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CHECK with James Campion
Surprises and Disguises Tumble into New Hampshire
"The only one that cant win the dog race is the pace
rabbit." - Chris Matthews
Kerry in action
Since my last
discussion with our Democratic insider, Dibbs, things have gone awry.
The heavy but invisible Howard Dean support wilted in Iowa, pulling
in a meager 18%, which would have been gangbusters six months ago, but
with Golden Boy running free the past three months, checks in at an
unmitigated disaster. Meanwhile, the comebacks of John Kerry - expected
six months ago - and John Edwards - a late comer to the ball - and the
demise of perennial retread, Dick Gephardt has leveled the playing field
and put a new perspective on the upcoming New Hampshire primary.
In addition to the resurrection of a surging Kerry and the coming out
party of a second place showing by Edwards, Iowa did dramatically reframe
the campaign rhetoric. Although three out of four voters chose their
candidates based on an anti-war platform, more than half the votes went
to the two men who supported the war.
The second most interesting noise out of the caucuses was the zeal with
which the electorate abandoned personal ideology and went hard for candidates
who would be "electable" in a national race come fall, leaving
Dean, long considered a potential wild card sacrificial lamb out and
the more conventional polticos in the drivers seat.
Judging from the woeful prognostication performance of Dibbs eight days
ago, we began our 1/22 discussion with a vicious berating and continued
merrily from there.
jc: Man, did you guys get that whole thing wrong in Iowa. The union
boys fucked Gephardt and the kids screwed Dean.
DB: I told you the voters would decide. Youre the one who had
Dean battling Clark for New Hampshire.
jc: That still may be, because as of this morning Kerry has leapfrogged
Clark and Dean and now leads with a ballpark 5% to 10% cushion. But
this could ironically save Dean in the long run. Now he doesnt
have to fend off Clark, the more dangerous southern democrat, and deal
with his New England brother until Super Tuesday. But I stand by my
column from over a month ago: Dean cannot beat Bush, so what would be
DB: And I stand by last weeks data that suggests strongly that
any Democratic candidate would stand in the base forty-percentile range
and benefit from key Independent votes left in the Ralph Nader vacuum.
jc: I didnt believe for one minute Kerry was as dead as the press
had it. The man was the choice for four months and then Dean becomes
this years John McCain. He galvanized the other candidates, was
fun press for a while, but in the end the Democrat power base has to
push the more electable candidate. Thats what happened in Iowa.
DB: It was most interesting how many votes Edwards and Kerry picked
up from the Gephardt troop. That was years of Gephardts guts floating
out there Monday night (1/19). But I think overall Dean lost his message
after Hussein was captured. Yet, the polls indicated he had not. This
is what added to the caucus drama. In the end, Internet buzz and
the youth factor did not translate into votes for Dean.
jc: Or money, which Dean still has plenty of, and judging from his apoplectic
fit speech Monday night, he plans on spending it all the way to the
DB: Todays Zogby polls have what amounts to a dead heat between
Kerry and Dean with a hefty 15% undecided. With that many undecided,
5% or 10% either way matters little. It didnt matter in Iowa,
so Dean isnt going anywhere, nor should he.
jc: Conventional wisdom, which by the way also got its ass kicked
in Iowa, says that Clark takes a hit here, because he was ramping up
to be the southern Democrat, War-Hero Anti-Dean, and now has to deal
with North Carolinas Edwards and the Viet Nam Vet Hero and new
Anti-Dean, John Kerry.
DB: Perception is everything coming out of Iowa. Kerry is obviously
the man of the minute. But if he fails to win NH with this kind of momentum,
hell have some answering to do. Dean has 72 hours to resuscitate.
But he certainly has the organization and money to do it.
jc: He had it in Iowa and got smoked. You have to come clean on what
went down in Iowa, really. I maintain Kerry got down and dirty with
party biggies and painted the same picture everyone refuses to publicly
admit: Dean will implode on the national stump. Because it makes no
sense that 75% of the electorate in Iowa is anti-war and then choose
Kerry and Edwards; unless it came down to Dean not being a viable national
candidate. Kerry and Edwards have always been the safe choices. Christ,
Bush people were talking about Edwards Tuesday morning like the second
coming of a Kennedy.
DB: Well find out about the Edwards push in South Carolina. Kerry
or Dean has to win NH, or come in first and/or second, and Edwards cannot
jc: And Clark?
DB: The debates will decide if Clark is a player. NH debates are notorious
either as coming out parties or the exposing of lightweights. Clark
must distinguish himself tonight (1/22) or he may sink behind Edwards.
jc: The Boston Globe has Clark in third at 16% and Edwards hot on his
ass at 11%.
DB: As I say, I believe this debate is a seminal moment for the general.
jc: Face it, you guys cannot win the White House without a southern
Democrat. Clark and Edwards have bristled at taking the VP job, even
in closed quarters. Kerry or Dean will definitely not survive without
one of them or someone like Bob Graham as a running mate in the national
DB: Graham is an interesting choice.
jc: Any idea who Lieberman will endorse with his 7% after he is pummeled
DB: Not Dean. My guess would be Kerry.
jc: You have any comment on Deans concession speech? The crazed
banshee deluxe version, of course.
jc: Is it Gary Hart on the yacht or merely a Gennifer Flowers bump in
DB: I think I answered no for a comment.
Part One Here
NEXT WEEK: NEW HAMPSHIRE FALLOUT
© James Campion Jan 22nd 2004
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