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"America has two great dominant strands of political thought - conservatism, which, at its very best, draws lines that should not be crossed; and progressivism, which, at its very best, breaks down barriers that should never have been erected." -- Bill Clinton, Dedication of the Clinton Presidential Library, November 2004

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Monday, June 09, 2003


Kerry, Edwards ditch the Iowa picnic

posted by Aziz P. at Monday, June 09, 2003 permalink View blog reactions
Governor Vilsack's annual picnic is a stealth event in Iowa politics. Gephardt is favored toory win by the conventional wisdom, so losing Iowa becomes a major setback. And Kerry and Edwards both need Dean to lose there regardless of their own showings. So the absence of all three from the picnic, and the chance to mingle with hundreds of party activists from across the state, is a major surprise and a tactical blunder of immense proportion.

The candidates who were there - Lieberman, Kucinich, Graham, and Dean - took the opportunity to stay on message about Bush and the Credibility Thing. And Dean took the lead - in keeping the Bush bashing restrained (!):

Former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean revived a Watergate-era phrase to raise questions about whether Bush withheld information from Congress: "The question now is going to become, `What did the president know, and when did he know it?"
Dean, the former Vermont governor, warned against attacking Bush too harshly.

"I think we ought to take a measured approach to this," Dean said. "Somebody's credibility is on the line, and I would prefer it to be a Republican president's."

Graham's soundbite was much more aggressive - cementing in my mind the idea that he's angling for the Veepstakes. Lieberman stood by his pro-war position, but did support Congressional investigations. And Gephardt, speaking from Washington, critiqued all such critique of Bush - demonstrating that when it comes to Iowa, he's in the wrong place and saying the wrong thing.

All in all, this was a home run for Dean. I've predicted before that Dean will win Iowa, and given his recent surge in the polls and his position on issues such as the war and (ugh) farming subsidies, I think that Gephardt, Kerry, and Edwards see the writing on the wall. Or, if they don't see it yet, they will.

UPDATE: Nonpartisan for Dean, in the comments, relays the following quotes:

1) Tom Vilsack, after Dean's speech, to Dean (half in the microphone): "Great lines about the balanced budgets. Tremendous job."

2) (the bigger story) Bob Graham, after describing himself for ten minutes in ways identical to Dean: "Recent Democratic presidents have been able to talk directly to the American people -- and I want to thank Governor Dean, because he's been doing just that."


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About Nation-Building

Nation-Building was founded by Aziz Poonawalla in August 2002 under the name Dean Nation. Dean Nation was the very first weblog devoted to a presidential candidate, Howard Dean, and became the vanguard of the Dean netroot phenomenon, raising over $40,000 for the Dean campaign, pioneering the use of Meetup, and enjoying the attention of the campaign itself, with Joe Trippi a regular reader (and sometime commentor). Howard Dean himself even left a comment once. Dean Nation was a group weblog effort and counts among its alumni many of the progressive blogsphere's leading talent including Jerome Armstrong, Matthew Yglesias, and Ezra Klein. After the election in 2004, the blog refocused onto the theme of "purple politics", formally changing its name to Nation-Building in June 2006. The primary focus of the blog is on articulating purple-state policy at home and pragmatic liberal interventionism abroad.