Vermont Sen. Jim Jeffords has identified his party affiliation as "Independent" since jumping from the Republican Party last year. But since he's the only one of his kind in the Senate, who to hang out with during campaign season? "He offered to campaign for Democrats," says a staffer for the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee. "And while we appreciate the offer, there haven't been many takers."
Apparently Democrats have discovered what should have been obvious when Jeffords was a Republican. "He's got a reputation for being high maintenance," says the DSCC source. "Whenever [Majority Leader] Tom Daschle or [Whip] Harry Reid hear we could send Jeffords out on the road for Democrats, they just roll their eyes and shake their heads."
DNC chairpersona Terry McAuliffe stood up at the Broward County Democratic Jefferson/Jackson Day fundraiser over the weekend and laid into the Bush family with gusto, even Barbara Bush. And while the crowd made lots of noise, Democratic National Committee and Florida Democratic Party officials were privately disappointed by the turnout. "I guess the official number will be around 800, but we probably didn't hit that figure," says a Florida Democratic fundraiser. "If we did, it was barely. And we'd really hoped with McAuliffe as the headliner and with Janet Reno there, we'd have more like 1,000. That's usually what we get."
The poor turnout may be bad news for Florida Democrats in the 2002 election. Broward is heavily Democratic, and if its morale is low, turnout next November could be affected, further setting back Democrats' plans to win the state back from the evil Bush family.
Republicans never learn. Back in the 1980s they wanted to use Bruce Springsteen's "Born in the U.S.A." as a campaign song, never considering that Springsteen, who while a devout Catholic is also as liberal as Martin Sheen, wouldn't allow it. Same a few years later for John Mellencamp's "Little Pink Houses," with the nice jangly feel and a refrain about America. "Never mind that it's a song written to belittle the Reagan era," says an RNC advance person.
In both cases, Springsteen and Mellencamp threatened to sue if their songs were used by Republicans. Still, Elizabeth Dole couldn't help herself. In formally announcing her candidacy for Jesse Helms's seat yesterday, Dole did so to the tune "Small Town" from Mellencamp. "We're hoping it will be our victory anthem," a Dole volunteer told the Prowler in Charlotte. " It's such a fitting song. Mrs. Dole is a small-town girl." But, alas, a small town girl without a small town song. Mellencamp is already moving to block use of the song during the campaign.
Look for Dole to get a boost, though, from a visit by George W. Bush on Wednesday. The president wants to campaign hard for Dole and has several trips planned over the next two months.