THE DEMOCRATIC NATIONAL NOTHING
Democratic Party leader Terry McAuliffe was caught off guard last week when word leaked that the campaign of presumptive presidential nominee Sen. John Kerry was considering a plan to continue unlimited fundraising and spending via a delay in accepting the party’s presidential nomination.
By delaying acceptance of the nomination for what amounts to about six weeks — late July ’til September 1 — Kerry could spend as much as $30 million in campaign funds his campaign would collect. Then, Kerry would accept the $75 million in federal funds both candidates would receive for the two-month stretch run to the November election.
McAuliffe spent the weekend, according to DNC and party convention planners in Boston, attempting to tamp down the growing anger in Boston that the Kerry campaign’s plan was going to deny the city millions of dollars lost due to smaller turnout at the convention.
“We were already looking at the city actually losing money on this thing,” says a Boston-based convention planner. “Now this Kerry plan would almost ensure a huge loss. Without a nomination process at the convention, there is no need for state parties to finance big trips here. This could be a disaster. What’s more annoying is that this is a plan put out by a candidate from Boston.”
Already, there has been talk that the Boston convention was looking more and more troubled. Hotels, party planners, and events coordinators, as well as labor unions, have been complaining about low-ball bids and the Democratic Party’s outsourcing big ticket expenses to cheaper locales.
Under the Kerry campaign plan, the convention would turn into an expensive Democratic reunion of sorts. According to a Kerry campaign source, the event would essentially take place like this:
First, prior to the actual events in Boston, the DNC would change party rules to mandate that the nomination vote and acceptance occur no later than September 1, 2004. This could occur via national conference calls with state parties and senior DNC leaders.
The convention in Boston would be held, with speeches and the like, including an address by Kerry. But Kerry’s speech would have to be billed as something other than an acceptance speech as no nomination vote would have occurred.
After Kerry’s speech, the delegates would vote for a recess of the convention, with a motion to reconvene the state delegations on or about September 1 for a national nomination vote. Critical to this motion to reconvene would be stipulations about how the formal voting would occur, most likely via the Internet.
Then, on an agreed upon date set in Boston, the nomination vote would take place.
Apparently McAuliffe thought he hit upon a big reason to scuttle the idea of a delayed nomination process. According to a DNC source, McAuliffe had lawyers over the weekend looking into whether or not a Democratic gathering such as the one that would take place in Boston would require TV networks to provide Republicans with so-called “equal time” for responses.
“Conventions are considered news events and special events that do not require the same kind of equal time considerations that other political events require,” says a DNC source. “If the Boston convention was no longer a nominating convention, and just a big rally, the old rules might no longer apply. Basically, we’re looking for anything that will kill this plan before it really takes off.”
Other options to kill Kerry’s plan included a threat to suspend joint DNC/Kerry fundraising events, which have proved successful for the candidate.
“This argument just confirms what a lot of people have thought about Kerry and his people,” says the DNC source. “That they think they are bigger than the party. They think they have the stature of the Clinton crowd. They have no idea how wrong they are.”
THE NEW PATRIOTISM
Candidate Kerry had no plans for a direct response to President Bush’s Monday evening national address on Iraq, though he will be spending the week focusing on national security issues, according to campaign advance staffers.
The big event to watch may come on Thursday, when the candidate is expected to make a major speech about counter-terrorism tactics and national security.
According to a campaign source, the speech is also intended to further muddy Kerry’s position on the USA PATRIOT Act. For months, Kerry has claimed he opposed the PATRIOT Act in all forms. But after polling revealed that most Americans support the act, Kerry has since been attempting to align himself with the law, now claiming that as president he would make only “minor” adjustments to it.