- The Washington Times - Friday, November 4, 2005

Democratic National Committee Chairman Howard Dean said yesterday that his party’s 2008 presidential convention will be held at the end of August, only a few days before the Labor Day kickoff of the general election campaign.

DNC officials said Mr. Dean’s decision to hold the national convention on Monday, Aug. 25, through Thursday, Aug, 28, “will allow the Democrats to host their convention after the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing,” which will be held in mid-August.

“After consulting with Democratic leaders and recent presidential candidates, Governor Dean decided that the late August time frame was in the best interest of the party and the ticket in 2008,” DNC spokesman Josh Earnest said.

Republican Party officials were unmoved by the early nature of the announcement, though they noted its unusual timing — nearly 34 months before their next party gathering.

“It’s the Democrats’ prerogative when they choose their convention date, however early in the process. We are looking forward to announcing our date next year,” said Tracey Schmitt, the Republican National Committee’s chief spokesman. Mr. Dean consulted recently with former President Bill Clinton whose wife, New York Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, is the early front-runner for the 2008 nomination, party officials said yesterday.

But there were other factors that entered into the Democrats’ decision to emulate the Republicans’ 2004 strategy. Last year, in a sharp break with tradition, the GOP held its convention from Aug. 30 through Sept. 2, more than a month later than the Democrats, who met July 26-29.

That decision not only put President Bush’s nomination in the middle of the Labor Day weekend, when the country began focusing on the election, but it helped fundraising, too. Under the federal campaign financing laws, candidates who accept public financing in their general election campaign must stop raising private funding once they have been nominated. Thus, by starting later than usual, Mr. Bush had more than a month longer to raise private funds than did Sen. John Kerry, his Democratic opponent.

“The shorter general election time frame will ensure that the Democratic ticket has the necessary resources to run a full-throated national campaign in the last 68 days of the election,” Mr. Earnest told The Washington Times.

Another reason for Mr. Dean’s decision, Democratic campaign strategists said yesterday, was the inherent disadvantages of holding their convention in July when many, if not most, Americans are focused on vacations and summer activities, not on the election.

“By the last week in August, most families will have completed their vacations, most school children will have returned to schools and the Democratic ticket will have the opportunity to make their case in front of an attentive American public,” Mr. Earnest said.

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