“We will, however, continue to build a new organization using our enormous grass-roots network to continue the effort to transform the Democratic Party and to change our country.” Dean pulled out of the Democratic race for president after losing 17 straight primaries. The turning point for his campaign was the so-called “primal scream” speech heard hundreds of times on cable news networks after his loss in Iowa on Jan. 19. Dean said Wednesday: “The bottom line is that we must beat George W. Bush in November, whatever it takes.”
Kerry defends trade record
The day after his narrow victory in Wisconsin, Sen. John Kerry of Massachusetts took his campaign to Ohio – another state hard hit by losses in manufacturing jobs – and sought to punch a hole in Sen. John Edwards of North Carolina’s image as a populist who favors limits on free trade.
Edwards, who came in a surprisingly close second in Tuesday’s Wisconsin primary, emphasized the nation’s unemployment rate in his campaign and blamed the loss of jobs on trade.
But Kerry on Wednesday said he and Edwards have almost identical records on trade.
“We have the same policy on trade,” Kerry said. “He voted for the China trade agreement. So did I. We both of us want to have labor agreements and environment agreements as part of a trade agreement.”
Edwards has tried to draw a distinction with Kerry by emphasizing his background as the son of a South Carolina mill worker. Kerry comes from a Boston Brahmin family whose father was a diplomat.
“It has to do with your own personal experience, what you’ve seen, what you’ll get up every morning fighting for as president of the United States,” Edwards said Sunday during a debate in Milwaukee. “It matters to have lived it, and I have lived it.”
Edwards gains in polls
Edwards’ bump in the Wisconsin primary could be part of a national trend. A tracking poll released Tuesday shows Kerry’s lead over Edwards has dropped from 33 to 19 points nationally. Kerry has 44 percent, Edwards 25 percent, and Dean 11 percent. The poll was taken Sunday through Tuesday nights by the Rasmussen Reports. Most of Tuesday’s interviews were done before the results of the Wisconsin primary were known.
About 4 in 10 voters said the economy and jobs were the most important issues to them, according to exit polls in Wisconsin. Edwards led Kerry by more than 10 points among this group. Kerry took the lead among Wisconsin voters when it came to the next two most important issues, health care and the war in Iraq.
Dems gain Kentucky House seat
Anti-Bush sentiment may have helped Democrats gain a House seat from Republicans in Congress after a special election in Kentucky on Tuesday. Democrat Ben Chandler beat his GOP challenger for the seat vacated by Republican Gov. Ernie Fletcher in November. The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee spent $1.4 million on the special election. In one effort, the committee targeted voters who strongly disapproved of Bush.
Democrats then distributed door hangers that read, “Send George Bush a message. … Enough is enough.”
A committee spokeswoman, Kori Bernard, said: “It is safe to say there’s a large population of people who don’t think Washington is not working for them.” That theme will likely be carried into many congressional campaigns later this year.
Bush speaks on gay marriages
Bush said he’s troubled that San Francisco is issuing marriage licenses to gay and lesbian couples, but he stopped short of saying what the White House intends to do about it.
“I’m watching very carefully,” said Bush. “But I’m troubled by what I’ve seen. People need to be involved with this decision. Marriage ought to be defined by the people, not by the courts. And I’m watching very carefully.”
White House officials and Christian conservative leaders have hinted that Bush intends to back a constitutional amendment that would define marriage as a union between a man and a woman.
(Knight Ridder political reporters Tom Fitzgerald, James Kuhnhenn and William Douglas contributed to this report.) (c) 2004, Knight Ridder/Tribune Information Services.