We SUPPORT and ENDORSE JOHN EDWARDS, HILLARY CLINTON , Barack Obama, Joe Biden, Dennis Kucinich, Tom Vilsack, Bill Richardson, Chris Dodd, John Kerry , Wesley Clark and their SUPPORTERS AND OTHER DEMOCRATIC PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATES




Tuesday, January 23, 2007

As Kerry ponders, Democrats crowd in

As Kerry ponders, Democrats crowd in'04 nominee resisting push to decide on '08By Rick Klein, Globe Staff January 23, 2007
WASHINGTON -- With the 2008 Democratic presidential field taking shape fast, Senator John F. Kerry still hasn't decided whether to join the race, and maintains that the early announcements from other candidates won't push him to act in haste , according to Kerry aides and associates.
Kerry has indicated that he will announce his intentions by the end of January, in keeping with his publicly stated intention to do so "shortly after the turn of the year." His aides have drafted a "John Kerry for President '08" financial plan that will restart his fund-raising efforts with a series of house parties organized by activists around the country -- if he decides to pursue the presidency again.
With $13 million still in his campaign account and wide name recognition stemming from his failed 2004 run, Kerry advisers feel that the senator can afford to take his time, unlike some other Democrats already in the race.
"This spasm of declarations from the other candidates is great entertainment, but Senator Kerry is focused on his work in the Senate on behalf of Massachusetts and the rest of the country," said Vince Morris, a Kerry spokesman. "He's talking with family, staff, and supporters, and isn't going to be rushed into announcing his plans."
According to two people who have discussed the matter with Kerry in recent weeks, the deep desire he had to become president in 2004 hasn't abated. Nevertheless, he realizes that another run would be difficult, given his diminished public standing -- and given the Democratic heavyweights who are already in the race, according to the Kerry associates. They spoke on condition of anonymity because of the confidential nature of their conversations with the senator.
With the field already crowded with big names, Kerry's inaction is a risky strategy, said Steve Elmendorf, a Democratic consultant who worked for his '04 campaign.
The declared candidates are already scooping up top-tier political operatives, and those already in the field are capturing early buzz on the Internet and among key party activists. Meanwhile, the money scramble has started: Each potential candidate will have to show fund-raising ability by collecting perhaps $10 million in the first quarter of this year, Elmendorf said.
Kerry "has a bit more breathing room than some folks, but to raise the kind of money you need to compete, you have to get going and sign up some of the top fund-raisers," Elmendorf said. "Anybody who's serious about this, the race is on. If you're going to do it, you've got to do it quick."
Just in the past week, Senators Hillary Rodham Clinton of New York and Barack Obama of Illinois formed presidential exploratory committees, the first step toward seeking the nomination. They join former senator John Edwards of North Carolina, Kerry's 2004 running mate, at the front of most early polls of Democratic voters.Continued...
A host of other Democrats have moved toward formal runs: Governor Bill Richardson of New Mexico, Senators Christopher J. Dodd of Connecticut and Joseph R. Biden Jr. of Delaware, former governor Tom Vilsack of Iowa, and Representative Dennis Kucinich of Ohio.
Kerry set the deadline of early 2007 for himself after Senator Edward M. Kennedy, his fellow Massachusetts Democrat, told the Globe last month that he would not "just wait indefinitely" for Kerry to announce his intentions . That raised the possibility that Kennedy, one of the Senate's most influential members, would endorse someone else if Kerry kept him waiting too long.
Before that remark, Kerry associates had signaled that he might wait until spring to make his move, taking more time to assess the impact of his "botched joke" about poor students getting stuck in Iraq -- a remark that made headlines and forced him off the campaign trail just days before November's congressional elections.
Kennedy said Sunday that he expects Kerry to make up his mind "in the next very few weeks," and made clear he'll endorse him -- so long as Kerry keeps to that timeline.
"He's my colleague, he's a friend, he's an authentic war hero," Kennedy said on NBC's "Meet the Press." "I think he's got a great wealth of information on national security. And I know there are people that think that John would have an uphill battle. Well, he had that the last time, as well, when he went for the nomination."
But asked about a Washington Post poll that showed Clinton leading the field with 41 percent of Democrats supporting her and Kerry a distant fifth at 8 percent, Kennedy praised the early front-runner and spouse of the former president.
"It tells me that Senator Clinton is in a very strong position for the nomination," Kennedy said. "Our family's had a good personal relationship with the Clintons for the time that [Bill Clinton] was the president."
Kerry also has another factor to consider about 2008: whether to run for reelection to the Senate. In theory, he could lose in the presidential primaries but still have time to make the May 6 Senate campaign filing deadline.
But if he tries to keep his name in the presidential mix, Kerry would face considerable pressure from Massachusetts politicians who want his Senate seat, urging him to commit to one race: president or senator. If he retired from Congress, Kerry would leave the state with its first vacant Senate seat in more than two decades, since his own election in 1984.
© Copyright 2007 Globe Newspaper Company. 1 2 Next
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