With Joe Lieberman and Wesley Clark bowing out of the Iowa caucuses, all eyes are focusing on the prized New Hampshire primary at the end of January, just three months away. There, former Vermont governor Howard Dean enjoys a 17-point lead in the polls over John Kerry from neighboring Massachusetts. Lieberman, so obviously a stalking horse for the Southern conservative Dems, is opening new offices in the state in his ongoing crash effort to derail Dean—so far, to no avail.
To date, Dean’s only serious challenger in New Hampshire has been Kerry. Throughout the early days of the campaign, Dean sat back and took the gibes and smears of his fellow Dems, but last week for the first time the Vermonter showed he can play hard and dirty just like the rest of them. He hit Kerry where it hurts—on his opportunistic use of his Vietnam War record. Kerry is a much decorated hero of that war and has got the deserved reputation of not stooping to use his place as a bemedaled and wounded veteran to make political hay. In 1992, Kerry came to the defense of Bill Clinton, then being badgered about his war record by Nebraska senator and Dem presidential contender Bob Kerrey. Kerrey was a Navy SEAL in that war and lost a foot in the fighting. In defending Clinton, John Kerry declared, “I am saddened by the fact that Vietnam has yet again been inserted into the campaign and that it has been inserted in what I feel to be the worst possible way. What saddens me most is that Democrats, above all those who shared the agonies of that generation, should now be refighting the many conflicts of Vietnam in order to win the current political conflict of a presidential primary.”
But as Dean advisers are now pointing out, according to The Hill, a Washington semi-weekly, these days Kerry is singing a different tune: In reply to John Edwards during the Dem debate last month, Kerry said, “Can I say that when I was serving in Vietnam on a small boat, the one thing I learned was nobody asked where you came from. Nobody worried about your background. You fought together, you lived together, and you bled together.” He told the Orlando Sentinel, “I am the only person running for this job who has actually fought in a war.”
Note: Lost in space, fantasists in the Democratic Party think that even with Schwarzenegger as governor, they can take California in the presidential election by running Nancy Pelosi, the Democratic minority leader in the House, as their vice presidential candidate. Dream on.
Additional reporting: Ashley Glacel