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Wednesday | January 22, 2003

Cattle Call at NARAL

Who wants to talk abortion?

The Note has the scoop on last night's presidential Cattle Call at the NARAL Pro-Choice America dinner. According to the note, this is how the candidate's fared:

Sharpton: Kicked ass. Is an orator of significant ability. Those that underestimate him may be in for a rude surprise.

The room's easy laughter and enthusiasm for Sharpton's remarks showed 1) how unfamiliar most of the DC Chattering Class is with his style, and 2) how uncomfortable the party still is with race.
Gephardt: Took the opportunity to explain how he evolved from his old anti-abortion self to today's ardent supporter of abortion rights. Used a teleprompter (boo! hiss!)

Lieberman: Borrowed from Clinton's "safe, legal, and rare" playbook. The Note seems to think this is tired. I see nothing wrong with it.

Kerry: "Straightforward and newsless". Used a teleprompter.

Edwards: "Straightforward and newsless", but he did promise to introduce a bill guaranteeing abortion rights. Still, he and his staff showed some of the "inexperience" that has haunted his campaign:

Edwards (and his staff) gets points subtracted for not coordinating on the fly or in advance to keep the Senator from quoting the same passage as [NARAL President] Kate Michelman did in her introductory speech.
Apparently, Edwards also received the least enthusiastic response from the audience, though it's hard to say why. He seemed to have said the right things.

Dean: Apparently he stole the show:

But perhaps the most interesting speech of the night, however, was given by the doctor from Vermont.

Dean used anecdotes from his time as a family doctor to take on abortion (including "partial birth" and parental consent) in a way that a non-doctor could not.

Dean also somehow organized the room, getting his many supporters there to wave glowsticks when he spoke. A small thing, but it shows that, again, those of you underestimating his organizational skills and efforts on the ground in the key states are making an error.

(Incidentally, that quote "take on abortion" makes it look like Dean is anti-abortion. The exact opposite is obviously true.)

Dean did, however, forget to provide the press with a written version of his speech -- a surprising mistake. The press relies on those transcripts when writing their stories. The last thing Dean's people should want is a bunch of paraphrasing or outright omission in the next day's coverage of the event. (Like was the case in the NYT's coverage.)

Posted January 22, 2003 01:15 PM | Comments (77)


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