Saturday, January 17, 2004

POLITICAL ROUNDUP: Dean, Gephardt drop negative ads

As both Howard Dean and Dick Gephardt see their poll numbers drop in Iowa, both campaigns have pulled their negative campaign ads off the air. On FoxNews last night, Gephardt said that when the campaign heard that Dean's camp took off their negative ads, he followed suit. This is a good move by both but it should be noted that Dean went negative first - attacking Gephardt for his invasion of Iraq vote in both mail and TV ads. Dean's negative Gephardt mailer was the first negative campaign mailer in the history of the Democratic Caucuses, according to sources.
As Gephardt held his ground - and John Kerry and John Edwards surged - Dean again attacked Gephardt and finally Gephardt attacked back. However, as all negative ads do, the vote for both candidates became depressed. Frank Luntz on MSNBC's "Hardball" had a focus group of Iowa voters on Friday night rating both the positive ads by Kerry and Edwards airing in Iowa much higher than Gephardt's attack ad against Dean.
All of this while "hundreds" of Teamsters have driven into Iowa from neighboring states to work for Gephardt [ABC Radio News], as others are crashing on the floors of all of Howard Dean's campaign offices [CNN].
The Dean campaign denied rumors that Carol Moseley Braun was being paid to work for Dean but confirmed that her expenses and staffing were being paid by the campaign. According to the Los Angeles Times, Moseley Braun is being paid $20,000 to campaign in South Carolina and other states. The paper also reported that Dean will help Moseley Braun pay off her campaign debt [$300,000]. The campaign stated that all the candidate's debt would be paid off after the nomination during unity meetings.

... But is Clinton behind the attacks?
["Clinton Gang Behind Media Hits on Dean?"].

Clark gets first endorsement...
Wesley Clark has received his first endorsement from the Exeter News-Letter:
Clark is an intelligent man who brings to this campaign a sense of where he wants to bring America. He has a vision and the varied experience that makes him uniquely qualified among the Democratic candidates to answer the question of how America will ford the seemingly impassable waters that now surround us. He is also a man who is not driven by ideology, but rather a deep and abiding desire to find the best solutions to strengthen all Americans and our reputation around the world.
The Concord Monitor is going to make its endorsement on Sunday. I would bet anything that it will be Dean, although there is a slim chance that it could be Clark or Kerry. The Monitor has been fawning over Dean for months so don't be surprised.

... and supports the dictator school
The Boston Globe this morning is reporting that Clark is a fan of the School of the Americas: ["Facing questions, Clark backs Army school"].
"There's been a lot of rotten people who've gone to a lot of rotten schools in the history of the world. And a lot of them went to this school. But a lot of them have gone to Harvard Business School and a lot of other places."
Yeah but very few people went to Harvard Business School to learn how to torture, rape and repress people! That school teaches people to do this and America shouldn't be about teaching foreigners how to repress others. You could make the case that the business school might teach bad economics - and hence produce "rotten" students - but that is a stretch. However, why should we be surprised by this? Clark voted for Reagan twice and Bush 41. If he becomes the Democratic nominee it will be a travesty.

Other stuff:
The Boston Phoenix's David Bernstein has a cute story catching the Dean campaign in another fib - whether they actually participated in the D.C. primary or not: ["Dean wants it both ways"].
Kucinich's date gets engaged: reports this morning that Gina Marie Santore, the woman who won the site's "Who Wants To Be A First Lady" contest, has become engaged to her boyfriend. She flew to Manchester and had breakfast with Kucinich, the only bachelor running for president. "If I had known it would only take an hour with a congressman (to finally get engaged), I would've called Rob Andrews to request a meeting," said Santore, who worked on Andrews' congressional staff ten years ago. Just goes to show you guys - don't risk letting a good thing get by.
Norm Solomon takes a subtle shot at Nader: ["Presidential Campaign Fever: Too Much "Vision" Without Hearing"]. Solomon makes some good points but I can't help but counter some of the other points:
"Early this month Matthew Rothschild, the editor of The Progressive magazine, wrote that 'above all, today there is a recognition, even among many Greens, that the risk of another four years of Bush may be too great to bear.' Referring to Nader’s prospective independent presidential campaign, Rothschild added: 'There is no groundswell of grassroots support for such a move; it is almost totally individualistic.'"
Well, there may be no "groundswell of grassroots support" but there is support. In Bedford, N.H. last weekend at the "Choosing an Independent President" conference, hundreds of people gave Nader two standing ovations and cheered him constantly during the speech. I don't know if there will be support to do the hard work - and impossible task - of launching an independent campaign. It will be much harder than 2000 when Nader had the assistance of numerous Green organizations. But that will be the key. If there isn't support to do the hard work, Nader won't get anywhere and the campaign will be over before it starts.
"In politics, with media coverage devoting an inordinate amount of attention to individual personas, mainstream news outlets frequently present the individual as the engine that pulls history forward. But progressive leadership can’t be successful when it is out of sync with social movements."
If there is one thing that I have learned in the past it's that "progressive leadership" is an oxymoron. Second, if we have to wait around for the "social movements" to galvanize people, nothing will ever get done. Too often, the social movement people worry about petty things and lose sight of the big picture. More often than not, nothing gets done until someone picks up the mantle and leads. Can we really wait around for the movement people to get their act together to lead? I don't think there is time for that.
"Often it’s much more difficult to challenge those you hold in high regard than those you disdain. So far, many progressive leaders and journalists who don’t think twice about denouncing George W. Bush or criticizing Democratic presidential candidates have hesitated to make public their private negative views of a Nader presidential campaign this year."
This is such a load of crap and it makes me wonder if Solomon is living in a shell. Democrats - progressives and centrists - have been attacking Nader and the people who helped him during the 2000 campaign for years now! None have been more vocal now than the people on the left who are scorning all over the Web, setting up cheesy "RalphDontRun" Web sites and other nonsense. They haven't been "private" about their negative views at all. Frankly, I'm sick of their complaining and belly-aching. If Nader wants to run, so be it. It doesn't mean anyone has to vote for him.
The Democrats are on the verge of nominating a flip-flopping hypocrite who is going to get squashed by Bush anyway. At least with Nader - and other independent candidates - voters have the choice of more than two candidates.

The shifting sands of polling ...
The polls are all over the place now:
Zogby's latest Iowa numbers: Kerry 23 percent, Howard Dean falling to 19 percent, Dick Gephardt at 18 percent, and John Edwards with 17 percent. At the bottom, Wesley Clark has 3 percent, Dennis Kucinich comes in with 2 percent, and the Rev. Al Sharpton with 0.2 percent. Undecideds make up 11 percent.
In New Hampshire, the polls shift but have similarities:
American Research Group's latest tracking poll shows a Dean slip: Dean at 28 percent, Clark with 22 percent, Kerry at 18 percent, with Edwards [8], Joe Lieberman [6], Gephardt [3], and Kucinich [1], far behind. Undecideds make up 14 percent.
The Boston Globe/WBZ-TV/KRC Communications Research shows Dean at 32 percent, Clark at 23 percent, and Kerry with 12 percent.
Survey USA posted a new poll from Delaware, an early primary state: Dean with 27 percent, Clark at 18 percent, Sharpton with an amazing 13 percent, Gephardt with 11 percent, Lieberman with 10 percent, Kerry with 7 percent, and Edwards with 6 percent.
The polling firm also posted numbers from Illinois: Dean with 29 percent, Gephardt with 16 percent, Moseley Braun with 14 percent, Clark with 13 percent, Kerry at 7 percent, Edwards at 6 percent, and Lieberman with 5 percent. This poll was taken before Braun dropped out.
In a Field Poll out of California, the first one since October, Dean has taken a slim lead: Dean 25 percent, Clark at 20 percent, Lieberman with 12 percent, Kerry at 7 percent, and Gephardt in with 6 percent. Undecideds make up 21 percent. Shockingly, Bush has slight leads [3 to 10 percent] over all the Democrats in what many considered a safe Democratic state.
The Public Policy Institute reports other numbers from California, with Dean at 31 percent, Clark at 14 percent, Lieberman at 8 percent, Kerry with 6 percent, and Gephardt with 5 percent.