ABCNEWS' Reena Singh was on the campaign trail with former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean as he ran for president. Reports filed prior to December 1 were by ABCNEWS' Marc Ambinder. For the latest report, scroll down.
Life is 'Hell'
MILWAUKEE, WI, Feb. 17 -- Howard Dean is facing the window. His chin cupped in his palm. He peers out from gold-framed bookish glasses and catches glimpses of the Wisconsin landscape underneath clouds as white as the blank computer screens that will soon record the tale of Howard Dean and his Wisconsin Hail Mary.
On the ground, the National Campaign Chairman is gone and there are reports that senior advisors have their bags packed for beaches and European cities. Some within the rank and file adorn their lapels with Miller High life pins instead of the customary Dean campaign buttons. Getting back to "real life," instead of campaign strategy, is the hot topic of conversation among staff and press.
Rather than be discouraged by the shift in focus, the candidate is rolling with the punches. On the Gulf Stream back to Vermont last weekend the Governor joined the traveling press in a raucous card game of Oh Hell. Later he appears relaxed with wife Judy at his side as they posed for a photograph with their son at his last regular high school hockey game at the same hour that other presidential candidates stood before cameras at the Wisconsin J.J. Dinner. On route back to the frozen-block-of-cheese state (Has my bitterness to being in Wisconsin in February been duly noted, yet?) he teased a reporter about the horror of being stuck in the motel room unable to open the door or the window and eventually escaping when a photog charming broke down the door. Screwed by Venus again. (Yes, also bitter about Valentine's Day.)
It's more like Howard's Big Vacation. Just last week he tackled water purification and dog pee with middle school aged children and then cow poop at a dairy farm. He played ping pong with a teenager in Milwaukee. The Governor breaks out with the Wisconsin fight song spontaneously. Last night, in fact, he took the stage in rolled up sleeves as the Wisconsin fight song blared at his last Badger State rally. And still there was no melt down. Today the fun continues as he visits the factory that manufactures his new favorite root beer and receives his very own Dean Press Corps 2004 t-shirt, which read "Establishment Media" on the front and "We Have The Power," on the back. (Bloggers, get over yourselves. The Governor loves the t-shirts.)
Critics chalk it up to denial, but regular slips into the past tense reveal signs of an understanding that his is unlikely to regain his front-runner status.
Tonight the death watchers join the core traveling press to Vermont. Reports of legacies, contributions and analysis of Dean's political carcass will come in their time. Until then Howard Dean is savoring the final moments as a presidential candidate. His thoughts in the clouds.
Dean presses on
MINNEAPOLIS, Minn., Feb. 13 — It makes sense that the campaign that changes course often also changes airplanes on a regular basis. Within the past couple of weeks the Dean campaign has flown on Pearl Jam I, Pearl Jam II, Cheese Head I and an unnamed Gulf Stream. Then Thursday afternoon in Madison, Wis., the press corps boarded a 40-passenger DC-9, which was once owned by Kenny Rogers. Inspiration struck as soon as the previous owner's name was uttered: Gambler I. After all, "you better know when to hold 'em, know when to fold 'em," is good counsel for the Governor, who is placing all his bets on one state. And, some of the press corps noted, Dean's favorite musician Wyclef Jean once did a remix of the Rogers classic.
Though his pile of chips may be dwindling, Dean is still receiving some backing. At the Minneapolis Convention Center approximately $90,000 was raised from the 360 people who paid for $100 or $1000 tickets to sip punch and savor pastries at a two-tiered fundraiser for the Governor. One of those people was travel agent Maggie Dolan, who has never donated to a campaign before and secured a coveted spot on the receiving line. When Dean stopped before her, Dolan says she shook his hand and pleaded him not to quit. "He looked me right in the eye and he said, 'I am not going to give up'," recalls Dolan. "I'll vote for Atilla the Hun to get rid of Bush, but I don't want to vote for Kerry.'"
Financial aid is also coming in the form of radio ads. A band of supporters under the label of TruthandHope.org has created two radio spots that will hit the Wisconsin airwaves today. The ads point out the differences between Dean and Kerry, and showcase the Governor's executive experience. The independent 527 organization put up a couple of ads in Washington just before the state's caucus.
Of course, cash is not the only resource keeping the campaign afloat. People Powered Howard's headquarters is leaner but still has a healthy stock of diehards, including Zephyr and Nicco. Just two weeks ago when the chips were down, the duo found a way to materialize a supporter's idea for a campaign-run radio station. Now the DJs of Democracy host an Internet radio show weeknights at 9:00 pm and weekends at 4:00 pm. WDFA (Dean for America) Radio is actually run off laptops in a small room at the Burlington ranch with wires dropping from the ceiling and a pair of headphones Scotch taped to a telephone. Total cost: Mixer for $150, microphone for $89, microphone stand for $89 and cables for $100. Cost of eternal hope in the face of crushing defeats and polls: Priceless.
Guests at WDFA can be anyone including new campaign manager Roy Neel. "It's really the best thing I do," says an enthusiastic Neel as he enters the "studio" one Saturday afternoon. Leaning back in a chair, Neel fields calls about his candidate's strength, upcoming ads and Dean's plan to change America. He also takes his shots at the president. "Can you imagine a George Bush Meet Up," muses Neel. "They would take place in Halliburton boardrooms."
Neel will remain in Wisconsin until Primary Day on Feb. 17 when the campaign will know for sure how all the chips stack up.
Dean prepares for long haul
MILWAUKEE, WIS., Feb. 11 — When the Dean press corps was reunited with colleagues returning from a few days off the trail, stories of yoga classes and lazy days in pajamas sparked flames of envy in the light of the Governor's promise to remain in the race for the long haul.
Of course, the long haul is only four weeks away at the most, which takes us to March 9. So little time, and yet so many strategies. First there is the umbrella Wisconsin strategy, and under that the rubber stamp sub-strategy. The Governor is calling on Wisconsinites to be independent-minded and chose him over He-Who-Shall-Not-Be-Named-In-This-Report. Here's how it works: "The media claims this contest is over. They say your voice and your vote don't count. They expect you to rubber stamp the choice of others. But you don't have to listen to them. Wisconsin: You have the power to keep this debate alive. You have the power to choose the strongest candidate to beat George W. Bush."
Sidebar: The above brings us to the "Kill the Traveling Press" strategy, shown in Dean's jabs at the "establishment media" from the stump. Increasingly, members of the traveling press are being approached by irate and sometimes violent-looking Deaniacs demanding more favorable campaign coverage and inquiring why we've been so unfair to their leader. (If I had a nickel for every time a Deaniac asked me if I thought the "scream" was overplayed, I … well, I'd be writing this note from the Four Seasons Bali wearing an oversized bathrobe instead of from the Milwaukee Hilton sans robe.
Back to the rubber stamp sub-strategy, which has its own ad that went up last night in Wisconsin — titled "Rubber Stamp."
Last night at a rally in Milwaukee Dean announced the "Back to Bean Town" offense. Self-inspired by a line from his stump speech that offers the president a one-way ticket back to Crawford, Texas, the Governor generously decided to extend a vacation to the front-runner when he said, "Maybe we should send someone back to Boston, Massachusetts, too." The hiccup in that plan, as one astute reporter observed, is that Boston is the site of this summer's Democratic Party Convention. When this tiny detail was brought up to the Governor behind stage at his last event, he explained that he was simply being a "party unifier."
Perhaps, the most forward-thinking component of the Dean ground war is the youth outreach. On Tuesday Dean visited two schools to speak with young folk who will most likely vote in 2008 or 2012. He presided over a history class as a guest teacher and even offered his expertise on water purification when he walked into room 102 at Longfellow Middle School in La Crosse where students were examining water samples under a microscope. Here are some of the pearls of wisdom from Dr. Dean:
HD: Which do you think is safer, to drink water from your toilet or from the river? It's true.
STUDENT: I'd rather drink from the toilet.
HD: That's right.
The class went onto discuss "dog pee." The Governor asked, "Which has more bacteria, dog pee or river water?" The class went with "dog pee."
"I do not recommend drinking urine, but if you drink water straight from the river you have a greater chance of getting an infection that if you drink urine," said Dean to students who were now laughing uncontrollably.
Dean was a hit in classroom 102 and most likely he'll make a splash in the homes of these students as well. Can you hear it at the dinner table now? "Honey, what did you learn in school today?"
"Howard Dean taught us that it's safe to drink pee out of the toilet."
Oh dear — appealing to junior voters is indeed a dangerous strategy.
Speaking of children, the Governor flies home tomorrow afternoon to watch his son's hockey game. Most of the press will travel to Burlington with him, but not on Pearl Jam I, Pearl Jam II or Cheese Head I. (Cheese Head I replaced Pearl Jam I as the press corps began to dwindle. The seven-passenger Diamond Jet is eerily reminiscent of the early Dean campaign days.) Instead it will be back to the old Gulf Stream tomorrow.
On the way to Vermont, perhaps the Dean senior staff will mull over a plan that has been subtly recommended by the traveling press. It's the Hawaiian Island Strategy.
Long rides and new ads
PORTLAND, Maine, Feb. 8 — There seem to be certain dangers of life on the road as a political reporter — like food poisoning, living on the edge of catching pneumonia from your colleagues and sleep deprivation. Now add to list: crammed into a bright blue VW Bug with three other journalists as pint-sized, truck-driver-mouthed Hillary, the 21 year-old intern, breaks speed barriers down the darkness of a Maine highway.
The ride south on the Highway to Hell began in Auburn, where we stayed behind to watch a caucus from start to finish. We had been to several caucuses in Maine throughout the day with Gov. Dean, but only to listen to him speak with the voters. After the Governor left Auburn Middle School, the real work began. First, the room elected a chair and a secretary, and then everyone broke up into their wards. A man asked his neighbor whether his daughter got into Middlebury College. When the neighbor said no, the man shrugged and said, "Well it's their loss. She's great."
Congenial dialogue about kids, the weather and the health of mutual acquaintances — minus nasty Edwards flyers — weaved through the room. There was also a lot of paperwork and moving people around. And confusion, too. No one except the chair seemed to know what is going on. A man who seems like he is 100 if he is a day old gots up on a chair and began to count absentee ballots. Then he called out each candidate and tallied up the numbers of hands raised for each name. He lost count and counted again. Not sure if it's exactly right on the third time, he waved his hands and said, "That's close enough for government work." Kerry won Auburn with 99 votes and Dean came in with 93. The first and second place result replayed throughout the state.
There's only one press plane now. It's Pearl Jam II, except when the Governor boards — then it becomes Pearl Jam I. Before we are wheels up, Styrofoam cartons containing lobster rolls are passed throughout the cabin. Tomorrow the Wisconsin offensive begins with the old and the new. The old biographical ad goes up and a new ad, which was created by volunteers and will be picked off the Dean for America Web site by supporters, hits the airwaves on Tuesday.
The ads were selected through an organization called Project Dean Light that calls for volunteer producers to send in their ideas for Dean ads. Freelance copywriter Rich Robinson and three other Los Angeles residents — Curtis Chin, Becca Doten and Phil de Vellis — developed the concept last year. "I think they are boring," says Robinson of the ads produced by Dean media consulting firm Trippi, McMahon and Squire (TMS). "We are tired of politicians with their sleeves rolled up in front of tractors. And those ads were not getting the Governor's message out there." After narrowing down to three finalists Project Dean Light took the ads to Sundance as part of a Deandance event. (Those Deaniacs are so clever.) Robinson says he was contacted by the campaign in December about running the ads and the original plane was to bring the ads up for South Carolina. But then came along Iowa and New Hampshire.
The ads were produced by Bay Area freelance media producer David Fox of Switch to Dean, who shot his first ad last August. Fox, too, was frustrated with the original campaign ads, so he took five months off, listened to people's stories at Dean Meet-Ups and shot ads featuring people who originally supported another candidate but are now behind Howard Dean "warts" and all. Maxine Anderson, a 53-year-old claims adjustor from San Francisco, is one of those people. She was introduced to Fox at a Meet-Up. "I have always been a registered Independent and I have never gotten involved before" she said. "But when I heard what Howard Dean was about I thought, 'I can wrap myself around this.'" Anderson was asked by Fox to participate in the ad project after listening to Maxine's story at a Bay Area Meet up. She agreed about the old ads. "They're awful."
Another ad subject, Richard Reinhardt of California's Marin County, explains his switch to Dean. "I was a registered Republican but I've voted for Democratic candidates because Republicans kept putting up such stiffs," he said. "I'd rather be a yellow dog Democrat from the go than vote for Bush." He still supports Dean although he is "disappointed and disgusted" with how his candidate has been portrayed by the media.
Back on Pearl Jam I, the Governor wipes his eyes after a nap. Kate O'Connor is still asleep and Gina Glantz is fixated with beating a journalist in a card game. The Governor gets up. He is bored. In his socks, he walks down the aisle scans the candy dishes on each table and pops a few Gummy Bears, Jelly Beans and miniature Snickers into his mouth. Mischievously he borrows a reporter's camera to snap a shot of another slumbering reporter whose mouth is agape. It only takes minutes for the reporters to put down their cards and gather for an off-the-record talk. Gina and Kate don't attempt to usher him back to the safety of his seat.
Someone gives the Governor a fortune cookie. Pens at the ready, reporters hope the message is a sign of what will happen over the next week. It reads: "Speak more Chinese, honey." Nonsense. Perhaps the landing in Madison, Wis. is a better omen. A perfect descent smack in the middle of a blizzard. Thankfully Hillary wasn't at the wheel.
Mixed forecast for Dean campaign
MILWAUKEE, Wis., Feb. 6 — The local weather report for the Milwaukee area is snow, snow and more snow from today through next Thursday. The outlook, however, for the Dean campaign is not as predictable.
The author of Thursday's "Wisconsin or Bust" e-mail, which put the Governor in a foul mood, remains unidentified, although staffers from the Burlington ranch admit that new campaign manager Roy Neel was involved in the process. The e-mail drew a strong line in the snow with the words "anything less than a win in Wisconsin" would put his campaign "out of the race" and set off a flurry of events including conference calls, a press avail and a impromptu flight from Michigan, where Dean is lagging in the polls by more than 40 points, to the Badger State. By the end of the day the Governor seemed to accept the strategy, calling it a "brilliant ploy."
Perhaps Dean's resignation is due to the money raised as a result of the e-mail. As of this morning, the Win Wisconsin bat has snowballed in $787, 840.41 for new ads and a new challenge has been raised: Double the amount to $1.4 million.
Dean continues to campaign in what he described as a "must-win" state today. This morning he is said to be joined by SEIU President Andy Stern and mid-afternoon Pearl Jam I and II will be wheels up heading to Vermont for a down day on Saturday. That night the Governor will attend his son's last high school hockey game.
Campaign has "just another Tuesday night"
SEATTLE, Feb. 3 — Walking into the lobby of the Seattle Westin Hotel, Gov. Howard Dean waved off two early 20-something autograph seekers. The brush-off was uncharacteristic of the candidate, who boasts that one-fourth of his supporters are under the age of 30. Perhaps it was losing to Al Sharpton in South Carolina or something that happened on the van ride from Tacoma to Seattle. Or maybe it was driving by the Sheraton Hotel and seeing the massive swarm of Kerry supporters.
Aide Mike O'Mary dismisses these theories and offers up this one. Of late the Governor has been approached by the same group of people asking for photos and autographs, which they are selling on e-Bay. A quick click on the electronic auction house comes up with some interesting Dean tchotchkes: A Perfect Storm hat, Howard Dean scream buttons, a 12-inch Howard Dean action doll and, yes, signed photos.
Up until that moment, Dean seemed to be holding up well. On stage at his last event he acknowledged the dismal results, saying, "Well, the votes are starting to come in and we are going to have a tough night." He appeared relaxed and joked with reporters in the green room following the rally. On his way out, The Doctor grabbed an apple. During the van ride to the hotel he spoke with his wife and son. Dean also got word from Vermont that he picked up delegates in New Mexico.
The Vermont staff half-heartedly monitored the results in the Burlington office. When Dean asked advisers for numbers before calling into Larry King, adviser Kate O'Connor called headquarters only to discover that the staff hadn't been paying much attention. "It's was no secret as to how things were going to turn out," said staffer Sarah Leonard. "It was just another Tuesday night for the Dean campaign." Still, staffers say it has been frustrating watching Kerry and Edwards "highjack" the Governor's message so successfully. "They did well with it in Iowa because they weren't dealing with the attacks."
Over the next several days, Dean's message will focus on his experience as both a Governor and a doctor. (Think "the candidate with the right prescription for America.") This image will certainly be bolstered on Thursday when Dr. Steinberg arrives in Michigan to stump with her husband. Also, an ad in Wisconsin will go up in the next few days.
And for those union watchers, senior adviser Gina Glantz laughs off any desertion talk, saying Andy Stern will join Dean in Michigan Friday.
Ultimately, though, the Dean campaign's most effective strategy may be the tried-and-true "crossing fingers" approach.
Good Bye, Joe
BURLINGTON, Vt., Jan. 28— Only a handful of items remain in Joe Trippi's office, which he once shared with Kate O'Connor. Of all Trippi's personal effects, O'Connor says she will miss his cherry skoal the most.
Others such as Tricia Enright, whom Trippi recruited to work on the campaign, will miss their daily spirited banter. "This isn't like other campaigns," said Enright. "We're very close." As news of Trippi's departure rippled from cubicle to cubicle, the already dampened mood of the office continued its decline. "He's the heart and soul of this campaign," said one staffer.
Trippi's decision to leave was a surprise to the staff and even to Governor Howard Dean who has brought on Roy Neel, former Gore chief of staff. Neel's role will be to "centralize" operations from the Burlington headquarters. As one senior Dean staffer put it, "Joe is not good at the day-to-day field operations stuff. I think Roy has the experience to do that for the campaign and we need that because of how much we have grown so fast." The Governor offered Trippi another position heading up Internet operations, but the former campaign manager declined. In a conference call the Governor said he "regrets" Trippi's resignation and that he hoped that Trippi would reconsider after a few days, but sources close to Trippi say he is "at peace with his decision and it's final."
Losing Trippi is another blow to the beleaguered Dean Team. First the big defeats in Iowa and a second place finish in New Hampshire. A dwindling bank account of 3.5 million dollars with 3 million dollars in expenses leaving a grand total of $500,000. The tally as well as a two-week pay cut for staff were announced yesterday at meeting in the Burlington office spawning rumors of mutiny.
The biggest morale buster for the Dean campaign may occur outside the campaign's headquarters. At Dean events, a flurry of reporters and supporters made Trippi seem more like a rock star than a campaign manager. Deaniacs felt so connected to Trippi that they often pulled him aside to offer suggestions. As for the traveling press, most say they will miss Trippi's Mondale yarns.
Pains In the Ass
Dark New England Highway, Jan. 28— Underneath extinguished overhead lights, reporters, photographers and Dean staff members drift off to sleep. How different would this bus ride have been if Howard Dean had wrapped up the Granite State in a first place ribbon? Images of more beer and chatter, reporters pecking away on laptops, staffers too excited to rest and perhaps even an impromptou press avail with the candidate come to mind.
The bus is racing against a snow storm. The candidate is running for the finish line with two big loses on his scorecard. The Dean campaign claims the New Hampshire Primary is a comeback and given where the Governor started after Iowa, any ground gained is a plus. "This second place is a good result considering how much we were weighed down after Iowa," said New Hampshire Communications Director Dorie Clark.
Following the Governor's speech, the song"I Won't Back Down" piped through the gymnasium as volunteers pulled Dean signs off the walls. Sitting at the edge of stage--Joe Trippi, Steve McMahon and Paul Maslin. When asked what happened in New Hampshire, Trippi said, "I'm not talking to you." His response to why was "Because the media is a pain in the ass."
The Dean team meets in Burlington tomorrow to come up with new strategies. According to the campaign, this is now a two man race. Staffers say his message will essentially stay the same except that there will be more emphasis on his executive experience and on Kerry as a Washington insider. "The difference between Howard Dean and John Kerry is results versus rhetoric," said McMahon.
McMahon categorizes the future ad strategy as being about the "next 7 weeks, not just about the next 7 days." Ads in New Hampshire are obviously down and no other ads are expected to go up until Friday.
Thursday the Governor touches down on delegate rich Michigan before going to Greenville, South Carolina. In fact, the Governor's most recent schedule takes him to both February 3rd and February 7th states. He is lagging in South Carolina, New Mexico and Arizona polls and it appears as if the campaign is focusing on Michigan and Washington states. As for the Dean New Hampshire staff, they will begin the postmortem tomorrow as well as discover what their next assignments will be. Most have all put in their relocation requests. Arizona and New Mexico seem to be the top choices. "I need to thaw out and I really need a tan," said one New Hampshire worker.
Dean camp watches voting climate
MANCHESTER, N.H., Jan. 27 — Today's weather report for New Hampshire's Primary Day: Cloudy with Northeast winds. High of 22 degrees Fahrenheit and low of 3 degrees Fahrenheit. Snow expected in the evening, which could affect voter turnout as well as demographics. Some campaign watchers say snow may keep older voters away from the polls.
As for the Dean campaign weather report, today's high a lead in favor of the Kerry campaign at 17 according to the Globe and a Zogby low of 3 is causing a mixture of nervousness and hope. The Governor himself is described as "calm, focused and ready for whatever happens." He is said to feel "confident" that the campaign adopted the right strategy following Iowa. The question to be answered by voters is whether there has been enough time since Iowa to build up the needed momentum.
On Primary Day eve, Dean top brass called pollsters trying to get a grasp of the voting climate. Frustrated with attempting to make sense out of the figures, a senior aide sighs, "Who the hell knows?" Polls worry the campaign and advisers admit the one especially troublesome polling detail is the Gallup question on who is best poised to beat George Bush. The poll shows Senator Kerry as the favorite. Yesterday Dean volunteer Mary Vogel from Washington, D.C., explained, "It's obvious that Bush is running a national security campaign and Kerry does have good foreign policy service."
The campaign is placing their faith in their New Hampshire organization and in those "peculiar" Granite State voters who have a history of turning the tables on Iowa outcomes. In case you are wondering how peculiar these voters are, here's a visual: Dover resident Judy Hammond will take her pet Binx the Goat to the polling place tomorrow night. (Binx makes campaign appearances for the Governor by trotting around town in a blanket marked up with Dean for America logos. The Governor and the Goat both have their own Web sites and have a David Letterman connection. Binx once auditioned for Stupid Pet Tricks, but wasn't "stupid" enough to make the final cut.)
The Dean campaign says they are retaining 80 percent of ones despite last week's deflating loss. State director Karen Hicks also says that they are converting their twos and threes and "moving in the right direction." At this point, she adds all that she can do is "worry and watch."
Tuesday, the Dean New Hampshire state's plan sets its wheels in motion. Dean leaders and their teams will be present at all the polling places. Retiree Marcia Moody, for example, began preparing lunches at 5:15 this morning. As a Dean comfort leader she will distribute the lunches to volunteers holding up signs in front of the polls in her area. Moody runs a Dean volunteer center out of her own home and testifies that not one person swayed from her camp as a result of the "I Have A Scream" speech.
Moody says that she had never contributed money to a campaign before Howard Dean inspired her last year. She adds, "And that's remarkable since I live on a retiree's income." It's small dollars from people like Moody that the campaign is banking their electability strength upon. The Dean green machine admits that they spent more in Iowa and New Hampshire then they had planned. "Chalk it up to nerves," says one adviser. But they are still bringing in more dinero than the rest of the pack and have the biggest war chest to fight President Bush. "We're budgeted through March 2," says spokesperson Jay Carson. The Comeback Bat put up a few days ago has taken in over $550,000 and the campaign says they have raised close to 1.8 million dollars since Iowa.
The Governor will make radio calls throughout the day from his Manchester headquarters and from the Merrimack Restaurant. He will also greet voters at two polling stations. Following a Primary Day "Victory" party, he is expected to drive home to Burlington, Vt., today for a down day on Wednesday with family before picking up again Thursday in South Carolina.
The Dean campaign has two television ads up in New Hampshire. (His Carter ad and a bio.) Other February 3 states are up on the radio and the decision to go back up on T.V. is pending.
MANCHESTER, N.H., Jan 22—A reporter looks over a photographer's shoulder on the press bus. On the photographer's laptop--a series of pictures of Joe Trippi and Governor Howard Dean taken just moments before the candidate hops on his People Powered bus to a debate. In each frame, the candidate looks focused. His campaign manager's hands are raised and his mouth open. It's like a coach giving his quarterback a last minute pep talk before the final play.
Following the debate and the Primetime interview, the coach was smiling as he stood before cameras in the spin room waiting for his live two way to begin. The lost and found blazer replaced by the long, formless trench coat.
Instead of the promised campaign finance reform rhetoric, the frog-throated candidate croaked on about his record, his conviction, his passion and his warts. Policy Director Jeremy Ben-Ami rated the Governor's debate performance as his "strongest ever." Regarding the argument of what is better to lead with-the heart or the head-Ben-Ami said: "If you calculate every decision with your head, you will lose. That' what the others do and the fact that Howard leads with his heart makes him so much more refreshing than the politics as usual crowd."
Other staff members were pleased that their candidate got his two messages across: the courage to stand up for what he believes in and his executive experience as Governor.
After watching the executive side of Dean and then the softer side of Dean, America saw the funny side of Dean. Huddled around the television in the Dean Manchester headquarters, young staffers stood among empty pizza boxes and watched the top ten list on Letterman. The shoulder flash got the most hooting and hollering.
The number of events for the next four days remains the same, but expect to see more stop-bys at diners and other public places. The Governor will also take to the phones and knock on doors as part of a Hail Mary strategy.
Live Free, Dean
MANCHESTER, N.H., Jan 22—In 1809, Revolutionary War hero General John Stark raised a glass and made a toast: "Live Free Or Die; Death Is Not The Worst of Evils." Almost 200 years later, in Manchester, New Hampshire, Democratic presidential candidate Howard Dean updated the General's words for his campaign battle cry: "Live Free And Dean."
The independent, rebellious phrase seems fitting for a candidate who will spend the next 5 days promoting the image of a straight talking, Washington outsider to save his bid for the presidency from dying. Senior advisors say their candidate is going back to his root message to distinguish himself from the other candidates. Bottom line: "Howard Dean is not afraid to stand up for what he believes in."
On the day of the last debate before the primary, the Governor plans to unload his latest arsenal when he introduces specifics to his campaign finance reform plan including limiting individual contributions from $2,000 to $250. Policy advisors explain that the plan is structured to eliminate special interest money and "Washington as usual politics." Regarding the plan, senior advisor Gina Glantz says, "I think that this is a message about average Americans being in control of their environments. You can't get things-like health insurance-done in Washington unless you have campaign finance reform. It goes to the ability of politicians being able to do the right thing without being tied to special interest dollars."
To be determined is how this message will play out to voters over the days leading up to the primary and whether it will be enough to defeat the fiery post-caucus debacle that has provided fodder for late night television two nights in a row. The traveling press, headquartered in Manchester, continues to monitor the fallout at their hotel's communal dining room while feeding on bagels and headlines. As for the Dean staff, one advisor refers to the intense rally speech as simply a "distraction," while others scoff at the attention and blame the "establishment media" for the negative spin.
The Governor has told reporters that he taps into the energy of the crowd at public appearances. And in Iowa that night, the crestfallen union members and young Deaniacs most definitely perked up during the Sen. Harkin and Governor Dean's performance. So perhaps it is less of a question of whether Dr. Dean went nuts and more of an example of what the Governor himself has described as the struggle of making the transition from local to national politics where the spotlight never fades and critics watch with extra scrutiny.
The result of the rally gone wild is a ten point drop in Boston Herald and Boston Globe polls; nervous Union endorsers, and an afternoon of explaining away his "impassioned pep talk" to local TV stations across the country while in Vermont to visit his family. The prescription to the Governor's ailments may be a strong debate showing tonight and a page calling Dr. Steinberg, who campaigned with her husband for the first time on Sunday. Judy Dean charmed crowds and reporters, but most significantly softened the Governor's image--something new policy is unlikely to accomplish. She will appear with him in a Diane Sawyer interview for Primetime following the debate.
Ordinarily the sight of Joan Jett tuning up her electric guitar in an airport with a guy who looks like he uses Elmer's glue as his primary hair styling product would get a second look. That's not the case, however, if it's 3:15 am and you've just spent the day campaigning with Gov. Howard Dean for the Iowa caucus.
The Governor mustered up as much passion as possible in a Portsmouth, N.H., airport hangar for the 500 people cheering and hitting white plastic bats together. In his battle cry, Dean said, "We have hardly begun to fight...I'm not the front-runner anymore. New Hampshire has a tradition of helping the underdog. So let's go get them." On the plane ride, Governor Dean slept while Joe Trippi and Paul Maslin worked the aisles of the new MD-80 press plane. Trippi explained tonight's third place finish as a "murder-suicide" and "classic Politics 101."
"Gephardt decided that he had to beat us at all costs, and killed himself and damaged us pretty badly. He ran negative ads on us week after week and made it a two man race, and then these two guys who weren't in it came up and practically stole our message. I mean if you closed your eyes and listened to them tonight, it's Howard Dean. One mistake we made was getting in front of Gephardt. But you can't control that."
Maslin said the campaign was looking forward to New Hampshire, which has the best Dean organization in the country. He also said that the campaign inadvertently attracted Edwards supporters to the precincts via the Governor's energizing message.
Governor Dean begins campaigning as the underdog (again) in a little under five hours.
ST. LOUIS, MO., Jan. 20 - It all happened so fast. One minute, reporters in the Gephardt filing room were barely settling in to spend what many believed would be a long night of ups and downs as the precinct numbers rolled in. Some tried to assess what would happen if he placed second, or maybe even third. Then, the numbers began rolling in, the fog lifted, and Gephardt's political future began to unravel. The murder-suicide between Dean and Gephardt came into focus.
The distress signals were everywhere. At 7:50 pm, Gephardt canceled his interview on Larry King Live, ten minutes before show time. He was a no-show at the hotel well after his scheduled arrival time, and Gephardt's campaign manager Steve Murphy was stonefaced as he paced back and forth on his cell phone. He told a couple of reporters that early turnout numbers appeared high - and he said earlier that "all bets were off" if turnout went beyond their expectations of 120,000. And they did....way beyond.
Rumors had been swirling for days that if Gephardt were to lose Iowa and drop out of the race, he would likely go to his hometown to make an official announcement. The defining moment came when a reporter asked whether plans to fly to New Hampshire and South Carolina for Tuesday's events were still set. "Are we still taking the charter to New Hampshire?" asked a reporter. "I don't know" was the answer Gephardt's press secretary gave. I don't know? That was telling. Less than an hour later, campaign press secretary Erik Smith announced that we would be traveling to St. Louis shortly after Gephardt made a statement. It was over.
According to campaign staffers, the mood behind the scenes was surprisingly easy. Early in the evening, Gephardt knew the end was near and there was not much discussion among staffers. One senior campaign staffer expressed thanks for the decision to cut the cord right away rather than die a slow death. In the ballroom, supporters and friends gathered - and the tears were flowing. Gephardt, too, teared up while delivering a heartfelt speech in which he spoke of his son's struggle with cancer. "I've been through tougher fights in my life. When I watched my 2-year-old son fight terminal cancer and win." After the speech, an easy-going Gephardt made his way around the room hugging supporters and staffers, some who were inconsolable.
Campaign staffers and journalists who have spent day in and day out riding buses and eating bad food together, said their good byes. It was like the end of summer camp. Even when the Kerry and Edwards freight trains began rattling the nerves of senior Gephardt staff members, they remained confident -- but only on the outside. Until the end, Gephardt publicly projected his win while, all the while, the end was near. The campaign knew their hard count numbers had dropped. They knew that Edwards' viability issues had diminished. They knew that Kerry's ground force was underestimated. They knew that Dean was hemorrhaging supporters, but Gephardt was not picking them up.
Still, they held out hope that their second choice strategy would keep them alive. Steve Murphy admitted on the charter plane to St. Louis that Gephardt's plan was a bit far-reaching. The plan to rely on the unviable Edwards imploded. Murphy joked that Gephardt's support base has always been at about 20%, since the Reagan administration. And, there was little hope of getting it up, so plan "B" was all they had.
The campaign now says Gephardt left the state last week for events in New York, Seattle, Michigan, and Los Angeles because they felt helpless in Iowa. "Gephardt is too familiar in Iowa", said Murphy. "And Edwards is Gephardt junior. They had the same upbringing and a similar message." Gephardt's chief of staff, Steve Elmendorf, received an e-mail from the Edwards campaigns' Nick Baldick shortly after Gephardt's concession, stating his interest in getting his hands on Gephardt's field staff. Several Gephardt staffers are expected to make the leap.
Once the congressman and his family left Des Moines on a charter for St. Louis, the traveling press and dejected but relieved senior staff members turned to more pressing matters. Was there alcohol on our plane? Sadly, there was none, but not for lack of effort in trying to find it.
Tuesday, Gephardt will thank his friends and supporters in his home state at an afternoon press conference. And, then he'll be pounding the phone for days. Not for fundraising calls though. Now, it's time to make the countless post mortem "thank you" calls. And then, he'll write a new chapter in his book. It's called "Dick and Jane Go Somewhere Warm and Take a Much-Needed Break."
OTTUMWA, Iowa, Jan. 15.--Greetings from Ottumwa, Indian for "Rippling Waters," where President Harry Truman celebrated his 66th birthday with a cake from Lowenberg Bakery.
Gov. Howard Dean's People Powered Road trip rolls out on another tropical 40-something-degree morning with Iowa Sen. Tom Harkin, who predicts a close race. In addition to stumping, the Senator has been calling his former precinct captains from around the state on behalf of the Governor. Although, he does not take credit for Dean's new sweater look, Harkin admits to counseling the Dean staff to clean up the trash talk. "In the closing days of this campaign you will get undecided voters who are looking for a positive message," says the Senator.
The press also expects campaign manager Joe Trippi, to be back on board. Thursday he worked the aisles making sure that reporters picked up a new line from the stump speech: In 1992, Bill Clinton said 'It's the economy, stupid.' Now it's the people, stupid. He put up quite a fight with the press, who had to practically pin Trippi down and deprive him of food and water to force him to share his thoughts on the campaign. (Yes, it gets ugly in that bus.) The spin on the polls is that they don't matter, unless, of course, they show you are up. And on the General waiting in battleground state New Hampshire, "We are not focused on Clark. It's Iowa, Iowa, Iowa."
New surrogates, Janeane Garafolo, Joan Jett and a posse of Massachusetts legislators arrive today along with 2,000 Perfect Storm volunteers. A new Dean bio ad goes up statewide and Sheryl Crowe will speak on behalf of the Governor on Iowa radio stations. (By the way, Crowe's song "Change" often pipes through speakers at Dean events.)
Those Crazy Kids
Garafolo and Jett stump for Dr. Dean on Saturday. Most of their stops are scheduled with Generation Deaners at Iowa community colleges.
In 2000, only 3 percent of caucus goers were under age 24. Although, the Dean campaign can't come up with a figure, they expect a large youth turnout. There are 11 full-time Dean youth organizers who educate high school and college students on the Iowa caucus. On Thursday even the Governor attempted to rally young voters to caucus at a Dairy Queen off Highway 69 in Osceola, IA. Most said they were too young or didn't seem willing to sacrifice two hours of a school night for politics. Still, the trip wasn't a complete waste. The Governor dropped over $100 on chocolate and butterscotch ice cream cups for the traveling press.
Generation Deaners have shown their support for the Governor through such events as Clark College's Latte and Sushi Luncheon-a dreadful combination proving that some things should not be taken literally. Others have also participated in the civic minded Dean Core and in flash mobs where supporters scramble to gather for 30-second to 5-minute meetings after receiving spontaneous Internet posted invitations and then disperse.
Thirty youth pre-caucus parties are planned for Jan. 19. The purpose of the meetings is to alleviate caucus night jitters and provide such services as carpooling.
Dean press bus un-plugged
Nathan Naylor spent four years as the "press shepherd" for Vice President Al Gore. On his list of duties, the "feeding and care of press core, which included making sure they could file." Back in the day, Naylor recalls, setting up filing stations meant calling up local phone companies and ordering dozens of lines that would be ripped out by the end of the day.
Then in 2001 while working for Senator Harry Reed, D-Nevada, Naylor got sent on a forced vacation when an anthrax outbreak shut down the Hart Senate Building. At home, Naylor toted his Apple G4 with air card from room to room and the luxury of being connected anywhere led to the creation of Soapbox. Simply put Soapbox is an office computer system in a 60-pound, 2 ½ x 2 ½ x 1-foot box stocked with a robotic camera and goodies to provide broadband and wireless Internet access. "It's basically a satellite truck, but lighter," explains Naylor who has installed wireless Internet connectivity using Soapbox systems on both Dean press buses. It's not 100 percent reliable, but as one reporter said, "When you are on the road like this, you need all the resources you can get."
Get On Your Soapbox
On caucus night, Naylor will rig up his customized systems at Iowa Democratic Party, Dean, Kerry and Gephardt headquarters. Also, in conjunction with the Iowa Democratic Party, Naylor will place a Sony Web cam at a to-be-selected caucus site. Video of the event--but no sound--will spill directly into www.iowademocrats.org so that people around the country can watch an Iowa caucus.
When the going gets tough for the Dean campaign, they get…another endorsement.
SOMEWHERE IN IOWA, Jan 14--On Wednesday, following the USA Today article--which reports that in a letter dated July 1995 the Governor urged President Clinton to act unilaterally in Bosnia--Dean staffers said they were bracing for another round of negative stories as a part of a conspiracy by other campaigns to stop the Governor from winning Iowa. Then somewhere between Des Moines and Fort Dodge on the maiden voyage of the Dean Iowa bus tour, blackberries and wireless computers snapped reporters out of their slumber and to the seat of Dean campaign manager Joe Trippi. The endorsement is expected to take place in Carroll, Iowa today.
Trippi told reporters that his personal friendship with Moseley Braun began in 1992 when Trippi worked for her in Illinois. Dean and Moseley Braun spoke after Sunday's Brown and Black debate and in their conversation, the Governor thanked Moseley Braun for defending him during the debate. The two then met the next morning in a fifth floor room at the Hotel Ft. Des Moines.
On the Ground In Iowa
Sen. Tom Harkin travels with the Governor today and on their first stop in Fort Dodge, the campaign will meet up with Gerry McEntee and the AFSCME bus tour. Thousands of volunteers from around the country are expected to flock into Iowa as part of the campaign's Perfect Storm. This includes a 30-car caravan from California. Volunteers will knock on 200,000 doors and make 50,000 phone calls over the last weekend before the caucus.
People who work together sometimes pick up each others quirks or lingo. In the case of the traveling Dean staff, it's a case of contagious coifs. On his down day in Vermont, the Governor stopped by Dan's Barbershop for a $12 cut. (That's $10 plus $2 tip.) Aide Mike O'Mary stopped by for a trim as well and left with the same style as the Governor. Senior advisor Gina Glantz passed on Dan's and went to colleague Kate O'Connor's hairdresser and ended up with a Kate-like do.
People Powered Express
The Governor will arrive in style to pick up his latest endorsement. A tour of the Governor's new wheels in the For Dodge parking lot, left reporters wide eyed and open-mouthed. The bus is a combination of hardwood floors and carpet and has the smell of brand new leather compliments of soft oversized couches. Bose speakers and wall mounted televisions are installed in both the front and back sitting areas. Driver and Gold Star Celebrity Coach owner Ed Meier says Denzel Washington and Aretha Franklin once used the same bus.
On the Newsstand
Dean staffers says the Governor will be on the cover of People, Rolling Stone and the first edition of Lumina, a new Des Moines-based magazine targeting people ages 18 to 35.
Flak has happy birthday with Dean
BURLINGTON, Vt., Jan. 13 — What do you get the press secretary who has everything, including the Democratic leader in the race for the White House? Well, the best birthday gift for Dean press secretary Doug Thornell might have been a giant hook to pull his candidate away from the podium. Monday, Thornell attempted twice to end a press avail in Mt. Pleasant, Iowa, but the candidate insisted on answering all the questions. (Thornell had to console himself with the chorus of "Happy Birthday," which was led by the Governor and erupted mid-avail. Yellow or chocolate cake with the sugary kind of frosting that makes your teeth hurt, followed on the press plane from Burlington, Iowa to Burlington, Vt. on Monday night.)
On-the-record face time with the Governor has decreased as the traveling press has grown and as January 19 draws near. In fact, future availabilities seem doubtful after the governor made the following statement at a pancake breakfast in Pella, Iowa: "It's a struggle between us and the Washington politicians and the established press. They have attacked us for months, every time they have an opportunity, but we are stronger than they are."
Gov. Dean kicks off the Washington D.C. primary in Vermont by speaking to radio and television stations in Iowa, New Hampshire and Feb. 3rd states.