viable candidate.

I don't count Dick Gephardt out of the race yet. Bob Graham is the only candidate who runs a serious risk of being demoted to a lower "tier" because of the Q2 fundraising totals. Graham managed to earn recognition as a major candidate by some in the mainstream media, in contrast to Kucinich, Sharpton, and Moseley Braun, who have always been considered "minor." As TNR points out, however, the media didn't widely report his call for Bush's impeachment--which surely would have been bigger news if, for example, John Kerry had said it. And Graham is barely ahead of Kucinich in Q2 fundraising and current cash on hand. In both categories, the gap between Graham and the next-highest candidate is significantly larger than the gap between Graham and Kucinich. While it might be premature to predict doom for Graham's candidacy, even Graham supporters would have to admit that his campaign needs some new energy if it is going to survive.
--Posted at 10:56 AM | link

Wednesday, July 16, 2003

The New York Times reports on a candidates' forum sponsored by the Human Rights Campaign, a gay rights organization. Seven Democrats attended (Bob Graham and John Edwards were not present). Only Dennis Kucinich and Al Sharpton said that they support gay marriages. The rest of the Democratic candidates said that they support "civil unions."
--Posted at 4:26 PM | link

Daily Kos has provided the link to the FEC's official Q2 records for candidate fundraising. Go here to access the links as well as a nice summary of the information.

I'll reproduce part of the summary below:

Money Raised in the Second Quarter

1. George W. Bush - $35 million
2. Howard Dean - $7.6 million
3. John Kerry - $5.9 million
4. Joe Lieberman - $5.1 million
5. John Edwards - $4.5 million
6. Dick Gephardt - $3.8 million
7. Bob Graham - $2 million
8. Dennis Kucinich - $1.5 million

Cash on Hand

1. George W. Bush - $32.7 million
2. John Kerry - $10.9 million
3. John Edwards - $8.1 million
4. Howard Dean - $6.4 million
5. Dick Gephardt - $6.3 million
6. Joe Lieberman - $4 million
7. Bob Graham - $1.8 million
8. Dennis Kucinich - $1.1 million

--Posted at 10:05 AM | link

Tuesday, July 15, 2003

Dick Gephardt raised only $3.87 million in the second quarter, putting him in fifth place. His campaign had predicted earlier that it would raise over $5 million. Lieberman, who came in 3rd or 4th place with $5.1 million this quarter, has shuffled his fund-raising team. Last time I checked, official figures for the second quarter were not yet posted to the FEC website.
--Posted at 6:00 PM | link

David Broder of the Washington Post writes that June 10, 2003 may come to be seen as "Black Thursday" for Bush's re-election. This was the day that the scandal over Bush's claims in his State of the Union address dominated the mainstream news channels. The White House is claiming that most of the criticism is merely an attempt by Democrats to "politicize" the war.

Bob Graham has made probably the strongest statements against Bush, saying that if Clinton's lies were a justification for impeachment, "would not a president who knowingly deceived the American people about something as important as whether to go to war meet the standard of impeachment?" TNR Primary, oddly, decided that Graham deserved an 'A' for an October 2002 statement that Saddam is years away from nuclear capability (but they promised to re-grade Graham if weapons are found). While they were at it, they gave Edwards an 'F', because Edwards sat on the Intelligence Committee with Graham, and still decided to support the war.
--Posted at 4:41 PM | link

Monday, July 14, 2003

NAACP President Kweisi Mfume is angry at the presidential candidates who skipped the group's forum. Lieberman, Gephardt, Kucinich and Bush were no-shows, and four empty chairs with their names were placed on the stage to draw attention to their absence. The three missing Democratic candidates said that they had other obligations, but the article does not say if Bush had an excuse. NAACP chairman Julian Bond also criticized the Bush brothers for attacking affirmative action.
--Posted at 9:30 PM | link

There's some talk in the blogosphere (I'm still not a fan of that term, but whatever) about Bush's declining popularity in recent polls. A Newsweek poll found that 47% of voters responded "Yes" to the question "In general, would you like to see George W. Bush reelected to another term as president, or not?" Forty-six percent responded "no," and 7% responded "Don't know." Along with other polls that reflect public frustration with events in Iraq, this gives Democrats a glimmer of hope. Bush's approval rating is at 55% in a July 10-11 Newsweek poll, his lowest rating since March.

Bush is still ahead of any of his major Democratic rivals. Bush gets roughly 50% against Kerry, Gephardt, Edwards, Lieberman, and Dean, who each get somewhere around 40%. Dean performed the worst, but not by much (38% versus 42% for Kerry and Gephardt's in a poll with a +/- 4 margin of error). Hesiod and Kos both say that this proves that Dean is just as "electable" as the other Democratic candidates.
--Posted at 6:38 PM | link

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