Kerry Sweeps Weekend Caucuses in Michigan, Washington and Maine
The weekend added further momentum to the junior senator’s campaign, awarding him the bulk of the delegates from both Michigan and Washington.
Kerry campaigned in Virginia Sunday, picking up another key endorsement from the state’s Gov. Mark Warner.
In an appearance with Warner, Kerry criticized the president’s interview on NBC’s Meet the Press in which Mr. Bush defended the decision to go to war in Iraq.
“The problem is not just that President Bush is changing his story now — it is that it appears he was telling the American people stories in 2002,” Kerry said.
Also on Sunday, Kerry stepped up his questioning of President Bush’s Vietnam-era service in the Texas National Guard.
“The issue here is, as I have heard it raised, is was he present and active in Alabama at the time he was supposed to be,” said Kerry, a decorated Vietnam War veteran. “I don’t have the answer to that question and just because you get an honorable discharge does not in fact answer that question.”
Despite losing the backing of one of the nation’s largest labor unions, former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean scored second place finishes in all three weekend contests.
“We need Democrats who stand up when it matters, not just when it’s popular,” Dean told supporters in Maine Sunday ahead of the caucuses.
Dean told reporters he hoped a strong showing in Maine and a new series of advertisements Monday aided by the more $1 million raised online in the last four days would reignite his campaign.
“What I’m hoping to do in Wisconsin and Maine is to give voters a second opportunity to figure out who they really do want to have lead this party,” Dean said on CNN.
Dean left Maine Sunday night for Wisconsin, where he has said he faces a do-or-die test in the state’s Feb. 17 open primary.
The former governor’s campaign suffered a blow Saturday when the leader of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, Gerald McEntee, announced that the powerful union was pulling its support.
Two other service unions, the Service Employees International Union and International Union of Painters and Allied Trades, said they would continue to support the Dean campaign.
Dean is largely ignoring the southern states of Virginia and Tennessee that hold primaries Tuesday, but North Carolina Sen. John Edwards, retired Gen. Wesley Clark and the Rev. Al Sharpton campaigned in the region Sunday, hoping to slow the Kerry campaign.
Edwards campaigned hard in Richmond and Blacksburg, Va., Sunday before traveling to Nashville, Tenn.
His effort followed an endorsement Saturday by the Union of Needletrades, Industrial and Textile Employees in Wisconsin.
“Right now, too many companies choose the low road — making money by squeezing your salary, your health care, your pensions. And when they’ve squeezed you dry, they pick up and take your job to Mexico or India or wherever they can pay the least and make the most,” Edwards said.
Sunday, Edwards reiterated that he saw the campaign as a marathon and that 75 percent of the delegates to the Democratic convention would be won after the contest in Wisconsin.
“I view this very much as a long-term process, and we’re in this for the long term,” the North Carolina senator told Fox News.
Clark, who finished fifth in the weekend caucuses, broke from his campaigning in Virginia and Tennessee to also travel to Wisconsin to appear at a job center.
“A lot of people are good at preaching their faith. But not that many people practice their faith,” Clark said. “It’s time we stop just talking about family values and start valuing families.”
Clark told reporters that he felt his campaign would continue to build on support from throughout the country and that he would continue to run through at least the March 2 “Super Tuesday” primaries.
Civil rights activist Sharpton, who placed fourth in Michigan’s contest Saturday, returned to the South, speaking in a Richmond, Va., church and calling on the parishioners to support the candidate they agree with, not who they think will win.
“Just between us, there are six folk running,” Sharpton said. “Five will lose. The person you vote for may lose. The person you vote for may drop out. But I’m not going to drop out. I’m going to go all the way because we cannot be disrespected or marginalized.”
Ohio Rep. Dennis Kucinich, who finished third in Washington state, campaigned in Maine Sunday, urging voters to back his antiwar, anti-free trade policy.
“It is clear from the results that this campaign has a strong base of support on the West Coast, and that strength is showing itself. We expect to do very well in the Oregon and California contests, as well,” Kucinich campaign manager Dot Maver said in a statement.