- The Washington Times - Wednesday, January 19, 2005

President Bush’s critics in Congress are expected to set aside partisan differences today and dutifully attend the presidential inauguration, Capitol Hill staffers say.

And that includes Sen. John Kerry — the man Mr. Bush defeated in the 2004 election.

“He has never missed an inauguration since [being first elected to the Senate], and he’ll be at this one,” said April Boyd, spokeswoman for the Massachusetts senator.

Sen. Barbara Boxer, the California Democrat who earlier this month challenged Mr. Bush’s victory in the Senate, also will be there, according to her office.

No word, however, on Rep. Dennis J. Kucinich, Ohio Democrat, who led a spirited campaign against Mr. Bush before endorsing Mr. Kerry.

Although many of the attending congressional Democrats may being doing so because of official obligations in today’s ceremonies, other partisan Democrats will be absent.

Former Rep. Martin Frost of Texas and former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean will spend the day campaigning to become chairman of the Democratic National Committee. Mr. Dean will host a series of “un-inauguration” house party fund-raisers to raise money to oppose Mr. Bush’s policies, according to the Boston Globe.

Others are just staying away.

“We all know the inauguration is taking place,” said Debra DeShong, a former spokeswoman for Mr. Kerry. “But watching it is like adding salt to a wound.”

Outgoing DNC Chairman Terry McAuliffe will stay home and watch the movie “Titanic,” he said, “to get me in the mood for the second Bush administration.”

About two dozen Kerry workers, supporters and friends took off Monday for the Caribbean on a cruise offering a European spa, gambling, art auctions and dance classes.

“It was basically just a chance to get out of town and be together on a cruise instead of watching this inaugural ceremony,” said Greg Hale, Mr. Kerry’s deputy communications director.

Mr. Hale passed on the seagoing adventure, opting instead to spend time out of town at his cattle farm in Arkansas.

Kerry campaign spokeswoman Stephanie Cutter is in Florida. Kerry pollster Mark Mellman plans to be at Northwestern University talking to students about why the Democratic campaign came up short.

Those remaining in Washington include Kerry senior strategist Tad Devine, who said he may spend the afternoon at work or at home playing with his children.

Veteran Democratic strategist Donna Brazile, who went to Hawaii after managing Al Gore’s unsuccessful bid for the presidency in 2000, is staying put this time. She is expected to talk to young people in town for the ceremony and then watch science-fiction movies while Republicans celebrate.

“Life goes on, but I’m still in a mild depression over the election,” Miss Brazile said.

Some Democrats, however, can’t stay away from the politics of the moment. Aides say John Edwards, the former North Carolina senator and Mr. Kerry’s running mate in 2004, will be in Georgetown with his family, but plans to watch the inaugural on television.

This article is based in part on wire service reports.

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