- The Washington Times - Thursday, February 5, 2004

DETROIT — Democratic presidential hopeful Howard Dean canceled several events set for today here, effectively ending his Michigan campaign, and headed to Wisconsin, saying he must win there on Feb. 17 in order to stay in the race.

“Our true test will be the Wisconsin primary,” Mr. Dean wrote yesterday in an e-mail appealing for $100 donations. “A win there will carry us to the big states of March 2 — and narrow the field to two candidates. Anything less will put us out of this race.”

Meanwhile, everywhere front-running Sen. John Kerry went his path was cleared by establishment Democrats bearing fresh endorsements — Gov. John Baldacci and former Sen. George Mitchell from Maine, and Sens. Carl Levin and Debbie Stabenow from Michigan.

The big prize came later in the day when Kerry spokesman David Wade said Missouri Rep. Richard A. Gephardt, the former House minority leader whose presidential campaign collapsed in Iowa’s caucuses, will endorse Mr. Kerry today in Warren, a blue-collar suburb of Detroit.

The endorsement is a huge boost for the Massachusetts senator who has been aggressively pursuing the backing of labor unions who had thrown their support to Mr. Gephardt.

Mr. Kerry was poised to make considerable headway with organized labor. The Alliance for Economic Justice, which was formed by the Teamsters and more than a dozen industrial unions, planned to endorse Mr. Kerry after a morning meeting with him in Boston, two labor officials told the Associated Press on condition of anonymity.

Mr. Dean’s plan to revive his campaign in Michigan after essentially ignoring the seven states that held their Democratic primaries Tuesday apparently has failed.

Polls here show him far behind Mr. Kerry leading up to tomorrow’s Michigan caucus. A Zogby poll taken Tuesday and Wednesday showed Mr. Kerry with 47 percent, Mr. Dean with 10 percent and Sen. John Edwards of North Carolina with 8 percent.

Early polling in Wisconsin also shows Mr. Dean, the only one of the four leading candidates to have no binding victories, faces an uphill battle there. Mr. Kerry’s support there is at 45 percent, compared with Mr. Dean at 12 percent, Wesley Clark at 11 percent and Mr. Edwards at 6 percent, according to a poll taken for the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel and the Capital Times, published in Madison.

Mr. Edwards and Mr. Clark meanwhile have been concentrating on Tennessee and Virginia, which have primaries Tuesday, and had no Michigan stops scheduled. Washington Democratic presidential caucuses also are tomorrow, and Maine holds its on Sunday.

Yesterday in Portland, Maine, Mr. Kerry answered a heckler by saying, “I never run away from anything, especially George Bush.”

The Massachusetts lawmaker had just received an endorsement from Mr. Baldacci when somebody in the crowd of about 400 shouted, “Why don’t you tell them about your vote on the war and the Patriot Act?”

About 15 minutes later, he referred to the heckler and what he called the “heartfelt” opinions. Mr. Kerry noted that he protested the Vietnam War after fighting in it. He also touched on his work as a senator to shed light on the Iran-contra affair during the Reagan administration.

“I don’t take a second seat to anybody in my fights for peace,” he said.

Mr. Kerry did not specifically defend his vote on Iraq, but said, “There was a right way to hold Saddam Hussein accountable,” including working through the United Nations and “living up to the words ‘last resort.’ ”

“Everything George Bush did was to choose the wrong way,” Mr. Kerry said. He did not mention the Patriot Act.

In Nashville, Tenn., Mr. Edwards claimed that trade agreements hurt the U.S. labor force and promised to create jobs for working-class Americans.

“Twenty years ago, we talked about buy American, remember that? How about hire American?” Mr. Edwards told a couple hundred people at Tennessee State University as they cheered. One man shouted “Yah!”

He is hoping the same recipe that he used to win over South Carolina voters — a dash of Southern charm from “the son of a mill worker” combined with the promise to protect blue-collar jobs and fight trade policies he deems unfair — resonates in Tennessee and Virginia.

“When we talk about keeping America secure, part of keeping America secure is keeping our jobs secure,” Mr. Edwards said in Tennessee. “We ought to be exporting American products not American jobs.”

In Chattanooga, Tenn., Mr. Clark clarified his comments from a day earlier in which he told a Tennessee voter, “I don’t believe in abortion.”

“I would hope that it would be done only on rare occasions, but it’s a woman’s right to choose. It’s a private matter, and I support the Supreme Court. I support Roe v. Wade. And I support a woman’s right to choose,” Mr. Clark told reporters as he campaigned in the state.

The retired Army general created a stir in New Hampshire with a series of comments on abortion, telling a newspaper’s editorial board that he was pro-choice and that “life begins with a mother’s decision.”

Within days of those comments, Mr. Clark told reporters in New Hampshire that he supported a woman’s right to have an abortion “as modified by” the Supreme Court in its 1992 Casey decision that lets states impose restrictions that do not constitute an “undue burden.”

This article is based in part on wire service reports.

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