TOPICS > Politics

Moseley Braun Drops Out

January 15, 2004 at 12:00 AM EDT


GWEN IFILL: First, a look at the political landscape in Iowa, given Carol Moseley Braun’s withdrawal and other developments. We get that from Adam Nagourney, the New York Times chief political writer.

GWEN IFILL: Adam, we just heard from Carol Moseley Braun and Howard Dean. We know that she didn’t make that big an impact in this race during the time she was in, at least the polls indicate that. So what is the significance of endorsement like that?

ADAM NAGOURNEY: I don’t think it has much significance in Iowa. As you say, Gwen, she didn’t have much of an impact here at all. She appeared in debates, she didn’t campaign that much. But I do think it’s important up the road in states like South Carolina, where there will be a heavy, we expect, vote by black Democrats. Not that she’s particularly well known or popular in that state, but she’s a validator. So when you have a situation like, for example, Rev. Sharpton’s questioning Dr. Dean’s commitment to affirmative action or hiring minorities when he was governor of Vermont, to have her appear with him I think is a help.

So I do think this is a fairly significant endorsement. The other thing that seems to me is that you do get the sense of a movement of people towards Dr. Dean in that. Keep in mind this happens after Bill Bradley endorsed him, after Al Gore endorsed him and after Tom Harkin, who was standing in the shot with them, endorsed him as well.

GWEN IFILL: Which brings me to my next question about this: You see these series of endorsements, which is very interesting, but they all often come after the Dean campaign has sustained some bout of bad news.

ADAM NAGOURNEY: Yeah, you know, I have to assume that there’s some — I don’t mean this in a bad way — but some orchestration going on here. There has been a series of episodes where things have been going on, which are arguably not good for the Dean campaign and they pulled out of their pocket an endorsement or something that’s trumped the news. And you’ll find that, in an effective campaign, a good campaign tends to do that.

For example, yesterday the story was Richard Gephardt, one of the other Democrats, attacking Dean pretty brutally on a on a whole range of issues having to do with Medicare, for example. And you know, the front page. Des Moines Register this morning wasn’t about that. It was a big picture of Dr. Dean with the headline about Dean and Carol Moseley Braun. And this is not the first time it’s happened.

GWEN IFILL: So Dr. Dean says he’s been treated like a pin cushion and he is going to fight back. We hear — you mentioned that Dick Gephardt is doing his own fighting back. Who’s punching harder right now in this?

ADAM NAGOURNEY: The way things are … I don’t want to, I want to stress to you — it’s very fluid as these candidates change their strategies from hour to hour. But right now you have a split among the four major candidates. You have starting with John Edwards, who’s used the Mr. Nice Guy approach to make a lot of progress here. And now, from what we’re hearing Senator Kerry is also becoming Mr. Nice Guy, too, on the trail.

Whereas at the other side, you have Dean and Gephardt hitting very hard. Dean has returned to the themes that got him where he was, the Washington insider versus outsider, notwithstanding the fact that he seems to some ways be becoming the candidate of the Washington insiders, hitting the war issue very hard. Gephardt is attacking Dean with a new television commercial that went on the air as well today. Medicare and a number of issues, I think gun control certainly in a speech yesterday I forgot whether it was in the ad — but issues where Dean has, as we say, evolved positions, as Gephardt has also over the years.