Sunday :: Jan 11, 2004

Edwards and Kerry Get Iowa Newspaper Endorsements - Latest Polls Close

by Steve

After watching the back and forth amongst the two leading Democratic candidates in Iowa for months, Iowa’s major newspapers decided to endorse neither Howard Dean nor Dick Gephardt. Surging John Edwards snagged the coveted endorsement of the state’s powerhouse newspaper the Des Moines Register on Sunday, while John Kerry picked up the endorsements of three other Iowa newspapers, the Quad City Times in Davenport, the Iowa City Press-Citizen, and the Hawk Eye in Burlington.

And while Dean had the benefit of Al Gore's stumping for him over the weekend, Kerry brought Teddy Kennedy to Iowa to do the same for him.

In its endorsement of Edwards, the Register acknowledged that Edwards was less experienced that his competitors, but said the following:

The more we watched him, the more we read his speeches and studied his positions, the more we saw him comport himself in debate, the more we learned about his life story, the more our editorial board came to conclude he's a cut above the others.

John Edwards is one of those rare, naturally gifted politicians who doesn't need a long record of public service to inspire confidence in his abilities. His life has been one of accomplishing the unexpected, amid flashes of brilliance.

Dean has the slogan, but it is Edwards who most eloquently and believably expresses this point of view, with his trial-lawyer skill for distilling arguments into compelling language that moves a jury of ordinary people.

If Edwards wins the Democratic nomination, voters this fall would have a choice between two men who almost perfectly embody the rival political philosophies in America today. George W. Bush and John Edwards are attractive, likable, energetic. They have about the same level of prior experience in government - and they are polar opposites.

Like all the Democratic candidates, Edwards is strongly critical of Bush, but with him it tends to be a little less personal. He emphasizes his goal is not merely to replace Bush but to change America. He tends to conduct positive, optimistic campaigns.

What a clear and attractive choice an Edwards vs. Bush fall campaign would offer. Beginning in the Iowa caucuses next Monday, Democrats would do well to give that choice to Americans.

As for Kerry, the Quad City Times said:

At the Quad City Times, before he parleyed with editorial board members, we took Kerry to a break room unannounced to talk with three of our co-workers who took a few minutes off the packaging insertion production line. In just minutes, he was speaking easily with them about hopes, dreams, troubles and disappointments and answering their questions. He handled the curve ball deftly and walked away talking about what he learned from them. . That was among the experiences that differentiated Kerry. . All the candidates we met spoke very well. . Kerry listens. . He ponders questions, asks follow-ups and answers thoughtfully. He appears to be continually learning, whether it is the kite-surfing he took up a couple years ago, the guitar lessons he has put on hold during this campaign, or asking our opinion on Mississippi River lock expansion.

That quality and an extraordinary record of public service make him the best potential president among the crop of contenders in Iowa.

Kerry stands out with a breadth of foreign affairs experience, from commanding a Navy gunboat in Vietnam and earning a Silver Star to leading an international task force on the African AIDS epidemic to countless visits with Israeli and Palestinian leaders.

While other candidates demonstrate a promise for leadership in world affairs, Kerry has graduated from that school. Phi Beta Kappa. . A Washington insider? You bet, in the best sense with a track record of working well with Republicans and earning the friendship and support in Congress from Sen. John McCain.

A regular guy? Not hardly. . It will take an exceptional individual to build coalitions that can add jobs to our economic recovery, corral healthcare costs and do the right thing in Iraq. Kerry has proven success building coalitions to get things done on a state, national and international level. . And he leaves an impression that his greatest successes — and ours — lie ahead.

As for the Press-Citizen:

Of the nine Democrats seeking the nomination, Kerry possesses the right experiences to best serve as president, particularly with American troops serving in Iraq and Afghanistan and considering our nation's increasingly uneasy relationship with long-standing allies. A veteran with two tours of duty in Vietnam, he has served as Massachusetts' lieutenant governor during the mid-1980s and in the U.S. Senate since 1984. As a congressman, he sits on the key Foreign Relations Committee.

Iraq and foreign policy matters likely will raise the greatest challenges to America in the next two years, not only in terms of potential threats to the United States but in the very philosophy upon which our nation bases its policies and decisions. President Bush proposes a largely unilateral path while some Democratic candidates suggest retreat. Kerry, however, proposes a reasonable third option: Confronting the problems of the world by leading a wide coalition of free nations.

Significant economic issues also will confront the presidency. Rather than pin economic growth on tax cuts for the wealthy or on big government programs, Kerry would encourage job creation through a new manufacturing jobs credit, by investing in new technology and by seeking energy independence in a "race" for alternate and renewable fuels. The latter project, which Kerry compares to the Apollo program, offers the dual potential of finally ending America's dependence on OPEC's mercy while helping the fundamental elements of our economy grow. In addition, Kerry proposes keeping Bush's recent tax cuts for the working and middle classes while rolling back those to Americans earning more than $200,000 a year. Ultimately, his plan calls for balancing the federal budget not by massive harsh cuts to programs or through outlandish tax hikes that hurt everyday Americans, but by developing our economy and hence increasing our tax revenues.

As for the polls today, they seem to be saying the race is fluid and up for grabs. The Los Angeles Times reports that of likely Democratic caucus goers taken through last Thursday, Dean leads Gephardt by a seven point margin, 30%-23%. Kerry comes in third at 18%, with Edwards at 11%. The poll found that four in ten Iowans are still willing to change their minds and go in different directions.

The latest Zogby poll done for Reuters and MSNBC taken by phone through yesterday show a closer race between Dean and Gephardt, with Dean leading 25%-23%. Kerry and Edwards are in a dogfight for third, with Kerry logging in at 15% and Edwards at 14%.

The Iowa Caucuses are up for grabs, with Edwards and Kerry showing cause for optimism today. The chattering classes are in glee at this horse race.

Steve :: 11:56 AM :: Comments (0) :: Digg It!