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Friday, December 12, 2003

Nader continues to tease us with inconclusive statements about his possible candidacy in 2004. He says that his decision will depend in part on how the parties react to a 25-page agenda that he has sent to them. Although he sent it to both parties, I assume that he's really targeting only the Democrats, threatening them with a challenge in 2004 if they don't give enough attention to issues that he considers important.
--Posted at 12:15 PM | link

Thursday, December 11, 2003

Lieberman is trying to use Gore's endorsement of Dean to his own advantage. It's not a bad strategy, in the short term. Some people think that Lieberman got unfairly snubbed by Gore, so they'll contribute as an expression of sympathy. Also, those who want to prevent a Dean victory have no obvious second-place candidate to support, so Lieberman can snag some of their contributions as long as his name is in the headlines. Unfortunately for Lieberman, Dean is taking advantage of the endorsement too. He raised more money than Lieberman this week by asking his supporters to contribute as a "thank you" to Gore. Still, if Lieberman can use this to position himself as the "anti-Dean" candidate, it's not a terrible outcome for him.
--Posted at 9:50 PM | link

Wednesday, December 10, 2003

There's only one more month before The New Republic announces the winner of its "TNR Primary." Let's review the monthly winners:

May 2003 - Lieberman
June 2003 - Edwards
July 2003 - Graham
August 2003 - Lieberman
September 2003 - Edwards
October 2003 - Lieberman
November 2003 - Edwards

Leading so far in December? Edwards.

It's not hard to figure out TNR's preferences with results like this. In case you were wondering, Dean tied for second with Edwards in May and finished second in June. After that, around the time when his candidacy began to take off, he has been ranked last or second to last in every month except October. In October, he finished above Graham, who dropped out that month and was rated only once, and Kerry.
--Posted at 4:26 PM | link

A few other figures have made endorsements this week. Six-term congressman Jim Clyburn of South Carolina endorsed Gephardt. Former congressman and UN ambassador Andrew Young endorsed Clark. Both of these endorsements are expected to help the candidates with black voters in the South, particularly South Carolina. California Congresswoman Loretta Sanchez endorsed Dean.
--Posted at 4:10 PM | link

Tuesday, December 09, 2003

Dean's frontrunner status has been solid for weeks, if not months, but Gore's endorsement might be enough to drive the anti-Dean forces into drastic action. As strong as he is, Dean isn't polling a solid majority anywhere (although he's getting close in New Hampshire). But the other candidates are splitting the vote (and the fundraising) so much that they all look very weak compared to Dean. If this were a two or three candidate race, Dean might still be the frontrunner, but he'd have much stronger competition. But those who want to stop Dean's nomination are split in five different directions.

The Washington Post
suggests that Clark could emerge as the candidate for anti-Dean Democrats:

The reasons Clark's stock could rise are twofold: He is expected to raise more than $10 million this quarter, much more than any rival save Dean, and offers a strong military résumé for an election that could be decided on issues of national security. Other Democrats said they think Clark, a newcomer to politics whose platform remains vague, will wilt under scrutiny if he does break through in coming weeks.
It makes sense for anti-Dean voters to go for Clark. After all, he was encouraged to enter the race because of his military credentials and Southern background--two things which Dean lacks. The best weapon against Dean that anyone has right now is the "electability" question, so they might as well put their support behind the candidate who is the most "electable" on paper. But no matter which candidate they pick, the anti-Dean folks are better off the sooner they can decide on an alternative.
--Posted at 11:31 PM | link

Just when the "Hillary is planning a coup" theories were running out of steam, this comes along from Clark:

"I love Hillary Clinton and we will certainly keep that in mind," Clark said, referring to her potential as a running mate. "Hillary Clinton — she's fabulous. She's a great person and a great leader."
Hillary's campaign responds:

"Senator Clinton is flattered by the praise but has repeatedly said that she will serve out her full six-year term," spokesman Joe Householder said.

Earlier in the week, Clinton dismissed suggestions that she could be asked to become the Democrats' vice presidential nominee.

"That is not going to happen," she said Sunday on ABC's "This Week." "That is so far out of the realm of the possible. That is not going to happen."
That's a pretty strong denial of interest, and it's pretty much what Hillary Clinton has been saying all along about national office. But we're still going to hear all kinds of speculation from the usual suspects about Hillary's new scheme for becoming president by riding Clark's coattails in 2004.
--Posted at 10:48 PM | link

Other candidates besides Lieberman responded to Gore's endorsement of Dean. Kerry's criticism was restrained:

"I respect Al Gore. I worked with him in the Senate, and I endorsed him early in his hard fought campaign for the presidency four years ago. But, this election is about the future, not about the past. I have the experience and the vision to reverse George Bush's radical agenda and put America back on track on my first day in office. This election will be decided by voters, across the country, beginning with voters in Iowa."
Gephardt, issuing a statement through a spokesman, was more critical:

"Dick Gephardt fought side-by-side with Al Gore to pass the Clinton economic plan, pass the assault weapons ban and defend against Republican attacks on Medicare and affirmative action. On each of these issues, Howard Dean was on the wrong side."
And Clark:

In an unusual response, Democratic candidate Wesley Clark issued a statement touting the number of former Gore staffers working on his campaign.
Also, the Clintons have said that they will not endorse anyone in the primary season. That forecloses the possibility of another candidate countering the Gore endorsement with an even more impressive one. Of course, if the Clintons backed Dean too, the primary race would pretty much be over.
--Posted at 1:45 PM | link

The AP describes how Al Gore reached his decision to endorse Howard Dean. Apparently, they had intended to keep it a secret until the last minute.

Calling from Tokyo, the former vice president reached Howard Dean in a van somewhere in Iowa on Friday.

"Now that I've made the decision that I want to endorse you, I want to do it as soon as possible," Gore said during the 45-minute call.

They instantly made two decisions: Break the news in New York's Harlem neighborhood, where both were scheduled to be Tuesday, and keep it a secret until the last possible minute. Gore apparently wanted to give Dean's rivals a call late Monday night, officials said, but those plans were scuttled when the endorsement leaked.

Dean kept his side of the bargain, refusing to tell even his campaign manager. Joe Trippi said he got wind that something was up Sunday when Dean ordered his staff to charter planes for Iowa. When he asked Dean what was going on, the boss said, "I can't tell you."

Trippi said he had a feeling Gore's endorsement was the big secret, but he didn't find out for sure until late Sunday night or Monday.
If this account is correct, then Gore had intended to inform "Dean's rivals," including Lieberman, before making the announcement public. But the story leaked first. This might make Lieberman feel a little less insulted, but it's not likely to improve his mood.
--Posted at 1:39 PM | link

Monday, December 08, 2003

Howard Dean will be getting a huge endorsement from none other than Al Gore. I wonder how Lieberman feels...

UPDATE: The article above now includes Lieberman's response:

"I was proud to have been chosen by Al Gore in 2000 to be a heartbeat away from the presidency. I have a lot of respect for Al Gore — that is why I kept my promise not to run if he did. Ultimately, the voters will make the determination and I will continue to make my case about taking our party and nation forward."
According to Lieberman's campaign, Gore did not tell him about the endorsement in advance.

UPDATE #2: Now it's official.

NEW YORK - Former Vice President Al Gore endorsed Howard Dean for the Democratic presidential nomination Tuesday, adding momentum and political prestige to Dean's front-running campaign.

Gore said Dean "really is the only candidate who has been able to inspire at the grassroots level all over the country." He said the former Vermont governor also was the only Democratic candidate who made the correct judgment about the Iraq war.

"Our country has been weakened in its ability to fight the war against terror because of the catastrophic mistake the Bush administration made in taking us to war in Iraq," Gore said.
Lieberman was sounding bitter:

"I was caught completely off-guard," Sen. Joe Liberman, Gore's running mate in 2000 and a hopeful for the nomination, said Tuesday on NBC's "Today" show. That many of Gore's positions are opposite to those of Dean made the decision a surprise to him, Lieberman said.

"Al Gore has endorsed someone here who has taken positions diametrically opposite" of the former vice president, Lieberman said. "What really bothers me is that Al is supporting a candidate who is so fundamentally opposed to the basic transformation that Bill Clinton brought to this party in 1992," moving it to a more middle-of-the-road stance on economic policy and other areas, he said.

Asked on "Today" whether he felt betrayed by the former vice president, Lieberman said, "I'm not going to talk about Al Gore's sense of loyalty this morning."
Gore's decision will lead to much talk about the "inevitability" of Howard Dean. He already had a massive lead in New Hampshire and has taken the lead in some Iowa polls. He's at the top of most national polls. His fundraising was far ahead of any of his rivals. He had enthusiastic support from activists that was the envy of all other Democratic campaigns. His main weakness, it was said, was his lack of support from the Democratic "establishment." Now he has the endorsement of the most well-known Democratic figure whose last name isn't Clinton. It's hard to see how he could blow all these advantages in the next few months.

I won't go so far as to say that Dean is inevitable. He could still lose Iowa, putting a little dent in his confidence. He still has to win primaries in the South and West, and Lieberman, Clark, and Edwards are already pumping their resources into these states. There's plenty of time for something to go wrong. But no other candidate is as strong as Dean in so many ways, so it makes no sense to predict a victory for anyone else at this point.
--Posted at 6:04 PM | link

Sunday, December 07, 2003

Dean says that he will leave it up to the judge in the Judicial Watch suit to determine which portions of his records should remained sealed.
--Posted at 5:41 PM | link

Howard Dean is polling 42 percent in New Hampshire, 30 points ahead of John Kerry. Unless there's some unforeseen disaster in the Dean campaign, this means that he is going to win that state's primary. Gephardt and Dean continue to battle for the lead in Iowa, but Gephardt is weaker than Dean elsewhere. If Dean wins both Iowa and New Hampshire, he is in a very strong position going into the rest of the primary season.

But this doesn't mean that all is lost for Dean's rivals. The NYT reports that Lieberman, Clark, and Edwards are pushing for victory on February 3, when seven states--Arizona, Delaware, Missouri, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oklahoma, and South Carolina--have primaries. Dean is weaker in these states, but he could get a boost if he wins Iowa and New Hampshire.
--Posted at 5:34 PM | link

Clearly, the most important issue in the campaign right now is the fact that John Kerry used a dirty word. That must be why Yahoo! has the story on its front page.
--Posted at 5:20 PM | link

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