Daily Kos
Political analysis and other daily rants on the state of the nation

Friday | February 21, 2003

Dean brings down the house

The DNC held its presidential cattle call today at its Winter Meetings, and Dean brought down the house.

Democratic presidential candidates clashed Friday over U.S. policy toward Iraq, with former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean igniting a meeting of party activists by telling them to "stand for something" or fall again to President Bush.

The only major candidate who has not served in Washington, Dean told the Democratic National Committee winter session that party leaders have not been tough enough on Bush nor committed to party principles. Rank-and-file Democrats, still stinging from GOP midterm victories in the fall, lined up afterward to shake his hand and offer their support.

Aside from the great reaction (which included a barely restrained Donna Brazille gushing about his performance), note how the reporter calls dean a "major candidate". For Dean, that's progress. And coverage like this will help make him far more competitive.

There's more:

Immediately after the address, former Gore aide Brazile organized an impromptu meeting between her fellow black activists and Dean.

Ed Tinsley, a DNC member from Montana, was shaking his head in amazement after the Dean speech. "He got us riled up," Tinsley said. But Tinsley and several other Democrats cautioned that Dean's message carried just one day, and that there are many more to go against a field of experienced, well-financed candidates.

Dean may well be ready to move up into the top tier with Kerry, Lieberman and perhaps Edwards. Much of that will depend on his Q1 fundraising totals.

One more good sign of Dean's ascendency? Kerry's people are starting to attack Dean by name:

Kerry's campaign manager, Jim Jordan, fired back, "Governor Dean, in effect, seems to be giving the U.N. veto power over national security decisions of the United States. That's an extraordinary proposition, one never endorsed by any U.S. president or serious candidate for the presidency."
The enemy is Bush. There's no better way to turn me off a candidate than to go negative in a primary. Kerry is treading on dangerous ground here, which in a way is indicative of the pressure Dean must be putting on his and the other candidate's campaigns.

Just as good was this:

Rep. Dick Gephardt of Missouri told the group, "We must disarm Saddam Hussein," and he said he was proud to sponsor a congressional resolution authorizing Bush to use force, if necessary.

"Shame!" a member of the audience shouted. Fellow DNC members nodded their heads in support and gave the protester a thumbs up.

When is Gephardt going to realize he's yesterday's news and hang it up?

And while Lieberman also spoke, he barely rated a line of copy. This from the supposed press-knighted "front-runner".

This will be a contest between Kerry, Dean, Edwards and Graham. So long as they keep it clean, I'd be happy with any of them. But I must say, Dean has been looking real good lately. Seriously -- Dean got the crowd on its feet, while the others got catcalls or chirping crickets.

Kerry and Edwards better be glad they didn't have to follow Dean's act today. (They'll be speaking tomorrow.)

Posted February 21, 2003 03:40 PM | Comments (194)


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