Washington Prowler

On Foreign Assignment

Kerry to travel far and wide -- and stay dirty. Plus: Howie the Naderite. Also: Labor’s blind love.

By 2.8.04

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I'LL FLY AWAY
With it increasingly clear to his campaign that he will win the Democratic presidential nomination, Sen. John Kerry is planning at least two trips overseas, most likely in April, so as to allow those visits to be integrated into his campaign propaganda.

Kerry is putting out feelers to British Prime Minister Tony Blair, as well as French President Jacques Chirac, about holding meetings with him during a European trip. As well, the Kerry campaign is examining his schedule to allow for a trip to Israel, and perhaps several Arab nations.

"There hasn't been talk of Iraq, though as a U.S. Senator and veteran of combat, it would certainly be appropriate for him to venture into Iraq," says a Kerry campaign staffer. "We have received indications from a number of young men and women in Iraq that they very much want Senator Kerry to visit them. His leadership just shines through."

The trips are one of a number of steps the Kerry campaign is taking as it rolls through the primary season. Another is continued opposition research on the President. According to a staffer on the blue-ribbon 9/11 commission, several Kerry Senate staffers, as well as associates of the Kerry campaign have reached out to longtime Democrats working on the commission about the work the group is taking.

"We're hearing Kerry is trying to pull all kinds of strings to find any damaging material on the Bush administration pre-9/11," says a Republican working with the commission. "We've been warning about this from the beginning. We've got men and women working here that cannot contain their hatred for this administration. Frankly, we don't have that much damaging material, but if there's stuff here, you can bet the Kerry campaign will get it."

GREEN WITHOUT ENVY
Former Vermont Gov. Howie Dean and his advisers are looking into options that would allow him to run for president on the Green Party ticket should he fail in his bid to wrench the Democratic nomination away from Sen. John Kerry.

Dean had been looking at the Green Party long before his campaign caught fire. As early as late last summer, Dean was considering the Greens as an option, particularly because at the time Ralph Nader, the Green nominee in 2000, appeared less interested in a run.

"This isn't a ploy to get Democrats to pay attention to us," says a Deaniac in Washington. "This is about ensuring that our man's views and this supporters' views get carried into the fall campaign. A Green Party bid puts him in the debates with Bush and whomever the Democrats nominate. It keeps us viable."

It would also, as the Deaniac pointed out, get the attention of Terry McAuliffe and the DNC pretty quick. Dean is first to brag he's brought in hundreds of thousands of new voters to the party -- voters who most likely would follow Dean to the Greens. He probably would generate more votes than Nader himself pulled in 2000, again dooming Democrats to another loss.

Nader has not yet indicated what he will do in the 2004 campaign. In the past three months he has twice pushed back a decision on whether he's running.

SEEING THE LIGHT
Even before AFSCME president Gerald McEntee broke the news to Howie Dean that the union was taking its toys and going home, McEntee had talked extensively to both the Kerry and Edwards campaigns in the past ten days.

Months ago, McEntee had boosted John Kerry as a viable candidate, long before he played political footsies with Dean and Wesley Clark. Now it appears that AFSCME, after an acceptable period of mourning over the loss of their candidate -- say seven days -- is poised once again to crown the man it feels will bring it to the holy land.

"Kerry would have to be it," says an AFSCME staffer in Washington. "The relationship is already there. The only way we don't do Kerry is if somehow Edwards just blinds Gerry and the board. But he was already was blinded once

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