Dems Race for 2008 Finish Line

This weekend, the Democrats officially kicked off the race for the presidency in 2008. Touting a 50-state plan, DNC Chairman Howard Dean unveiled his strategy to win back the Whitehouse. Yes, the donkey is the first out of the starting block in this race.

Part of Dean’s plan includes funneling close to half –a-million dollars into state parties in four “red” states: Missouri, North Carolina, North Dakota and West Virginia. President G.W. Bush took all these states in the 2004 election. Calling it an “investment,” Dean announced the influx of funding was “just the beginning.” It appears Democratic campaign workers don’t like to donate their time to their cause.

Dean said early fund-raising will be geared toward having the party pay for workers to help with state and local races, initially in selected states. — By Chuck Bartels, AP/The Boston Globe

Of course, the campaign began without a front-running candidate — or any candidate at all. A recent survey by the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press indicates that Dean’s hard-line supporters do not favor a run by former presidential hopefuls John Kerry or Al Gore. Interestingly enough, the “Deaniacs” support Illinois Sen. Barack Obama, former North Carolina Sen. John Edwards and New York Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton for the 2008 race.

Nearly half of Dean activists (46%) believe Dean should definitely make another try for the nomination, while another 33% say he probably should run. About one-in-five (18%) think Dean should not run.

Among other possible candidates, freshman Sen. Barack Obama draws strong support. As many say Obama should definitely run (22%) as say that about Sens. John Edwards (22%) and Hillary Clinton (20%), who are much better known. The possibility of presidential campaigns by the Democrats’ last two standard-bearers ¬ Sen. John Kerry and Al Gore ¬ generates minimal enthusiasm among Dean activists. Just 8% believe Kerry should definitely run, while 7% favor Gore running; roughly two-thirds of Dean activists think that Kerry and Gore should not make another try for the presidency (66% Kerry, 69% Gore).

Roughly a third (36%) rated Dean (who has since ruled out a presidential race in 2008) as their top choice for the nomination. Obama is second, at 13%, followed by Clinton (10%) and Edwards (9%). Just 3% rate Kerry as their first choice for the nomination, and the same number favor Gore. – The Pew Research Center

It is important to remember Pew only questioned Dean supporters for this survey — which may not be indicative of the party in total. These Deaniacs manifest different demographics than the general Democratic Party regulars. For instance, they are more affluent, less religious, more educated, white and label themselves liberals. Not surprisingly, only 10% claim a veteran resides in their household.

Dean also began pounding on the “morals” theme. Since it seemed to work so well for the Republicans in the past few elections, the Democrats have decided to appropriate it for their cause. Until recently, the Dems eschewed a connection between politics and religion. That has apparently changed. The Dems now welcome the pro-life contingency into their fold. In a strangely worded statement, Dean said he welcomes “pro-life Democrats” to the party because “they take care of kids all along.” What he actually meant is anyone’s guess.

Currently, Dean is using Majority Leader Tom DeLay’s problems with paying his wife and daughter from campaign funds over the past four years to display moral superiority. Unfortunately, he seems to have forgotten about Democratic campaign fund issues with Barbara Boxer, Nancy Pelosi and Hillary Clinton – to name a few. Going back a bit farther, Al Gore and President Bill Clinton created considerable scandal regarding this issue. While the DeLay situation should be investigated and resolved, it shouldn’t be used as a partisan rally. Both parties have their share of shady dealings – although the Dems probably sport more abuses. Criminal or questionable activity by any public servant is not a “party” issue; it’s an individual issue

Yes, the race for the Whitehouse in 2008 is on. The Dems seem to have a slight lead out of the blocks. Should the Republicans worry about this lead? Probably not. Dean is, after all, best known for a fiery start which ended in a crash and burn. It also reminds one of the tortoise and the hare fable transmuted into the elephant and the donkey, where slow and steady won the race. We will have to see if Dean and the Dems can maintain their stamina with this early push.

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