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  • America Votes

    Election news from across the Knight Ridder network and the Web

    Saturday, February 14, 2004

    Nuke site on Nevada voters' minds 

    Four years ago, George Bush won Nevada by just four percentage points, but since then he has angered many Nevadans by agreeing to bury the nation's nuclear waste in Yucca Mountain, a ridge about 90 miles northwest of Las Vegas.

    John Kerry, the president's likely Democratic challenger, has long opposed the plan, and Democrats hope the issue will help them capture the five electoral votes of this key battleground state in November.

    Analysts say voters may be angry about the nuclear dump, but they have resigned themselves to having it in their state. In casting their votes for president, they are more likely to favor Bush because of his tax cuts and stance on national defense.

    - Laura Kurtzman, San Jose Mercury News

    posted by Jim Van Nostrand at 4:39 PM

    Looking for good luck 

    U.S. Sen. John Edwards made it through Friday the 13th without any major glitches in his presidential campaign or his appearance on "The Tonight Show."

    Edwards interrupted his campaigning in Wisconsin to fly to Los Angeles for the TV show. He told host Jay Leno that he is "very superstitious" and produced a beaded lucky charm given to him by a little girl in Iowa two months ago. "When she gave me this charm," Edwards said, "some good things started to happen ... the problem is I need three or four more."

    Edwards lags far behind frontrunner U.S. Sen. John Kerry in Wisconsin polls. The Badger State primary is Tuesday.

    Edwards, the most recent of the Democratic presidential wannabes to sit on Leno's couch, made his sprint to the West Coast after a morning campaign stop in Milwaukee, where he met with Tower Automotive workers who expect to lose their jobs as the company shifts work to Mexico.

    - Mark Johnson, Charlotte Observer

    posted by Jim Van Nostrand at 1:09 PM

    Friday, February 13, 2004

    Edwards tried for Clark's endorsement 

    U.S. Sen. John Edwards made a reconnaissance call but wasn't able to join forces with retired Gen. Wesley Clark.

    As Clark was about to endorse Kerry up the road in Madison, Wis., Friday, Edwards met with steel workers in Milwaukee and said afterward that he had asked Clark for his support during a phone call Wednesday.

    News broke late Tuesday night that Clark was bailing out of the race for the Democratic presidential nomination after finishing third in the Tennessee and Virginia primaries. Edwards, who came in second, dialed him up Wednesday morning.

    "I told him ... that he was a terrific candidate, a good man, I appreciated everything he had done," Edwards said, "and that I would love to have his support."

    - Mark Johnson, Charlotte Observer

    posted by Jim Van Nostrand at 12:37 PM

    Clark passes sword to Kerry 

    Retired Army Gen. Wesley Clark endorsed Sen. John Kerry's presidential candidacy in chilly Madison, Wis., embracing a fellow Vietnam veteran and setting aside a campaign rivalry marked by occasional sniping.

    The military imagery and rhetoric was abundant. Clark and Kerry, a former skipper of a Navy riverboat in the Mekong Delta, were introduced by Del Sandusky, Kerry's riverboat pilot in Vietnam. They exchanged salutes on the stage of the University of Wisconsin's Armory and Gymnasium. "Sir, permission to come aboard," Clark told Kerry. "The Army is here."

    During the campaign, Clark, a critic of Bush's policy in Iraq, criticized Kerry for voting to authorize the use of force in Iraq. Kerry raised
    questions about Clark's allegiance to the Democratic Party and about his grasp of domestic policy issues.

    "He will stand up to the Republican attack dogs and send them home licking their wounds," Clark said. "John Kerry is the leader our party and our country needs for the 21st century."

    Kerry's campaign also fired a broadside at President Bush, reacting to a new Bush campaign ad that accuses Kerry of being beholden to special interests. "We haven't been able to trust what George Bush has told us about the war or about the economy," said Kerry spokeswoman Stephanie Cutter. "We certainly can't trust what he as to say about the special interests."

    - Jim Kuhnhenn, Knight Ridder Washington Bureau

    posted by Jim Van Nostrand at 12:07 PM

    Clark to endorse Kerry 

    Retired Army Gen. Wesley Clark is expected to endorse Sen. John Kerry today.

    Clark, who dropped out of the Democratic presidential campaign Wednesday after winning just one primary election, in Oklahoma, was scheduled to meet with Kerry on the campaign trail in Wisconsin.

    - Jim Kuhnhenn, Knight Ridder Washington Bureau

    posted by Jim Van Nostrand at 6:11 AM

    Ad compares Specter to Kerry 

    The Club for Growth, an anti-tax group, started airing an ad that’s aimed at defeating Sen. Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania in a Republican primary by likening him to Sen. John Kerry.

    Over a picture of Kerry, the ad says: "He voted for eight huge tax hikes. He supports greedy trial lawyers instead of doctors on legal reform. He's blocked school choice education programs. And he's rated one of the Senate's most wasteful spenders. John Kerry? No. Arlen Specter. Fact is, nearly 70 percent of the time, Specter and Kerry voted the same way. And that makes Arlen Specter 100 percent too liberal."

    View the ad: Realplayer | Windows

    - Steven Thomma, Knight Ridder Washington Bureau

    posted by Jim Van Nostrand at 5:24 AM

    Thursday, February 12, 2004

    Bush off to the races 

    For a guy who constantly says he's not in full campaign mode and that there will be plenty of time for politics down the road, President Bush sure knows how to go where the crowds are. Bush will travel Sunday to the Daytona International Speedway, where tens of thousands of potential voters will gather for the Daytona 500.

    Republicans and Democrats have made no secret of their pursuit of the so-called NASCAR dads: rural and small-town voters — mostly white men — who once were Democrats but voted Republican in recent presidential elections because of social issues such as gun control, gay rights and abortion. Bush hosted NASCAR cars and drivers at the White House in December.

    - William Douglas, Knight Ridder Washington Bureau

    posted by Jim Van Nostrand at 8:30 PM

    What's that thing on your lip? 

    It was first thing in the morning, after all, but the crowd at U.S. Sen. John Edwards' campaign stop in Racine Thursday was more sedate than most of those during his marathon, four-city flyaround on Wednesday.

    Several seats remained empty, compared to standing room-only crowds the day before. Edwards was splitting his day between Wisconsin, in anticipation of Tuesday's primary, and an afternoon sprint to California to greet voters and raise money.

    Edwards has won only 1 of the 14 primaries and caucuses so far and badly needs an impressive finish in Wisconsin.

    He didn't get much help from his appearance on "Imus in the Morning." Host Don Imus said that, while he realized the candidates had to contend with weighty issues, he had a more pressing question: "What's that thing on your lip?" he asked, referring to the bump-like blemish on Edwards' upper lip.

    - Mark Johnson, Charlotte Observer

    posted by Jim Van Nostrand at 4:49 PM

    Bang for the buck 

    What do you get when you contribute to a presidential campaign? Cynics say you buy the candidate. Sen. John Kerry of Massachusetts offered another suggestion Thursday.

    Seeking cash for his campaign in Wisconsin, he told supporters exactly what their contributions would buy. A $1,000 check would buy ads on 105.5 FM radio in Madison. A $250 check would buy stationery for the Eau Claire office. A $100 contribution would buy "Bring it on" bumper stickers. And $25? That would buy pizzas for volunteers.

    - Steven Thomma, Knight Ridder Washington Bureau

    posted by Jim Van Nostrand at 4:24 PM

    Wednesday, February 11, 2004

    Kerry/Fonda photo stirs controversy 

    A 1970 photo of John Kerry attending an anti-war rally with Jane Fonda has been circulating on the Internet this week, stirring up strong feelings among many Vietnam veterans.

    Kerry was active in the anti-war movement when he returned home from Vietnam service. Fonda told CNN today, "Any attempt to link Kerry to me and make him look bad with that connection is completely false. We were at a rally for veterans at the same time. I spoke, Donald Sutherland spoke, John Kerry spoke at the end. I don't even think we shook hands."

    Kerry's aides point out the rally took place two years before Fonda's infamous trip to Hanoi. The issue's not likely to go away, especially given Democrats' recent attacks on President Bush's National Guard service.

    "Joining the anti-war movement was possibly the worst thing (Kerry) could have done to the soldiers still in the field," Ted Sampley, publisher of the U.S. Veteran Dispatch, told The Washington Times. "He basically gave aid and comfort to the enemy."

    - Jim Van Nostrand, Knight Ridder Digital

    posted by Jim Van Nostrand at 7:00 PM

    Edwards rejects back-up option 

    North Carolina recently postponed its state primary, due to a redistricting lawsuit, from May to July. That pushed back the filing deadline for candidates from February to April. Does that mean that U.S. Sen. John Edwards, who opted not to run for re-election to the Senate, suddenly has a back-up option if he loses the presidential nomination?

    He was asked on board his chartered plane if there were now any circumstances under which he would file for re-election.

    "To the Senate?" Edwards said, with a puzzled look on his face.

    Yes.

    "No."

    - Mark Johnson, Charlotte Observer

    posted by Jim Van Nostrand at 5:37 PM

    Party on, Dennis 

    Looking for something to do this Valentine's weekend? Dennis Kucinich's campaign suggests you might want to have a "Reclaim the Heart of America" house party in support of you know who.

    If you're wondering how to do this, you can download directions off the campaign site.

    For further inspiration, read about little Suzette who decided months ago to have a Kucinich-themed 10th birthday party.

    Whatever happened to Powerpuff Girls?

    - Ellen Dunkel, Knight Ridder Digital

    posted by Ellen Dunkel at 1:23 PM

    Your perfect match 

    Or you more a Deaniac or a Cash & Kerry? A Web site sponsored by AOL and Time magazine can help you find your perfect match.

    (We're talking political match, not love match. But if the site advises you to go with Dennis Kucinich and you're a single woman, we're told he is still available.)

    You'll spend about 10 minutes answering more than 50 questions at www.presidentmatch.com.

    - Ellen Dunkel, Knight Ridder Digital

    posted by Ellen Dunkel at 9:38 AM

    Popular by association 

    John Kerry seems poised to be ratified in Wisconsin on Tuesday, overwhelmingly so, despite the fact that he has aired no TV ads, nor stepped foot in the state; until the last few days, he had only a couple of staffers working in the state capital. His string of triumphs elsewhere appears to be convincing the locals that his ascendance is inevitable and that prolonging the primary race is senseless.

    Kerry's breakthrough in Iowa had a major impact on early primary voters everywhere, but Wisconsin seems particularly attuned. Iowa is a neighbor, just a two-hour drive for the Wisconsin TV crews. So Kerry got scads of favorable free publicity in Wisconsin.

    Meanwhile, Howard Dean's most committed diehards are holed up at state headquarters in Madison, working frenetically for redemption.

    - Ellen Dunkel, Knight Ridder Digital

    posted by Ellen Dunkel at 8:57 AM

    Tuesday, February 10, 2004

    Somber mood in Clark's camp 

    Retired Gen. Wesley Clark continued to campaign in Tennessee, but the mood was grim and growing grimmer as he handed out sample ballots to voters who trickled into Lanier Middle School in Memphis shortly after dark.

    All day, the question lingering over the campaign seemed to be a matter of when — not if — Clark would drop out of the race. Wesley Clark Jr., his only son, told reporters that his father was determined to fight through Super Tuesday, but other strategists said that was impossible given the lack of funds. Some aides insisted that Clark was spending the night in Memphis and going on to Wisconsin — which holds its primary on Feb. 17 — on Wednesday, while others privately acknowledged that a trip to Little Rock for a concession speech was being discussed.

    As exit polls and early returns showed Clark getting trounced by Massachusetts Sen. John Kerry and North Carolina Sen. John Edwards in both Virginia and Tennessee, there were several signs of distress. Aides took photographs of each other as if saying goodbye, no one answered the phone at campaign headquarters in Little Rock, and the planned election night party at the downtown Marriott in Memphis drew an anemic crowd. Several staffers, including some from the "Draft Clark'' movement, also made the drive from Little Rock to Memphis.

    Clark had hoped to compete in Wisconsin because Lt. Gov. Barbara Lawton has been one of his staunchest national supporters. But campaign chairman Eli Segal acknowledged that the campaign, which poured money into buying television ads in Tennessee, was running short of the funds that would be needed to run an aggressive campaign in the Badger State.

    Segal said that the campaign was weighing its options and that Clark's immediate family — his wife Gert, Wesley Jr., and his brother-in-law Gene Caulfield — would ultimately make the decision about whether to go forward despite the twin losses.

    - Dana Hull, San Jose Mercury News

    posted by Jim Van Nostrand at 7:23 PM

    A Bush look-alike, up to no good 

    Students walking through the front door of Lehigh University's Maginnes Hall immediately come face to face with a giant color photograph of President George W. Bush cuddling a glamorous brunette clad in a slip and blue stockings.

    The brunette is ecstatic, presumably because her playful companion has draped his left arm over her shoulder and planted his hand firmly on her right breast.

    If this scene seems improbable, it is. We aren't really seeing our commander-in-chief out for an evening of boozing and tomfoolery but an actor, a paint salesman from Missouri who could pass for the President's mischievous twin.

    Lehigh's College Republicans deem the Bush image offensive because, as organization president Neal Hoffman opined in the campus newspaper: "He's one of the few presidents who has actually been faithful to his wife, and he doesn't drink anymore."

    But the young Republicans are even more agitated by the hanging of Larry Fink's photos - a dozen satirical "fashion" shots commissioned by the New York Times Magazine and slated to run on Sunday, Sept. 16, 2001 - in Maginnes Hall, where political science, history and international relations are taught.

    posted by Ellen Dunkel at 9:55 AM

    Jobs? What jobs? 

    "If President Bush honestly believes our economy is working, that just proves how out of touch he is with America's families," John Edwards said, reacting to Bush's economic report. Edwards heard from several workers who were about to lose their jobs at a Carrier plant in Morrison, Tenn.

    "I think I may vote for him," said 49-year-old James Mears said of Edwards. "It's getting to be a ghost town here in Middle Tennessee. Bush doesn't have any concern about the American worker." Mears has spent the last three decades as a union worker at the plant. Many of the jobs will be moved to a non-union plant in Charlotte, N.C.

    posted by Ellen Dunkel at 8:55 AM

    'Slightly better than Bush' 

    "Vote for Kerry, he's slightly better than Bush," that's what a sign read that greeted John Kerry at a Roanoke, Va., rally. A supporter of Howard Dean, 35-year-old Brian Lang, made the sign.

    The mechanical engineer wondered how Kerry would energize voters, "When you look at his record, how's he going to go up there and say, 'Don't vote for Bush, vote for me,' when he voted along the lines with Bush."

    Kerry's Senate voting record is consistent with his party's stands on most issues, but he did support President Bush on authorizing force in Iraq, the anti-terrorist USA Patriot Act and Bush's education plan.

    posted by Ellen Dunkel at 8:49 AM

    Monday, February 09, 2004

    Spend now, vote later 

    Florida lived up to its reputation as a major source of financial fuel for presidential candidates, donating $7.5 million to Democrats and $10.9 million to President Bush last year. Florida ranked third as donor state for both parties.

    Only California (both parties), New York (Democrats) and Texas (Republicans) were larger sources of campaign dollars.

    Most of the money the candidates collected in Florida has already been spent on TV ads, staff and campaign events from Arizona to Maine. But very little is likely to be spent on the Florida primary March 9, because most political experts expect the nomination to be decided by then.

    ''Florida is in the funny position of being a huge financial base and could be the single most important state in the election, yet it's nearly irrelevant in the primaries,'' said David Niven, a political science professor at Florida Atlantic University.

    posted by Ellen Dunkel at 2:45 PM

    Have something to say? Start a blog 

    When Herb Parsons and a handful of neighbors in Tarrant County, Texas, started www.nrhcitizens.org back in November, they weren't thinking about tapping into a new age of American political expression.

    They just didn't want to be told what they could keep in their driveways.

    "The point is, it's my driveway and nobody should be able to tell me I have to get rid of something because they don't like it," Parsons said of an ordinance passed last fall that banned recreational vehicles from residential driveways.

    "The Web site is one more tool we've got, and I know a couple hundred people it will make more active," he said.

    In the latest wave of grass roots politics, www.nrhcitizens.org mirrors the growing national trend of using a Web site to promote a candidate, give political viewpoints or address specific issues.

    posted by Ellen Dunkel at 2:39 PM

    Kerry resounds with Vietnam vets 

    A good chunk of the 3.5 million people who fought in the Vietnam conflict finally see in John Kerry - seeking to become the first Vietnam veteran in the White House - someone who understands what they went through.

    "My son just turned 18 and got his Selective Service notice - I'd rather have somebody saying, 'Let's send our kids in harm's way,' who's wrapped up a body bag," said Rick Lieb, a Vietnam veteran and retired executive who now lives in Valley Forge, Pa., and is one of Kerry's leading Pennsylvania backers.

    There's no question that Kerry and Vietnam veterans are feeding off each other's energy. In Iowa, where Kerry's once-stalled campaign turned around last month, many credit the surprise arrival of Jim Rassman, an ex-Green Beret who was pulled to safety from sniper fire on a Vietnam riverbank by a wounded Kerry in 1969. Rassman embraced Kerry at a rally and said, "I probably owe this man my life."

    Kerry may owe Rassman his political life. Exit polls in 10 out of 12 Democratic primaries and caucuses that Kerry has won so far show that the idea of "electability" - that Kerry is most likely to beat Bush - is behind the winning streak that started in Iowa.

    posted by Ellen Dunkel at 1:15 PM

    Now back to the real issues 

    John Kerry's ascendancy among Democrats raises the question: Is America ready for a cosmetically enhanced president?

    Rumors surfaced recently that Kerry, 60, received injections of the paralyzing toxin to zap the furrows from his brow. Kerry denies it.

    Brown University political science professor Darrell West thinks Botox could be a huge liability.

    "The problem with any type of cosmetic improvements is that it's easy to label that as fake and nothing is more devastating for a politician than to be seen as fake in some way," said West, director of the John Hazen White Sr. Public Opinion Laboratory.

    It might not upset people on the East or West coasts, West said, but "in more traditional reaches of the country, in the South and Midwest in particular, people would have difficulty accepting a Botox president."

    And then there's the problem if it turns out Kerry lied.

    "There's possible damage from the act itself and another level of risk associated with the denial. He could lose on either front."

    posted by Ellen Dunkel at 10:11 AM

    A pioneer in the online polls 

    Michigan Democrats are happy, and deservedly so, over the results of their Internet voting, the nation's largest-ever online voting project. More than 46,000 votes were cast via Internet, twice as many people as voted in the entire 2000 Michigan Democratic caucus.

    The online process wasn't perfect, but if Internet voting becomes commonplace, it will improve and Michigan will be viewed as a pioneer.

    At the live polls, however, the Democrats were one angry crowd.

    The Iraq war and Michigan's economy are top issues for Democrats, but the real motivator is their antipathy toward George W. Bush himself. That's what has made electability such a factor in the primaries.

    Polling shows Democrats are much more motivated than Republicans. Bush has lost credibility -- the war, the deficit -- and the GOP must fear that its voters simply won't show up in November.

    posted by Ellen Dunkel at 9:20 AM

    Sunday, February 08, 2004

    If it's Sunday, this must be . . .  

    By the end of this 15-hour day, John Edwards and those chronicling his campaign will travel, by bus and plane, across two time zones, meeting thousands of voters who will be hearing his "Two Americas" stump speech for the first time - as opposed to, let's see, the 40th time? The 50th? Tim Funk of the Charlotte Observer reports how the N.C. Democrat is spending these early February days in Virginia and Tennessee, where he hopes to follow up his win in South Carolina with at least a second place in the two states' primaries on Tuesday. More
    posted by lk at 12:07 PM



    This blog is compiled and edited by:

  • Ellen Dunkel, producer for Knight Ridder Digital's National Desk.
  • John Murrell, minister of information for SiliconValley.com.

  •  Latest posts
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       •  Disconnection in the extreme
       •  60 percent? That's not even a passing grade
       •  Too many people, not enough machines
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       •  Four more years ... until 2008



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