Washington Prowler

Can You Feel the Fire?

Key New Hampshire loser endorses Kerry. Clark low-rents the Citadel.

By 9.24.03

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DREAM OF JEANNE
That former New Hampshire Gov. Jeanne Shaheen endorsed Sen. John Kerry yesterday isn't a surprise. What is surprising is how long it took the man from Massachusetts to get her backing, especially since Shaheen's husband, Bill, is serving as Kerry's New Hampshire campaign chairman.

Shaheen will serve as a national chairwoman for the Kerry campaign, a nod to her standing as the most visible Democrat in a state that Kerry almost certainly has to win if his floundering campaign is to survive the first set of primaries and caucuses this winter.

As reported last spring, Shaheen was withholding her support from Kerry, playing coy with the media about her intentions, in part, because of her own political aspirations. She failed in a bid for the U.S. Senate, losing to native son, John Sununu, Jr., in November 2002. From there, Kerry began the hard press to bring her on board, if only as an endorsement.

"He sees Shaheen as another cog in locking up the state party establishment," says a Kerry representative in the Granite State. "He's got more than his share, and most of the other candidates kind of left her alone, knowing that Bill was working on the campaign."

But Shaheen is probably more than a mere cog. She has built a career as a grassroots, down and dirty political operative, who oversaw Sen. Gary Hart's win in the state back in 1984. "She should be able to shore up his [Kerry's] numbers here," says the Kerry operative. "We need this state badly, and having her on board helps a bit with Dean."

Speaking of Howie Dean, he apparently sought to meet with Shaheen on several occasions, but gave up when it was clear she was committed to Kerry. According to Dean insiders, he wasn't surprised that she went to work for Kerry, given that the two former governors at times clashed during their time in office.

FIGURE OF SPEECH
Media were making much ado about retired general Wesley Clark's appearance and speech at the Citadel on Monday. But the Citadel really had nothing to do with Clark's speech, in which he called for a new American patriotism that didn't really involve any loyalty to America.

People down in South Carolina were outraged by the speech and Clark's appearance at the venerable school. But really, the whole event was a creation of the Clark campaign, or should we say the Clinton camp?

According to a Clark insider, former Clinton administration State Department appointee Philip Lader invited Clark to the Citadel, where Lader is a visiting professor. But Lader's invitation wasn't exactly that, because all the Citadel did was rent the courtyard of the school to Clark's campaign, charging it $650.

"This was a political rally pure and simple," says the Clark insider. "The Citadel really had nothing to do with it. To be fair, the campaign just wanted to make it look like the school was supportive of his candidacy and Lader helped make that happen."

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