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by Ron Gunzburger
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KerryNUMBERS, NUMBERS, NUMBERS. If two new independent polls are accurate, John Kerry may be just days away from knocking John Edwards out of the race. Edwards is counting on winning Georgia and some other states to show his candidacy is still viable. The latest Atlanta Journal Constitution/Zogby tracking poll from Georgia shows that Kerry is widening his lead there: Kerry-41%, Edwards-26%. A new NBC-4/Mason-Dixon poll also shows that Kerry is holding a giant lead in Maryland: Kerry-62%, Edwards-20%. More Maryland numbers (WMAR-TV/SurveyUSA): Kerry-54%, Edwards-29%, Sharpton-7%. If these numbers hold, Kerry could lock up the nomination on Tuesday.
Posted by Ron Gunzburger - 02.28.04 |

GAY MARRIAGE BAN AMENDMENT APPEARS DEAD IN US SENATE. The US Constitution places many obstacles in the path of proposed amendments, including the requirement that each house of Congress approve the amendment by a 2/3 vote and that 3/4 of the states ratify it by similar votes. That said, it takes just 34 votes in the US Senate to kill the proposed amendment to ban gay marriage endorsed by President Bush. Gay MarriageIt now appears that there are well more than 34 Senators on record as saying they will not support a constitutional amendment. Many are opponents of same-sex mariage, but they either oppose the concept of placing an issue like this in the US Constitution or maintain an amendment isn't currently needed. Don't believe us? You can look their names up in online searches of news stories. Here are the names of the 48 announced amendment opponents (or those saying that leaning strongly against the amendment): Lamar Alexander (R-TN), George Allen (R-VA), Evan Bayh (D-IN), Joe Biden (D-DE), Jeff Bingaman (D-NM), Barbara Boxer (D-CA), John Breaux (D-LA), Robert Byrd (D-WV), Ben Nighthorse Campbell (R-CO), Maria Cantwell (D-WA), Tom Carper (D-DE), Lincoln Chafee (R-RI), Hillary Clinton (D-NY), Susan Collins (R-ME), Kent Conrad (D-ND), Jon Corzine (D-NJ), Tom Daschle (D-SD), Mark Dayton (D-MN), Chris Dodd (D-CT), Dick Durbin (D-IL), John Edwards (D-NC), Russ Feingold (D-WI), Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Bob Graham (D-FL), Chuck Hagel (R-NE), Tom Harkin (D-IA), Jim Jeffords (I-VT), Tim Johnson (D-SD), Ted Kennedy (D-MA), John Kerry (D-MA), Herb Kohl (D-WI), Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ), Pat Leahy (D-VT), Joe Lieberman (D-CT), Blanche Lincoln (D-AR), Dick Lugar (R-IN), John McCain (R-AZ), Barbara Mikulski (D-MD), Patty Murray (D-WA), Ben Nelson (D-NE), Mark Pryor (D-AR), Harry Reid (D-NV), Paul Sarbanes (D-MD), Chuck Schumer (D-NY), Olympia Snowe (R-ME), Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), John Warner (R-VA), and Ron Wyden (D-OR). Dems who have yet to announce their views -- but are likely to oppose the amendment -- include some traditional liberals like Dan Akaka (D-HI), Dan Inouye (D-HI), and Carl Levin (D-MI). Even some uncomitted Republicans who would be expected to support it seem to be leaning against the amendment. Senator Conrad Burns (R-MT) -- a conservative who says he strongly opposes gay marriage -- said he was "very cool to the idea of an amendment."
Posted by Ron Gunzburger - 02.28.04 |

GAY MARRIAGE BAN AMENDMENT FAILS IN GEORGIA. In a very surprising move, the Georgia House of Representatives narrowly rejected a state constitutional amendment banning gay marriage Thursday. The measure had been expected to pass and appear on the ballot this November. Instead, the House voted 117-50 in favor of the marriage ban -- but that total was three votes short of the 120 votes needed to pass a constitutional amendment. Legislators are expected to seek reconsideration and a second vote Monday, as 13 members -- 12 Dems and 1 GOP -- did not vote (8 were present but refused to vote and 5 had excused absences). "I'm going to use my powers of persuasion and just reason with them," said State Director Sadie Fields of the Christian Coalition. The most vocal opposition came from the black and urban members of the House, who compared the struggle for black civil rights in the 1950s and 1960s to the current national debate over gay rights. "What we're saying [by this amendment] is that we're going to legally, constitutionally discriminate against this segment of the population," complained State Rep. Bob Holmes (D). Rural white Democrats largely joined with the Republicans in voting to support the amendment. Only one Republican voted against the gay marriage ban amendment. The Georgia Senate has already approved the amendment.
Posted by Ron Gunzburger - 02.27.04 |

EdwardsMUTUAL ADMIRATION SOCIETY. John Kerry and John Edwards debated again Thursday night, but it was not the heated exchange most had expected. Edwards needed to land some solid verbal punches against frontrunner Kerry. Instead, an overly deferential Edwards appeared to be merely auditioning for the runningmate spot. Kerry was equally polite, but was more patronizing towards Edwards. Example: Edwards opined that rival Kerry had the experience, leadership and values to be a good President -- while Kerry in turn somewhat dismissively praised Edwards for being a good public speaker and "a good campaigner." Sure, they differed on a few minor points -- like when the death penalty would be appropriate -- but there were no major exchanges during the evening.
Posted by Ron Gunzburger - 02.27.04 |

"I'M GOING, THERE'S NO NEED TO PUSH." Democratic National Chairman Terry McAuliffe said Thursday he would not seek a new term as McAuliffeDNC Chair when his current term ends in January. However, he added that he is sure that the Presidential nominee will retain him as Chair for the duration of the campaign. "All the candidates are very excited about what we have done with the Committee and want to have me in there raising more than $100 million," said McAuliffe. By tradition, the new Presidential nominee usually gets the option of essentially selecting a new DNC Chair right after the national convention. Sometimes they retain the existing DNC leadership, but sometimes they make changes. McAuliffe -- a staunch Clinton loyalist -- was expected to be dumped by most of the candidates who had been seeking the Presidential nomination. In large part, the switch happens simply because the nominee wants a leadership team they personally trust and is loyal to the nominee above all others. Usually, the Chair is initially replaced in a House of Lords style -- by being "promoted" to some figurehead role like "General Campaign Chairman." A Kerry spokesperson said Thursday that McAuliffe "has done a great job." Don't read too much into that pleasantry, as there was no inference there that Kerry would retain McAuliffe after the July convention. McAuliffe, a wealthy businessman, was the top fundraiser for Clinton and the DNC before being elected Chair in 2001. It may be a little early for this, but I'd suggest Howard Dean as the next DNC Chair -- he's proven he can do the two things required of a good party chairman: he's great at raising money and he's an unabashed spokesman for Democratic values.
Posted by Ron Gunzburger - 02.27.04 |

CALIFORNIA PRIMARY PREVIEW. US Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA) is strongly favored to win re-election this year. GOP primary voters on Tuesday will select her opponent from a field of ten Barbara BoxerRepublican hopefuls. Former Secretary of State Bill Jones and former US Treasurer Rosario Marin are leading that pack, with all polls now showing Jones ahead. Republicans would like to defeat the liberal Boxer, but that goal still looks rather unlikely. Three Congressional races also merit some attention. In the open CD-3 race, three GOP candidates are locked in a close contest: former Attorney General Dan Lungren, State Senator Rico Oller, and businesswoman Mary Ose. Lungren and Oller are both social conservatives. Ose -- the sister of retiring Congressman Doug Ose -- is a centrist. The winner of the GOP primary is certain to hold this safe GOP seat. CD-20 -- a safe Democratic seat -- is also open due to the retirement of Congressman Cal Dooley. Former State Senator Jim Costa and Dooley Chief of Staff Lisa Quigley are locked in a close race. Costa is endorsed by much of the local political establishment, but Quigley looks within range of scoring an upset with her aggressive campaign. Congressman Dana Rohrabacher (R) is facing a primary challenge from bombastic radio talk show host and former Congressman Bob Dornan in CD-46. Despite the feisty Dornan taking lots of shots at the incumbent -- as is his style -- Rohrabacher should still win by a comfortable margin. See our California page for links to all of the primary candidates.
Posted by Ron Gunzburger - 02.26.04 |

BartlettMARYLAND PRIMARY PREVIEW. One of the most conservative members of Congress is facing an aggressive and competitive GOP primary challenge on Tuesday in Maryland. Frederick County State Attorney Scott Rolle -- who is nearly as conservative as Congressman Roscoe Bartlett, argues he would be more effective in DC than the 77-year-old incumbent. GOP establishment officials -- including Vice President Dick Cheney -- have rallied to support Bartlett and helped him raise a large amount of money. Bartlett appears favored to hold off Rolle, who is clearly trying to position himself as the initial frontrunner for 2006 when Bartlett is expected to retire. Congressman Wayne Gilchrest -- a GOP centrist -- also appears likely to easily fend off a primary challenge by pro-life State Senator Richard Colburn (R) in the primary. Gilchrest, who is an environmentalist and pro-choice, seems to face similar GOP opponents every two years.
Posted by Ron Gunzburger - 02.26.04 |

Blanche LincolnINTERESTING PLATFORM. "I'm for God, guns, and defense just for starters," proclaims the opening line on the home page of US Senate candidate Andy Lee's (R-AR) campaign site. So, does this mean to imply his opponents are against God? Lee, the former Benton County Sheriff, continues: "How about protecting our liberties and the absolute right to individual privacy?" You'll note that the line starts with "How about" and ends with a question mark -- perhaps implying it is just a suggestion, not a promise (but I know I'm being too pedantic here). Also: why do I have a feeling -- based on Lee's opening line -- that the liberties he's referencing have to do mainly with guns ... and that Lee's "absolute right to individual privacy" probably doesn't extend to gay folks having sex. Lee is one of three Republicans challenging US Senator Blanche Lincoln (D-AR). Lincoln -- who is frequently mentioned as a possible VP runningmate for Kerry -- is a fairly safe bet to win re-election.
Posted by Ron Gunzburger - 02.26.04 |

TRUE CAMPAIGN STORIES. Those of us who've worked in lots of campaigns have earned our right to be rather jaded ... but we've also acquired a good number of War Storiesdarkly humorous and true stories. I'll throw one out there from one of my past races, as it certainly explains why I take such a skeptical and wry look at politics. As they used to say on Dragnet: The story is true -- only the names have been changed to protect their identities. While working on a prominent federal race, I wrote a new campaign speech for the candidate to kick-off the final phase of the campaign. It had all the good, "red meat" applause lines and sound bites to excite audiences. And -- in an aside -- this was for a candidate who didn't truly care much about any issues (in fact, he derisively referred in private to anything on the issues more detailed than sound bites as being "'substance' crap"). The first day he used the speech, he got a really enthusiastic response from the audience, and also from our campaign staffers. One kid -- a "true believer" recent college grad who was working as our candidate's driver -- came up to the candidate right after he first heard the speech. I was standing nearby. "I'm so proud to be working for you, sir. That speech really moved me," he said to the candidate. "Thank you, Robert, I appreciate that very much," responded the candidate in a very warm, sincere tone. As soon as Robert walked away to get the car and was out of earshot, the candidate turned to me, smirked, and said: "Can you believe he bought that crap?" [Note: Don't email asking me who this was, the year, etc. -- I won't tell -- because the guy still holds a prominent government position.] Use the thread to comment or -- better yet -- contribute your own campaign war stories.
Posted by Ron Gunzburger - 02.26.04 |

NUMBERS, NUMBERS, NUMBERS. Lots of new tracking poll numbers from Super Tuesday states. California (KABC-TV/Survey USA): Kerry-60%, Edwards-25%, Others-10%. Ohio (WKYC-TV/SurveyUSA): Kerry-53%, Edwards-30%, Kucinich-10%. Ohio (American Research Group): Kerry-47%, Edwards-26%, Kucinich-11%. New York (WABC-TV/Survey USA): Kerry-58%, Edwards-22%, Sharpton-9%, Others-7%. New York (American Research Group): Kerry-54%, Edwards-21%, Sharpton-8%, Others-6%. Georgia (American Research Group): Kerry-45%, Edwards-37%, Sharpton-4%, Kucinich-1%.
Posted by Ron Gunzburger - 02.25.04 |

KerryKERRY SWEEPS UTAH, IDAHO, HAWAII. As expected, frontrunner John Kerry won big victories in all three states holding contests yesterday. Because the three states were each fairly small, both Kerry and leading rival John Edwards failed to campaign in any of the three states. Kerry did, however, have paid staffers working in those states. Edwards made no effort anywhere, and even skipped out on his prior agreement to be the keynote speaker this past weekend at the Idaho Democratic Party's annual fundraising dinner. Dennis Kucinich was the only hopeful to visit any of the states -- spending several days in Hawaii over the past week -- and it paid off with a second place finish in Hawaii. UTAH: Kerry-55% (5 delegates), Edwards-30% (3 delegates), Kucinich-7%, Dean-4%, Uncomitted-1%. IDAHO: Kerry-54% (12 delegates), Edwards-22% (6 delegates), Dean-11%, Kucinich-6%. HAWAII: Kerry-46% (12 delegates), Kucinich-30% (8 delegates), Edwards-13%, Dean-9%. Al Sharpton was also a listed candidate in Idaho and Hawaii, but he failed to capture even a single vote in either state. TOTAL DELEGATES (2,162 needed for nomination): Kerry-727, Edwards-212, Dean-182, Clark-57, Sharpton-16, Kucinich-10.
Posted by Ron Gunzburger - 02.25.04 |

GrahamBOB GRAHAM TO ENDORSE KERRY. US Senator and former Presidential hopeful Bob Graham (D-FL) is reportedly set to endorse John Kerry next week. Graham -- who is retiring from the Senate this year -- is frequently mentioned to be near the top of Kerry's VP short list. Kerry was clearly not Graham's initial choice, based on the actions of his family. Graham's daughter Gwen Graham Logan was the Southern States Coordinator of the Dean campaign, Graham's wife was a prominent guest at a Dean fundraiser, and Graham himself frequently praised Dean's foreign policy views. But, now that Dean's campaign has collapsed, Graham has now decided to back Kerry. The Fort Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel also reported today that Gwen Graham Logan is now considering jumping into the crowded race for her father's open Senate seat.
Posted by Ron Gunzburger - 02.25.04 |

Ethan HawkeETHAN HAWKE FOR CONGRESS? We never knew that Gen-X actor Ethan Hawke had ambitions to go into politics but -- based on his public explanation (or whatever you want to call it) of why he purportedly cheated on his soon to be ex-wife Uma Thurman -- he's ascribes political ambitions to himself. Here's what he said: "Martin Luther King Jr. suffered from infidelity, so did John F. Kennedy. You're more likely to find great leadership coming from a man who likes to have sex with a lot of women than one who's monogamous." Since when did Hawke become a "great leader"?
Posted by Ron Gunzburger - 02.25.04 |

SOAPBOX. And here's our daily open thread for you folks who want to discuss or debate any other political topic that's on your mind. Nader, gay marriage, interesting local stuff, government space alien cover-ups, whatever.
Posted by Ron Gunzburger - 02.25.04 |

DeanREADING TEA LEAVES? Howard Dean has yet publicly to even say anything about endorsing John Edwards, but there are growing signs it could be a possibility. The Boston Globe reported that Edwards has now spoken with Dean three times over the past week. The NY Dean crew largely jumped en masse this week to Edwards. Also, the two co-founders of Generation Dean -- the national (and official) youth wing of the Dean campaign -- endorsed Edwards this week. Then there's that very intriguing post on Joe Trippi's ChangeForAmerica blog -- a posting that really pissed off the Deaniacs -- in which Trippi basically suggested there was no reason voting for Dean in upcoming states (except VT) because Dean is unlikely to win any more delegates because of the 15% rule. Is all of this leading up to a Dean endorsement of Edwards within the next week ... or is it a case of folks misreading the tea leaves? A Dean endorsement -- if it is even in the works -- would certainly shake-up the race.
Posted by Ron Gunzburger - 02.24.04 |

NEW NUMBERS. The crown jewel of next week's Super Tuesday is California. Here are the latest numbers from the new Los Angeles Times poll: Kerry-56%, Edwards-24%, Kucinich-4%, Sharpton-1%. Food for thought: With Kucinich and Sharpton this low in nearly all states, do these two guys still merit a place on stage for any more Presidential debates?
Posted by Ron Gunzburger - 02.24.04 |

OPEN THREAD. Yup, real participatory blogging has finally arrived at Politics1 ... 'cuz you will now be able to add your comments on every new article posted in our news blog. Interact with the more that 580,000 unique visitors who surf our site each month.
Posted by Ron Gunzburger - 02.24.04 |

BUSH ENDORSES AMENDMENT TO BAN GAY MARRIAGE. After a few weeks of implying support -- but not quite endorsing the concept -- President George W. Bush on Tuesday officially announced his support for a Constitutional amendment to ban marriages by same-sex couples. BushBush said: "A few judges and local authorities are presuming to change the most fundamental institution of civilization ... [and] have created confusion on an issue that requires clarity ... The defense of marriage requires a constitutional amendment." Bush was somewhat more ambiguous on the concept of recognizing same-sex civil unions, suggesting that the proposed amendment should be one "defining and protecting marriage as a union of a man and woman as husband and wife ... while leaving the state legislatures free to make their own choices in defining legal arrangements other than marriage." Social conservatives had been lobbying Bush to take this move ever since the Massachusetts Supreme Court ruled that same-sex couples in that state must be allowed to marry. Gay rights supporters maintain that the proposed amendment is misleading, in that it is worded in a manner to imply it would permit states to recognize civil unions -- but in reality that it would prohibit them. Some critics are surprising. Former Congressman Bob Barr (R-GA) -- the author of the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act -- opposes the amendment. "I hold the Constitution in highest regard and I don’t like to see it trifled with ... Even though I’m not an advocate for same-sex marriage, I want the states to decide the issue," said Barr. Sources on Capitol Hill say that GOP congressional leaders are unlikely to permit any action on the proposed amendment this year, as they fear the unknown consequences it could cause in this very volatile election year with moderate swing voters.
Posted by Ron Gunzburger - 02.24.04 |

NaderRE-DRAFT NADER ... AND MORE ON MOORE. Some activists within the Green Party are now seeking to "re-draft" Ralph Nader as their Presidential candidate in 2004. Nader -- who said in December he would not seek the Green nomination -- announced his candidacy Sunday as an Independent. Attorney David Cobb, financial executive Peter Camejo, and other candidates are already seeking the Green nomination, but are all largely unknown outside the party. The party's official website added the following notation to Nader's name on its Presidential candidates page on Tuesday: "Ralph Nader has formally withdrawn his [Green] candidacy. However, there is a movement to draft him as the nominee and he has collected delegate commitments in state primaries." Meanwhile -- jumping sharply to the right side of the third party scene -- it appears "Ten Commandments Judge" Roy Moore is adding more Constitution Party events to his national speaking tour. We previously reported Moore is the featured speaker at upcoming CP events this month in Montana and Oregon. Now we learn that Moore will be doing likewise at the CP state convention next month in Ohio. The topic of all of Moore's current speeches: "Can the State Acknowledge God?" Moore is not actively seeking the CP's Presidential nomination. However, designated 2004 CP Presidential nominee Michael Peroutka repeatedly says he would step aside if a big name candidate wanted to run by the time of the party's national nominating convention in late June.
Posted by Ron Gunzburger - 02.24.04 |

2.23.04

KerryCOUNTDOWN TO INSIGNIFICANT TUESDAY. From looking at the news, one would barely detect that there are three state Presidential contests on Tuesday. However -- as the states are Hawaii, Utah and Idaho -- they pale in significance to the number of big states voting next week on "Super Tuesday." Look for John Kerry to win this week's three contests. John Edwards is also certain to win some delegates in all three states. In a related note, here's an interesting signal that the Kerry campaign is less than certain they will lock-up the nomination and knock Edwards out of the race on March 2: Kerry's campaign just relocated some campaign staffers to Florida within the past few days to start organizing for the primary there on March 9.

DEAN DENOUNCES NADER CANDIDACY. Democrats are clearly worried that many of the young progressives who had flocked to Howard Dean's derailed campaign could now bolt to Ralph Nader's new Independent candidacy. In an effort to quickly discourage that, Dean issued a sharply worded statement Monday. "Those who truly want America's leaders to stand up to the corporate special interests and build a better country for working people should recognize that, in 2004, a vote for Ralph Nader is, plain and simple, a vote to re-elect George W. Bush. I hope that Ralph Nader will withdraw his candidacy in the best interests of the country we hope to become ... There is still time for Ralph Nader to stand with those in the Democratic Party who are building a progressive coalition to defeat George W. Bush," said Dean. Hundreds of subsequent comments posted on Dean's official blog site today show the Deaniacs seem -- with some vocal exceptions -- largely willing to follow his lead. So, where are the Deaniacs headed these days? Check out the new Deaniacs for Edwards group, which was launched this week by former Dean New York State Political Director Eric Schmeltzer. It's hard to find many Deaniacs for Kerry -- but I must confess that my mother, who was a Florida State Coordinator for Dean, is one of the few vocal Dean folks to go there. (Note: Mom does not speak for me on that one.)

2.21.04

TOLD YOU SO! A few months ago, we broke the story about Ralph Nader launching his Presidential exploratory campaign. In that report, we predicted two things: (1) that NaderNader would not seek the Green nomination but would instead promote himself as an Independent this time; and (2) that he had already decided he was going to make a fourth run for the White House in 2004. Well, prediction #1 came true several weeks ago. And now -- from what we're hearing -- prediction #2 will come true Sunday morning when Nader announces his candidacy during his appearance on Tim Russert's Meet the Press show. Still, the latest Nader run is unlikely to be as significant of a spoiler factor as it in 2000 for a few reasons. First, as an Independent, Nader has to secure his own spot on ballots and cannot rely on automatic ballot status anywhere as the Greens have in many states. Second, a lot of the prominent liberals who backed Nader in 2000 -- folks like filmmaker Michael Moore and others -- have made it clear they will not help him again because they do not want to see President Bush re-elected. Third, the looming third party run by "Ten Commandments Judge" Roy Moore would likely draw from Bush an amount at least equal to what Nader would draw from the Democratic nominee. Also, watch for many liberals to express their anger with Nader by cutting off their donations to any of the groups associated with Nader.

MEN'S FANTASY VIRUS. FeketeIn Florida, an investigation of Pembroke Pines Mayor Alex Fekete's laptop computer allegedly found as many as 23,000 pornographic images. Also, the bookmarked sites listed as "favorites" on his laptop were found to be nearly all porno sites. City employees performing repairs on Fekete's laptop noticed the extensive amount of porn and reported it. In response, Fekete claimed that "a virus infected his city and personal computers with pornography" and/or that some unknown person may have downloaded all that porn onto his laptop. He even told another newspaper that he may have been the victim of a "browser hijacking." A virus that fills your computer with thousands of XXX-rated porn pix? Yeah, right! If that was a real Internet virus, at least half the guys online would try to intentionally get their computers infected with that one. If you think I'm making this up, click here to read the full news story (see the second item).

YET ANOTHER BAYOU STATE RETIREMENT? It now looks like four of the seven Congressional seats in Louisiana this year may be open seat contests. Congressman Jim McCrery (R-LA) said Friday that he is "considering" retiring this year because of the strain serving in Congress places on his family. McCrery explained he doesn't like having to leave his wife and two young children behind in Shreveport every week when he is in DC, and doesn't think he can afford the costs of having his family live full-time in DC. He promises to announce a decision within the next month. Meanwhile, Congressman Billy Tauzin (R-LA) said Friday through his spokesman that he may resign early from Congress -- necessitating a special election -- depending on what his doctor tells him after his February 27th exam. Tauzin is apparently suffering from severe pain in the area around his wallet -- as it seems he wants to quit Congress ASAP so he can accept that million-dollar lobbying job offer from the pharmaceutical industry.

EARLY RETIREMENT IN NEBRASKA. Congressman Doug Bereuter (R-NE) -- who previously revealed his plans to retire from Congress this year -- announced Friday that he will resign early from Congress on September 1, 2004, to become President of the Asia Foundation. By selecting that date, Bereuter said he will be able to represent his district for most of the legislative session and the late date will not require a special election. Bereuter and his wife will also be moving to San Francisco to take the new job, but they vow to keep a home in Nebraska. The organization seeks to promote stronger relations between the US and Asian nations.

2.20.04

Hillary Clinton"PICK ME, PICK ME!" Retiring US Senator Bob Graham (D-FL) -- who made an aborted run for President this year -- announced at an event Thursday that he would accept the Vice Presidential nomination if it was offered. So, if Graham gets picked for VP ... and surprises everyone in the VP debate by singing one of those hokey songs about himself ... what song will Dick Cheney sing about himself to come back at Graham with? The image at right is Graham's Presidential campaign CD of songs -- which includes the one he likes to sing about himself.

WILL DEAN ENDORSE EDWARDS? DeanYesterday, we wildly speculated about the possibility that Howard Dean could shake-up the Presidential race by endorsing Edwards. It turns out our hunch wasn't that crazy after all. CNN reported Thursday that Dean and John Edwards have been informally talking since this past Sunday. Then came this tantalizing hint from the New York Times: "At noon [Wednesday], Dr. Dean dialed into a conference call with his Congressional supporters, in which he said he believed that Senator John Edwards of North Carolina was a stronger candidate than Senator Kerry, and promised to inform them before he endorsed anyone." Also, Dean said he would use his DeanForAmerican.com site to launch a new national grassroots Democratic organization. Dean also used his withdrawal speech to clearly state he would campaign for whomever wins the Presidential nomination, that he would not run as an Independent or third party candidate, and urged his supporters to not be "tempted" to support any third party candidates.

Hillary Clinton"HEY, NO CROWDING MY SPOTLIGHT." An amusing Politics1 Exclusive: US Senator Hillary Clinton (D-NY) isn't running for President this year. She's even made some supportive remarks about the field of Dems running for President (even though most pundits believe she wants the eventual Democratic nominee to lose to Bush so she can run in 2008). Still, that doesn't mean she's willing to be upstaged and forced to share the spotlight with John Kerry or John Edwards at an event where she's supposed to be the one-and-only star attraction. Amusingly, that's just what apparently happened with a local Democratic Party fundraising dinner scheduled for Saturday evening in South Florida. According to a well-placed source in the Florida Kerry campaign, they inquired of local party leaders to see if they could schedule Kerry to briefly stop by the event. The answer that came back: No, because Senator Clinton -- the scheduled keynote speaker -- would not attend if Kerry planned to crash her evening. FYI: Kerry's folks decided to send him elsewhere and not cause a problem.

Roy MooreMOORE ACTING MORE LIKE A CANDIDATE. Ousted Alabama Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore (R) -- the "Ten Commandments Judge" -- is starting to act more and more like a third party Presidential candidate. For a guy who isn't running for President "right now" (to quote his spokesperson), he's sure doing things that candidates seem to do. In fact, according to the Constitution Party's website, Moore is speaking at party events in Oregon and Montana this month. With President Bush currently trailing both Kerry and Edwards for re-elction by double-digits -- according to the latest CNN poll -- that last thing he wants in November is a "Ralph Nader of the Right" draining Christian conservative votes from his essential base.

Glenn SchafferSTORMING MORDOR. I'm not sure what he was trying to prove, but retired Army officer Glenn Schaffer (R) entered the race for Montana Governor a few days ago in a rather odd manner. In fact, he made his announcement while sitting astride a white steed named Big Dog Thunder Horse. He also brandished a huge medieval battle sword, which he swung about in the air above his head. Schaffer said he would not accept campaign contributions, but would appreciate it if people gave him and his horse water and shelter as they campaign across the state. Schaffer said he's running for Governor because he is "tired of all the BS, the corruption."

2.18.04

DEAN QUITS RACE. Eight weeks ago, rivals were all jockeying to be seen as the main "Stop Dean" candidate. Ironically -- with a major assist from an unfriendly media -- Howard Dean himself proved to be the main "Stop Dean" candidate in the race. On Wednesday, Dean is ending his rollercoaster Presidential run that brought him from unknown to frontrunner to also-ran. While Dean is quitting the race, he will allow his name to remain on upcoming primary ballots. In fact, Dean just yesterday qualified for a spot on the April primary ballot in Pennsylvania. In the coming days, Dean is expected to announce plans to re-tool his populist movement it into a new grassroots political group aimed at defeating Bush and helping Dems capture control of Congress. Then there's the entirely speculative possibility that Dean may even shake-up the Presidential race within the next few days by endorsing Edwards. Okay, that last part was a total guess -- but let's see if I prove clairvoyant.

KERRY NARROWLY TOPS EDWARDS IN CLOSE WISCONSIN VOTE. John Kerry (40%) and EdwardsJohn Edwards (34%) ran surprisingly close in the crucial Wisconsin primary on Tuesday, while Howard Dean finished a distant third place with 18%. Kerry had been favored by a wide margin in recent polls, but Edwards received a boost Monday when the largest newspaper in the state endorsed him. Edwards far exceeded his expectations, which should result in more media coverage for him and money flowing into his campaign. In fact, the extreme closeness of the results was a defeat -- certainly in terms of perceptions -- for Kerry. Kerry also further emphasized his personal reputation for unappealing haughtyness when he obnoxiously timed his victory speech to overlap and cut-off TV coverage of Edwards' speech just two minutes after Edwards began his remarks. The Wisconsin results ensure that Kerry and Edwards will both continue as viable -- and competitive -- candidates heading into Super Tuesday. However, Dean -- who had once declared the state to be do-or-die for his campaign -- returned to Vermont late Tuesday and will end his campaign there today.

CHANDLER WINS KY-6 SPECIAL ELECTION. Just Chandlerthree months after losing a race for Governor, former Attorney General A.B. "Ben" Chandler III (D-KY) revived his political career by winning a seat in Congress on Tuesday. The win was also a Democratic pickup for the KY-6 seat left vacant when Congressman Ernie Fletcher (R) was elected Kentucky Governor -- over Chandler -- last November. Chandler soundly defeated State Senator Alice Forgy Kerr (R) by 55% to 43% vote. The Republicans initially tried to make the race into an early referendum of support for President Bush. However, since that didn't seem to be working, GOP insiders recently began to blame the setback on Kerr -- not Bush -- by noting that she ran an uninspiring campaign. Dems see the result as promising news, as the district is fairly center-conservative. Chandler also broke a terrible losing streak for the Dems, as no Democrat had won a Republican-held Congressional seat in a special election anywhere since 1991. Trivial fact: Chandler is the grandson of the late US Senator A.B. "Happy" Chandler (D-KY), who also was the Major League Baseball Commissioner who racially integrated the sport in 1947.

KERRY LOCKING UP MORE UNION ENDORSEMENTS. John Kerry will win the crown jewel of labor union endorsements this week. The AFL-CIO will announce their endorsement of Kerry on Thursday. On Tuesday, the Alliance for Economic Justice -- a coalition of 18 trade unions that had previously endorsed Dick Gephardt -- endorsed Kerry. Sources also indicate that the International Union of Painters & Allied Tradesmen (IUPAT) -- one of the first unions to endorse Howard Dean -- will withdraw their endorsement of Dean on Wednesday. It is unclear if IUPAT will go so far as to subsequently endorse Kerry this week -- but it is certain that is where they are heading. Kerry must be taking supreme pleasure these days in collecting the endorsements -- and receive obsequious groveling -- from the unions that entirely snubbed Kerry just weeks ago.

2.17.04

UMM ... WHERE? Boy am I getting a bunch of nasty emails these days attacking me for now being part of the "liberal media ... that is making so many unfair attacks" on President Bush. And, yes, we have two stories today debunking anti-Kerry rumors (and we'll gladly do likewise for any false anti-Bush rumors). But perhaps I missed it -- and I'm responsible only for what happens on this site -- but where are any of those anti-Bush attack stories here on Politics1? (Postscript: Thanks for the nice notes of support, including a many from conservatives!)

FINAL WISCONSIN POLL NUMBERS. Here are the final MSNBC/Zogby poll numbers from Wisconsin, released Monday: Kerry-47%, Dean-23%, Edwards-20%, Kucinich-2%, Sharpton-1%. Here's an interesting observation (do the math): Kerry-47%, Not Kerry-46%. Still, it's an observation that probably won't matter much because a Kerry win of this scale is likely to knock both Dean and Edwards from the race. Kucinich and Sharpton would likely continue on, but they've never really been factors in the race. FYI: For a very insightful -- albeit very lengthy -- political autopsy of what happened to the Dean campaign, why it happened, and what we can learn from it, click here (note: it was written by a Dean supporter).

KERRY "INTERN SCANDAL" FALLS APART. As was quickly apparent to us last week, it turns out the whole John Kerry "intern scandal" was a just combination of fiction and fantasy. The "exclusive" story from from Drudge Report was almost immediately called into doubt by us as KerryDrudge re-wrote and re-posted the key facts of his exclusive five times during the first day he broke the story. Unlike last week, we now know a lot of specific details today. The woman never worked for Kerry or his campaign, never dated Kerry, never had any personal relationship with Kerry. It turns out that -- a few years ago -- she had dated Kerry's longtime campaign finance director. Somehow -- in the mind of Matt Drudge -- that became confused with dating or having sex with Kerry himself. Drudge blames the confusion on the woman. Her "flippant remarks and flirtatious manner ... fueled the intrigue," explained Drudge on Monday. It also turns out the woman didn't "flee to Africa" when reporters started inquiring about "the affair." It seems her fiancé's family lives in Kenya and the couple were on a planned visit with the guy's parents. The woman Monday broke her silence: "For the last several days I have seen Internet and tabloid rumors relating to me and Senator John Kerry. Because these stories were false, I assumed the media would ignore them. It seems that efforts to peddle these lies continue, so I feel compelled to address them. I have never had a relationship with Senator Kerry, and the rumors in the press are completely false. Whoever is spreading these rumors and allegations does not know me, but should know the pain they have caused me and my family." Her parents also issued a statement that seems to discount the previous comments attributed to them last week by a foreign newspaper: "We have spoken to our daughter and the allegations that have been made regarding her are completely false and unsubstantiated ... We appreciate the way Senator Kerry has handled the situation, and intend on voting for him for President of the United States." A bunch of folks flamed us when we noted all the holes in the Drudge story last week -- but even Drudge now acknowledges (well, in his own unrepentant way of blaming others) that the story was false.

KERRY-FONDA PIC IS ALSO A FORGERY. In related news, it turns out the purported picture of John Kerry and Jane Fonda together at an anti-Vietnam War rally floating around on the net is also a forgery. Newsday also found the photographer who took the original photo, who said that Fonda wasn't even at the 1971 rally. Kerry must still be carrying that four-leaf clover that a lady gave him two months ago in Iowa! Hey, we're sure Kerry is going to take some hits as the campaign progresses -- and some of them will certainly be very well deserved -- but it would be nice if both sides avoided this kind of junk.

2.16.04

KERRY WINS NEVADA, DC CAUCUSES. John Kerry chalked up two more wins on Saturday in caucuses in Nevada and DC. The Nevada results: Kerry-63%, Dean-17%, Edwards-10%, Kucinich-7%, and Sharpton-1%. The DC results: Kerry-47%, Sharpton-20%, Dean-18%, Edwards-10%, and Kucinich-3%. And -- for what really counts -- here's the delegate total thus far (2,161 needed for nomination): Kerry-555, Dean-187, Edwards-166, Sharpton-16, Kucinich-2.

THE END IS NEAR. With a landslide defeat looming in Wisconsin based on the most recent polls, Howard Dean continues to send mixed signals on the future of his campaign after Tuesday. While Dean said he wants to stay in the race through at least March 9 to give Florida voters a choice, other actions imply otherwise. Dean has no scheduled events beyond Tuesday, nor does he have an airplane chartered for anything beyond Tuesday's vote in Wisconsin. "That is true. We're going to reassess -- we're going to keep going, no matter what, because I think there are a lot of people all over this country who want to rebuild the party and rebuild America in a different way," said Dean on Sunday. Go back and re-read that quote again, but now ask yourself if he says he's going to continue after Tuesday as a Presidential candidate ... or whether Dean is leaving open the door to quit the race but launch a new national organization -- likely to be a liberal counterweight to the centrist DLC faction -- to achieve those goals. In related news, Dean somewhat denied the media reports Sunday that most of his top campaign staff plans to quit on Wednesday because they believe it is futile to continue the race. "Nobody's told me that ... I have no knowledge if that's true," said Dean on Fox News Sunday.

EdwardsTHE END IS NEAR - PART 2. Howard Dean isn't the only endangered candidate on the ballot Tuesday in Wisconsin. If John Edwards finishes 20 or so points behind Kerry there -- which right now looks to be a realistic possibility -- he may also have to "reassess" in the coming days whether he wants to continue his campaign. Dennis Kucinich and Al Sharpton are certain to continue their campaigns after Tuesday. However, if Dean and Edwards exit the race, there will be no more Kerry debates against Kucinich and Sharpton and the two will rapidly drift into the Lyndon LaRouche category of "Other Dems" who no longer merit any more news coverage.

NaderNADER ON VERGE OF FOURTH RUN? According to close associates of former Green Party Presidential nominee Ralph Nader, he is leaning heavily in favor of announcing his Independent candidacy in the coming days. Nader plans to make his decision -- one way or the other -- within the next two weeks. Nader had suggested in interviews that he would not run in 2004 if either Kucinich or Dean won the Democratic nomination, as he believed they had adopted views somewhat similar to his own. With those two now out of contention, Nader is ready to make a fourth White House run. Nader ran as a Democrat in the 1992 NH primary, as a Green in 1996 and 2000, and now plans to run as an Independent in 2004. Without running under the Green banner, Nader will have no automatic ballot status anywhere. Instead, he'll have to create an organization that pays filing fees and/or collects enough valid signatures in each state to secure a spot on the ballot.

DEM WIDENS LEAD IN KENTUCKY SPECIAL. According to the latest Louisville Courier-Journal poll, former Attorney General Ben Chandler (D) has widened his lead in the KY-6 Congressional special election on Tuesday. Chandler now leads State Senator Alice Forgy Kerr (R) by a vote of 49.4% to 39.6%.

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