December 16, 2003


Dean's Speech on Iraq Brings Rebuttals From Rivals (JODI WILGOREN and RANDAL C. ARCHIBOLD, 12/16/03, USA Today)

"The difficulties and tragedies which we have faced in Iraq show the administration launched the war in the wrong way, at the wrong time, with inadequate planning, insufficient help, and at the extraordinary cost, so far, of $166 billion," he said. "The capture of Saddam does not end our difficulties from the aftermath of the administration's war to oust him."

Dr. Dean's Democratic opponents immediately seized on the speech to raise new questions about his viability in a general election during a flurry of hastily scheduled conference calls as well as in their own planned campaign events. At the same time, a group of Democrats known informally as a "stop Dean" coalition began running a television advertisement in New Hampshire and South Carolina that shows a photograph of Osama bin Laden with the warning, "It's time for Democrats to start thinking about Dean's inexperience."

Senator Joseph I. Lieberman of Connecticut, who supported the war, spent a second day in row hammering Dr. Dean on the Iraq issue, and scheduled a speech for Tuesday in New Hampshire to highlight their differences on national security.

"If he truly believes the capture of this evil man has not made America safer, then Howard Dean has put himself in his own spider hole of denial," Mr. Lieberman said. "I fear that the American people will wonder if they will be safer with him as president." [...]

Representative Richard A. Gephardt of Missouri, whom Dr. Dean has criticized during the presidential campaign for voting for the resolution on using force against Iraq, on Monday accused his opponent of shuffling to the center to bolster credibility for a general election.

"We can't beat George Bush by playing politics with foreign policy," Mr. Gephardt told reporters in a campaign swing in Ecorse, Mich. "We've got to stand up for what we think is right. That's what I've always done and that's what I'll always do."

Mr. Kerry, who has been among the fiercest critics of Dr. Dean's statements on the Iraq war, renewed his argument that his military credentials and foreign-policy portfolio make him a better candidate to face President Bush, saying Democrats "deserve more than" a "foreign policy speech written by someone else."

"In a world where terrorist threats loom large, and they do, our fellow Americans are looking for real leadership," Mr. Kerry said. "To earn your trust, we have to show through our own actions, and our own experiences, that our approach to national security and foreign policy is credible, legitimate, and the best way to defend our nation."

The ad mentioned here is just brutal--it opens on on Osama bin Laden's face and then zooms into his eyes while the voice over tells us that Mr. Dean has no foreign policy experience, etc., etc., and basically says that Democrats need to ask themselves whether the country would be safe with him as president. Ouch.

Activist says no rival behind anti-Dean ad (Jim Drinkard, 12/08/03, USA TODAY)

Two political activists with ties to Rep. Richard Gephardt, D-Mo., and Sen. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, are behind new political attack ads against Howard Dean airing this week in Iowa.

The two, former Gephardt fundraiser David Jones and former Harkin aide Timothy Raftis, raised $230,000 through a non-profit political group to buy a week's worth of ads on television in Des Moines and Cedar Rapids.

Raftis said that he and Jones formed the group, Americans for Jobs & Healthcare, in mid-November because of "how passionately I feel about progressive issues ... and how critical I see the next election, and the selection of our party's nominee." [...]

Raftis denied that he was doing the bidding of any other candidate in trying to undermine Dean's support. "We are not connected to any candidate, period," said Raftis, who is now a consultant in Florida.

The new political group was set up under section 527 of the tax law. It can accept unlimited contributions but can't coordinate its activities with any campaign and must disclose its donors. Raftis declined to say who had given to the group, or even to talk about the number of contributors, until the deadline for disclosure at the end of January, after Iowa's caucuses.

Posted by Orrin Judd at December 16, 2003 9:19 AM

An improving situation in Iraq was going to be a threat to Dean's campaign. With the capture of Saddam the other Dems are now emboldened to go after Dean more. Question is whether Dean holds on and gets pounded by Bush or does Gephardt or Lieberman get the nod and get beaten not as badly by Bush?

Posted by: AWW at December 16, 2003 9:44 AM

Note also the shady information on who is funding and behind the ad. Welcome to the new world of campaign finance.

Posted by: AWW at December 16, 2003 9:46 AM

'Raftis declined to say who had given to the group, or even to talk about the number of contributors, until the deadline for disclosure at the end of January, after Iowa's caucuses.'

Clearly he's an advocate for transparency and not hiding behind legalities. (?)

Posted by: old maltese at December 16, 2003 10:37 AM

It's so annoying when Kerry talks about his "military service," but at the same time it's so funny. If he gets the nomination I'll be bipolar by the time November '04 rolls around.

Posted by: NKR at December 16, 2003 11:42 AM