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Carter-Kennedy Redux [View All]

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Feanorcurufinwe Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Jan-16-04 11:39 PM
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Carter-Kennedy Redux
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It was in 1976 that the Iowa caucuses really came into its own and became the launching pad for relatively unknown and underfinanced candidates. The blast exceeding expectations in the first contest and the impact that had on the next state of New Hampshire has been the playbook for candidates ever since, even though no winner of an Iowa Democratic caucus has ever repeated Carter’s success all the way to the White House. In 1984, Gary Hart scored a surprise “better than expected” with 16 percent of the vote in Iowa, then went on to win New Hampshire a week later but eventually came up short to the original front-runner, Walter Mondale, in the later primaries.

Dean’s original game plan was to use Iowa to get known, but his campaign got off to a “faster than expected” start and, in fact, may have peaked too early. The Iowa effect is also on the minds of strategists for Dean’s rivals. John Kerry took a $6.4 million loan on his fancy Boston manse and has sunk much of it into Iowa to try to jumpstart his candidacy in New Hampshire. John Edwards, too, thinks that a “better than expected” showing will serve him well going into New Hampshire. The North Carolina senator has spent over $2.5 million on TV in the two states trying to prove he can do well outside the South.

This Sunday, when Dean travels to Plains, Sen. Ted Kennedy, D-Mass., the man who Carter beat in Iowa in 1980, will come back to the state to stump for Kerry. Kennedy’s campaign was crushed in Iowa in 1980, but that didn’t stop him from being a major draw for Al Gore in 2000, or for Kerry last week. Kennedy is beloved by the kind of antiwar liberals who are drawn to Howard Dean, and the Kerry camp hopes that Kennedy will help coax them to take another look at Kerry.

So Iowa ends this time with a Carter-Kennedy rematch. Twenty-four years later, tales of that internecine fight permeate the waterholes of Davenport and Dubuque. Dean's campaign manager Joe Trippi and Gephardt's manager Steve Murphy, who have been at each other's throats the past few weeks, are both Kennedy ’80 vets; Dean pollster Paul Maslin and Kerry chair Jean Shaheen were on the Carter side. They all know that the rancor of the past few weeks will eventually pass and what will remain are the lessons learned and the great war stories which will get bigger and better as the years go by.

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