Becky Diamond on John Kerry
msnbc.com

Monday, Sept. 29

MONEY UPDATE

The Kerry campaign says it will report $4.5 to $5 million raised in the third quarter, less than the campaign raised last quarter. The Web site has raised approximately $784,000 in the “Hammer Bush” campaign. They had set a goal of raising $1 million online by Sept. 30 and they seem to be nearly there.

MOMENTUM IN N.H.? Latest Zogby poll shows Kerry cut Dean’s lead in New Hampshire in half since August but he still trails the former Vermont governor in this need-to-win state. Kerry spokesman Robert Gibbs had this to say, “The latest poll shows Kerry has cut Dean’s lead in half in just a month. People in New Hampshire are reacting to the fact that Sen. Kerry is the only candidate who possesses both the national security credentials to be commander in chief and 30 years of experience fighting for priorities important to Democrats and working families. Also, Dean has had a tough month in which he has spent most of his time giving policy positions that are different than what he has said in the past and having to explain that.”

GOING AFTER DEANThe Kerry campaign sent out several e-mails over the weekend highlighting Howard Dean’s back-and-forths on policy positions. They took their information from a wide-ranging interview he did with the Associated Press on Saturday. They went after Dean on supporting the 1995 cuts to Medicare and his opposition to maintaining the Bush tax cuts that benefit the middle class. Here is part of a statement e-mailed out: “Despite what Howard Dean would have you believe today, he undeniably supported cutting $270 billion from Medicare — a cut I vigorously fought and a cut that would have had millions of seniors in our country paying more out of their pocket for health care costs. It was a cut President Clinton said would destroy the Medicare program. Howard Dean should have known Newt Gingrich and the Republican Party’s Medicare cuts were wrong then and he should admit they’re wrong now.”

TED AND JOHN IN IOWA

Ted Kennedy campaigned in Iowa on Saturday with Kerry — mostly on health care. According to the AP: Kennedy … said he supports Kerry’s health insurance proposal, although he favors a more sweeping approach. Also according to the AP: Kerry took a swipe at former Dean, referring to Kennedy as “the undisputed, absolute leader of the Democratic wing of the Democratic Party.”

ON THE TRAILMonday: Appearances in Massachusetts and New Hampshire.

Thursday, Sept. 25

ON CLARK, GEPHARDT AND DEAN

Kerry took a few questions at an endorsement event and here’s what he had to say ... About Clark: “While he voted for Richard Nixon and Ronald Reagan, I was fighting against both of their policies and what they did to the average working person and what they did to their hopes and dreams.” ... About Dean and tax cuts: “Why on Earth would you want to rub out gains for the middle class is beyond me. So I call on both Mr. Gephardt and Mr. Dean and anyone else to show reasonableness here as to how Democrats ought to help the middle class.”

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THE FIREFIGHTERS ENDORSEMENTThe IAFF (International Association of Fire Fighters) endorsed Kerry for President on Wednesday. It’s a midsize union (260,000 members) but a big prize for Kerry — his first AFL-CIO union endorsement and one less for other Democratic contenders. Firefighters will go door to door and campaign for Kerry in every congressional district in the country — acting as “foot soldiers.” Kerry spokesperson Robert Gibbs said the endorsement “is very political.” This endorsement comes on the heels of other high-level endorsements over the past week — about which Gibbs said it “demonstrates a wide depth of support” for Kerry. IAFF President Harold Schaitberger said about Kerry:

“The International Association of Fire Fighters knows that John Kerry has what it takes to do the job. He is a proven leader. He knows how to navigate Washington. He learned the hard way in Vietnam, in the courtroom, and in the halls of the U.S. Senate.”

Wednesday, Sept. 24

DEBATE FOCUSAt the Thursday CNBC debate, Kerry will “continue to demonstrate that John Kerry has the best plan to get people back to work and get America back on track.” One of the biggest fights the campaign has had had over the past few weeks is against Dean’s plan to roll back all the tax cuts vs. Kerry’s position of maintaining those cuts that will benefit the middle class. Expect more of this at the debate.

SHAHEEN IS CHAIRWOMANJeanne Shaheen, arguably the most influential person in Democratic politics in New Hampshire, was named the chairwoman of Kerry’s national campaign. She said: “I believe it is vital to the future of this country that we replace George Bush in 2004, and that is why I am today endorsing John Kerry for president and have the honor of chairing his national campaign. ... John Kerry is the only Democratic candidate with the combination of experience and leadership on national security and a lifetime of fighting for the issues critical to Democrats we need to beat George Bush and take this country in a new direction.”

KERRY ON CLARK AND THE POLLS

“I saw in the polls that both Wesley Clark and I are the only Democrats that beat Bush. The Democrats will look for someone with a record of accomplishment on issues that matter to them. I’ve been fighting for education reform for kids, for health care and to protect the environment. That is important to Democrats. It’s important that people look at the overall record.”

POLLS

The Kerry campaign said that the CNN/USA Today poll showed “John Kerry edges out President Bush for the first time among registered voters. Almost none of the other candidates — including Howard Dean — beats Bush in the same poll, showing once again why John Kerry is the one Democrat who can beat Bush in 2004.” Kerry said that the polls “show momentum and that the campaign is growing.”

SHOW ME THE MONEYSo far the campaign has raised $148,000 raised online. They are asking their 200,000 online supporters to donate $50 each. Robert Reich sent an online letter today: “George W. Bush’s economic policies have been a dismal failure, with devastating consequences for America’s families. Economic opportunity is the engine that drives American social progress. John Kerry will be a great economic leader because he understands this. He knows that a president’s job isn’t to lavish tax breaks on the wealthiest Americans, but rather to create opportunity.”

Tuesday, Sept. 23

WESLEY WHO?

According to Robert Gibbs, Kerry’s spokesman, “national polls have very recently shown John Kerry leading this race. We are in a strong position where it really counts — in Iowa and New Hampshire with established field organizations.” There was no mention of Wesley Clark’s name. The campaign sent out an e-mail with its spin of the Newsweek poll, saying that the poll shows John Kerry is closing in on George Bush. According to the campaign, Bush leads Kerry in the race by five points; less than two months ago, the gap was eight points. The campaign pointed out that was in contrast to Howard Dean who trails Bush badly. “There’s absolutely no question as to which candidate is the stronger general election candidate.” Again, there was no mention of Wesley Clark’s name in the review of the polls. The campaign pointed out Howard Dean’s numbers only.

DEAN IN BOSTON

Gibbs said that “Boston is a diverse and inclusive city occasionally welcoming Yankee fans like Howard Dean.”

FIREFIGHTERS SET TO ENDORSE KERRYSources in the International Association of Fire Fighters say they are expected to endorse John Kerry for president when their executive board meets Wednesday. This will be Kerry’s first AFL-CIO union endorsement and the 260,000 members of this union will serve as “foot soldiers” for Kerry in every congressional district nationwide. According to a source in the union, the members identified with Kerry’s military background as many members have served in the U.S. military. They also identify with his strong position on homeland security.

HABLA ESPANOL

Kerry unveiled a new Spanish language Web site — “the first official presidential campaign website to offer blog postings in Spanish.”

SHOW ME THE MONEY

Kerry is in Florida today for some fund-raising (after a N.H. event). I spoke to Alex Heckler, a lawyer who is hosting a Kerry luncheon event in Fort Lauderdale. Heckler said “there is resistance” in Florida to Kerry’s fund-raising as it’s the home state of Bob Graham. But he says that Kerry’s campaign is focusing on raising money “coming from young professionals between the ages of 25 and 45.” There will be an event at a South Beach night club to woo these voters and their checkbooks, according to Heckler. He said that in the third quarter he’s “got a ton of commitments once Bob Graham jumps out of the race.” Could this be why Jim Jordan pushed the idea of Graham running as V.P. in the New York Times on Sunday?

CAN YOU SPARE A FIFTY? Kerry’s treasurer sent out an online letter posing “a challenge for you” — to reach the goal of $1 million in online contributions by midnight Sept. 30. If the campaign’s 200,000 online supporters give $ 50 each — that’s over $10 million.

ON THE TRAILWednesday: D.C. events TBA.

Monday, Sept. 22

TARGETING DEAN ON TAXESThe Kerry campaign sent out a tongue-in-cheek e-mail over the weekend with the title of “The Dean Economic Plan: Seven Easy-to-Follow Steps.” Here’s the e-mail, sans the “supporting” press clips. “Step 1: Give a speech about providing middle-class tax relief. Step 2: Scrap Step 1, say there is no middle-class tax relief. Step 3: Call for repeal of all tax cuts. Step 4: Scrap Step 3 and repeal some of the tax cuts. Step 5: Scrap Step 4, go back to Step 3 and repeal all cuts. Step 6: Go back to Step 1, call for middle-class tax relief. Step 7: Despite Step 1 (which was scrapped for Step 2), and Step 6, say tax cuts to individuals don’t work.

SHOW ME THE MONEY ... ONLINEThe Kerry campaign has launched an Internet fund-raising blitz. The campaign sent out an e-mail saying, “Online volunteer network will help drive effort.” The message is “Hammer Bush” and it’s “an aggressive online fund-raising effort that will run from Sept. 17 through Sept. 30 and be promoted from the campaign’s Web site. Sen. Dianne Feinstein wrote an online letter fundraising for Kerry.

ON THE TRAILMonday: Speaking to the Detroit Economic Club.

Saturday, Sept. 20

WHAT DID WESLEY SAY?Reports that Wesley Clark said he would have voted to authorize the war in Iraq surprised the Kerry campaign. Jim Jordan was quoted in the Boston Globe as saying: “Either Gen. Clark’s previous position on the war has been badly misrepresented by the press, or this is a serious reinvention of his own position. He’s been, since the commencement of the war, and even before, an absolutely brutal critic of the administration, so we’re stunned to learn that his position is actually the same as Senator Kerry’s.” Also, said Jordan, “Wesley Clark is shaking up the race — he’s grabbing the buzz from Howard Dean and this is a positive development.”

JUMPING SHIP

Kym Spell, the New Hampshire press secretary for Kerry has quit the campaign and is joining the Clark press office in Arkansas.

FIREFIGHTERS SET TO ENDORSEAccording to the N.Y. Times, the International Association of Fire Fighters will endorse Kerry next week. It will be the first union to endorse a candidate for president other than Gephardt. Leaders of the union will vote for Kerry because (according to the Times) he is “the most electable Democrat.” I called the AFL-CIO and the firefighters assocation on Friday but they were both closed due to Isabel. The union has 260,000 members and is the largest for firefighters.

I SALUTE YOULt. General Claudia Kennedy endorsed Kerry at a Women for Kerry breakfast on Friday morning. She will advise the Kerry campaign on foreign policy and national security issues and will serve on the Women for Kerry steering committee. She said, “He is a courageous American who has served his country proudly and will be a president who stands up for American prosperity and American security every day he’s in office.” And, “John Kerry has not only been a friend to the women’s movement, but has been a leader in standing up for women’s rights since the day he stepped onto the floor of the U.S. Senate.”

SPOUSE ESPOUSAL“I’m the kind of woman who judges a man by the woman he’s with.” Huge applause throughout the room when movie star Kathleen Turner said that about John Kerry and Teresa Heinz Kerry at a Women for Kerry breakfast on Friday. Teresa Heinz Kerry spoke at the event. Kerry focused a great deal of his speech on national security and the applause meter went off the roof when he talked about the need to be “energy independent,” to “take care of children rather than give those making more than $300,000 a tax cut,” and the need to stop developing “more usable nuclear weapons.” But more women were standing around waiting to talk to Teresa Heinz Kerry than the senator.

SHOW ME THE MONEY

Kerry asked people who were attending the breakfast to go online and get involved in www.johnkerry.com. I asked Jim Jordan about it after the event and he said that Dean does it all the time and Kerry was going to do it. He said traffic on the Web site was up and that “fundraising is up — better than last quarter.”

KERRY FUN FACTS1) Teresa Heinz Kerry was born in Mozambique. 2) She marched in the civil rights movement in South Africa in the 1960s. 3) John Kerry met Teresa at an environmental event.

ON THE TRAILSunday is a day off from public events.

Friday, Sept. 19

A KENNEDY ENDORSEMENTBobby Kennedy Jr. endorsed John Kerry on Thursday. He spoke briefly at Pace University in Lower Manhattan, saying “there’s no senator with a better environmental record that John Kerry.”

PROBE DEMANDED

Kerry called for an immediate investigation in both Congress and the Dept. of Justice on whether the White House deliberately altered EPA findings concerning the quality of the air in New York City following the Sept. 11th attacks.

JOHN KERRY UNPLUGGED IIKerry held a fund-raiser at the Intrepid Air and Space Museum in New York City on Thursday night. He played one song with Moby. There were well over 500 (could have been up to 1,000) people at the event — mostly young, white New Yorkers and mostly undecided voters. Here are some of the comments from the crowd: “I’m undecided — came here to see Moby” ... “I came to hear John Kerry — I’m deciding between him, Clark and Dean” ... “I’m going to vote for John Kerry — beating Bush is the most important thing and he’s the one to do that” ...

“He’s not the most dynamic but he has a sense of integrity and I appreciate his experience.”

SHOW ME THE MONEYRobert Gibbs says Kerry’s third-quarter numbers will be “somewhere behind Dean’s $15 to $20 million.”

TODAY ON THE TRAILSeveral events in New Hampshire.

Thursday, Sept. 18

COMPETITION FOR THE VET VOTE?

John Kerry is no longer the only war veteran from Vietnam with a Purple Heart or Silver Star among the Democratic candidates. Will that hurt him? His campaign is saying he has the broadest strengths of any candidate. And Wesley Clark is saying that he would repeal the Bush tax cuts that benefit the wealthiest Americans-not ones that benefit the middle class, which sounds like John Kerry. Will Wesley Clark cramp the senator’s style? The Clark effect, as his campaign put it yesterday, “remains to be seen.” It could be a benefit if Clark undermines Howard Dean’s moment in the media spotlight or if Clark draws enough of Dean’s anti-war voters to his camp to leave the former Vermont governor out in the cold.

THE EXPERIENCE FACTORKerry campaign workers are responding that they have the candidate with the broadest experience in terms of foreign and domestic policy. Robert Gibbs said after the Clark announcement, “Don’t you think that having more people with bonafide national security credentials highlights further that the presidency is no place for on the job training.” Clearly he’s referencing Howard Dean.

SHOW ME THE MONEYKerry is on the money trail. The campaign sent out an e-mail with the subject line: “It’s Time To Bring Out The Hammer” (it was from “Hammer Bush”). Kerry wants to raise 1 million dollars by asking 20,000 supporters to send $50 each and “he’ll reward you by creating jobs, cutting taxes of the middle class and working Americans.” This is something new from the Web site, citing a specific goal of fundraising.

KERRY FUN FACTS

Pegged to fund-raisers with Moby, the electronic music sensation. 1) Kerry played in a band in high school called The Electras. 2) He started out playing bass guitar but learned classical guitar a few years ago. 3) Kerry met Moby the first time a week ago at another fundraiser. 4) Moby asked to help the Kerry campaign, saying the senator was the most “electable”

TODAY ON THE TRAIL In New York at private meetings in the morning an appearance at Pace University in the afternoon and a reception at the Intrepid Sea Air Space Museum with Moby in the evening.

Wednesday, Sept. 17

WHAT ABOUT WESLEY?

According to Press Secretary David Wade, “it remains to be seen what kind of impact it has.” Wade said that “you could make the argument it has an impact on several candidates — John Edwards will get hurt because it’s so close to his announcement” (and because Clark is also a Southerner). Well, you could also make the argument that it will affect Kerry, because Clark has some serious military credentials-the only Democrat other than Kerry who can boast actual war zone experience and not only as a general but as the NATO Supreme Commander. But the official word from Kerry’s campaign is this: “John Kerry has the widest and broadest record of strength of all the candidates and we feel very confident of the direction we’re moving in.”

FEINSTEIN ENDORSEMENTKerry received an endorsement from California Sen. Dianne Feinstein on Tuesday. It’s powerful backing from a well-known voice in California. The Kerry campaign is “extremely grateful for the show of strength it provides in California and nationally.” According to the campaign, the endorsement shows “the momentum of campaign.” In her press release, Feinstein stated: “John Kerry will roll back the Bush tax breaks for the wealthiest Americans so we can invest in education, health care, and the skills of our workers. And he wants to give the middle class a tax cut, not a tax increase.”

TODAY ON THE TRAILThe senator joins California Gov. Gray Davis at a Los Angeles event.

Tuesday, Sept. 16

LEHANE IS LE GONECommunications director Chris Lehane, a veteran of Clinton and Gore political teams, has left the Kerry campaign, but the terminology on what happened differs a bit. “I resigned,” the San Francisco-based PR man told Reuters, without explaining why. But Kerry press secretaries Robert Gibbs and David Wade say that’s not quite right because Lehane was never on the payroll as a paid staffer and will continue to work as an “informal adviser.” One campaign source, however, tells us that Lehane left over “differences in opinion” about the direction of the campaign, in which Kerry has lost front-runner status to Howard Dean. Regardless, Lehane told reporters that, “Senator Kerry is a great American who has assembled a superb team to take on George W. Bush and I wish him and the campaign the best of luck as they go forward.” Meanwhile, Lehane partner Mark Fabiani is advising retired Gen. Wesley Clark, said to be poised for a White House run of his own.

AN ENDORSEMENTKerry received an endorsement on Monday from David Wilhelm (former Clinton Campaign Manager and DNC Chair) in Chicago. The endorsement came at a meeting for small business owners. “I am honored to receive David Wilhelm’s endorsement and to have him join this campaign. David is not only a political leader, but a prominent business leader, and he knows what it takes to fuel growth and support hardworking middle-class Americans,” Kerry said.

TODAY ON THE TRAILNo public events. A San Francisco fund-raiser will be closed to press. On Wednesday, Kerry joins California Gov. Gray Davis at a Los Angeles event.

Monday, Sept. 15

MAKE MINE RAREI have no idea how Sen. Kerry eats his steak but I can tell you the speech he gave at the Harkin Steak Fry on Saturday was one of the meatiest I’ve seen him deliver. He was energized, enthusiastic and stayed on his message about the economy and Iraq. Here’s a snapshot: “Countless numbers of people in America out of work — 37,000 of them here in Iowa. Dreams blown. Futures deferred. When you add it up, and we will over the course of the next months, it is clear to everyone in this field, and it will be across the country, that the one person in the United States that deserves to be laid off is George W. Bush.”

WELCOME BACK, BILLIowa Democrats at the steak fry sure miss Bill Clinton. People held signs that said “Welcome Back, Bill” and “We Miss You” when Clinton came to the podium. He was hands down the main draw. He greeted adoring fans for about an hour after his speech and for a moment I thought I was at a rock concert watching Mick Jagger connect with his fans. Numerous people said they came to the event just to hear Bill Clinton.

PRETTY UNDECIDEDIt’s not Zogby, but I took a sampling of the crowd, weaving in and out of tents and the lawn asking people whom they were voting for. The overwhelming majority of those with whom I spoke (I asked people not associated with a campaign) said they were not yet decided. Most people with whom I spoke said they were leaning toward Dean and Kerry but I heard a bit of support for “the ideas of Dennis Kucinich” and “that young southern senator John Edwards.”

POLL SPINI talked with Kerry’s Iowa campaign manager, John Norris, who said they are focused on getting “one vote at a time” in Iowa and that “the polls become important as you get much closer to the caucus.” He said Senator Kerry is “holding steady” in Iowa. “No where is the effort more grass roots than in Iowa because voters are very informed and engaged in a policy level.”

THE ANTI-DEAN MESSAGEThe Kerry campaign has been sending out e-mail highlighting Howard Dean’s policy flip-flops. I’ve only received these messages about Howard Dean and not about any other candidate from the Kerry campaign.

TODAY ON THE TRAIL The candidate is in Iowa and Illinois on Monday, heading off to San Francisco on Tuesday for a private fund-raiser.

Thursday, September 11

NEW ZOGBY POLL - ANOTHER BLOW? …NOT ACCORDING TO KERRY CAMPAIGNDavid Wade, Kerry’s traveling press secretary, said in response to the new Zogby Poll in Iowa: “We’re in a terrific position right in the thick of things competing against a candidate who has won the Iowa caucuses before (Gephardt) and a candidate who went up on the air in Iowa strikingly early. (Dean).” Zogby has Dean at 23 percent versus Rep. Gephardt’s 17 percent and Kerry’s 11 percent.

SEIU DRAMA - DAY TWO

OFFICIALLY FROM SEIU: “John Edwards had a significant impact among the 1,500 members at the conference” and at that conference ONLY — and among those members ONLY did Edwards replace Kerry as a member of the top three (along with Dean and Gephardt). But overall Kerry remains in the top 3 among SEIU members nationwide.

A NOTE ON MATCHING FUNDS…

The Kerry campaign has been saying all along they will decide sometime in the fall whether to accept federal funding.

Wednesday, September 10

JOHN KERRY UNPLUGGED

Moby opened for John Kerry tonight. The techno rocker hosted a fundraiser for the Kerry campaign. There were a few hundred people who paid $75 (online tickets) or $100 (at the door) or $35 for students. The campaign raised a few thousand dollars from the evening (Moby did it free).

Kerry played one song, Bruce Springsteen’s “10th Avenue Freeze Out,” and Moby played four cover songs. It sounded pretty much like a bad bar-mitzvah party.

Kerry played in a local high school band (played bass then and played bass tonight) called the Electras. He picked up classical guitar a few years ago.

MOBY THE TECHNO DEMOCRAT…

Moby said he “did his due diligence” in deciding which candidate to support. He identifies with Senator Kerry’s stance on the issues. “Of all the candidates running, Kerry appealed to me most because he is the most viable candidate on a national level.”

Moby had his management company call the Kerry campaign and he worked with Chris Heinz to figure out a good event in which to participate. (He will participate in another fundraiser on Sept. 18 at the USS Intrepid in NYC).

SEIU - THE KERRY SCOOP ON THIS ENDORSEMENT:David Wade, John Kerry’s traveling press secretary, says a report that Kerry was dropped out of the top three and replaced with Edwards (for the SEIU endorsement) was wrong. He said SEIU President Andy Stern’s conference call “clarified” and that the political newsletter Hotline “had it wrong.” “Kerry, Dean and Gephardt are in the final three for the endorsement — Edwards just had one of the top three performances at the meeting. SEIU will clarify.”

Tuesday, September 9

THE PRESIDENTIAL DEBATE

(or was it the MTV video awards?)

Hecklers had the real voice at this debate.

Kerry told me at the party afterward that the debate “was weird.” I could hear him saying to people that he didn’t have time to get to the issues of the debate. His campaign press secretary said he had never seen a debate like this one.

Kerry called the war in Iraq an “act of negligence of fundamental proportions.” He emphasized his message that the government needs to de-Americanize this war: cede some authority — humanitarian — while the U.S. controls security. And there should be no more American troops to do that.

Glad the president found an economic development program — just too bad it’s in Baghdad. He said the U.S. can’t spend $87 billion without repealing tax cuts that go to the wealthiest.

He called the Bush administration the “say one thing, do another administration…”

WHAT CBC MEMBERS REALLY THINK…

According to Doug Thornell, communications director for the CBC, caucus members want to see “who among these candidates will be able to take on George Bush. Dean is running an emotional campaign and he is not afraid of the Bush machine … people want to see if Kerry has the guts to take on Bush.”

“Members know John Kerry as a senator but they want to see what he is as a Democratic candidate... John Kerry is strong on national security and foreign policy and he is also strong for fighting against the right wing judicial appointees.”

WHAT JAMES (CARVILLE) SAYS:

About John Kerry: “I like him. He’s gutsy.” But “it’s awfully early.”

On whether John Kerry is running a winning campaign: “He knows he has to do better.”

On what specifically he should be doing: “If I thought he ought to be doing something very different — I’m close enough to him that I would tell him.”

AND WHAT GEORGE (CLOONEY) SAYS

On what candidate he likes: “It’s too early. I want to find out.”

On what he likes about the nomination process: “It’s a nice time in America when everyone is sitting around talking about politics.”

DEAN, DEAN, DEAN, DEAN

Fox News caught Senator Kerry on tape walking away from a media availability during which questions were asked about his views on Howard Dean — he was heard muttering “Dean, Dean, Dean, Dean, Dean.” Fox ran this in their newscast.

HARKIN OVERTIME PAY ACT

Senator Kerry was scheduled to travel to New Hampshire on Wednesday but cancelled his event there in order to cast his vote on the Senate floor.

ADS… ROUND TWOA new focused ad launched in New Hampshire, Iowa and Boston on Tuesday — it’s the second round of ads from Kerry’s campaign in this market. It’s a 60-second spot that highlights Kerry’s personal story and his experience as a Vietnam veteran. The ad tries to connect Kerry’s fight and his courage in Vietnam with the political fights he will wage as president — on health care, tax cuts and education credits.

“With these ads, John Kerry is introducing himself to voters, relating the battles he’s fought, the values he stands for, the vision for America he will pursue as president,” Kerry campaign manager Jim Jordan said.

Monday, September 8

IT’S UNION TIME!With 1.6 million members, this is the endorsement that counts the most as the Service Employees International Union is the biggest union within the AFL-CIO. Each candidate addresses the group and then meets with smaller groups of individuals. The leadership meets on Wednesday to discuss whether they are ready for an endorsement. (There were 1,500 members at the conference)

According to SEIU spokesman T. J. Michaels: This conference is a “critical step in determining where members are at in terms of endorsements. Gephardt, Dean and Kerry have comprehensive health plans.” So they are the lead contenders for an edorsement.

APPLAUSE METERThis was an anti-Bush crowd... Kerry continued to criticize the president on everything from health care to the economy to Iraq and foreign policy. Kerry stressed his health care plan, Head Start and workers rights.

Kerry: “I’ll tell you what. The people I meet across America don’t just find themselves angry about trickle-down economics. They feel they are being trickled on by George W. Bush.”

WORD ON THE STREET

People are undecided and the consensus from people with whom I spoke was that no candidate would get the AFL-CIO endorsement for 2004. Lisa McKinnon (Connecticut state employee): Dean is her favorite because “he believes in being a real Democrat — not in the middle of the road.” She doesn’t “dislike Kerry but just likes Dean more.” David McClusky: “I don’t think anyone will get the 2/3 of the AFL-CIO for the endorsement.” Dan Newmyer: “I like John Kerry — I want someone who can actually win this.”

Andrew Stern, president of SEIU, said “In a perfect world we will endorse on Wednesday — but it’s not a perfect world.” He added that, “John Kerry has a strong union presence. He’s visited a bunch of unions. Dean has momentum too.”

Sunday, September 7

KERRY ON PRESIDENT’S SPEECH

“Giving a speech on national television does not reassure Americans about what’s happening in Iraq — to be straight with the American people about Iraq takes more than a speech, it takes real answers to tough questions. President Bush needs to lay out the full answers owed to the American people — he should have done so before he ever went to war, he needs to do it now.”

THE NEW ZOGBY AND CNN/TIME POLL - GOOD NEWS SPIN…

Kerry’s team says publicly the polls are good news for them — “just days ago it was reported that Dean held a 21 point lead on John Kerry, so if you believe those numbers at all, John Kerry’s announcement tour helped cut the lead in half. Who has the momentum now?”

They are pleased about the CNN/Time poll — it “showed Kerry now leads Lieberman, Dean, and Gephardt, despite never having run for national office before — and that Kerry remains the strongest opponent for George W. Bush. Good news for all.”

AH THOSE ENDORSEMENTS…

Senator Kerry would love to get an endorsement from the two labor groups he’ll be visiting on Monday for their candidate forums. They are “very important big labor groups and we want support from as many working Americans as we can get.” (Robert Gibbs, press secretary). Plus it would be bad news for fellow Democratic contender Dick Gephardt if he didn’t get the SEIU endorsement...

ANOTHER OFFICE IN N.H.Kerry opened another office in New Hampshire on Saturday — this one is in Salem.

AND FROM FRIDAY — A GOOD NEW MEXICO ENDORSEMENT

Kerry received an endorsement on Friday from Lt. Governor Diane Denish. She’s the second-highest elected Democrat in the state and according to Brian Monaghan, the executive director of New Mexico’s Democratic Party, “it’s fairly significant because the lieutenant governor is very well known in the state and so is her father.” He wasn’t sure which candidate would win New Mexico: “It’s difficult to gauge these things.” He went on to say that, “Democratic candidates really haven’t been here yet and to build support they need to get out and meet the voters and talk to them.”

Robert Gibbs, Kerry’s press secretary says: “New Mexico is an early primary state that is a very important bloc for Hispanic voters.”

PREVIEW - A KERRY/MOBY WINNING TEAM??

Moby is apparently a big Senator Kerry supporter. Moby will be hosting a fundraiser for the senator in Boston on Wednesday night. Kerry is planning on playing some guitar with the rocker that evening. Will this be the Bill Clinton saxophone moment on SNL for Senator Kerry in New Hampshire?

Thursday, September 4

HOW WAS THE DEBATE, SENATOR KERRY?

“I felt terrific. I had a lot of fun. I didn’t have a lot of time to talk about some of the things I wanted to but that’s the way it is.”

THE WORD ON THE KERRY STREET:Jim Jordan, Senator Kerry’s campaign manager, said the candidate was “loose, sharp and he had fun.”

Robert Gibbs, the campaign press secretary, said that Senator Kerry “seemed comfortable and looked presidential — and he alone looked presidential.”

WHO’S HOWARD DEAN?

I asked the campaign why senator Kerry did not mention or attack Howard Dean tonight and Gibbs responded: “Joe Lieberman seemed like he was doing it for everyone.”

WHAT ABOUT GOING FORWARD? WILL SEE ANY ATTACKS?

Gibbs said that the “campaign will draw distinctions — whether it’s tax cuts or foreign policy experience.” But he did not signal that Kerry would be attacking Dean anytime soon.

WHAT SOME UNDECIDED DEMOCRATS THOUGHT OF KERRY

(PLEASE NOTE: ALL WERE AT HIS POST DEBATE PARTY)

Tamara Courtura

“Before tonight I was torn between Kerry and Dean. They are two popular candidates. And I wasn’t sure which way I would go so I decided to come here… but watching how he interacted with the audience and how eloquently he talked to people. I think that a president doesn’t just have to have good ideas — they all have great ideas — but there’s a lot about presentation that’s important, because presidents have to speak to leaders of other countries and Kerry would do a great job.

Nera Guin

“I came here interested in finding out the differences in the candidates… So I’m undecided. After the debate — I think we’re looking at a really solid race between Kerry and Gephardt. I’m encouraged because we need someone with fire in the belly and a real desire to win. And leaving I saw some real solidness to Kerry and that’s where I’m leaning now.”

Phillip Baca

“I was impressed by them. I’m leaning towards Kerry — I wanted to hear what he had to say and his mindset. I wanted to see what issues they focused on and what they emphasized.”

ADS

John Kerry released an ad in the New Hampshire market tonight. It was like his last one - shot during activities that day and then edited that evening. It emphasized the economy and the need to replace George W. Bush.

Wednesday, September 3

ALL ABOARD THE BUSHWHACKER 1

“Welcome aboard the newly renamed Bushwhacker 1.”

The flight attendants announced there would be no more “Kerry Express” — too boring I guess.

FIRST - THE ADS:Two ads aired tonight in Iowa — both were edited with footage shot entirely from last night’s rally in Iowa. The commercials were edited overnight by Jim Margolis’ staff. He was there at the filming, very involved in directing. The first ad emphasized courage: “I believe the courage of Americans can change this country.” The second ad emphasized the economy — the loss of jobs in “America’s heartland.” The ads were catchy — very real, very of the moment. “It gives people a sense of being part of the announcement.” (Kerry press secretary Chris Lehane)

Two more ads will be out tomorrow night — those airing in New Hampshire and Boston. They will be edited with footage shot tonight and today from events in New Hamsphire and Boston. The South Carolina field director said ads would be released there soon as well.

THE AD SPIN

Bob Shrum told me the ads weren’t released in response to Howard Dean. “For weeks we’ve been planning on releasing ads after his announcement,” he said.

Adds spokesman Lehane: “Ask another campaign” how much money they spent on the ads.

LET THEM EAT CAKE

It was Alex’s 30th birthday — that’s the senator’s oldest daughter. She handed out birthday cake and talked uncomfortably about the campaign trail. “It’s the only family time I get,” she said. What does she want for her birthday? She wants to raise money for her first film. It’s about a father who returns from war and how his experience affects his relationship with his daughter. It could be a revealing movie…

HERE’S A RECIPE

The home-baked brownies went over so well that Teresa Heinz Kerry handed out her recipe to the press today. It was titled “Mama T’s brownies” and had some handwritten notes added to the impersonal type that made up the majority of the recipe. It was signed “Enjoy! Teresa.”

BUT SERIOUSLYTeresa did talk with reporters — we were encouraged to ask her about brownies which I would imagine she finds as boring an interview topic as I do. I asked her what she liked about the process of her husband running for president — “I particularly love the process in Iowa because it’s a very real and democratic and honest process. In Iowa I don’t think it is because people dislike you if they don’t support you. They just want to know about you and choose a candidate. It’s very refreshing.” She also said that the John Kerry in front of the crowds was the same John Kerry she is married to — “If it wasn’t, I wouldn’t be married to him. That’s him.”

WHERE’S THE SPONTANEITY?The Kerry campaign organized a small event at Maryanne’s Diner in Derry, New Hampshire, where Senator Kerry talked with five people (all unemployed) about jobs and the economy. These “locals” (handpicked by friends of the campaign) sat at a table with Senator Kerry in the diner and they chatted together for about an hour about their situation and what Senator Kerry’s policies would do for them. There were more media than patrons in the room — it was very well done for effective press coverage — but not a real event at all. This “discussion” will likely feature in the second ad being released on Thursday in New Hampshire.

WHAT THE ‘REAL PEOPLE’ HAD TO SAYI talked to some of the real diners who were eating in the restaurant: A lot of people said that the race has just started and they needed to hear more from each candidate. Here are the colorful highlights:

Christina Andreoli-Hamman: “He (Kerry) is more of a common person than Al Gore” (Gore ate at Maryanne’s last election — the owner is apparently a connected Democrat). “I like him — he reminds me of a Kennedy.”

Walter Smith: “The race has just started so I haven’t heard what everyone has to say… judging by what I’ve seen from the other guys, there’s not a whole heck of a lot coming out of them.”

Garry Woscyna: “He had some good ideas but he didn’t talk about how he’s going to pay for them.”

BACK ON THE BUS - IT’S BOSTONThere was a rally in New Hampshire that was smaller than expected — I was told hundreds but it looked like 100-200. The buses were loaded half full.

FORGET ‘NO SURRENDER’ - WE’RE COURTING THE IRISH I was told before Boston that Bruce Springsteen’s “No Surrender” was the Kerry song. Senator Kerry is a huge Bruce fan — he has an autograph of him in his office and he’s trying to get to a Bruce concert next week. The song “No Surrender” is about soldiers from Vietnam taking care of each other like brothers. But instead of “No Surrender,” “Where the Streets Have No Name” by U2 came on. “Clinton-Gore used it in their election. It’s got a great beat and it’s Boston music,” according to Chris Lehane. “Oh and U2 is committed to ending world poverty.” (said with tongue in cheek) He affirmed that they will be back to using the Boss — “our approach is consistent with ‘No Surrender.’”

HE SHINES — FINALLYJohn Kerry came alive in Boston. He was real. He was emotional. He was charismatic and people related to him. He gave a rousing speech to an enthusiastic crowd that couldn’t wait to scream his name — he was like a rock star on stage and it seemed like he was loving it. The ONLY time I have seen him spontaneous in a crowd was tonight. He veered off his speech several times — the biggest variation was this joke:

5,000 years ago Moses said:

Hitch your camel, pick up your shovel, and mount your ass — I’ll lead you to the promised land.

5,000 years later Franklin Roosevelt said:

Light up a camel, throw down your shovel and sit on your ass — This IS the promised land.

Today George W. Bush lays off your camel, taxes your shovel and kicks your ass and says — There is no promised land.

The Applause meter went off the roof.

Tuesday, September 2

KERRY’S ‘COURAGE’ TOUR

The “American Courage” tour is off and running and with it a new buzz word from the Kerry campaign. According to Chris Lehane, Kerry’s communications director, “It’s all about courage. Courage to do the right thing and courage to make the right choices.” The message is simple, it’s clear and it’s emotional — three things that John Kerry is not, at least in terms of perception.

OVERALL WHAT STRUCK ME

Other than the good food on the press plane, the thing that really struck me was how different Senator Kerry seemed in person versus on stage. He comes alive when he speaks one-on-one with supporters and the press, but when you stick a microphone in front of him in a tightly controlled environment, he stiffens right up. His performance in Iowa in front of the party faithful was vastly different from his performance in South Carolina which felt stilted and awkward at times. In Iowa, he was much more at ease. At his announcement rally in Iowa he walked out to Bruce Springsteen’s “No Surrender” and the crowd was energized immediately.

THE SOUTH CAROLINA MOMENT — ‘ANCHORS AWEIGH’

Kerry walked out to the Navy song “Anchors Aweigh.” It was a show of some serious military muscle but it felt flat. I recently saw Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Gen. Richard Myers speak to troops on the USS Constellation and as soon as he walked into the hangar deck where the sailors were waiting the crowd erupted into spontaneous cheers. You could feel the energy. People were clapping before he finished sentences.

The Kerry event was strikingly different. It could have been the near-100-degree heat and just as much humidity that dampened the crowd but the event was extremely contained. When people in the front stood for what felt like an obligatory ovation, the people in the back remained seated, fanning themselves in the heat.

The Senator spoke in front of the USS Yorktown, a decommissioned WWII aircraft carrier that also served in Vietnam. The podium was reserved for those with military experience (except for Kerry’s wife, Teresa Heinz), and Senator Kerry talked at length about his military experience. Members of Senator Kerry’s Swift Boat (patrol boat) from Vietnam sat with him and an entire section of Vietnam Vets for Kerry sat in the audience. There was also a group of Junior R.O.T.C. high school students from Kingstree, South Carolina.

HIS SPEECHHis first line set a new tone “This is no ordinary campaign because this is not an ordinary time.” But shortly into his speech he lost inflection in his voice and the speech became simply boring.

THE APPLAUSE METER: THIS CROWD IS ANTI-BUSH

The applause meter went off the roof every time Senator Kerry criticized George Bush. Those were the only moments of the speech that I felt the energy of the crowd. There were quite a few natural standing ovations. Here are the quotes that set off the applause meter:

“I reject George Bush’s radical new vision that rewards the rich at the expense of ordinary Americans.”

“Every day in this campaign I will challenge George Bush for taking the country in a wrong direction.”

“Being flown to an aircraft carrier and saying ‘Mission accomplished’ doesn’t end a war.” (Huge huge huge applause)

“It’s time to return to the UN — not with the arrogance of a Rumsfeld or a Wolfowitz.”

“I will roll back the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy so I will invest in education and improving workers skills.”

TERESA’S APPLAUSE METERSenator Kerry’s wife had a different applause meter than the crowd — she clapped loudly and forcefully when he talked about his plans for the environment and his commitment to leave no child behind.

CROWD REACTION

I asked the Junior ROTC group what they thought of the speech. They quickly said they liked it but then couldn’t really remember any specific points they liked. I asked “What will you tell your mom about this event?” The answer: “I hope I just met the next president of the United States. Now that would be cool.”

BUT AGAIN - WHO IS JOHN KERRY?

I ran into some South Carolina tourists near the event and talked to them about the Democratic race. They were Hispanic and Democrats. One had never heard of John Kerry (saying, “I don’t watch too much TV). Another said “I haven’t heard of him (Kerry) but I have heard of Edwards). And the third said, “I don’t know if I like John Kerry but I like his wife. She’s really outspoken and pro women’s rights.”

THERE WAS A LOT OF GEORGE, JUST A DASH OF JOHN, BUT NO HOWARD

Other than criticizing President Bush, Kerry criticized John Ashcroft (which got major applause in Iowa)

“A just American demands a Supreme Court that honors our Constitution — and an attorney general whose name isn’t John Ashcroft.”

Referencing Howard Dean but not mentioning his name:

“Our party will never be the choice of the NRA and I’m not looking to be their candidate.”

“Some in my own party want to get rid of all tax cuts — including those for working families. That would mean that a family of four with two parents working hard on the job and at home would have to pay $2,000 more a year in taxes. That’s wrong.”

THE VIEW OF KERRY’S FIELD DIRECTOR

John Kerry came down to South Carolina to announce so that he could show the country he can campaign and win nationally. He can cross into the South. The South Carolina field director said Kerry has “a broad range of supporters and endorsements. He has a great organization down here and South Carolina isn’t a state you can just walk into without an organization” (referencing Howard Dean’s lack of commitment in S.C.). But he said “a lot of folks just don’t know John Kerry or the other candidates.” So they are getting the word out through “church leaders and community events.”

THE REPUBLICANS DOWN HERE SAY

“John Kerry is failing in the South. He runs a liberal Northeastern campaign in South Carolina. It should be amusing.” (from Luke Byers, Communications Director, South Carolina Republican Party)

And back on the plane:

FRISKING A FUTURE PRESIDENT?In case you’re worried about your candidate being the next shoe bomber, Kerry and his wife Teresa were searched and frisked (well, with that metal detector) the same way the press was before they boarded the flight.

MORE HOME-BAKED BROWNIES:

Teresa handed out another batch of her home-baked brownies — this time from the night before. She gave away her special recipe — Irish cream and coffee mixed in her brownies. BUT no Irish cream on this round — she didn’t want to get the press plane drunk.

IOWA ANNOUNCEMENT - ‘NO SURRENDER’It was “The Boss” — Bruce Springsteen — that the crowd heard as John Kerry took the stage with his wife Teresa. Now this was a rally. It was exciting and the people were energized. It felt like Kerry was on his home turf. People were chanting “Kerry, Kerry, Kerry,” waving their Kerry for President signs and standing on their feet continuously throughout his speech — the exact same speech he gave in South Carolina — but delivered so differently. In Iowa he was at ease and seemed genuinely excited.

ON KERRY IN IOWA

All according Mark Daley, communications director for the Iowa Dem party:

On how the race in Iowa is going:

“The general sense here is that the race is 100 percent wide open right now. There is absolutely no clear front runner. Iowa is one of the states that you really can’t poll because of the way the caucus works, the way the voters are registered. It’s mobilizing and targeting voters. As far as the polls are concerned, I don’t give any too much credit. Certainly Gephardt, Dean and Kerry are known and recognized. I really think that this will be determined by 3 or 4 percent and it will come down to voter turnout in January.”

“I think that Kerry has generally had a good response here. He’s done an awful lot here — his staff is enormous — a large staff presence and his ads will hit here tomorrow or the next day. He’s got about 50 people on the payroll.”

WILL A SHARPER MESSAGE LEAD TO HIGHER POLL NUMBERS?

Ads are coming out tomorrow in Iowa and Thursday in New Hampshire. The message will focus on courage — the courage to make the right choices and the courage to do the right thing.

Monday, September 1

READY TO ANNOUNCE

The “Kerry Express,” the plane carrying John Kerry and his staff, family and press on his announcement tour (dubbed American Courage) had the feel of a White House campaign swing — that was the word on the street among some veteran reporters. It was extremely well organized and orchestrated — and even included the candidate’s wife handing out “home-baked brownies” to about 30 journalists in the back of the plane. They were delicious. The Senator’s children were also there — one is shooting his campaign while enrolled in NYU film school.

MEET AND GREET AT THE AIRPORTSenator Kerry greeted about fifty supporters at the airport and gave a quick Q&A with reporters.

About the recent polls: “I’m not surprised at all — that is why I’m announcing my campaign now. The polls don’t mean anything today. America is only just beginning to listen and tomorrow I look forward to laying out my vision and my agenda and over the coming months you will see a lot of things change.”

About underestimating Howard Dean. “Of course there were going to be two or three candidates. We knew that. We’re just announcing. Tomorrow I begin my campaign in earnest. Tomorrow I will talk to the country about how we get out the message.”

On President Bush: “Tomorrow I will talk to the country about how we get out of this fiscal mess. How we stop burdening our country with debt and how we take America to a stronger and safer place. Americans want honesty and they want the truth.”

THE ANNOUNCEMENTKerry is formally announcing his campaign for the presidency in Charleston, S.C., in front of the USS Yorktown, a decommissioned WWII aircraft carrier. This should play well in a state that has a lot of retired military veterans (approximately 20,000 vets live in S.C.). According to Nu Wexler — the S.C. Democratic Party Chairman “to announce in Charleston with the USS Yorktown in the backdrop — he will be sending a message to those folks.” Senator Kerry traveled down to S.C. with several members of his swift boat from Vietnam. They will be with him tomorrow when he announces his candidacy.

BUT WHO IS JOHN KERRY?But Senator Kerry lacks name recognition in South Carolina — his last visit to the state was May 3. In response to a reporter’s question about why he is announcing in South Carolina when he hasn’t been here in a while, he said “We’ve been planning all along to be in every state. I’ve been here. We’re here now and we’re ready.” But the question remains — is he announcing in S.C. because the campaign is worried that he could lose Iowa and New Hampshire.

According to Wexler, Kerry has not visited the state as much as Edwards, Lieberman or Graham. “Senator Kerry needs to visit the state more often — to have a gap between May and September isn’t good.”

DEAN IN SOUTH CAROLINA

Wexler on Howard Dean in South Carolina:

“Dean doesn’t have much of a campaign operation in the state at all — I don’t know if they are conserving their campaign resources. They say they are on a shoestring, but now they have the resources to open an office and purchase the voter file. They have not signaled that they are serious about South Carolina.”

“If Dean places 2nd in Iowa and wins N.H. — and if he came in 2nd or 3rd in S.C. — it would send a message that he can compete in the South. South Carolina is dominated by African-Americans and moderate whites — those are the missing elements from Dean’s campaign. Of the big six they are the only ones without a permanent office here.”

KERRY’S ENDORSEMENTS:

Kerry has purchased the South Carolina Democratic voter file. Three campaigns have purchased the files — Kerry, Edwards and Gephardt. “If you look at a list of folks from local to state level,” Wexler said, “Edwards has done the best job cultivating those endorsements — Edwards has been very active in courting endorsements. But Kerry has some big endorsements as well — the Democratic leader of the House went with Kerry.”

AND THE THE SOUTH CAROLINA REPUBLICANS SAY…The South Carolina Republican Party had this to say on their Web site about Senator Kerry’s announcement there.

“Announce in South Carolina? Kerry ought to just save himself the time, trouble and effort and go ahead and concede,” laughed South Carolina Republican Party Chairman Katon Dawson. “I guess I don’t blame him for bailing on New Hampshire. I probably would, too. But he might want to pull out an atlas and familiarize himself with the country a little better. This isn’t exactly fertile territory for a guy who has a more liberal voting record than Teddy Kennedy.”

FUN FACTS TO KNOW:

The USS Yorktown is a decommissioned aircraft carrier from WWII. It is floating in Charleston Harbor now and named for the first USS Yorktown, which sank at the Battle of Midway on June 7, 1942.

ADS

The Kerry campaign says they are coming out with ads on Wednesday and Thursday in Iowa and New Hamsphire.

Friday, August 29

WEEK IN REVIEW

It was a big week for the Kerry campaign — a week in which he made some noise and some noise was made about him. Senator Kerry gave two big speeches — one on foreign policy and one economic — both against a backdrop of dropping poll numbers in New Hampshire and Iowa. His two speeches were a preview of this week’s formal announcement. In his speeches, Kerry emphasized “two pillars” that the campaign will reinforce and build upon in the coming weeks. One is his experience as a war veteran and his stature as the only Democratic candidate who has the background to handle national security issues in a post Sept. 11 world. His campaign wants to get the message out that he is the only candidate who can go “head to head with George Bush on national security decisions.”

In his economic speech on Thursday Kerry slammed President Bush for the state of the American economy, namely a growing budget deficit and joblessness. He put forward his proposals (albeit without price tags) to improve the economy. Without mentioning names, Kerry was attacking Howard Dean and Dick Gephardt and differentiating himself from them as well as from President Bush.

NEXT WEEK - THE KERRY FOR PRESIDENT ANNOUNCEMENT TOUR:Kerry is formally announcing his candidacy for president on Tuesday morning at Patriots Point in Charleston, SC. He’ll be speaking at the USS Yorktown aircraft carrier. Clearly he is trying to present himself as a warrior and as a statesman — someone who is grander and has more experience in foreign policy than the other democratic candidates running for president. He will be traveling to Iowa later on Tuesday and then onto New Hampshire and Boston on Wednesday (see schedule below).

I spent some time at the Kerry campaign HQ on Friday and talked to Robert Gibbs — the press secretary about the following topics:

IOWA POLL NUMBERS OUT ON FRIDAYRobert Gibbs: “Iowa wasn’t a place where we thought Kerry would do well. We’re running a good campaign there and John Kerry isn’t on television there yet.”

“The polls are fluid — it’s like watching a rollercoaster ride at Six Flags — they fluctuate.”

“The long-term strengths of John Kerry will show themselves in the heart of the winter.”

MY TAKE: Kerry’s campaign is trying to downplay the significance of the polls — especially in Iowa — by saying Kerry was never expected to take Iowa — it’s basically Dick Gephardt’s problem… The campaign mentions the fact that Howard Dean ads are on the air as the reason that his poll numbers are rising — so the question is when will Kerry release his ads and will his numbers rise… I asked Gibbs when Kerry will be on the air — he smiled and said “Soon.”

ON BUSH

“You don’t have to go far to figure out the country isn’t on the right track right now - look at news out of Iraq, the economic news, the deficit - there’s a lot of bad news.”

ON HIS ANNOUNCEMENT

“The announcement will introduce Senator Kerry to a larger group of voters - Labor Day is important because people start to focus more on politics.”

ON HILLARY RUNNING

“It’s like worrying about the weather - you can’t tell which way it will go and you just deal with it once its here. Our focus in on John Kerry and we are working on getting John Kerry out there.”

WEEKEND SCHEDULE:

Saturday

Kerry will ride in the Harley Davidson 100th Anniversary Parade in Milwaukee, WI (9a)

LABOR DAY WEEK SCHEDULE

Sunday

Meet the Press appearance

Monday

Charter leaves from Boston MA to Washington, DC to Charleston SC

Tuesday

formal announcement at Patriots Point - Charleston SC in front of USS Yorktown - aircraft carrier from WWII and Vietnam (Kerry pretapes today show appearance at 6:30a)

onto Iowa

Wednesday

New Hampshire Events

Boston Events

Thursday

New Mexico Debate

Friday

Saturday

Thursday, August 28

TODAY’S ECONOMIC SPEECH

John Kerry unveiled his economic plan in a speech in Durham, N.H., today. Among the highlights:

- Maintain Bush tax cuts that help middle class

- cut deficit in half in four years

- education tax cuts (essentially extending Clinton’s “hope scholarships”)

- maintain free trade policies

- improve job opportunities by offering tax breaks to manufacturing companies

MY TAKE

Kerry’s economic plan is more political than economic. It was a way for him to highlight his differences from not only President Bush but perhaps more importantly, Howard Dean. Kerry stressed how much his plan would benefit the middle class — highlighting that he would NOT repeal Bush’s tax cuts that benefit the middle class. BUT there were no price tags on his economic initiatives — not enough details on the dollars and sense…

THE CAMPAIGN’S TAKE

From David Wade, Traveling Press Secretary:

“It was a very good reaction today — strong applause on middle class fairness, corporate reform, and fiscal responsibility — it set Kerry apart both from George Bush and other Democrats by setting up a past vs. future contrast — offering better choices than trickle down or tax and spend — and making clear that middle class and working people are sold short both by the President’s tax cuts for the wealthy and by Democrats who’d dramatically increase the tax burden on those hurting the most in our economy.”

HIGHLIGHTS:

- “Some in my own party are so angry at George Bush and his unfair tax cuts that they think the solution is to do the exact opposite. They want to return to rejected old style policies that eliminate all tax breaks — including those to working people.”

- “Repealing all the tax cuts for the middle class would mean that a family of four — with two parents working hard on the job and at home — would have to pay $2,000 more a year in taxes.”

- “Bush has brought back the days of deficits, debt and doubt.”

SCHEDULE:Friday - NO PUBLIC EVENTS

Saturday - Kerry will ride in the Harley Davidson 100th Anniversary Parade in Milwaukee, WI (9 am)

LABOR DAY WEEK SCHEDULE:

Sunday

Meet the Press appearance

Monday

Charter leaves from Boston MA to Washington, D.C., to Charleston, S.C.

Tuesday

- formal announcement at Patriots Point, Charleston, S.C., in front of USS Yorktown — aircraft carrier from WWII and Vietnam (Kerry pretapes “Today” show appearance at 6:30 a.m.)

onto Iowa

Wednesday

New Hampshire Events

Boston Events

Thursday

New Mexico Debate

Wednesday, August 27

THAT ZOGBY POLL

The Kerry campaign’s reaction to the Zogby poll showing Howard Dean with an impressive lead in New Hampshire:

“It’s hardly surprising that a candidate dedicating money to airing ads in New Hampshire and Iowa sees his numbers move.”

“Kerry has considerable long term strength that will be demonstrated in the heart of this winter.”

“No one has won a presidential race in August — we’re not doing the 100 yard dash.”

KERRY’S TWIN PILLARS: ECONOMICS, FOREIGN POLICY

There were two basic themes this week — the speech at the VFW hall on Monday was “showing who he is — his commitment to service and his credentials to be commander-in-chief.” And Kerry’s speech tomorrow which will be about “getting the country back on track and getting people back to work.”

We will see these themes next week in his announcement — they are the “twin pillars” and Kerry will be building on this reinforcing these next week.”

CAMPAIGN FINANCING

Kerry’s press secretary said they “won’t raise 10 million this quarter but they have a plan in place to fund races and fund their plan.” The campaign “hasn’t decided yet” whether it will abide by the federal matching funds limit.

ON WESLEY CLARKKerry’s press secretary says “John Kerry is the only one on my radar screen.”

SCHEDULE:Kerry unveils his economic speech Thursday at 2:15 in Durham New Hampshire

Conference call for reporters tomorrow (Thursday) at noon with Former Deputy Treasury Secretary Roger Altman and Kerry advisers to discuss his economic plan

Tuesday, August 26

Kerry released three statements today, all highly critical of President Bush on three major issues — the economy, U.S. policy in Iraq, and energy policy.

To me, it feels like Kerry is “prepping the battlefield” — to use a war expression — by sprinkling his ideas to the press prior to his formal announcement next week. Kerry is highlighting the differences between himself and the fellow Democrats running for president by continuing to emphasize his service in Vietnam. He is portraying himself as the only Democratic candidate with the war experience and the stature to handle national security issues in the post Sept. 11 world. As he stated on Monday “I bring the perspective of someone who’s fought on the front lines.” It’s interesting that he’s not publicly reacting to any specific campaigns at this point. He is also obviously emphasizing the differences between himself and President Bush by criticizing Bush’s economic and foreign policies.

The Kerry campaign said the three statements were “simply the perfect storm of bad news for Bush — hiding the campaign contributors that wrote their energy policy, record deficits and a continuation of poor post-war Iraq planning and resistance on the part of the Administration to seek international help in taking the target of American soldiers.”

QUOTES FROM STATEMENTS

Reaction to Bush’s speech at American Legion:

“One lesson we learned in Vietnam is that sometimes politics gets in the way of decisions that are best for the troops and we must never let that happen again. Let me put it plainly: In Iraq even more than Afghanistan, our post-war planning has failed to do the job and in the process we’ve over-extended our troops and our reserves. So let me say again, I believe a lack of planning and a lack of candor with the American people have placed our men and women in uniform in increased harm’s way.”

Criticizing budget deficits:

“George Bush came in to office with the largest surplus in our nation’s history and now we are facing more than $400 billion in red ink. What do we have to show for it? Nine million Americans are unemployed, three million fewer jobs, more people without health care and a crumbling situation in Iraq and Afghanistan. Isn’t it time for somebody to ask “where all the money has gone?”

Kerry is prepping the other “battlefield” for his economic speech on Thursday. He will announce his plan to protect tax cuts for the middle class and create jobs.

Criticizing special interests’ influence on energy plan:

“Investigators have conclusively determined that special interests and wealthy contributors played a decisive role in crafting the Administration’s energy policy in 2001. As gas prices reach historic levels and the nation’s energy infrastructure is pushed beyond its limits, the Bush Administration has decided their energy policy will be of the special interests, by the special interests and for the special interests.

TUESDAY EVENTSSenator Kerry spent Tuesday in Iowa meeting with veterans in Des Moines. He is following up on his speech on Monday to at the 104th National VFW convention where he criticized the Bush Administration on its failure to be prepared for the post Operation Iraqi Freedom reality and proposed a new “compact” for veterans.

THIS WEEK

Wednesday

No public events (prepping for his speech in New Hampshire on Thursday)

Thursday

Economic plan unveiled, 2:15 p.m. Kerry will unveil his Economic Plan in Durham, New Hampshire, that will detail his vision for increasing jobs in America. He will outline a specific blueprint on how the first 500 days of a Kerry Presidency will do this.

Friday

No public events

Saturday

Kerry will ride in the Harley Davidson 100th Anniversary Parade in Milwaukee, WI (9a)

LABOR DAY WEEKEND SCHEDULE

Sunday

“Meet the Press” appearance

Monday

No public events

Tuesday

Formal announcement at Patriots Point, Charleston, S.C., in front of USS Yorktown — aircraft carrier from WWII and Vietnam

Wednesday

New Hampshire events

Boston events

Thursday

New Mexico debate

Monday, August 25

Sen. Kerry addressed the Veterans of Foreign Wars convention in San Antonio. Kerry traveling press secretary David Wade’s reaction: There was an “emotional and personal response to John Kerry here in San Antonio this morning as he spoke to 12,000 active delegates of the VFW. Powerful applause when John Kerry talked about the work that must be done to really win the peace in Iraq, work John Kerry said should have been planned for ahead of time to best protect our troops. And enormous ripples and heads nodding when John Kerry talked about the commitment that too often isn’t being kept to veterans when they come home — especially when Kerry talked about disabled veterans and vets he’d met who served faithfully and haven’t received the health care and treatment they’d been promised as vets — a question of priorities. I couldn’t help but think whether any other Democratic candidate could speak so forcefully and honestly before a crowd that was heavily Republican, a crowd dominated by WWII and Korea veterans — Kerry has a unique ability to bridge that divide and strip away the politics and ideology.”

KERRY QUOTE FROM SPEECH:

“So let me say unequivocally, I believe a lack of planning and the lack of candor with the American people have placed our men and women in uniform in increased harm’s way. I believe it is wrong for our troops to be turned from warriors into police officers without the training, support, and numbers they need. And it is equally wrong for the administration to have stubbornly refused the offer of other nations to share the risks and authority in Iraq,” said Kerry. “One thing I know that unites all of us here today is our obligation to make the troops as safe and comfortable as possible.”

From the campaign:

Kerry’s proposals include meeting the health care needs of veterans by giving them what they have earned, fairness to military retirees who also receive disability compensation and a more responsive Department of Veterans Affairs.

Friday, August 22

KERRY SPEECHES NEXT WEEK Kerry has two major speeches next week that — according to the campaign — will reflect the strength of his candidacy and preview the themes of the upcoming formal announcement: Monday he will address the VFW Convention in San Antonio and Thursday in New Hampshire he will unveil a plan to get the American economy moving forward.

TEXAS SPEECH ON MONDAY In San Antonio, speaking before Condi Rice and Secretary Rumsfeld, Kerry will lay out what America needs to do to support its veterans and its troops in the field. Kerry will talk about America’s men and women in uniform as the touchstone of our national security. He will continue to talk about that theme later that day in Chicago where he will meet with two Vietnam crewmates and local veterans and again on Tuesday in Iowa.

NEW HAMPSHIRE SPEECH ON THURSDAYOn Thursday, Aug. 28, in New Hampshire, Kerry will offer a specific economic plan that will detail his vision for how he will put jobs back at the top of the American agenda. Kerry, who has spent time this summer meeting with workers and families, will outline a specific blueprint on how in the first 500 days of a Kerry presidency he will replace the 3 million jobs lost since Bush became president.

These speeches will foreshadow the central themes Kerry will explore in his announcement tour that will begin on Sept. 2 in South Carolina at Patriots Point where he will be speaking in front of a Naval aircraft carrier, the U.S.S. Yorktown. Accompanying him for the announcement tour will be various members of the crew who served with him in Vietnam.

SOUTH CAROLINA SUPPORTERS

South Carolina is a very important state for Kerry, because his personal story resonates so well there and reflects his ability to draw support across geographic lines. The campaign was very happy that Kerry drew a nice crowd for the office opening, even though he wasn’t able to attend in person. Kerry is also proud of the very strong support in the state from influential South Carolinians, including the following list handed out by the campaign: Hon. Alex Sanders, 2002 Senate Candidate; Stephen Benjamin, former candidate for South Carolina Attorney General; Senator John W. Drummond, President Pro Tempore Emeritus; Senator Phil Leventis, Sumter (Lt. Governor Candidate last cycle); Senator John Matthews, Orangeburg; State Rep. Jimmy Bales, D-Eastover; State Rep. Jerry Govan, D-Orangeburg, Chairman of the Legislative Black Caucus; State Rep. James E. Smith, Jr., House Minority Leader; State Rep. Reuben Thayer Rivers, D-Hampton Co. and Jasper Co.; State Rep. Todd Rutherford, D-Richland Co.; Hon. Waymon Mumford, Member of Florence County Council; Hon. Bernice G. Scott, Chairwoman of the Richland County Council and DNC member; Sheriff Kelvin Washington of Williamsburg County; Sheriff Herman Young of Fairfield County; Hon. Thomas Pope III; Former Democratic State Senator Hon. Tim Rogers; Former Minority Leader of the State House Hon. Nick Zeigler; Former Democratic State Senator Diane Aghapour, Former Charleston County Democratic Party Chairwoman; General Steve Cheney, former commander of Parris Island; Jane Emerson, Past President of Planned Parenthood of South Carolina; Ben Gregg, former candidate for Agriculture Commissioner; Richard D. LaBarre, Executive Director of the Vietnam Veterans of the Carolinas; Samuel Tenenbaum, Community Activist; Mary Fleming Thompson, Community Activist

MSNBC’s Becky Diamond is embedded with the presidential campaign of U.S. Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass.

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