Some supporters of Sen. John Edwards were surprised by the recent endorsement of Sen. John Kerry by his senior Massachusetts colleague, Ted Kennedy. Edwards had assiduously cultivated Kennedy as a backroom adviser during the initial stages of his presidential bid. “We thought we had him as a supporter and were telling people as much,” says an Edwards campaign staffer. “We didn’t see it coming.”
True, Edwards and Kennedy did appear to be getting cozy during 2002. Kennedy on background and even occasionally on the record said nice things about Edwards, particularly when the North Carolinian was pushing a version of a patients’ bill of rights near and dear to Kennedy’s heart. But Kennedy, still a decent political strategist when he wants to be, never went so far out on a limb for Edwards that he couldn’t easily back off it. Particularly so when the junior senator from Massachusetts started making noises about running for president too.
Edwards and his staff might have thought they had an edge on gaining Kennedy’s support — something that would have helped Edwards with the East Coast liberal vote, and perhaps especially in New Hampshire at primary time — because the relationship between Kerry and Kennedy has been chilly in the best of times. Kerry has always sought to get out from under the shadow of the Kennedy mystique, while at the same time paying tribute to the state’s seeming royal family.
But perhaps sensing that Kennedy had eyes for other competitors, Kerry sucked it up and by last summer started kissing Kennedy’s pat-tooty big time. At every turn in New Hampshire and home in Massachusetts, Kerry talked up the Kennedy legacy. And recently he was quick to support Kennedy’s position on taking it slow with Iraq, this after the two men went in opposite directions last year, with Kerry supporting a resolution for military action against Iraq and Kennedy fighting it.
“Kerry really went out of his way to let Senator Kennedy know his support was very much wanted and needed if he was going to succeed,” says a Kennedy staffer in Massachusetts. “It was the kind of deference that should have been exhibited a while ago.”
If some Edwards campaign people didn’t see it coming, others Edwards staffers. Journalists doing profiles of Edwards were being told off the record by the candidate’s Senate staffers that they didn’t expect support from Kennedy given the presence of Kerry in the race.
MARCHING FOR LIFE
“Most anniversaries are causes for celebration,” said Philadelphia Roman Catholic Archbishop Anthony Bevilacqua. “This one is not. It is a day of mourning. Mourning for this immoral, unjust, illogical [Roe v. Wade] decision.”
Bevilacqua, a stalwart in the fight against the murder of the unborn, led more than 100 priests and 7,000 attendees in an all-night vigil Tuesday night at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception. Later, on Wednesday morning, more than 50,000 gathered on the Mall before heading up to the Supreme Court building in the annual March for Life.
Both events were marked by the presence of thousands of young people from elementary and high schools around the country — young enthusiastic kids with the most basic sense that abortion is wrong.
Now compare those events with the National Abortion Rights Action League/Pro-Choice America dinner held on Tuesday night in Washington. Dutifully seated at the dais was the “Democratic six-pack” of presidential wannabes: Dean, Edwards, Gephardt, Kerry, Loserman and Sharpton.
The event was made up mainly of middle-aged white women, bitter at the world, expecting the six men to service their desires for more unborn to be sacrificed at any political or moral cost. All six were up to the task.
“It was most disappointing to see Richard Gephardt up there selling his soul down the river,” says a pro-life lobbyist in Washington. “He moved over to the dark side years ago, but hearing him rationalize his decision to support the killing of the unborn, when he was opposed to it early on his congressional career, is sad. He’d have so many more votes and admirers were he a strong pro-lifer. Look at Governor [Robert] Casey in Pennsylvania.”
Gephardt couldn’t put his heart into it, however. Speaking from prepared notes and a Teleprompter, Gephardt appeared more wooden than he usually does. Edwards and Kerry received the greatest applause, though it appeared that Dean had purchased a block of tables at the NARAL dinner, judging by applause from one side of the hotel ballroom after he spoke.
Out on the March for Life trail, there was grumbling that President George Bush had (once again) chosen only to call in comments to the crowd. “We’ve come far enough along since President Reagan did that that we should have greater representation from this administration,” says the lobbyist. “We helped Bush win this election, whether he wants to admit it or not. We helped him win the congressional majority. The Republicans owe us more than a phone call.”
To be fair, Bush was meeting with pro-life activists in Gephardt’s home turf of Missouri on Wednesday morning, before going telephonic. And in the end, what more can the Administration do, beyond putting in place a Supreme Court majority that will turn Roe. v. Wade back to the states? “That’s all the more reason for them to give us the symbolic signs of support,” says the lobbyist.
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