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Kerry: Don’t Change Primary Calendar Iowa First

by Pamela Leavey

During his visit to Iowa yesterday, John Kerry said that the 2008 presidential primary calendar proposed by a DNC committee last week “risks complicating the nomination process.”

I’m in favor of Iowa as the first caucus and New Hampshire as the first primary,” Kerry told The Des Moines Register after testifying in Iowa City at a Senate hearing on cancer research.

“Now if they stick something in between … I think that’s their choice,” the 2004 Democratic presidential nominee added. “But it makes the system more complicated and probably slightly less democratic.”

The Democratic National Committee will vote next month on a schedule that keeps the Iowa caucuses’ leadoff role intact, but would insert a Nevada party caucus between Iowa and New Hampshire’s primary. New Hampshire Democrats have threatened to push the primary earlier on the calendar if the contest’s prestige appears to be in jeopardy.

Kerry stopped short of saying he would object to a final schedule that included a Nevada caucus between Iowa and New Hampshire, which the Democratic National Committee will consider when it votes on Aug. 19.

Kerry, the winner of the 2004 Iowa caucuses, was making his third trip to Iowa since the 2004 election.

He planned to campaign today for legislative candidates in Story City and Independence before headlining a Linn County Democrats’ event in Cedar Rapids.

Kerry also won the New Hampshire primary in 2004 and is weighing a bid for 2008.

Kerry said he would assess after the November midterm elections whether he will run again. Kerry dismissed the significance of a Register poll published in early June, which showed him in third place among his potential rivals in the Iowa caucuses, trailing his former running mate John Edwards of North Carolina and New York Sen. Hillary Clinton. Clinton has said she is focused on her Senate re-election this year, while Edwards has said he is very seriously considering a 2008 campaign.

Kerry used a come-from-behind win in Iowa’s 2004 caucuses to vault his campaign to a near sweep of the subsequent nominating contests.

He won 38 percent of the vote, but the Register’s poll showed him the choice of just 12 percent of likely Democratic caucus goers.

“Every poll anywhere right now is meaningless,” Kerry said. “You are talking to a guy who was 30 points down in Iowa for six months. I told you they were meaningless then. Right now, they are even more meaningless. People aren’t focused on this.”

Kerry has spoken out in the past about changing the primary schedule.

8 Responses to “Kerry: Don’t Change Primary Calendar Iowa First”

  1. Edwards is going to be a factor. Along with the “populist” messsage.

    It’s now evident with the rumor that he didn’t want Kerry to concede and fight the results, bloggers are making him out to be the hero and Kerry to be the evil villain (i.e. Skulls & Bones) Go figure. 😡

  2. I’ve always found it strange that Edwards is more popular than Kerry in certain segments of the blogosphere. After all, a major litmus test is the war, and Edwards originally supported going to war while Kerry opposed it.

    Of course there explanations from this, both stemming from the more fanatic Deanies. After it was apparent that Dean couldn’t win the nomination for a brief time Edwards was the only one actively campaigning against Kerry for the nomination. Some Deanies were willing to support anyone other than Kerry out of anger/denial than someone could beat their candidate. On top of that, they confused the IWR with support for the war and failed to see the major differences in opinion on the war between Kerry and Edwards.

  3. I agree with Sen. Kerry’s perspective. Bunching up the first primaries and caucuses destroys the very thing that makes Iowa and New Hampshire important litmus tests: especially in this day of out-of-control media politics, intense focus on two smallish states is perhaps the only chance the candidates have to meet voters one-on-one. Both candidates and voters learn a lot from these up-close-and-personal encounters.

    Nice to get a western state or two in there early, but not between Iowa and NH, IMHO.

    I ‘m also bemused by Edwards’ popularity in some quarters : Kerry is head and shoulders above Edwards in depth and breadth of experience, expertise, and . . well, everything. To me, it’s just so obvious. . Edwards’ focus on poverty is important, and I’m glad he’s speaking out on that, but in itself, that does not a president make. Ron’s analysis makes sense to me. . .

  4. Indie Liberal

    I assume you are referring to Elizabeth Edwards statement from her forth coming book? It’s no great revelation that was deep discussion that night. Edwards may have some popularity in the blogosphere but he’s no Kerry as Ron said.

    I talk to people everyday who say they want JK to run again. Never heare the same about Edwards off the blogosphere.

  5. Pamela and mbk,

    Yes, it was from Mrs. Edwards’ forth coming book. Interesting about the non-blogsphere hype of Edwards despite the “good” press he has been getting.

    Ron,

    I agree, Deaniacs only hear what they want to hear and JE is no JK. And they still made a good team.

  6. Oops, I meant non outside blogsphere hype.

  7. Very favorable article in today’s Cedar Rapids Gazette “Kerry to Iowa Democrats: Don’t get overconfident”… quoted him extensively.

    I had hoped to go see him in Independence (an hour and a half away) but couldn’t get away (had to make hay while the sun shines, y’know)..

  8. Nick

    I’m looking for the link – do you have it?