by Joe Shea
American Reporter Correspondent
March 11, 2004
JOHN KERRY CLINCHES DEMOCRATIC NOMINATION
BRADENTON, Fla., March 11, 2004 -- U.S. Senator John Forbes Kerry has clinched the Democratic Party's 2004 presidential nomination by winning a total of 2,162 delegates, the number needed for nomination, CNN reported late this morning.
CNN said journalists "did the math" and concluded that Kerry, the junior senator from Massachusetts, a former Vietnam War hero and later a leader of the 1970s antiwar movement, had enough delegates committed to him in primary elections to guarantee him the coveted nomination.
"The CNN delegate count shows John Kerry with 2,162 delegates, the exact number need to win the nomination," CNN anchor Daryn Kagan reported Thursday.
CBS News and the Associated Press had made the same claim on Wednesday, but gave Kerry 2,174 delegates, including so-called "super delates." That number is 12 more than needed.
The news came after Kerry met with former rival Gov. Howard Dean of Vermont on Wednesday and prepared to meet with U.S. Sen. John Edwards today. The senator spoke to the Democratic House Caucus on Thursday morning. Both men are expected to endorse Kerry, who rarely attacked either man during an unusually civil series of primary campaign debates.
"John Kerry and I had a very good meeting today," Dean said Wednesday. "During the campaign we often focused on what divided us, but the truth is we have much more in common, beginning with our fervent desire to send George Bush back to Crawford, Texas in November. The future of our country depends on this."
But the Kerry campaign was taken aback when an open microphone caught him telling supporters gathered around him at a union rally in Chicago that "These guys are the most crooked, lying group I've ever seen." or The Bush capaign has demanded an apology, which has not been forthcoming. Kerry staffers later said the comments were directed at "attack dogs" associated with the President's campaign, not the President and his administration.
In what would be a unique proposal, Kerry yesterday invited President George W. Bush to a series of monthly debates between the two men between now and November. Kerry told an 11-year-old student reporter, "I'm willing to have a great discussion with the country. If the President wants to have a debate a month on just one subject, and we go around the country, I think that'd be a great idea. Let's go do it."
As Manatee County Team Kerry leader, I joined other campaign staffers at "visibility" events on Tuesday before voting for John Kerry in the Floriday primary at the El Conquistador Country Club. In our precinct, Kerry defeated Sen. John Edwards by 129 to 9, with 16 votes going to other candidates including Howard Dean and Dennis Kucinich.
As we stood at the busy intersections of U.S.. Highway 41 and Cortez Road in the morning rush and at Manatee Ave. and State Road 301 in the afternoon, at least 300 supporters hionked their horns and many more waved. We knew the precise number because one of us, an 11-year-old girl named Breeze, counted each one as she stood holding a mixture of homemade and Kerry yard signs with Mandy Arb, a Bradenton paralegal, and Team Kerry secretary Nancy Hartley.
The apparent supporters of President Bush ranged in age from a young man of about 23 who slapped a menacing ax handle into his palm as he stared at me from the open side door of a blue van to a well-dressed man in his 30s who shot us a finger, to elderly women who gave us grimacing thumbs down signs. It was evidence to me that the President's supporters have become worried about his slipping popularity, political mistakes and official misstatements.
Here in Manatee County there about 60,000 registered Democrats, 80,000 registered Republicans and 40,000 registered Independents, Greens and others. Those numbers would suggest that our goal of carrying Manatee County for John Kerry in November is at least a strong possibility; we are determined to achieve it. Nonetheless, every elected official in the county save one is a Republican; the lone Democrat is Bardenton City Councilmember Rev. James Golden, who told us about 10 days ago that he is supporting Sen. Kerry.
Our first meeting - seeking a "core" group to manage the campaign turned out only one guest - but what a guest! Sarasota attorney Grissim Walker agreed to serve as our top field deputy and has done a terrific job from the start. He was worried about the possible turnout at the first official Team Kerry meeting two days later at Perkins Family Restaurant which had been advertised in the Bradenton Herald's political calendar, but that meeting turned out to be a significant success -- everyone that showed up except for a Sarasota physician (already active in Sarasota) turned out for the visibility and agreed to begin working on the campaign's outreach effort.
Now we are getting ready for our second Team Kerry meeting at Perkins on March 15, our first National Kerry Meetup at Perkins on March 25, and a fund-raiser at a private home on Anna Maria Island on April 10. We are building a database of influential community leaders who can reach out to their respective organizations, and planning other events.
Joe Shea, a longtime supporter of Sen. John F. Kerry, heads the Manatee County volunteer effort for the Democratic presidential candidate. He is Editor-in-Chief of The American Reporter.