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Instead, Shrum has become Kerry’s scratching post. In the hours leading up to Kerry’s announcement in South Carolina, unnamed Kerry staffers were telling reporters on the flight down that Shrum was refusing to show anyone other than Kerry the speech that had been written, and that Kerry had virtually nothing to do with the speech’s content.
Shrum, meanwhile, was telling reporters on the record that Kerry had played an extensive role in the writing of the speech.
“The upshot is that Shrum isn’t the most popular guy right now,” says the Kerry staffer. “But that’s nothing new for him. He probably wasn’t the most popular guy in the Gore camp. But no one can deny that it was Shrum that got Gore to where he was back in 2000.”
The same can’t be said for Sasso, whose dirty tricks back in 1988 got him fired for a time as chairman of Michael Dukakis’s ill-fated presidential campaign.
At any rate, Edwards has let it be known through intermediaries that Shrum would be welcomed back should there be a parting of the ways with Kerry.p> DEAN BE LABORED br> Lost amid all the reports about Rep. Dick Gephardt ‘s recent successes in gaining organized labor endorsements was a private meeting Democratic front-runner Howie Dean recently had with United Auto Worker leaders in Michigan. While Gephardt might have organized labor’s state support, polls show that Dean has a stronger following among rank and file union members in Iowa than any other Democratic hopeful at the moment. /p>
Perhaps that’s why some of the quiet endorsements in Iowa are sending shock waves through the Gephardt campaign. In the past couple of weeks the presidents of two statewide construction unions personally endorsed Dean. “It’s scaring the hell out of us,” says a Gephardt staffer just back from the campaign trail. “Our people are supposed have these guys buttoned down by now, and they are out there endorsing other people.”
Dean may not end up with the full backing of the UAW, but he and his staff are sending a clear message to the insiders of the race — Kerry and Gephardt at least — that they can play ball with the big boys … and win.
That message became all the more clearer during Thursday’s debate in New Mexico, when Dean came off as downright moderate in his tone compared to the rest of the Democratic field which was running far to the left to outflank him.
“He’s spent the past five months establishing his liberal bona fides; he’s satisfied the base, now he’s going after the middle,” says a former Clinton campaign adviser. “He’s completely played these other guys. That performance on Thursday probably got him a couple of million in fundraising from moderates around the country who had never seen him. Suddenly he doesn’t look or sound so radical. Kerry and those guys have a lot of catching up to do.”
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