Monday, Sept. 29
POSITIVE INTERNAL POLL According to Westhill Partners, Gephardt’s Pollster, a poll taken last week shows Gephardt ahead in Iowa. (Surprise, surprise.) Seriously, folks, Iowa is a close race right now, closer than the Gephardt people would like to be sweating it. The poll seems to indicate that Dean’s lost to support to Gephardt, Clark and even Edwards. An important figure to bear in mind — the undecided vote — which still hovers at about 20 percent. Here’s the poll and an explanation from Westhill. “Gephardt now has a significant, seven-point lead over Dean, 24 percent to 17 percent. This represents an eight-point shift in Gephardt’s favor since July, when Dean held a slight, one-point advantage. Kerry remains in the third position, while Edwards and Clark lead the pack of single-digit candidates. Lieberman continues his decline among Iowa voters, losing about half of his support since July.”
ON THE TRAIL Monday: Appearances in New Hampshire.
Friday, Sept. 26
ON DEAN, CLARK, AND MONEY
Before going into the debate, campaign staff told me the congressman would be focusing on the president, not on other candidates. He did hammer the president, stopping just short of calling him a “miserable failure” again, but Gephardt threw the opening punch against another candidate, Dean, starting a small battle between the two, with Edwards and Kerry jumping in for good measure. Gephardt repeated claims that Dean sided with Republican Newt Gingrich in a 1995 plan to cut Medicare spending, ending by saying, “You’ve been saying for many months that you’re the head of the Democratic wing of the Democratic Party. I think you are just winging it.” Dean wasn’t about to take the accusation, saying, “That is flat-out false and I’m ashamed that you would compare me with Newt Gingrich. Nobody up here deserves to be compared to Newt Gingrich.” Our political unit’s Mark Murray talked to Campaign Manager Steve Elmendorf, who said Dean went over the top with his response to Gephardt. I asked Gephardt about the sparks with Dean, and he answered with a response he’s used since he first attacked Dean on Medicare a couple weeks ago, “We have legitimate differences, and this is what happens in a debate.” Spokesman Erik Smith added that Dean has yet to answer the Medicare claims in any substantive manner. Gephardt said he wanted to ask the general if he wishes he’d been at the last 15 debates. (Today was debate number 16.) He said, “the general is a fine candidate, but there are already many fine candidates. Of course, he has every right to run.” When asked about third-quarter fund-raising, Gephardt said he never likes to put a number out there, but he smiled and said they’re tracking well. He said they raised $10 million dollars in the first six months and they expect to raise another $10 million by the end of the year.
ENDORSEMENTS Gephardt picked up two more endorsements. One from the small New Hampshire Building and Construction Trades Council union, with 3,000 members, the other from Linda Daschle, the Senate minority leader’s wife. She’s contributed $1,000 toward Gephardt’s campaign so far. She attributes her endorsement to years of friendship and believing Gephardt has what it takes to win and succeed in the White House, according to the Associated Press. Tom Daschle remains neutral.
TV GUIDE The Gephardt Campaign is running a new TV ad in Iowa this week. No word yet on details of the buy. The ad script reads: “I’m Dick Gephardt and I approve this message because I want to stop George Bush and fight for America’s middle class. George Bush has lost more jobs than any president since Herbert Hoover. He’s lost more jobs than the last 11 presidents. Bush’s budget deficit is almost twice what it was under his father and, 41 million Americans have no health insurance. Now, another George Bush, another recession. I believe what’s good for America’s middle class is good for America. I’ll remember that as president.”
ON THE TRAIL
Today: In D.C. and Kansas City for private meetings.
Thursday, Sept. 25
DICK TALKS TO REPORTERS Comments from Gephardt on a conference call to reporters after he received the Laborers’ Union endorsement.
Q. Is tomorrow night’s debate a make or break for Wes Clark and how do you plan to break through in the debate?
A. This race is a marathon, not a sprint. I said at the beginning of my campaign, if you’re looking for the flavor of the month or the fresh face, I’m not that guy. If you’re looking for someone who’s worked at top levels of this government and on every domestic and foreign issue, I am. A short time ago, Edwards was the flavor of the month, then Kerry, then Dean, and now probably Wes Clark. I’m the tortoise and they’re the hares. I believe I’m going to win the nomination; I’m going to beat George Bush.
Q. Is it frustrating to be a friend of labor for so long and not have them all back you? For example, the firefighters endorsing Kerry?
A. Not at all, nobody in politics can assume the support of anybody. You have to earn it on your record and on what you’re saying in your campaign. I’m proud of the 14 unions that have supported me. When I get the support of a union like the laborers after all this time that we’ve worked together, I’ve really got something. I’m not frustrated by the fact I don’t have all the unions, I’m happy with the ones I have. I’m humbled by it; I’m gratified by it.
Q. How close are you to getting the two-thirds support necessary to get the AFL-CIO endorsement?
A. We’re working every day to get the two-thirds. I don’t know if I’ll get there, it’s a high bar, and very hard to do, but I’m working on it one union at a time. I feel good that we have a real shot at it.
Campaign staff tell me that there isn’t much time for debate preps. Between the Laborers’ Union endorsement and fund-raisers, the congressmen won’t be spending a lot of time prepping. He will take a few minutes to read and talk with his advisers once he’s arrived at the debate, but his busy schedule will keep him from doing much preparation before then.
Wednesday, Sept. 24
BIG NEW ENDORSEMENT The Laborers’ International Union announced their decision to endorse Gephardt on Tuesday, after polling members. The Laborers’ Union represents 800,000 members, which is a good-sized plum for Gephardt to pick up, and a step closer to those nearly 9 million members he needs for the AFL-CIO’s endorsement.
LETTER FROM DICK I opened up my e-mail box today to find a friendly letter from Dick. It began “Dear Friend,” and continued in a similarly personal manner. He began by telling me about some great news in Iowa. “Two public polls taken in the last week show Howard Dean and me in a dead heat. This represents a significant drop for Dean from polls taken a month ago.” He continued on with a walk-through of several states involved in the “Mini-Super Tuesday” on Feb. 3 — Missouri, South Carolina, North Dakota, Arizona, Delaware, Oklahoma, and New Mexico — outlining his rationale for success in each of the states, and moving on to winning Michigan immediately afterwards. Finally, the congressman pointed out that third-quarter filing deadlines are nearly upon us and the time to give is now … so once again, please “click here.”
Campaign staff still keeping quiet about debate preps. When asked today about strategy for Thursday night, Erik Smith replied, “Our success in the first two debates was due to the fact that Dick offered both the most articulate critique of President Bush and the boldest, most ambitious policy alternatives. This method is proven and Gephardt needs to continue doing that to break through.”
TEACHERS FOR GEPHARDT
A volunteer group of New Hampshire teachers are taking to the hallways to drum up support for Gephardt. They’ll meet with other supporters on Thursday night for a debate-watching party, and then meet with the congressman as he swings through New Hampshire again later this month.
Tuesday, Sept. 23
GEPHARDT IN IOWA
Gephardt unveiled his agricultural policy plans in Iowa with about 150 farmers and farm leaders in attendance. The wind kicked up about three-fourths of the way through the speech, which got all the campaign staff nervous that the teleprompter would tip over as it swayed with the corn in the field behind the congressman. It stayed upright, though, and the speech finished smoothly. Gephardt blasted Bush administration officials, saying they opposed disaster relief for farmers stung by poor weather and poor crops as well as “opposing nearly every version of the 2002 farm bill.” He didn’t venture to criticize his fellow Democrats in this speech, staying away from even Dean. The centerpiece of Gephardt’s agricultural plan is a ban on packer ownership of livestock. He would also instruct the Department of Justice to monitor agricultural monopolies, and he would overhaul agricultural subsidies. Gephardt also has an aggressive “renewable resources” plan and told farmers he’d increase soy and ethanol production and wind farms. Today is the last day on this Iowa tour, and will culminate with a national farm policy forum, with about 100 students planning to attend, as well as farm leaders and farmers.
The Operative Plasterers’ and Cement Masons’ International Association endorsed Gephardt, making it the 13th international union to get behind him. The union has 50,000 workers throughout USA and Canda. Gephardt now has about 3 million union members endorsing him. To win the AFL-CIO’s endorsement, he needs about 8.8 million, which is about two-thirds of the AFL-CIO’s 13.2 million members.
THE AFL-CIO ANSWERS TO ME I asked the AFL-CIO today about the Oct. 15 meeting that’s been discussed in the press. Turns out, that meeting isn’t a sure thing. The executive board has given President John Sweeney the authority to call a meeting, if he chooses. At this point, a meeting has not been called. The spokeswoman could give me no guidance on the likelihood of a meeting occurring. Here are some snippets of our conversation:
Q. Why hasn’t the meeting been called yet?
A. Because union leaders are still listening to their members about their choice for endorsement. This is an intensive process, and it’s not certain that union leaders will be ready to vote on endorsement by the 15th. There’s no point in having the meeting if they’re not ready.
Q. If it’s called, how will the endorsement process work?
A. Each union will vote according to the strength of its membership, so some leaders’ votes will count more strongly than others.
Q. What does SEIU and AFSCME’s decision to hold off on endorsement mean for the AFL-CIO’s potential Oct. 15 decision?
A. “It’s not clear yet what it means. There are many factors that go into this process. The decision just hasn’t been made whether there’s going to be a meeting or not.”
Q. What impact will third-quarter fund-raising have on making an endorsement, as Oct. 15 is also the day those figures will be released?
A. You know, a reporter asked John Sweeney that question at a press conference and he was surprised that it was the same day. He said, “Oh really, we just looked at our calendars and picked a day.” It was accidental — busy presidents flipped through a calendar and just picked a day.
ON THE TRAIL
Wednesday: Back in D.C. for private meetings.
Monday, Sept. 22
‘ENOUGH’ OF HOWARD DEAN
Gephardt Campaign Manager Steve Murphy put out an e-mail to supporters this weekend with the title, “It’s Time to Show Howard Dean Who’s The Real Democrat.” It begins: “I don’t know about you, but I’ve had enough. Howard Dean still insists that he’s the candidate from ‘the Democratic wing of the Democratic party.’ Well, where was Howard Dean when we needed him?” The memo pounds Dean on economic issues, on Medicare, on the Brady Bill and the Assault Weapons Ban. It then challenges supporters to “click here” and make an online donation to the Gephardt campaign, to “show Howard Dean he’s not the only candidate who can raise money on the Internet.” They’re looking for $270 per donation, but they’ll graciously take smaller amounts also. How much this continuing attack on Dean is working is yet to be seen, but we can likely expect more of this kind of fight in the upcoming debate. Gephardt’s message has unwaveringly been focused on the economy (and healthcare) and CNBC’s debate will offer him the forum to discuss his economic policies.
ON THE TRAIL
Monday and Tuesday: Appearances in Iowa.
Saturday, Sept. 20
EARLY PRIMARY STRATEGIES
Gephardt campaign leaders continue to focus on Iowa as a state to win, saying they also plan for a strong showing in New Hampshire. They concede that Dean and Kerry will duke it out for first place in New Hampshire, knocking them out of the top two spots there. A statement from the campaign: “After a strong performance in Iowa, we’ll be well-positioned for a third-place finish behind two favorite sons.” They also said it’ll be a close race in Iowa with Dean, a position they have taken for several weeks, particularly since Dean’s poll numbers have spiked.
FIREFIGHTERS’ ENDORSEMENT: The International Association of Firefighters is meeting Wednesday to discuss endorsement, which union leaders say will likely go to John Kerry. This is no surprise to the Gephardt camp, as officials told me over Labor Day weekend that they expected the firefighters to fall in with Kerry. The union has 260,000 members, not huge, but does have special significance because so many firefighters who worked on Sept. 11, 2001, were union members. Reports say the union is eyeing Kerry favorably because they believe he’s electable, a rumor that’s also heard around AFSCME, although with Wes Clark in the running, that may change.
IOWA PREPS Iowa staffers are rushing to get everything in place for Gephardt’s arrival tonight, when he’ll get a few hours of sleep before being thrown into a schedule of five house parties. The staff there is just getting over last week’s visit, where Gephardt threw his first punch at Howard Dean over Medicare issues. This week’s trip is to focus on agricultural issues and Gephardt is set to give what’s being billed as a “major policy speech” on farm issues Monday morning. A preview from the press release reads: “A strong rural economy benefits all Americans. In my speech, I will lay out a progressive vision for rural America that will strengthen the family farm, make trade fair for American producers and make small town and rural America economically vibrant for generations to come.”
ON THE TRAIL In Iowa Sunday for five house parties.
Friday, Sept. 19
TRADE TRACK Speaking to a group of politically mixed South Carolina business leaders gathered in Washington, Gephardt argued the virtues of his trade policies, and attacked the records of his rivals. He pointed out that Lieberman, Kerry and Graham all voted in favor of NAFTA and China free-trade relations, and Edwards voted for the China agreements. (Edwards, Gephardt noted, wasn’t in Congress during the passage of NAFTA.) Gephardt’s camp has criticized Howard Dean for some time now for his early support of NAFTA. Gephardt once again pointed out that he went against Clinton in fighting NAFTA in the early ’90s.
TARGETING DEAN New radio ads launched in South Carolina target Dean. The ad says, “Howard Dean claims he’s fighting for our jobs, but Howard Dean supported the China Trade Deal and said he was a strong supporter of NAFTA. Dean even claimed it would create jobs. Instead, those two bad deals have cost South Carolina almost 30,000 jobs.” It seems that Gephardt’s attack on Dean’s Medicare stance last Friday in Iowa is just the start.
TODAY ON THE TRAIL
In Washington, but no public events planned.
Thursday, Sept. 18
One pro-Gephardt spin on Gen. Wesley Clark’s entry is that while it could possibly hurt Dean’s campaign by competing for Internet-based, grassroots anti-war supporters, or Kerry’s campaign by out-gunning him militarily, there’s a hint of an upside for Gephardt in Iowa where Clark could woo away potential Dean voters in a Nader/Gore/Bush scenario. (This isn’t from campaign sources, it’s from clippings and cable news politicos.) Granted, it’s months away, but with Dean moving up past the Gepper in some Iowa polls, a little help might not hurt.
FIVE FACTS ABOUT GEPHARDT
1) His mother wanted him to be a Baptist minister. 2) He was first elected to office in 1971, winning a seat on the St. Louis Board of Aldermen. 3) He won his first seat in Congress in 1976. 4) He is a lifelong St. Louis Cardinals fanatic. 5) Dick and his wife, Jane, met as undergraduate students at Northwestern University.
TODAY ON THE TRAIL The candidate is in D.C. and will address members of the South Carolina Chamber of Commerce at Washington Court Hotel.
Wednesday, Sept. 16
‘A GREAT ADDITION’
Statement released from Gephardt’s press office on the impending entry of Gen. Wesley Clark: “He’ll be a great addition to the field and we’re happy he’s running as a Democrat.”
MONEY, MONEY, MONEY
The third quarter fund-raising deadline is creeping ever closer, and everyone’s paying attention. Gephardt has spent most of the week in private meetings, eschewing public events for some quiet fund-raising. Campaign officials say they have a goal of raising $20 million dollars this year, having raised $10 million in the first 6 months. They responded to reports that Dean is attempting to raise $40 million in this coming quarter, saying, “Their success should be judged on how close to $40 million they get.”
The Gephardt Campaign has just launched a new website, www.deanfacts.com. Right now the site focuses on Medicare and Social Security issues, but the name obviously leaves it wide open for future expansion…
TODAY ON THE TRAIL No public events.
Thursday, Sept. 16
AN ENDORSEMENT OOPS “Nobody is picking up union support like Gephardt,” said Duane Woerth, president of the International Air Line Pilots Association. “There is no question Dick Gephardt will get our endorsement.” That was the quote in an Associated Press story right after Labor Day. ALPA’s not a huge organization — they have about 66,000 members — but their backing certainly couldn’t hurt. Since some time has gone by without any official announcement, I called up ALPA only to be told that they have no comment on Mr. Woerth’s statements. Further, they have not endorsed any candidate and have no plans to do so immediately. In fact, they don’t plan on endorsing anyone until well after the candidate has been nominated, or is very close to it, if they endorse at all. And no, they really didn’t want to talk about it at all, thank you very much.
ON THE TRAIL Gephardt visits California and Nevada this week; no public events are planned.
Thursday, September 11
Promises from Camp Gephardt that we will hear a “special” speech from Dick in Iowa at noon Friday. This is not his usual stump speech, they say, but one where “the goal is to affect the race.” No more details are available at this time, and the staff is promising they’re not giving any extra information to the press, saying watch and see.
The latest Zogby poll shows Dean picking up steam in Iowa, and Gephardt staffers say they know it’s going to be a close race there… but they continue to assert that Dean’s not taking Gephardt’s voters away. Thursday they said:
“We’re in a tight race in Iowa. No doubt about it. But, Dean’s ascension has not come at Dick’s expense. He has consistently polled around 20% give or take the margin of error. We have a solid base that will grow between now and January as Dick’s target demographic begins to make their decision. Also, Dean has been on the air for over a month and we just started.”
They also fired back by providing a CNN/USA Today/Gallup poll conducted in the past few days which shows Gephardt leading Dean slightly, but within the margin of error. See below.
Dick Gephardt 16%
Howard Dean 14
Joe Lieberman 13
John Kerry 12
Wesley Clark 10
Bob Graham 5
John Edwards 5
Carol Moseley Braun 4
Al Sharpton 2
Dennis Kucinich 2
Wednesday, September 10
SEIU UPDATE Kerry’s out and Edward’s in… and Dean and Dick are both still in the running. That’s according to the latest poll of SEIU members attending this week’s conference in D.C. Going into the conference, members had Kerry, Dean and Gephardt as their top three choices. But coming out, Kerry had been replaced by Edwards. SEIU President Andy Stern says “Kerry made a solid performance” but “Edwards introduced himself in a way that was very powerful.” Enthusiasm for Dean, Stern said, is unabated. Longtime labor advocate Gephardt actually saw his support increase after his speech. Stern said, “For those people who haven’t seen Dick Gephardt in recent times, they saw a very fiery and impassioned Gephardt.” Yes, his new signature line “This president is a miserable failure” went over well.
Andy Stern went on to say that they are NOT endorsing anyone at this time — although they plan to vote on endorsement in early November. But if the AFL-CIO meets to discuss endorsement on Oct. 15, SEIU’s support could be many days late, and many dollars short. The poll taken at the SEIU event does not mean that the executive board will only consider the top three — Stern says the field is still open and Kerry is very much in play.
One last thing on Edwards — Stern said at a press conference Monday that he’d gotten a call from Edwards the night before. Edwards had asked him to refrain from endorsing anyone right away. He expressed that he was no longer running for re-election to the U.S. Senate and asked Stern to wait and see what he could do.
HEALTH CARE Proving that health care is still topping his agenda, the Gephardt campaign sent out a press release shortly after the SEIU announcement of no endorsement. Quote:
“My health care plan does more for the economic security of the middle class than any of the Bush tax cuts. The average American family will receive $2,000 to $3,000 from my health care proposal. I have launched a new tool on my Web site: a health care calculator to help Americans determine the benefit their family would receive under my health care plan versus the Bush tax cuts. You can access the health care calculator at: http://www.dickgephardt2004.com/
Tuesday, September 9
Gephardt and crew were running a bit behind schedule, driving in from D.C., but made it on time. His performance at the debate seemed to lack the same fervor of his appearance at the New Mexico event last week, but he still found time to throw in some of his favorite lines. We heard “President Bush is a miserable failure” and that the president’s actions are “incomprehensible” and “Like father, like son, four years and he’s done.” The debate was peppered with interruptions from audience members, most of them apparently supporters of perennial presidential candidate Lyndon LaRouche. The distractions caused so much ruckus, Dick’s staffers called the night a “victory for LaRouche.”
Actor George Clooney, director Stephen Soderbergh, Democratic political consultant James Carville and a few other lesser-known Hollywood types were at the debate, shooting video and mingling in the spin room. Clooney talked to me briefly about how he’d grown up around politics and enjoyed working on “K Street”… and shooting with a handheld digital camera!
A report today says AFSCME will wait for Clark to announce his candidacy (or not) before making any decisions to endorse. President Gerald McEntee is quoted as saying:
“I think we would owe it to our members and to the country really, to at least let him be in it for a time to see whether he gets some traction. I don’t see how our union would be prepared to do anything until he has some time.” Clark has promised to reveal his plans by the end of next week, but an endorsement could be as far as November.
Monday, September 8
The Gephardt campaign staff says we will continue to see more of fiery Dick at the debates tonight. They say he’ll distinguish himself from other candidates, go after problems facing African-Americans, and argue against Bush’s actions. That is, if we see him at all. A re-vote on school vouchers in the D.C. school system could keep the Congressman on the hill and away from the debate. We’ll know more details by Tuesday afternoon.
The campaign’s new Web site, www.amiserablefailure.com, was a rousing success, according to campaign folks who say the site got 1,100 hits in the first seconds after it was announced. The site is built around Gephardt’s new battle cry — that President Bush is “a miserable failure.”
AFSCME folks say they’re looking for “electability” while SEIU says it’s all about health care. Rumor has it that Kerry’s the favorite in the AFSCME camp, while today’s straw poll at the SEIU conference put Kerry, Dean, and Gephardt in the lead, with no tiering information available. Endorsements from either union are unlikely to happen soon.
A FEW OF DICK’S FAVORITE THINGS
When the documentarian assigned to follow Dick Gephardt around for a “Beyond the Spin” SEIU piece asked the Congressman about music, Dick said he likes everything — rock, pop, classical, jazz, hip hop… The young filmmaker stopped Dick right there and challenged him to name one hip hop artist. Gephardt immediately said his favorite was Nelly, who shares Dick’s Missouri hometown. But it gets better. Last year, Gephardt went to see the movie “8 Mile,” featuring Eminem… and raved about it. Do the people who rate his “hang time” know about this? Don’t get carried away, though. His favorite recent flick is less of a shocker: “Seabiscuit.”
Sunday, September 7
Gephardt will meet with members of both SEIU (Service Employees International Union) and AFSCME (American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees union) on Monday afternoon. While the Congressman would certainly appreciate both endorsements, the campaign says they’re focusing on SEIU.
Gephardt will appear on CNBC’s “Marketplace with Ron Insana” at 5 p.m. ET Monday, according to his campaign.
ON BUSH’S SPEECH
The Gephardt campaign released a brief statement in response to the president’s Sunday night speech:
“President Bush’s efforts to enlist our allies for help is long overdue. From the start, I’ve told this president that we could win the war alone, but we won’t be able to win the peace alone. Now that the president has recognized that he has been going down the wrong path, this administration must begin the process of fully engaging our allies and sharing the burden of building a stable democracy in Iraq.”
Thursday, September 4
Gephardt arrives back in Washington to vote against school vouchers in the D.C. school system. He had fundraising stops planned that were cancelled so he could get back for this vote. This weekend is quiet, with family activities and a Teamster’s dinner, which is closed to press.
A HOME RUN’ That’s what a campaign staffer called Dick Gephardt’s performance at the debate in Albuquerque Thursday night. A Dean staffer said “Dick was definitely the best tonight.” Gephardt just seemed to come out swinging and refuse to stop. Every time he answered a question he was fiery, powerful, loud… to the point of getting very pink in the face… and he finished three out of four answers with a comment including what a “miserable failure” George Bush or his plans were. For example:
“And when I’m president, we’ll get this economy moving again. I’ll get rid of the Bush tax cuts; I’ll give everybody health insurance that can’t be taken away from you. I’ll have an energy program that I’ll call Apollo II that will make us independent of Persian Gulf oil. I’ll have a pension program so that you can move your pension credits from one job to the other. I’ll accelerate spending in the highway trust fund. These are important issues. This president is a miserable failure on foreign policy and on the economy and he’s got to be replaced.”
The moderators had to call him on time and try to rein him back, but Gephardt powered through their interruptions to finish his blast on George W. Dick’s ending line, “a miserable failure,” became a moment of identification for him, and elicited laughter and applause from the audience. The campaign staff had said earlier in the day that their strategy was to go after the president, not the other Democratic contenders, and they certainly delivered.
WILL IT BE ENOUGH? Gephardt’s got a tough week ahead of him. On Monday he goes to the Service Employees International Union candidate event where he will pitch himself several times over. An announcement as to who they will endorse could come as early as Wednesday from SEIU. Wednesday is also likely the day the government employee’s union, AFSCME, will announce an endorsement. These are both big endorsements, and neither is a sure win for Gephardt, especially with Dean rocketing up in the polls. If Gephardt does not win, he can kiss his AFL-CIO endorsement goodbye because he won’t have the necessary two-thirds support. His performance at the debate Thursday night could be a big boost with the unions who seem to want to be loyal to Gephardt after his years of backing them, but also don’t want to endorse a loser.
TEXAS 7 OF 11
Gephardt took power bars as gifts to seven of the “Texas 11” he met with on Thursday morning. (These are the state senators who fled from Texas to New Mexico to prevent the Republican-dominated state legislature from redistricting congressional districts in a way the Democrats claimed would help the GOP.) They were well received, as was the congressman. His meeting with them ran a little bit late, and in an unexpected moment, he ran into Howard Dean on his way out. The two men had a quick, friendly exchange.
GOIN’ TO THE CHAPEL
Well, pretty soon, anyway. Dick will be out of commission for most of this weekend, to make calls, and to celebrate his daughter Kate’s engagement party. The wedding is planned for June. (The engagement party is closed to press.)
Wednesday, September 3
The Congressman kicks off his day in New Mexico by meeting with 7 of the Texas 11 — that’s the 11 Texas state senators who have fled from Texas to Albuquerque, successfully depriving the Texas Senate of the quorum necessary to vote on the state’s redistricting plan.
The rest of the day is expected to be spent in debate preps.
DON’T YOU FORGET ABOUT ME
A memo went out from the Gephardt campaign to members of Congress, articulating the reasons Dick Gephardt, not Howard Dean, is the best Democratic alternative to George Bush. One reason the campaign may have felt the letter necessary is that Dean picked up several Congressional endorsements over the August recess, though Gephardt still leads the pack with more than 30. Officially, the party line is that Dean doesn’t faze the Gephardt campaign; rather, they welcome the competition.
Gephardt staffers are saying little about the preparations for Thursday’s debate other than they’ve got a team effort going. They’re throwing questions at him based on the topics they expect to come up, particularly on Cuba, the Patriot Act, and immigration. They say they’ll focus on the congressman’s record, rather than attacking others. So far, Gephardt’s run a fairly positive campaign, rarely taking aim at his fellow candidates.
Monday, September 1
Gephardt will spend at least part of the day in Houston doing some fundraising. There are no press avails. He travels to New Mexico on Thursday.
ANYBODY FOR VANILLA?
“Edwards was the flavor of the month six months ago, Dean’s the flavor of the month now, and I want to be the flavor a year from now,” Gephardt told a small group of reporters on Tuesday morning. The question is, will there be a rush on the ice cream flavor he’s most often compared to — vanilla? When asked if he’s “too nice” and not tough enough on the president, the Congressman replied, “You should never be disrespectful of any president. He’s president of the United States. I didn’t vote for him. I wish he weren’t president. But he’s the only president we have.”
Still, Gephardt’s hardly above the fray. He regularly rolls up his sleeves and swings away at the president’s record job loss and lack of international assistance with the Iraq aftermath. His favorite phrase is that the president’s actions are “incomprehensible!”
UP, UP AND AWAY
Duane Woerth, president of the International Air Line Pilots Association, has spent several hours with Gephardt over the past couple of days. An endorsement from the association is nearly certain, and could come as early as this week. Stay tuned.
HEY JOE, HEALTH CARE WAS MY SONG FIRST On a day Senator Lieberman unveiled his health care ideas, Gephardt once again outlined his plan during a mostly economy-focused message to businesspeople at a “Politics and Eggs” breakfast Tuesday. He began by saying “Let me just briefly outline my plan for you.”
“I’d say to every employer in the country, you’ve gotta offer plans to your employees. You don’t have to pay for them, but you’ve got to offer them. I’d then give every employer, whether or not they’re now giving insurance, a refundable tax credit equal to 60 percent of the cost of whatever plan is chosen. You have to pass the money on to the employee for their use. If you’re not now giving insurance, if you add to the 60 percent, I’ll give 60 percent of the additional amount you put on. If you’re already giving insurance, you get the 60 percent refundable credit as well as the companies that are not now doing it.”
He further said he believes repealing Bush’s tax cuts to pay for health care will put $2,000-$3,000 on the table of the average American family each year, rather than a few hundred dollars from the current tax cuts.
HOW SWEET IT IS
After Tuesday morning’s Politics and Eggs breakfast where Gephardt gave an economic speech and was grilled by members of New Hampshire’s business community, the reporters took their turn and swept him off to a back room. After a time, he became very concerned that he see his wife, Jane, before she left, asking several members of his staff to make sure she didn’t go without a goodbye. When she came into the room, it was for a very brief, but plainly joyful embrace from her husband, and an affectionate “see you later.”
Monday, September 1
GEPHARDT TUESDAYTuesday morning Gephardt will shake hands with teachers in Manchester, NH, and speak on the problems in the education system. Advance quote:
“Since President Bush took office, teachers are left alone to fight for kids while the federal government cuts resources and state and local governments cut educator wages. The worst example is the Bush administration’s broken promise on “No Child Left Behind.” Bush promised a commitment to teachers and students but stuck America with another photo-op. Today teachers and school districts are juggling unfunded mandates and more requirements without more resources to help. Meanwhile, the Bush budget severely undercuts local schools, leaving them no chance of meeting their goals and needlessly leaving too many of our children further behind.”
He will then address a breakfast group for “Politics and Eggs,” his final public event of the day. Gephardt will spend the rest of the day working out of New Hampshire offices, fundraising.
LABOR DAY BITS:
The Congressman worked his way through a full day of events in New Hampshire, beginning with a speech at the local AFL-CIO breakfast to an enthusiastic crowd, many of whom were proudly wearing Gephardt stickers. He competed with John Kerry for the limelight, though. Kerry gave the after-breakfast speech, and worked off anti-Bush sentiments in the crowd. Although he and Gephardt greeted each other warmly, and he spoke of his respect for the Congressman and his wife, he couldn’t help but throw in a little zinger, saying, “I’m sure I’m like most of us here, I feel like I’ve known Dick and Jane since I was five,” referring to Gephardt’s many years of campaigning. Kerry was very charismatic and won a couple of standing ovations during his speech (as did Gephardt.) Edwards’ parents were also in attendance.
The Milford Labor Day Parade hosted floats from both Gephardt and Kerry, with each of the men shaking hands as fast as they could, as well as floats for Lieberman, Edwards, Graham, and Dean. Most of the attendees said they come out annually for a chance to press the flesh with a possible future president.
Friday, August 29
NEW WEB SITE
Just in time for Labor Day, and sporting what is arguably the best picture of Dick Gephardt in recent history, www.gephardtworks.com went online today. The site is designed to inform visitors of Gephardt’s labor record, endorsements, and vision for the future. The campaign is proud to boast that they are the only ones with a web site specifically focused on labor issues. They’re also focusing on what they think is wrong with the Bush landscape. Quote:
“And They Want a Second Term?: Under the Bush-Cheney team’s watch, more than 3.2 million jobs have been lost, 41 million Americans now lack health insurance, and a massive electrical blackout struck millions. If most of us had a record like that, we’d hang our heads in shame. But not George Bush and Dick Cheney! They actually think they deserve a second term. Let them know they won’t be getting your vote. Tell George Bush and Dick Cheney it’s almost time for them to hit the unemployment lines!”
IOWA POLL:On the recent Iowa poll showing Dean (25%) ahead of Gephardt (21%), the campaign points out that they are actually in a statistical dead heat with the 5% margin of error. They also argue that Dean’s spent $300,000 in ad revenue there, while Gephardt has yet to begin his tv blitz. It’s been wrong, they say, to think of Iowa being an easy win for Gephardt. They argue the polls mean Gephardt has someone to compete against, which is better than competing against inflated perception.
GEPHARDT TODAY AND TOMORROW:Still on vacation.
Thursday, August 28
SUN, SAND, AND FUN:
The Gephardt clan is gathering for a few days of vacation at the beach (exact location undisclosed) before the big Labor Day kickoff. The Congressman is gone through Sunday.
LABOR DAY PLANS:
Staff continued to work towards building the upcoming New Hampshire Labor Day trip.
MORE GEPHARDT ON KERRY’S ECON PLAN
(Direct from campaign e-mail, 8/28)
Gephardt Response to Kerry Attacks on Fellow Democrats in Economic Speech:
“In 1993, I led the fight to pass the Clinton economic plan without a single Republican vote. That economic blueprint led to the greatest economic expansion in recent history. Once again, we are at a critical economic crossroads.
“The challenges in front of our country require bold, ambitious solutions, not timid proposals that simply nibble around the edges. Unlike other candidates, I am offering voters a clear choice in this election. We’re not going to lift this lagging economy by retaining the failed Bush economic policy.
“My health care plan would put between $2,000 and $3,000 in the pockets of middle class families. That’s more than three times the benefit they would ever receive from the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy.”
Wednesday, August 27
LABOR DAY PLANS
Staff continued to work towards building the upcoming New Hampshire Labor Day trip. Mr. Gephardt will walk in a midday parade on Labor Day and the campaign expects a hundred or so supporters to join him. They’re busy making calls to let voters know where they can meet and question the Congressman during his busy New Hampshire two-day tour.
LABOR DAY MESSAGELabor Day is an obvious match for Gephardt’s message. New Hampshire spokesperson Kathy Roeder points out that “labor issues aren’t just part of the Congressman’s message, they’re the foundation. It’s all about jobs.” She says whether he’s talking about reducing Middle Eastern oil dependence, his health care plan, or teacher corps, it all comes down to building jobs for Americans.
On day two of the trip (Sept. 2), The Gephardt for President campaign will open its second New Hampshire office in Claremont. The office will be located in the historic Moody Building at 20 Tremont Square. There is no public event planned for this opening.
GEPHARDT ON KERRY’S NEW ECONOMIC PLAN
“I have a better plan to lift this lagging economy and get our country back on track to economic growth. Every idea I have has proposed — guaranteeing health insurance to every American, creating a universal pension system, achieving true energy independence and hiring a million new teachers in the next decade — is designed to get our economy moving again.
“In a recent speech in NYC, I outlined a short term stimulus plan to jump start our economy by raising the minimum wage, using the highway trust fund to build roads and bridges, repealing tax breaks that encourage manufacturers to move abroad and creating a National Development Bank to help states make much needed investments.”
ON NEW EPA EMISSIONS RULES:“This is one more example of President Bush’s misguided efforts to roll back environmental protections. The Clean Air Act is a cornerstone of public health law and it is unfortunate that it is being undermined today.”
9:45 a.m., Manchester, New Hampshire - Chateau Restaurant, Speak at N.H. AFL-CIO Labor Day breakfast
11 a.m., Nashua, 1 Water St., Nashua
Participate in economic roundtable at Gephardt Nashua office
12 p.m., Milford, March in Milford Labor Day parade
2:45 p.m., Manchester, Veterans Park, meet voters at N.H. for Health Care/SEIU picnic
4:30 p.m., Manchester, attend house party hosted by John Kacavas (Broadcast live on C-Span)
7:15 a.m., Manchester, Memorial High School, greet Manchester teachers
8:15 a.m., Bedford, Bedford Village Inn, speak at “Politics and Eggs”
Monday, August 25
Gephardt’s in D.C. for a few days, making fundraising calls. He spends very few days here each month, so it was unusual for me to bump into him at campaign HQ this morning. He spent some time today taking questions from reporters via a conference call, in preparation for Bush’s speech later today.
Gephardt bashed Bush’s economic policies, particularly the tax cuts (which Gephardt would repeal to pay for his universal health care plan, although he rarely says that loudly), saying, “The misguided tax cuts for the wealthiest are not working.” He pointed to evidence in Missouri, which has suffered 114,000 job losses since Bush took office. “He’s got the worst job loss record of any president since Hoover. And in fact it’s worse than the last 11 presidents combined.”
Gephardt also attacked Bush’s handling of the post-war situation in Iraq. He continued to defend his reasons for backing the war, but said he’s been telling the president for the past year and a half that the United States wouldn’t need help going in, but rather need help in the aftermath. Now he points to other politicians who are returning from Iraq, such as Biden and McCain, who are echoing the same calls for more international cooperation.
SOME WAR QUOTES:
“I think the president needs to get us the help from other countries. As he said in his speech at the UN in September of last year this is a world problem, not just an American problem. And I think it is unreasonable and a horrible mistake for our country to not be working with these other countries to get the participation that they can bring to the situation.”
“If we’re going to succeed in this aftermath we need help. And it is irrational, it is incomprehensible that he is right now not at the UN and NATO getting America the help that we need and require as we have done in other cases around the world.”
When asked if he was concerned about Dean’s healthy poll showings in Midwestern states, Gephardt went on the defensive, choosing not to attack Dean, but simply saying that he (Gephardt) is the electable candidate in the key Midwestern states, and that he’ll not only win the nomination, but also beat George Bush in the general election.
OTHER CAMPAIGN STUFF:
With the filing deadline creeping closer, bringing money in is definitely one of the top priorities for the month ahead. Gephardt will be spending about half his time in closed fundraising activities and phone calls, and half on political events and “regular” work. He has more fundraising than rallying planned for September.
They believe their campaign is one of the smaller ones. They say the reasons for this are that they’d rather have the cash on hand and maintain a good financial balance now than expand the staff until necessary. They cite Kerry, Dean, Edwards and Lieberman as all having larger campaign staffs. On the other hand, many of the people on the campaign are die-hard Gephardt loyalists who have been with him from at least his first run at the White House in ’88.
The campaign has about half a dozen smaller offices open around the country. They plan to double that number by the end of next month.
THE PIE CHART
On the lighter side (that could turn heavy…), Dick likes pie and wants Iowans to know it. It’s a new love, sprung from many trips to small Iowa towns with fantastic pie. He and his wife like to eat pie straight from the tin…no plates, no fuss. Check out his Web site’s Iowa Pie Chart for locations where Dick’s enjoyed pie recently.
Click here, and here
Thursday, August 14
The campaign’s in Iowa until Monday, they’re hitting 20 counties in 4 days. They also have an unconfirmed stop in New Mexico next week, then back in D.C.
No official plans for Labor Day yet.
September is a fundraising push, so less political travel than usual because of the filing deadline. They’ll spend more time fundraising.
MSNBC’s Priya David is embedded with the presidential campaign of U.S. Rep. Richard Gephardt, D-Missouri.