By Joseph Tsidulko
By Patrick Range McDonald
By David Futch
By Hillel Aron
By Dennis Romero
By Jill Stewart
By Dennis Romero
By Dennis Romero
In the Senate, Kerry amassed a solid liberal record — pro-labor, pro–civil rights, pro-environmental par excellence. It was, however, a patrician’s liberalism — he favored free-trade agreements and tax breaks for high-tech companies. His commitment to free trade began to waver somewhat during the fight to give the president fast-track authority in late 2002; he authored an amendment that would have made it more difficult for trade accords to overturn state environmental and labor protections. The amendment failed, and Kerry voted for the overall bill. But of the four viable candidates running for president, his record is by any measure the most liberal — far more so than Dean’s as governor of Vermont. Dean has run to Kerry’s left during most of this campaign, but that reverses their respective positions for the past two decades. (Liberals’ love affair with Dean may someday look as confounding as the 1950s liberals’ love affair with Adlai Stevenson — who discreetly opposed new civil rights laws and national health insurance — now appears.)
In a sense, both Kerry and Clark are rÃ©sumÃ© candidates — war heroes for an election in which security concerns loom larger than they have since the early ’60s. But Kerry’s heroism has seemed more personal and palpable than Clark’s, what with Viet vets emerging to tell how John Kerry saved their lives. Moreover, Kerry’s rÃ©sumÃ© is devoid of those items on Clark’s CV that should tend to give a Democrat pause — such as Clark’s support for most GOP presidential candidates over the past quarter-century.
The two candidates have also evolved contrasting manners while on the campaign trail. Clark, who needs to boost his support among Democratic women, is the nurturing general, talking about his concern for the welfare of the soldiers he’s commanded and their spouses and children. Kerry, who needs to connect more viscerally with working-class voters, now talks with outrage about the travails of American workers. If Iowa’s vote is any indication, Kerry is succeeding at this mission, but then he’s always run strong among working-class voters in Massachusetts.
Wesley Clark is now fighting a two-front war. In New Hampshire, he must go up against Kerry in a fight to see who’s the more compelling war hero. The following week, in South Carolina, he must contest North Carolina Senator Edwards to see who’s the more electable in the South. But Kerry is fighting a two-front war as well: against Clark, but also against Dean for the allegiance of liberals. In the Iowa caucus entrance polls, he lost to Dean among the 17 percent of voters who called themselves “very liberal” by a 32 percent to 28 percent margin; among the 39 percent of voters who called themselves “somewhat liberal,” Kerry bested Dean by 35 percent to 21 percent.
The first post-Iowa John Zogby tracking poll of New Hampshire Democrats, released Tuesday night, showed Dean at 25 percent, with Kerry on his heels at 23 percent, Clark fallen back to 16 percent, and Edwards and Lieberman at 7 percent. In the small Tuesday-night-only sample, Kerry actually led Dean by 2 percent. If Iowa demonstrated anything, however, it’s that a lot can change in a short period of time. The four major candidates coming into New Hampshire will almost surely all go on to the multistate primaries of February 3, but in what order we do not know.