The final questioner of the night asked Kerry if he would be willing to listen and include Independent candidate Ralph Nader in any presidential debates. Senator Kerry began by insisting he would appeal to "those who felt disenfranchised" in 2000 and concluded, "I don't think this is a year that we can afford to let anybody take away any votes and allow George Bush to change the Supreme Court down the road."
While those are Kerry's strongest words on Nader to date, the Senator did not answer the direct question on allowing the former Green candidate in the traditionally two-candidate debates.
Later, Kerry, whose staff has become increasingly superstitious as the possibility of actually winning the nomination grows, bucked luck and tried his hand at numerology. Having just reunited with a fellow Vietnam veteran, Kerry described the identifying numbers of his two swift boats.
"One of them was 44 boat, and the other was the 94 boat," the Senator described.
"And it occurred to me this afternoon…I am running to be the 44th President of the United States and I was on the 44th boat. I think that's a pretty good sign. And the other boat I was on was the 94 boat, and that has a 4 in it, and I'm running in November 04 and that's a pretty good sign," Kerry concluded.
Aside from the numerological assertion that Kerry will still be running in November, staff members steadfastly refuse to discuss mid-March schedule, or even take questions assuming Senator Kerry as the hypothetical nominee.
Kerry, however, showed no fear in making predictions. The Senator, whose recent campaign stops in Los Angeles and Brooklyn have drawn the likes of Leonardo DiCaprio and Christie Brinkley, boldly stated as he walked up his campaign charter plane, "Lord of the Rings. That's the one. Best Picture, Lord of the Rings. You can take that to the bank."
Unfortunately for Senator Kerry, he was unable to join the press corps Oscar pool as he was unable to post the $5.00 entry fee. When an identity protected press traveler asked the candidate, who narrowly avoided a discussion of his extensive means in Sunday's debate, to ante up, Kerry admitted he had no money and to emphasize his point, reached into his pockets and pulled the insides out.
Alas, whatever Senator Kerry's predictive powers, it is now certain Kerry will campaign through Super Tuesday with stops in Maryland and Georgia. Senator Kerry will also make his first appearance in the Senate since last fall, bringing Secret Service and a 50-person press corps in tow as he votes on the assault weapons ban Tuesday. The Kerry campaign holds its "Super Tuesday celebration" in Tampa, Florida, and the Senator intends to campaign in each of contested 3/9 states regardless of Tuesday's outcome.
King in Queens
NEW YORK CITY, Feb. 23 — The Democratic frontrunner takes a few liberties now and then. Some, such as screeching a 10-car motorcade from Harlem to Queens in 26 only to delay the day's final event by 45 minutes, come with the title.
Others, such as claiming the endorsement of Senator Daniel Inouye — as Kerry did at an avail in Atlanta Saturday night despite the Hawaii Senator's public pledge to stay neutral — might be an overeager leap.
But then there are those, such as offering a pre-buttal to the president's first overtly political speech of the campaign season, that apparently come with the potentially brutal 2004 general election turf.