- The Washington Times - Wednesday, January 28, 2004

MANCHESTER, N.H. — Anti-Bush sentiment among Democrats, rather than helping the angry Howard Dean, has led voters to pick John Kerry as the candidate they believe can beat President Bush in the next election.

Democrats are so unhappy with Mr. Bush — in particular, his handling of the war in Iraq — that many said they picked their second and even their third choice in Tuesday’s primary in hopes of picking a strong candidate who can take the White House away from Mr. Bush in November, according to polling data and interviews.

About half of those who voted for Mr. Kerry, a Massachusetts senator, in the New Hampshire primary said they voted for him because they thought he could beat Mr. Bush, according to exit polls. Less than 20 percent of Mr. Dean’s supporters said they did so because they thought he could win.

“I’ve never voted in a primary for a Democrat who won,” said Lori Berry, who attended the University of California in Berkeley during the 1960s. She said she didn’t vote for Michael Dukakis in 1988, for example, “because he was too right-wing.”

“I’m so angry at Bush that I’m going to vote this time for someone who can beat him,” said Mrs. Berry, a Dean supporter who said she probably would vote for Mr. Kerry. “I want to send Kerry into the election with strong support.”

Like many voters, Mrs. Berry voted strategically rather than with her heart.

As a result, only about 40 percent of Mr. Kerry’s supporters said they voted for him because they agree with him on “major issues,” according to the exit polls. Of those who stuck with Mr. Dean, 70 percent gave that reason for their support.

One year ago, the former Vermont governor barely registered in the polls. When Mr. Bush sent troops to invade Iraq in the spring, Mr. Dean’s vehement opposition to the war and harsh criticism of the president rocketed him to the forefront of the crowded Democratic field.

As the race progressed, many Democrats had to defend their various votes in favor of the war, while Mr. Dean’s popularity kept surging as he tapped into Democrats’ ferocious opposition to Mr. Bush.

Even last week, after many Dean supporters fled over concerns about his temperament, Mr. Dean continued his intensely anti-Bush message. He offered to send Mr. Bush a “one-way ticket” back to Crawford, Texas.

And so not all Dean supporters left him.

Deborah Regan, 49, of Hampton Falls, N.H., wore a button with an American flag that said, “Anyone But Bush.”

Although she had some concerns about Mr. Dean’s ability to appeal to a broad cross section of voters in a general election, she voted for him thinking he would run the best campaign.

But, Ms. Regan said, she is not disappointed by Mr. Kerry’s victory.

“My main goal is beating Bush,” she said. “Who does it is secondary.”

Anti-Bush sentiments run so high in some circles that even some conservatives in New Hampshire came out Tuesday to cast a vote against him.

Joseph Jackson, 61, a self-employed industrial refrigeration mechanic, said he is a registered independent who usually votes as a conservative Republican. But he showed up at a voting station in Portsmouth Tuesday out of dissatisfaction with Mr. Bush.

Though he likes Mr. Bush’s tax cuts, Mr. Jackson said he is angry over the handling of the Iraq war. But what angers him most is the Patriot Act, which has broadened law-enforcement powers since the September 11 terrorist attacks.

“I don’t like the Patriot Act, which is maybe more of a danger to personal rights than the enemy is,” he said. “Why are we taking all the security measures against Americans? This is not an insurrection; it is an attack from a foreign enemy.”

Asked whom he voted for, Mr. Jackson sighed and said, “I voted for Wesley Clark, just because he seemed like the most Republican one of them.”

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