Archive for January, 2004

30
Jan
04

Wired News | Bush Sidesteps Call for Outside Probe on Iraq WMD

Wired News | Bush Sidesteps Call for Outside Probe on Iraq WMD: “WASHINGTON (Reuters) – President Bush on Friday sidestepped demands for outside review of pre-war intelligence on Iraq, but said it was important to know all the facts surrounding White House assertions Iraq’s illicit weapons justified the U.S. decision to invade.

“I want to American people to know that I, too, want to know the facts,” Bush told reporters at the White House. Arizona Republican Sen. John McCain has broken party ranks to join Democratic demands for an independent probe into how U.S. intelligence got it wrong given the failure by searchers to find weapons of mass destruction Bush insisted were in Iraq.

The president, seeking re-election this year, gave no sign he planned to yield to the demands. He stuck to a position that the U.S. government will compare in an internal CIA probe the pre-war intelligence with what the weapons hunters have found.

“I want to be able to compare what the Iraq Survey Group has found with what we thought prior to going into Iraq,” he said when asked whether he would support an independent probe.

Former chief U.S. weapons hunter David Kay said on Capitol Hill on Wednesday “we were almost all wrong” about weapons of mass destruction in Iraq and that his search there found no evidence of biological or chemical arms.

Kay and a number of leading Democrats on Capitol Hill have also called for an investigation, but Republicans say they fear an election-year political witchhunt.

Bush said Kay had made clear in his congressional testimony that Saddam Hussein was a “growing danger” who had to be dealt with given the post-Sept. 11, 2001, world.

“He was defiant, he ignored the request of the international community and this country led a coalition to remove him. We dealt with the danger,” Bush said. But critics emphasize that was not the main justification given for the war, in which more than 500 U.S. troops have so far died.

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29
Jan
04

SignOnSanDiego.com > News > Politics — Dean aide resigns as campaigns broaden

SignOnSanDiego.com > News > Politics — Dean aide resigns as campaigns broaden
ORANGEBURG, S.C. � After consecutive defeats, Howard Dean yesterday shook up his flagging presidential campaign as it showed signs of financial problems, while John Kerry sought to consolidate his front-runner status by picking up endorsements here and elsewhere.

The Massachusetts senator and the other leading contenders for the Democratic nomination hopscotched across most of the seven states that will hold primaries and caucuses Tuesday while Dean huddled at his headquarters in Vermont with campaign advisers and overhauled his campaign.

Dean named Roy Neel, a top aide to former Vice President Al Gore, as chief executive officer of the campaign, prompting the resignation of campaign manager Joe Trippi.

The former Vermont governor also asked campaign staffers to defer their salaries for two weeks.

Those moves capped a dramatic reversal of fortune for Dean over the past two weeks, as he relinquished his front-runner status to Kerry after finishing third in the Jan. 19 Iowa caucuses and a distant second in Tuesday’s New Hampshire primary.

In a late evening conference call with reporters, Dean portrayed the changes as organizational and denied they were a signal of trouble.

“I had felt for some time that we needed a strong organizational force in the office and had intended to bring in Roy as that organizational force,” he said, adding that he had asked Trippi to stay on and work with the media and the ground campaign.

Dean said he regretted that Trippi resigned, calling him “an enormous asset” and denying that the two had any “substantive differences.”

In hiring Neel, Dean has entrusted his campaign to part of the Washington establishment he has railed against. In addition to being a former top aide to Gore, who has endorsed Dean, Neel was a lobbyist for the telecommunications industry.

Trippi was widely regarded as the mastermind behind Dean’s rise from an obscure, antiwar candidate to the leading contender for the nomination. But the Internet-fueled enthusiasm and fund raising that drove Dean to the front of the pack failed to translate into wins in Iowa or New Hampshire.

As for the austerity measures, Dean said, “We are having to husband our resources � but we’re not broke.”

“I think you’re going to see a leaner, meaner organization,” he added. “We had geared up for a front-runner’s campaign. It’s not going to be a front-runner’s campaign. It’s going to be a long, long war of attrition.”

Dean raised more than $40 million last year, far more than any of his rivals. But he spent huge sums on television ads as far back as June. While that helped boost him to front-runner status, his lack of success in Iowa and New Hampshire has forced a more frugal approach � even though he must now compete on a bigger playing field.

Dean fund-raisers, working feverishly to restock the bank account, reported the campaign had about $5 million.

While other candidates, especially Kerry, are running ads in other states, Dean is not. Over the weekend, Dean pulled advertising from all states except New Hampshire. It is not clear when or whether he will begin advertising in the states voting Tuesday.

Kerry, riding a wave of momentum from his back-to-back victories in Iowa and New Hampshire, is expected to pick up an endorsement in South Carolina from one of the state’s most influential Democrats, Rep. Jim Clyburn.

Clyburn’s embrace will almost certainly help Kerry build support among black voters, who analysts say may constitute up to half of the Democratic primary voters in South Carolina. The pending endorsement is a setback for North Carolina Sen. John Edwards, who also had eagerly sought Clyburn’s backing after Clyburn’s first pick, Missouri Rep. Richard Gephardt, dropped out of the race after a finishing fourth in Iowa.

Kerry welcomed news of the endorsement, but told reporters in Missouri, “I’m still going to make this a campaign about people.”

While experts debate the practical impact of endorsements, Kerry’s seemed to validate his front-runner status.

“The establishment Democrats are really forming behind Kerry. Clyburn is taking his place among the political leaders,” said Blease Graham, an expert on state politics at the University of South Carolina.

Edwards was born in South Carolina and has said a win here is crucial to keep his campaign viable. He finished a surprising second in Iowa but finished fourth in New Hampshire behind retired Gen. Wesley Clark.

Edwards told reporters that he respected Clyburn, but added, “I think most of his supporters and organization are with us.”

In a jab at his opponents, Edwards told supporters: “I will not forget where South Carolina is after Feb. 3. I will be back to campaign in the fall.”

Kerry has suggested a Democratic nominee could prevail in November without winning the Republican-leaning South.

The candidates also focused considerable attention on Missouri, which awards the most delegates among the seven states voting on Tuesday. Kerry flew in for a quick but attention-getting rally at a community college near St. Louis before moving on to South Carolina.

Edwards and civil rights activist Al Sharpton also paid visits to Missouri. A poll released yesterday showed Kerry leading in Missouri with 25 percent to Edwards’ 9 percent. Dean was at 6 percent, Clark had 3 percent and Connecticut Sen. Joe Lieberman had 2 percent. The Kansas City Star said its poll was conducted before the New Hampshire results could affect voter opinions.

There hadn’t been much of a campaign in Missouri because the other candidates had planned to cede the state to favorite-son Gephardt, whose sudden exit from the race left the state up for grabs.

Given that, and the expense of waging an extensive TV advertising campaign in such a large state, Kerry’s momentum from Iowa and New Hampshire is likely to make a big impact in Missouri, according to University of Missouri professor William Benoit.

Kerry won endorsements in Missouri from St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay and former Sens. Jean Carnahan and Thomas Eagleton. Iowa Gov. Tom Vilsack also was expected to endorse Kerry, after remaining neutral in that state’s caucuses, which revived Kerry’s campaign.

Edwards touted support from Rep. Ike Skelton, D-Mo.; former Kansas City Mayor Emanuel Cleaver; and Missouri Lt. Gov. Joe Maxwell.

Kerry’s success also has bolstered his campaign finances and he plans to run television ads in all seven states in play Tuesday.

“We have to build. We have to grow,” Kerry told reporters, saying his campaign would remain focused on the economy and health care.

But Kerry’s rivals were far from rolling over, vowing to wage a tough fight in Tuesday’s contests. “Now we’re going to places where I feel I will be very strong,” Edwards said during an appearance at South Carolina State University. Clark touched down in New Mexico and Arizona.

Edwards, Clark and Lieberman also swooped into Oklahoma. Democrats in Delaware and North Dakota also vote Tuesday.

All of the candidates are expected to be together again in South Carolina today for a televised debate in Greenville.

28
Jan
04

Al Franken tackles heckler of Howard Dean in the New Hampshire Primary run-up to the Super Bowl.

Al Franken tackles heckler of Howard Dean in the New Hampshire Primary run-up to the Super Bowl.: ” According to an article today in the New York Post, Al Franken ‘body slammed’ a heckler at a Howard Dean rally. Franken said he’s not a Dean supporter but that he tackled the heckler to shut him up in order to preserve free speech. Other witnesses disputed this explanation. According to PoliSat.Com’s highly reliable (reliably high?) confidential sources, a number of witnesses said the man Franken tackled bore a striking resemblance to Bill O’Reilly. Other witnesses said Franken also threatened to tackle another man nearby for having just simply stood by during the heckling. (Reliable sources also say this other man bore a striking resemblance to Alan Colmes.) Franken’s friend expressed concern that he might be sued for, and/or criminally prosecuted for, assault and battery.
After the incident, a number of witnesses asked what the man had been saying that sent Franken over the edge. No one could remember what the heckler had said, but all the witnesses agreed that Franken was quoting Howard Dean (‘Aaauuuurrgggh’) as he hurtled through the air to tackle the heckler.
According to PoliSat.Com’s confidential sources, the incident has drawn such favorable attention from Free Speech Advocates that Franken is already contemplating a new book on the First Amendment (to be available for bulk-purchases by various activist groups) to be titled, Heckling Hecklers and the Tackling Tacklers Who Tackle Them. Meanwhile, Franken is fielding offers from both the New England Patriots and the Carolina Panthers to play tackle in the Super Bowl next Sunday.

PoliSat.Com has learned that when New England Patriot quarterback, Tom Brady (who tacitly showed support for Bush by attending the State of the Union speech in the VIP section for Laura Bush — to the dismay of John Kerry), learned how aggressive Franken was in protecting someone Franken claimed to not be supporting, he demanded that the Patriots recruit Franken as a lineman to give him pass protection in the Super Bowl. However, since Franken claims to have acquired such skills as a wrestler, he may be better advised to await offers from one of those “professional” wrestling networks. Then, after the November 2004 election, he could challenge Dennis Hastert, a former wrestling coach, to a “smack-down” with Jesse Ventura as the referee.

Subsequent investigation has, however, cast doubt on whether the man was trying to “heckle” Dean or was instead trying to express support by chanting Dean’s catchy slogan, “Aaauuurrrrggghhh.”

Free Screech.�

While Franken attended a rally
for Dean he believed ’twas O’Reilly
whose words disrespecting
the Doctor with heckling
made Al choose to tackle “O’Reilly.”

But later, the truth has been gleaned
from folks at the rally for Dean:
The man had appeared
to chant as a cheer
the “aaurrggh” as the trademark of Dean.

Rumors abound that the man will sue Franken for assault and battery. However, criminal prosecutors have already stated they would not file criminal charges because it would be too easy for Franken to prove the insanity defense. Meanwhile, Franken’s friend has been trying to get him to enjoy the sobering effect of drinking a lot of (decaffeinated) coffee to perform 125 “Daily Affirmations,” the secular equivalent of “Hail Marys.” .

26
Jan
04

Calling In: The Momentum in New Hampshire

Blog for America: “Mark just called from the Palace Theater in downtown Manchester, where Governor Dean is holding a town hall meeting with New Hampshire voters. Mark was hoping to blog the event but the building is so crowded that he can’s get inside the theater. He tells us that out front there are more than 50 people cheering with signs and traffic is backed up on Hanover Street for nearly two blocks. They’re having to turn people away at the doors because of the fire code.
He tells me he’s made it into the foyer. There are 255 press people signed up to cover the event but some of them can’t even get in, and Mark tells me there’s a minor insurrection brewing among the press. Mark is surrounded by about 30 cameramen who are trying to rush the door into the theater. An elderly usher is trying to hold back the tide.
On his tip toes now, Mark can see into the theater. He tells us it’s completely packed. He’ll call back with an update later….”

23
Jan
04

Clark: GOP agenda at play in New Hampshire debate

Clark: GOP agenda at play in New Hampshire debate: “Presidential candidate Wesley Clark on Friday complained that one of the moderators in Thursday night’s debate was carrying out a Republican agenda by questioning his Democratic credentials. Brit Hume of Fox News Channel, who worked as both moderator and questioner during the two-hour debate with the seven candidates, pressed Clark about when he had first realized he was a Democrat.

Clark told reporters Friday, “I looked at who was asking the questions, and I think that was part of the Republican agenda in the debate.”

Democrats have complained that Fox News Channel shows a Republican bias.

Clark joined the Democratic Party after announcing his bid for the presidency. He has said he voted for Republican presidents Richard Nixon, Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush but also Democrats Bill Clinton and Al Gore. In defending himself as a Democrat, he cited his pro-choice, pro-affirmative action, pro-environment and pro-labor positions.

“I think voters understand that I am a Democrat,” Clark said Friday after an appearance at Rivier College in New Hampshire.

For several weeks, Clark has shared the Granite State with only one other Democrat, Sen. Joe Lieberman of Connecticut, as their rivals focused on Iowa. In that time, Clark showed gains in the polls, surging to second place in some surveys.

But some eyebrow-raising remarks have taken a toll on Clark’s candidacy, and advisers have conceded that he lost all the ground and momentum that he had gained while the rest of the field was in Iowa. They hope he can cling to a respectable showing in the New Hamsphire primary Tuesday, setting the stage for making a stand in the Feb. 3 states, including South Carolina and Arizona.”

22
Jan
04

Holler If You Hear Me!

Something that Bob Dole once said comes to mind, �where�s the outrage�? Dean just did what so many of us want to do after listening to lie after lie from the white house and watching the establishment Democrats just stand there and take it (exception, Ted Kennedy). Put up the BAT and let�s show all the pundits and nay-sayers just how loud 600,000 plus people can say YEAH!!!

22
Jan
04

Wired News | Dean Jokes About ‘Screeching’ in Iowa

Wired News | Dean Jokes About ‘Screeching’ in Iowa: “LEBANON, N.H. (Reuters) – A hoarse Howard Dean joked on Thursday about his nationally televised outburst, saying his voice had not recovered from his ‘screeching’ after he lost in Iowa, the first major prize for Democrats seeking the White House. In fact, the former Vermont governor is fighting a bad cold.

Dean is trying to get past the arm-waving, screaming speech he delivered after finishing third in Monday’s Iowa caucuses to Massachusetts Sen. John Kerry and Sen. John Edwards of North Carolina.

His performance has been widely lampooned on the Internet, and late-night talk shows, but it could also be a serious problem for his campaign, reinforcing his image among some as an “angry” candidate who does not have the temperament to be president.

“I have still not recovered my voice from my screeching in Iowa,” he told a town hall meeting in Lebanon.

Dean has been dogged by the fist-pumping, sleeve-rolling, shrieking remarks. He has been asked about it in more than a dozen radio and satellite television interviews.

“The context was 3,500 kids waving American flags who’d worked their hearts out for us for three weeks, and I really felt I owed them an uplifting speech, so, I don’t know what it looked like on television,” he said in the interviews. “But I understand the audience wasn’t shown, which is really too bad because it was really a terrific rallying cry.”

“I have my warts. I sometimes say things that get me in trouble,” he later added in Lebanon.

Dean, once the front-runner among seven Democrats vying to challenge President Bush on Nov. 2, has fallen behind Kerry in polls in New Hampshire, which holds its primary on Tuesday. He once held a 20 point lead.

Kerry, riding a wave of momentum from his Iowa victory, has grabbed a three-point lead over Dean five days before the primary, according to a Reuters/MSNBC/Zogby poll released on Thursday.

Dean spokesman Jay Carson dismissed the polls.

“A lot can change in five days … He’s going to be pointing out that he stands up for what’s right — regardless of whether it’s popular — and that he’s delivered results and not just speeches,” Carson told CNN.

Dean would not apologize for Monday night’s performance, Carson said.

“He had a room full of people who had come to Iowa to work hard for him, to volunteer for him, he wanted to go out there and show his appreciation for the hard work that they had done. He did that, he was energizing them and we’re not going to make any apologies for it.”

But Dean has toned down his rhetoric and his delivery. Instead of rousing rallies, he is holding town hall meetings in New Hampshire, answering questions and forgoing the “red meat” of his previous appearances.

In Lebanon, Dean was on the verge of losing his voice completely. The Democratic candidates meet on Thursday night for a televised debate that could be critical to the New Hampshire vote.

“I’m going to become a frog if I keep this up,” he said.

Copyright � 2003 Reuters Limited.”