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January 9th, 2004 - Stop Dean

About January 9th, 2004

No tax plan? 09:54 am
mercuryadore
“Dean’s Tax Cut Plan A Mystery” Lisa Wangsness, Concord Monitor, 1/8/04
http://www.cmonitor.com/stories/front2004/010704deantaxcuts_2004.shtml

Howard Dean's campaign sidestepped questions yesterday about a report that his own economic team disagrees with his proposal to repeal all of President Bush's tax cuts.
Dean has contended that the middle class "never got a tax cut." Most of the Bush tax cuts went to the wealthy, he argues, while the federal government has withdrawn support for health care, public safety and education. That has caused middle-income people's overall expenses to rise faster than their income taxes dropped, according to Dean.
But the Boston Globe reported yesterday that Dean's economic advisers believe a full repeal of the tax cuts, including those for the middle class, would be unsound policy and unwise politics.
Yesterday, several said it would be disingenuous for Dean to propose a tax reform plan after the first voting for the nomination begins.
"Howard Dean is running for president," said Kristen Carvell, a spokeswoman for Connecticut Sen. Joe Lieberman, who differs sharply with Dean over the tax issue. "Voters deserve to know right now what he has in store for them."
Retired general Wesley Clark, North Carolina Sen. John Edwards and Ohio Rep. Dennis Kucinich have also proposed eliminating only the tax cuts that benefit the wealthy.
And most have proposed additional relief for middle-class taxpayers. Edwards, who has made increasing taxes on wealth and lowering taxes on work a central theme of his campaign, wants additional breaks for first-time homebuyers and families saving for college. Lieberman would like to see a wholesale restructuring of the tax code to make it more progressive. Clark recently released a plan to eliminate all income taxes for households earning less than $50,000. [John] Kerry would provide credits for college tuition and after-school care and he would expand the child credit.
Dean has long been critical of Washington Democrats who propose smaller income tax cuts, labeling them "Bush lite" - a wimpy political counterpoint to the White House.

How Dean can lose 09:55 am
mercuryadore
“Unlikely Scenarios: How Dean Could Lose Primaries” Liz Marlantes, Christian Science Monitor, 1/8/04
http://www.csmonitor.com/2004/0108/p01s02-uspo.html

Consider this: Howard Dean wins the Iowa caucuses - but by a bare margin. In a surprise twist, John Kerry comes in a strong second, trumping Richard Gephardt.

In New Hampshire a week later, Dr. Dean again wins, but the real news is Wesley Clark, who loses to the former Vermont governor by only a few percentage points. Suddenly, Dean is looking vulnerable - even weak - as he heads into a series of volatile primaries in the South and West. Several other candidates drop out and throw their support behind one of the Dean "alternatives."

As improbable as it may be, this is one scenario circulating in political camps about how Dean - still the clear favorite for his party's nomination - could, in fact, lose. Most Democratic operatives agree that if Dean pulls off decisive wins in Iowa and New Hampshire, he will gain strength and momentum that may make him almost impossible to beat.

Certainly, Dean's front-runner status has seemed less commanding of late. In national polls, his lead has shrunk to single digits, now just barely ahead of General Clark. Polls also show Clark now tied for second place in New Hampshire, where Dean's lead, while strong, has declined slightly in recent weeks.

At the same time, the Iowa race is undeniably tight: Dean and Gephardt are still fighting for first place, but there are hints of potential surges from Kerry and Sen. John Edwards that could complicate the battle for second or third.

Most observers now see Clark as the strongest potential challenger to Dean, speculating that a strong finish in New Hampshire might help propel the former NATO general to victory in Feb. 3 primary states such as South Carolina.

Bush landslide 09:58 am
mercuryadore
“Polls To Cell Phones: Can You Hear Me Now?” David Yepsen, Des Moines Register, 1/8/04
http://desmoinesregister.com/opinion/stories/c5917686/23193094.html

Howard Dean has come an awfully long way for a guy who has yet to put one vote on the boards. Yes, he's captured a lot of the anger in the party. Yes, he's raised lots of money from small donors. Yes, he's attracting lots of young people. That, in turn, has generated a lot of media buzz, which, in turn generates even more money, bigger crowds and more buzz.
Ordinarily, candidates like all that. But in this case, we could see buyers' remorse, too. A new poll conducted by CNN/Gallup and USA Today shows President Bush would defeat Dean 59 percent to 37 percent. Such Mondalean numbers should cause rational caucus-goers to ask if they're doing the right thing by signing on with the Vermonter. (In fact, two-thirds of likely caucus-goers were undecided or were with another candidate even before this poll, and it's evidence a number of Democrats have reservations about Dean, despite all the ballyhoo.)
A couple observations about these polls, particularly ones of likely caucus-goers: Some may understate Dean's support. He's getting a ton of it from younger voters, and those people are big cell-phone users. It's difficult, if not impossible, for pollsters to contact the correct cell-phone numbers when they make random calls of likely voters.

Dean supporters jumping ship 10:01 am
mercuryadore
“Tide of Second Thoughts Rises Among Democrats” Adam Nagourney, New York Times, 1/9/04
http://www.nytimes.com/2004/01/09/politics/campaigns/09VOTE.html
Only a few weeks ago, Jenny Briggs, an Iowa State University graduate, was all set to enthusiastically support Howard Dean in the caucuses. But now, with the vote 11 days away, Ms. Briggs said she is having second thoughts as she watches Dr. Dean stumble through his difficult days of the presidential contest.
She said she grimaced when Dr. Dean, in what she described as an act of arrogance, declared at a debate in Des Moines on Sunday that he would balance the budget "in the sixth or seventh year of my administration," and then looked befuddled when his audience broke out laughing.
Ms. Briggs does not appear to be alone.
Democratic leaders in Iowa say that in a contest that is notoriously difficult to measure with polls, Dr. Dean is the dominant candidate, and they are struck by the powerful commitment of his supporters.
Still, in dozens of conversations with voters across central Iowa over the past three days, it became clear that some Democrats are taking a second look at the doctor from Vermont whose candidacy has transformed the Democratic presidential contest.
Such qualms could benefit Senator John Edwards of North Carolina and Senator John Kerry of Massachusetts. Both were often mentioned by voters as strong alternatives to Dr. Dean.
At the same time, Democrats in the interviews expressed weariness about a campaign that many said had gone on too long and had overwhelmed them with mail and automatic telephone calls. More than a few described the contest as grating in tone and texture. And in an electoral environment where animosity toward President Bush is matched only by the sense that he cannot be defeated, many Democrats expressed concern that the warfare among the candidates was making a hopeless cause all the more hopeless.
Indeed, several Democrats praised Mr. Edwards for largely avoiding the animosity, and said they would reward him with their votes.

Dean's dirty tricks 10:04 am
mercuryadore
“Dean Accused Of Out-Of-State Plot” Rick Klein, Boston Globe, 1/9/04
http://www.boston.com/news/politics/president/articles/2004/01/09/dean_accused_of_out_of_state_plot/

Presidential candidate Richard A. Gephardt's campaign accused Democratic rival Howard Dean yesterday of planning to unleash hundreds or thousands of out-of-state campaign workers to vote in the Iowa caucuses, in violation of state law.
The Dean camp angrily denied the allegation, saying it was part of a calculated effort to cast doubt on Dean's Iowa results in case he beats Gephardt in the Hawkeye State. Gephardt's campaign manager, Steve Murphy, sent a letter to his counterpart in the Dean camp demanding that he stop any plans to have supporters from outside Iowa participate in the Jan. 19 caucuses. Such a move could ruin the Iowa caucus process this year and in the future, Murphy said.
"You must identify those in your campaign involved with this illegal endeavor and fire the individual or individuals," Murphy wrote to Joe Trippi, Dean's campaign manager.
Trippi, who worked for Murphy in Gephardt's 1988 presidential campaign, fired back a letter that called Murphy's assertion a "sleazy tactic" with no grounding in truth. "Your allegation is ridiculous," Trippi wrote. "People are tired of this type of campaigning, which is why we've been energizing voters across the country with our message of hope and of a better democracy."
Murphy said his campaign learned of Dean's plans through a conversation a Dean field organizer had with a member of Gephardt's staff. According to Murphy, the Dean organizer said that people who will have been in Iowa for as little as one day would attend caucuses and vote for Dean. But in a conference call with reporters yesterday afternoon, Murphy declined to name either staff member, saying he wanted to protect the identity of the "whistle-blower."

“Kerry And Gephardt Campaigns Accuse Dean Staff Of Dirty Tricks” Tony Leys, Des Moines Register, 1/9/04
http://desmoinesregister.com/news/stories/c4789004/23212034.html

The two main rivals of former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean accused his staff Thursday of using dirty tricks to try to win Iowa's Democratic presidential caucuses.
Dean's campaign said it was looking into one of the charges, but had determined that the other was an outrageous attempt to smear the young supporters who are fueling his surge in Iowa and across the nation.
Both allegations involve out-of-state Dean supporters misrepresenting themselves as Iowans.
Sen. John Kerry's Iowa campaign manager said a Dean worker from Georgia confessed Thursday that he and another Dean supporter had falsely told Kerry's staff that they were Iowans interested in the senator's effort. John Norris said the young men had appeared at Kerry's Creston office this week, said they lived in the area, and asked unusually detailed questions about Kerry's campaign efforts.
Dean spokeswoman Sarah Leonard said Norris' letter was a surprise. "It's very disconcerting," she said Thursday evening. "It's a very serious allegation, and we are trying to get to the bottom of it."
The charges came amid speculation that Dean's corps of out-of-state supporters would try to steal the election by passing themselves off as Iowans on caucus night.
Dean's campaign has denied any such plan, but the rumor boiled up again Thursday in a letter from the campaign manager for Missouri Rep. Dick Gephardt. Steve Murphy complained to his Dean counterpart, Joe Trippi, that an unidentified Dean staffer had confessed the plan.

“Dean Fires 2 Campaign Aides” Ed Tibbetts, Quad-City Times, 1/9/04
http://www.qctimes.com/internal.php?story_id=1022713&t=Local+News&c=2,1022713

Howard Dean’s presidential campaign in Iowa fired two workers Thursday who were accused earlier in the day of trying to infiltrate rival John Kerry’s campaign.
In a letter to the Kerry camp, Jeani Murray, Dean’s Iowa campaign manager, said the two were terminated after an investigation prompted by complaints by John Norris, who is running Kerry’s Iowa effort.
Norris complained in a letter to Murray earlier in the day that the two men claimed to work for Dean and approached the Massachusetts senator’s Creston, Iowa, office, earlier in the week asking about the operation. Norris said one of the men, Mitch Lawson, admitted Thursday to being employed by Dean and said they were trying to get their hands on “calling scripts.”
Sarah Leonard, a Dean spokesperson, said the two only recently joined the campaign and are from out of state. She did not say what they specifically tried to do, but in her letter, Murray said, “we will not tolerate any misrepresentation of the Dean campaign in any way.”
The firings came on the same day that Dick Gephardt’s campaign manager alleged that the Dean camp was planning to flood Iowa with out-of-state voters who would pose as Iowans at the Jan. 19 precinct caucuses. That prompted a sharp response from Dean’s campaign manager, who labeled the charge “ridiculous” and said Gephardt was engaging in “sleazy tactics.”
This is not the first time the prospect of out-of-state voters coming to Iowa has come up. In November, Newsweek magazine reported that someone from Dean’s Vermont campaign office had called the Iowa Democratic Party to inquire whether it was legal to list a hotel as a place of residence.
The Dean campaign dismissed it as the action of a single person and said it never would do such a thing.

“Dean's Rivals Accuse His Campaign Of Dirty Tactics” Deirdre Shesgreen, St. Louis Post-Dispatch, 1/9/04
http://www.stltoday.com/stltoday/news/stories.nsf/News/Election+2004/74588959477D8F4786256E160017B379?OpenDocument&Headline=Dean's+rivals+accuse+his+campaign+of+dirty+tactics&highlight=2%2CGephardt

Howard Dean's rivals accused his campaign Thursday of trying to undermine the Iowa caucuses by engaging in questionable tactics.

Sen. John Kerry's Iowa campaign director, John Norris, accused the Dean campaign of "dirty tricks." Norris said two Dean supporters had come into Kerry campaign offices and misrepresented themselves while trying to get information about Kerry's Iowa operations.
Dean's Iowa state director, Jeani Murray, later released a statement saying the two staffers had been fired. "After we investigated the circumstances independently, we determined it was necessary to terminate these two individuals," she wrote in a letter to Norris. "These two staffers, however earnest, misrepresented themselves and the campaign."
Meanwhile, Steve Murphy, Rep. Richard Gephardt's campaign manager, said Thursday that one of Dean's Iowa field organizers recently told a Gephardt staffer that the Dean campaign planned to send non-Iowans to vote in the caucuses - a contention the Dean campaign sharply denied.
Murphy declined to identify that field organizer, saying he wanted to protect the "whistleblower" who came forward with the information. He said it was relayed in a "casual conversation" between the two campaign aides.
Dean's campaign manager, Joe Trippi, dismissed Murphy's charges as "baseless political allegations" sparked by concern that the Dean campaign's ability to mobilize new voters threatens Gephardt's campaign here.

Conservatives for Dean, because he will lose badly 10:15 am
mercuryadore
Dean's Right Flank?

Conservatives for Howard Dean?
Well, nobody's endorsing quite yet. But some high-profile commentators on the right say they would like to see the Vermont Democrat take on President Bush -- although for reasons that are sometimes suspect.
Weekly Standard Editor William Kristol says he wants Dean to win the primaries "so we will have a choice, not an echo." Kristol says, "In polls, a majority of the Democratic Party is anti-Iraq war, anti-Bush Doctrine and anti-Bush's overall conception of the war on terror."
Andrew Sullivan, a New Republic senior editor, writes on his Web site that Dean is "an unpleasant person -- prickly, angry, self-important, know-it-all" and continues: "So why do I find myself rooting for Dean to win the nomination? . . . I think his hatred of Bush will shine through and give a voice to millions of people who feel the same way."
National Review's Jonah Goldberg says in his syndicated column that "I've largely decided that I want Dean to get the nomination." Why? "I think he'd lose badly (unless the economy and Iraq tank)."

In the Danger Zone 10:23 am
mercuryadore
“Dean in the Danger Zone” Commentary by Howard Fineman, Newsweek Online, 1/8/04
http://msnbc.msn.com/id/3908177/

Joe Trippi was on my mobile phone. I had called him for some poll numbers and he sounded, understandably, hassled. Not frantic, but stressed. He should be.

As Howard Dean’s campaign manager, Trippi has masterfully guided his man to the brink of the Democratic nomination. But Trippi has been around a long time, and he knows that in any campaign, especially a presidential nomination race, things can change faster than you can shout “Hart Upsets Mondale.” If you’re the front-runner at this point in a campaign, time seems to slow down to an agonizing crawl. Election Day can’t come soon enough for you. Trippi knows that leads can crumble, an unexpected rival can rise up suddenly and that voters do what they want, not what pundits expect.

And under the pressure of approaching Armageddon, campaigns make mistakes. Dean’s own errors as a candidate and public speaker are well-known, but generally have been rendered harmless by the tactical and strategic skill of his campaign. Until now. For the first time, I’m seeing the Dean Team off its stride, behaving like mere mortals.

The hardest thing to do in business is to close a sale, and it’s the same with politics. Dean’s numbers were holding steady in Iowa, Trippi insisted, but there was too much of what the pollsters call “volatility” to suit him. “The numbers are a mess,” he said, meaning that things were still uncomfortably fluid. John Kerry was moving up fast, Dick Gephardt was sinking just as fast, and even John Edwards seemed to be making a late move. Front-runners don’t like that much motion underneath, even if they are ahead.

What has the campaign done wrong? Here’s my armchair general’s list, for what it’s worth:

SMALL LOGISTICAL MISTAKES

NOT SETTLING INTERNAL TAX DEBATE

HYPE OUT OF HAND

TALKING UP KERRY

ENDORSEMENT FEVER

THE BLOG IS NOT THE WORLD

I get the sense sometimes that the Deanies live in their own world—I call it Dean World—and that if it is OK with the Blog, then they think they are fine. It’s true that no single “gaffe” hurt Dean much, and, for the most part, their importance was dismissed by the chatterers on his various Web sites. But there is a larger universe out there, not just in the Democratic Party, but in the country, and it’s clear that the small cuts have added up to some loss of blood. The campaign was born on the Blog, but it can’t sustain itself there. Trippi knows that, which is why he is so nervous.

Grade: F 10:31 am
mercuryadore
“Conversion” Commentary by Adam Kushner, TNR Primary, The New Republic, 1/8/04
http://www.tnr.com/primary/index.mhtml?pid=1164

Candidate: Howard Dean
Category: Intellectual Honesty
Grade: F
It has hard for strategically-minded Democrats not to be relieved when Howard Dean abruptly recognized his vulnerability on religion (though it was a bit worrying that he did so almost certainly in response to this article by Franklin Foer). But Dean's most recent tactic is either brazen, or astonishingly ignorant.
In his clumsy effort to neutralize the religion issue, Dean has announced that his Christianity informed his decision to sign the bill legalizing civil unions. Come on! A guy who, up through yesterday, told people he didn't let religion influence any of his policy decisions suddenly remembers that he made his most important one based on religion?
Nevermind that he was essentially forced by the Vermont Supreme Court to sign something like the bill he signed. Nevermind, too, that in the lengthy, impassioned speech Dean gave defending his civil unions bill in 2000, he never once mentioned God. (And it's not like Dean thinks his spirituality is some intensely private matter, either: His denominational change of heart came after a very public land-use fight, and his very public, very candid decision to inject religion into his campaign came with no apparent compunction about privacy.)
The interpretation of Christianity Dean now calls his own is exactly the kind of message a religious Democrat could use to outflank Bush's compassionate conservatism. "The hallmark of Christianity is to reach out to people who have been left behind," Dean said. If only there was evidence Dean had been a religious Democrat at any time before the last two weeks.
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