- The Washington Times - Monday, August 30, 2004

Dean’s charges

Howard Dean,in an appearance yesterday on CNN, showed he has not mellowed in recent months.

The former Democratic presidential hopeful once again accused the Bush administration of using terror alerts for political purposes, and he joined the John Kerry presidential camp in charging that the Bush team was behind those ads by Swift Boat Veterans for Truth.

“The last time, Governor, you were on ‘Late Edition,’ you made a commotion, you made a lot of news by pointing out — that was the same day that Tom Ridge, the secretary for homeland security, raised the threat level in parts of New York, New Jersey, Washington, D.C., amid terror reports. And you suggested, at least partially, politics was behind that,” program host Wolf Blitzer noted.

“I wonder if you’ve had a chance to rethink those controversial words since then.”

Mr. Dean replied, “Yes, I think it’s very likely. Now it seems, given the past events, that it’s extremely likely that politics have something to do with it.”

The former Vermont governor then abruptly switched subjects.

“We now know that the president has broken the law,” he said. “The president’s campaign had two of its members working in cahoots with this Swift Boat ad, which turned out not to be true.

“And so, the president himself is now responsible for an ad that’s been on television that’s not true. There will be an investigation about that. Unfortunately, the results won’t be known until after the election.”

A familiar name

Connie Mack IV, the son of a popular former senator and the great-grandson of a baseball icon of the same name, has an edge when it comes to name recognition in one of Florida’s congressional primaries.

Mr. Mack, who is seeking the House seat that his father held before he was elected to the U.S. Senate, brushes off criticism that he’s simply trading on his family name, Associated Press reporterBill Kaczor writes.

“The same things were said when my father first ran, that he was only running on his grandfather’s name,” said Mr. Mack, 37. “I believe that most people now look and say that my father was a very good United States senator.”

Mr. Mack is pursuing the seat of Republican Rep. Porter J. Goss, President Bush’s choice to head the Central Intelligence Agency.

Connie Mack is short for Cornelius McGillicuddy, the name of his great-grandfather, a baseball manager and owner of the Philadelphia Athletics; his grandfather, a Florida developer; and his father, the former congressman and ex-senator. The younger Mack also has a son with the same name.

The Republican nominee in the heavily Republican 14th district will be favored to win one of Florida’s two open congressional seats against Democrat Robert Neeld, 48, an accountant.

Mr. Mack’s race is among six Democratic and four Republican congressional primaries on Florida’s ballot tomorrow.

A matter of principle

“How can this be happening? Why didn’t John Kerry months back — if not years — find some gracious way to make peace with the John O’Neills of the world?” Wall Street Journal columnist Daniel Henninger writes.

“Why didn’t one wise head among the Democrats point out the obvious difficulties of the Kerry candidacy once past the party’s primary voters? This is a man who would be running as both a hero of Vietnam and a famous accuser of the war’s heroes.

“This is an election, not a Shakespearean tragedy. How come John Kerry never worked out, before the final leg of his long odyssey, a let-bygones statement, admitting the hyperbole (at the least) of his accusations of atrocity before Congress in 1971, honoring the service of colleagues who never felt obliged to apologize for Vietnam, but reserving his right to oppose that troubled war?” Mr. Henninger asked.

“The reason for not doing so lies in something often asserted but little respected in our politics now — principle. Alongside support for the civil-rights movement in the 1960s, opposition to Vietnam forms the moral bedrock of the modern Democratic Party. John Kerry (whose fidelity to principle, on the available evidence, is weaker than that of those who voted him into this role) is obliged to stand by his 1971 testimony as a matter of principle. Abandon that, and the party abandons him.

“Now this principle has drawn the Democrats into a game of high-stakes political poker over the Swift-boat story. Early on, it was merely John Kerry’s presidential dream that the Swiftees threatened. We’ve moved way beyond that. Now the whole stack of moral capital the party banked from the Vietnam period has been pushed to the center of the table.”

Kerry’s unfavorables

“A new Gallup poll provides what might be the best measure so far of the effect the Swift Boat controversy is having on Sen. John Kerry’s presidential candidacy,” Byron York writes at National Review Online (www.nationalreview.com).

“The poll, conducted August 23-25, shows Kerry’s unfavorable rating at its highest point since Gallup began measuring Kerry’s performance in February 1999. Forty percent of those surveyed have an unfavorable opinion of Kerry, compared to 52 percent who have a favorable opinion. Kerry’s favorable rating is lower than the 54 percent of those surveyed who have a favorable opinion of President George W. Bush,” Mr. York said.

“From late March until early August, Kerry’s unfavorable rating hovered in the mid-30s. It was 37 percent in a poll taken July 30-August 1. In a survey taken July 8-11, it was 34 percent. Before that, it was even lower. In mid-February, when Kerry locked up the Democratic nomination, his unfavorable rating was 26 percent.

“Part of the increase is the natural result of Kerry’s becoming well-known. Candidates with little national recognition normally have very low favorable and unfavorable ratings. In February 1999, for example, Kerry’s unfavorable rating was 9 percent.

“But the recent increase in Kerry’s unfavorable rating is likely the result of something else — a combination of ads aired by the group Swift Boat Veterans for Truth, negative ads by the Bush campaign, and the simple fact that the public has had more chances to see Kerry, leading some to decide they dislike him.”

Zogby’s numbers

President Bush’s rise in the polls late last week doesn’t eliminate the pressure for a rousing performance at the convention, independent pollster John Zogby tells the Washington Whispers column of U.S. News & World Report.

“His surveys show that while 96 percent of Gore voters plan to vote for Sen. John Kerry, only 89 percent of those who voted for Bush in 2000 are currently committed to supporting him again in November,” columnist Ben Wildavsky writes.

“Bush, the way Zogby figures it, will need to boost that to 95 percent to win in November. The president, he says, ‘has to bring Republicans home.’”

Greg Pierce can be reached at 202/636-3285 or [email protected]

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