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  • America Votes

    Election news from across the Knight Ridder network and the Web

    Saturday, February 21, 2004

    Edwards on the air 

    John Edwards' campaign announced it is buying television ad time in
    Ohio and Georgia, both Super Tuesday states, starting Sunday, but did
    not disclose the size of the purchase, how often or where the ads will air.

    The three ads emphasize Edwards' working class upbringing and his populist message of pledging to close the gap between what he calls the two Americas, one of wealth and privilege and the other of hard work and a heavy tax burden.

    - Mark Johnson, Charlotte Observer

    posted by lk at 3:14 PM

    Friday, February 20, 2004

    One state we can call already 

    There's one state John Edwards doesn't have to visit before the next Super Tuesday, March 2: Vermont. He's not on the ballot.

    The reason? See also: Howard Dean.

    In January, when petitions were due, Dean was still considered the front-runner. Edwards and several other candidates - Dick Gephardt, Al Sharpton and Joe Lieberman - decided not to file to get on the primary ballot in Dean's home state.

    A month later, Dean, Gephardt and Lieberman have dropped out of the race, and the contest stands as a two-man race between John Kerry, the four-term Massachusetts senator who is on the ballot, and Edwards.

    At stake March 2 in Vermont are 15 pledged delegates. At this point, Edwards needs every delegate he can get.

    -Ellen Dunkel, Knight Ridder Digital

    posted by Ellen Dunkel at 12:06 PM

    We're No. 2! 

    When is it better to be No. 2 than No. 1? When there is a large force who may be rooting for the underdog.

    John Edwards' supporters believe that he, more than John Kerry, can benefit from the exit this week of former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean, whose backers are more likely to be enticed by someone with the image of an outsider.

    The Edwards campaign issued a memo Thursday bragging about its fundraising successes since his strong Wisconsin finish, clearly trying to draw parallels between the senator's new efforts and the Internet-driven fundraising machine built by Dean.

    According to the memo from Edwards spokeswoman Kim Rubey, the campaign collected more than $400,000 on its website, in small amounts, after the Wisconsin results began rolling in.

    -Ellen Dunkel, Knight Ridder Digital

    posted by Ellen Dunkel at 9:40 AM

    Thursday, February 19, 2004

    Hackers at the election booth? 

    Remember the pregnant chad? The hanging chad? The dimpled chad?

    Could the potentially hackable electronic voting machine be the election fiasco of the year?

    Florida voters - yes, Florida voters - have been told that it's ''extremely unlikely'' they will be able to check their machine-vote ballots against a paper printout before leaving the polls in November.

    Secretary of State Glenda Hood insisted that voters have every reason to remain confident in electronic voting machines, despite rising worries across the nation that such machines are susceptible to computer hackers who could possibly alter the outcome of an election.

    Similarly, in California, a Sacramento County judge rebuffed an attempt to impose new safeguards on 19 counties that use electronic voting equipment.

    "The petitioners have failed to provide any evidence of an actual threat," Cadei said at the close of Wednesday's hearing. "At this point it is merely speculative."

    On the other hand, Internet voting apparently went smoothly for more than 46,000 people who voted that way in Michigan. No, they weren't mostly young people. And no, they tended not to be Deaniacs.

    -Ellen Dunkel, Knight Ridder Digital

    posted by Ellen Dunkel at 2:01 PM

    Return to sender? 

    How much postage should you put on that absentee ballot? Turns out not even election officials in Santa Clara County, Calif., know.

    The county's absentee ballots for the March 2 primary election come with this warning: "Use sufficient postage.''

    So you put on a 37 center? Two of 'em? Wait on line at the post office? Sent it on its merry way and hope for the best?

    For the record, 37 cents isn't quite postage enough but even if voters don't pay the full 60 cents required, the postal service says it will deliver all ballots to the registrar of voters, which will pick up extra postage costs.

    -Ellen Dunkel, Knight Ridder Digital

    posted by Ellen Dunkel at 10:55 AM

    What's in a name? 

    When your name is Dean, which Democratic candidate do you support for the presidency?

    Wallace Dean is a Northern California high school student who is too young to vote and is an Irish and Mexican citizen. Still, until Wednesday, Dean supported Dean, Howard Dean, that is.

    Now that that Dean has dropped out of the race, this Dean says he'll be backing John Kerry instead.

    Does he know that Kerry isn't Irish?

    -Ellen Dunkel, Knight Ridder Digital

    posted by Ellen Dunkel at 10:28 AM

    A Texas cash register 

    The next Super Tuesday is on March 2 and don't count John Edwards out yet. It is mathematically impossible for front-runner John Kerry to win enough delegates in that day, when a whopping 1,151 delegates are up for grabs, to sew up the Democratic nomination. That takes 2,161 of 4,321 delegates.

    Some of the highest populated states in the country will be voting that day, including Texas, which is firmly Republican and has largely been a cash register for the Democrats. Edwards, raking in money from his fellow trial lawyers, is way ahead in that game. Campaign records show that through 2003, Edwards has raised $1.7 million in Texas, compared with Kerry's $286,925.

    -Ellen Dunkel, Knight Ridder Digital

    posted by Ellen Dunkel at 9:32 AM

    Wednesday, February 18, 2004

    Faster than a speeding rumor 

    When do you report on a rumor? The Drudge Report - a right-wing Web site that bills itself as 80 percent accurate - last week spoke of an alleged affair between John Kerry and an intern. There was no evidence, no attribution. Nonetheless, it quickly snowballed. Kerry denied it an the Imus in the Morning radio show, which many took as even further evidence that it must be true.

    Many newspapers were hesitant to report on it but they still felt a nagging reminder of 1998. Matt Drudge was right then, there really was a complicit intern, and she really did have a soiled dress. Drudge had gone where the mainstream media had feared to tread, and everyone followed. Suddenly, it seemed old-fashioned to believe that a rumor should be vetted as true prior to dissemination.

    Six days later the Kerry rumor blew over, and now that the frenzy has subsided, it's possible to look back and track the rumor as it moved like a virus through the media bloodstream.

    And the speed of dissemination has quickened during the last decade. When Bill Clinton ran in 1992, his first accusers were the supermarket tabloids (especially the Star, which paid Gennifer Flowers for her allegation). Today, there is no respite from infotainment; Web-driven rumors can flash on your Blackberry within seconds.

    -Ellen Dunkel, Knight Ridder Digital

    posted by Ellen Dunkel at 11:10 AM

    Remember me? 

    Rep. Dennis Kucinich of Ohio is still running for president and evidently plans to do so whether he ever gets significant votes or not. On Friday he was the first Democratic candidate to file a petition to be on the ballot in Pennsylvania, where Democrats vote in a primary on April 27.

    posted by Ellen Dunkel at 10:50 AM

    Tuesday, February 17, 2004

    Welcome to Wisconsin 

    U.S. Sen. John Edwards dropped by the Bridge Street Pharmacy and Coffee Shop in Milwaukee before 9 a.m., greeted by applause - prompted by a campaign staffer - from the full crowd of patrons enjoying breakfast.

    "Nice to see you," he said, greeting a table of campaign staffers.

    Edwards signed copies of his "Four Trials" book, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel and, for the waitresses, their order pads.

    A burly man at a table of 10 self-described retired conservative Democrats stood up and called out: "Welcome to Wisconsin."

    An hour later, the senator entered the University of Wisconsin at Madison's Student Union South, where about 60 people, mostly supporters and campaign volunteers, greeted him in the building's triangular atrium.

    He gave a quick speech without a microphone, shouting into the pit: "Today is a critical day. I need every one of you to get to the polls, reach out to your friends, family, your neighbors, get them to the polls. We have so much work to do in this country to bring change that will make America work for everybody, lift up working middle class families, allow 35 million Americans that live in poverty every day some hope, some sense of hope for a president that will actually stand up and fight for them every single day. To change our image around the world so that we're once again looked up to and respected. We have an enormous amount of work to do, and I can't do this alone."

    -Mark Johnson, Charlotte Observer

    posted by Ellen Dunkel at 1:03 PM

    Ted Kennedy, Green Bay Packer? 

    Sen. Edward Kennedy of Massachusetts, who helped John Kerry draw huge crowds in Iowa, joined Kerry for a campaign stop in Green Bay, Wis., and revealed that in 1955 Kennedy was recruited by Green Bay Packers head coach Lisle Blackbourn.

    Kennedy, who played offensive end at Harvard, brandished a letter addressed to "Dear Sir," with Ted penciled in, stating that Kennedy had been recommended as a possible pro football prospect.

    "I'll tell ya, I'm not going to use up my eligibility until John Kerry is president of the United States," he bellowed to more than 1,000 Democrats at a rally at the University of Wisconsin, Green Bay.

    Before the rally, Kennedy paid special homage to Lambeau Field, the home of the Packers and a football temple to Packers fans.

    "Ted Kennedy went to Mecca," Kerry said. "He went to Lambeau field. He went all around the field. He walked out on the field before he came here. Ladies and gentlemen, Ted Kennedy came here this afternoon in a state of grace."

    As for the recruiting letter, it's clear that football scouts in those days weren't what they are today. In a P.S. at the bottom of the two paragraph letter, Blackbourn added: "Please list in the Offense or Defense Position You Play Section whether you play Right or Left Guard, Tackle, Halfback, etc."

    - Jim Kuhnhenn, Knight Ridder Washington Bureau

    posted by Ellen Dunkel at 11:00 AM

    Labor leaders endorse Kerry 

    Labor leaders representing 5 million workers, who originally endorsed Rep. Richard Gephardt's presidential campaign, officially backed Sen. John Kerry Tuesday, two days before the AFL-CIO was expected lend its backing to the Massachusetts senator. The endorsement came on the day of the Wisconsin primary, where Kerry is the strong favorite.

    In doing so, they bet their money on a Democrat who voted for the North American Free Trade Agreement, which labor loathes, and who butted heads with the United Auto Workers over higher mileage standards for automobiles.

    Gephardt and nine union presidents, including Teamsters President James P. Hoffa, embraced Kerry during a morning rally in a Milwaukee hotel. In many respects, it was not a passionate embrace, but one of hard-nosed politics.

    As Hoffa said, "John Kerry has a quality all of us know: He can beat George Bush!"

    Indeed, the labor presidents, who joined under the name of the Alliance for Economic Justice, didn't mince their words when it came to their disdain for the president and his administration. Leo Gerard, president of the United Steelworkers of America, referred to "Bush and his gang of economic thugs."

    "George Bush and his right wing henchmen think labor is on the run," said Boyd Young of the Paper, Allied-Industrial, Chemical and Energy Workers (PACE).

    Hoffa, playing off Bush's proposal to revitalize the space program, initiated a chant: "Send Bush to Mars! Send Bush to Mars!" that the crowd gleefully picked up.

    Kerry and Hoffa have long had strained relations. Complicating matters has been Kerry's reliance on Sen. Ted Kennedy, who has lent his support and staff to Kerry's candidacy. Kennedy's brother Robert, was counsel to a U.S. Senate committee investigating labor unions in the 1950s, and carried out a long-time feud with Hoffa's father, Jimmy Hoffa.

    - Jim Kuhnhenn, Knight Ridder Washington Bureau

    posted by Ellen Dunkel at 10:35 AM

    Protecting us from a 'flood of garbage' 

    Wondering how we, as a country, are going to get Janet Jackson to keep her top on? Or at least keep her from undressing on TV? Evangelist Franklin Graham told Christian broadcasters on Sunday that only President Bush will see that this happens.

    "If this president is not re-elected," Graham told the National Religious Broadcasters' convention in an unofficial endorsement of Bush, "the floodgates of this garbage is going to be open because there won't be anyone to stand against it."

    He said the Super Bowl halftime at which Janet Jackson exposed a breast is the "tip of the iceberg" for what secularists have in store for the nation. Without mentioning names, he said the goal of "these people" is to show open sex on TV, much like what he said is shown on TV in Europe.

    -Ellen Dunkel, Knight Ridder Digital

    posted by Ellen Dunkel at 9:05 AM

    Finally worth something 

    Sold for $2,551. That was the winning eBay bid for a rare copy of an album produced by John Kerry's high school band, The Electras. Kerry played electric bass for the prep school band at New Hampshire's elite St. Paul's School in 1961. Only 500 copies of the album were made.

    posted by Ellen Dunkel at 8:59 AM

    Monday, February 16, 2004

    Woman says Kerry relationship rumors are false 

    A woman linked romantically by apparently baseless Internet and tabloid rumors to Sen. John Kerry of Massachusetts denied that she ever had any personal relationship with the front-runner for the Democratic presidential nomination.

    "I have never had a relationship with Senator Kerry, and the rumors in the press are completely false," Alexandra Polier, 27, said in a statement to the Associated Press from Nairobi, Kenya, where she was visiting the parents of her fiance.

    Kerry denied the rumor Friday, a day after it first broke on the Web page of cyber-gossip Matt Drudge. "I just deny it categorically," said Kerry, who's been married since 1995 to Teresa Heinz Kerry, his second wife. "It's rumor. It's untrue, period."

    - Steven Thomma, Knight Ridder Washington Bureau

    posted by Jim Van Nostrand at 9:39 PM

    There's something happening here 

    The frosty, sometimes nasty, Dean-Kerry rivalry shows signs of thawing. In fact, it may be downright melting.

    Dean, who has made Kerry the target of his attacks on the war in Iraq and on political fundraising, had plenty of opportunities to tee off on Kerry during Sunday night's debate at Marquette University in Milwaukee but he didn't rise to the bait. The pulled punches fueled speculation already stoked by Dean aides that Dean might end his candidacy after Tuesday's Wisconsin primary and back Kerry.

    "I talked to him last night on stage (during an off-air break)," Kerry said Monday morning aboard his charter plane. "We had a nice chat about the debate. He was very warm and open. We had a nice conversation."

    Warm? Open?

    As Stephen Stills wrote — "There's something happening here. What it is ain't exactly clear."

    - Jim Kuhnhenn, Knight Ridder Washington Bureau

    posted by Jim Van Nostrand at 12:44 PM

    Kerry's wife stumps in Superior 

    It may wind up being a cute little coincidence that Teresa Heinz Kerry, a woman with an estimated worth of more than $500 million, came to Superior, Wis., to promote her husband for president at a cafe named Mama Gets What She Wants.

    It remains to be seen whether Sen. John Kerry will get a chance to unseat President Bush. But Heinz Kerry didn't hurt her husband's cause with the 175 mostly partisans she addressed during her stump speech.

    "I think she's very articulate, very intelligent. I liked her better than I expected I would," said Judith Cherveny of Duluth. "But I'm a Democrat. They could put my grandson's gerbil up against George Bush and I'd vote for him. I do like John Kerry. I admire him and think he can give George Bush a run for his money."

    - Mark Stodghill, Duluth News Tribune

    posted by Jim Van Nostrand at 10:28 AM

    Chads still hanging around in 22 states 

    It is Election Night 2004. The presidential tally stalls in a near-tie. All eyes turn to a pivotal state, a rich source of electoral votes, where election supervisors scrutinize ballots.

    Punch-card ballots.

    Yes, punch-card ballots, the much maligned voting system — dimpled chad, hanging chad, pregnant chad — that symbolized Florida's botched election four years ago, politically paralyzed the nation for 37 days and altered the course of electoral history. Punch cards may be gone in Florida, but chads still thrive elsewhere and are actually gaining favor in some quarters.

    As many as 32 million voters in 307 counties in portions of 22 states will use punch-card ballots during the November general election, according to a study released last week. Could that contribute to another electoral meltdown? Yes, experts say, possibly at the presidential level, more likely somewhere else along the ballot.

    - Marty Merzer, Miami Herald

    posted by Jim Van Nostrand at 5:39 AM

    Sunday, February 15, 2004

    Wooing Wisconsin a tougher job this election 

    Wisconsin is staging a Democratic presidential primary on Tuesday, but, with Sen. John Kerry expected to win, that race is almost a sideshow — especially since President Bush's campaign is now in general election mode, sending out millions of video e-mails attacking Kerry.

    Bush's economic stewardship is already under heavy scrutiny in Wisconsin. Here, for example, is what Bush economist Gregory Mankiw said: "Outsourcing is just a new way of doing international trade," and it's "probably a plus for the economy in the long run."

    That remark has infuriated a lot of people in Wisconsin — the kind of remark that could undercut Bush's quest to win the state in November, after having lost it last time by only 5,708 votes. This state, once a manufacturing center, has lost more than 84,000 factory jobs since Bush took office, triggered in part by the exodus of U.S. businesses, and many here now believe that Bush cares more about the free-trade ethos than about its human casualties.

    It's hardly certain, however, that Bush is toast around here. Didn't John Kerry vote for NAFTA?

    - Dick Polman, Philadelphia Inquirer

    posted by Jim Van Nostrand at 7:33 PM

    Will he take $1 tips? 

    As he often reminds supporters and the press alike, U.S. Sen. John Edwards doesn't bash his Democratic opponents. So, it was a logical question when Boston Globe reporter Raja Mishra asked if Edwards was going to do something to raise his public profile to compete with the media attention focused on U.S. Sen. John Kerry?

    "What do you mean, like take my clothes off or something?" Edwards joked after a rally at the University of Wisconsin at Waukesha late Sunday morning.

    Even when he agreed to outline specific policy differences with Kerry, the Democratic frontrunner, Edwards talked almost entirely about his own positions. He was unable to name a specific piece of legislation where the two differed in their votes.

    Edwards started the day speaking to the congregation at Community Baptist Church in Milwaukee, where parishoner Juanita Turner promised to vote for Edwards because "he came to the 'hood."

    - Mark Johnson, Charlotte Observer

    posted by Jim Van Nostrand at 4:21 PM

    Race is on for 'NASCAR dads' 

    Like many people, race car driver Kyle Petty doesn't have a precise definition of "NASCAR dad," one of the trendy new terms in the American political lexicon.

    Petty has no problem, however, assessing President Bush's reasons for showing up at the Daytona 500, the first race of the 2004 NASCAR Nextel Cup season.

    "It's an election year," Petty said. "We've run the Daytona 500 every year for 45 years. But the last time he came was an election year. If I were a politician and knew there'd be that many people in one place, goodness gracious I'd be there, too."

    - David Poole, Charlotte Observer

    posted by Jim Van Nostrand at 10:39 AM

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