Carter Didn't Invite Dean To Georgia After All
A little more on the trip today by Howard Dean to Georgia for an appearance with Jimmy Carter. Karen Tumulty of Time reports tonight that contrary to some accounts elsewhere, Carter did not invite Dean to Georgia, but rather it was Dean who called Carter and asked if he could come down to worship with him. Moreover, given the questionable timing of using the day before the caucuses to go to Georgia, it turns out that the Dean campaign picked the day, even after Carter's son Chip offfered dates in February and March.
So why was it so important to the Dean campaign to take a critical day like today to go to Georgia for a nonendorsement appearance with Carter, when other dates after the caucus were offered? And did this have anything to do with Dean's recent attempts to inject more faith and religion into his message, or with the fact that Wesley Clark plans a similar appearance with Carter later? Did the Dean campaign simply grab for the appearance so that they could spin Carter's supportive statements in a shortened news cycle as a near-endorsement?
If Dean wins handily tomorrow, then it will be forgotten. But if Dean eeks out a victory, or loses, the second-guessing will begin about the decision and the motives behind it. Sure, many of you may say that having Dean out of the state on such a key day is insignificant. But with the last-minute energy expended by the other candidates and their surrogates in criss-crossing efforts getting them great media coverage in front of local crowds, how will video of an appearance with Jimmy Carter a thousand miles away compete with that?