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Monday, January 19, 2004

Kucinich and Edwards team up for Iowa
Can you say "Hmmmm?"
Democratic presidential candidates John Edwards and Dennis Kucinich have struck a deal to support each other should one candidate fail to draw the minimum support needed to compete in Monday night's Iowa caucuses, Edwards campaign sources said.

The decision could give Edwards, a U.S. senator from North Carolina, a boost in the convoluted caucuses, the first major Democratic contest of the election year. An Iowa poll published over the weekend shows Edwards is in a tight race with the four front-runners. The same poll has Kucinich, an Ohio congressman, drawing the support of just 3 percent of likely caucus-goers.

"Both of us believe in a lot of the same things, and we like each other very much," Edwards said. "But both of us also recognize at the end of the day, caucus-goers will have to make their own decisions about this."
Edwards and Kucinich have agreed that in any Iowa precinct where either candidate fails to garner the minimum needed to survive the first round, their supporters are urged to line up for the other candidate, Kucinich spokesman David Swanson said.

"They both have a positive approach, and they both have an optimistic vision," Swanson said. "Where we need 15 percent, we've got 9 and he's got 6, they'll come to us, and where he's got 9 and we've got 6, we'll go to him."
-- That's from CNN.

The e-mail I got from our local Kucinich coordinator including the following information, apparently from a press release:

1. Neither campaign is ending nor endorsing the other. This is only because of the unique nature of the Iowa caucuses where you have to have 15% in each and every caucus room to be a viable group. It applies to no other state, no other night.

2. This is not a "strategic compromise." Rather it is a deal that works toward the long-term goal of keeping the race tight and keeping Dennis in it ALL THE WAY TO THE CONVENTION. We never expected to win Iowa, but to get delegates in enough states so that the Kucinich platform is decisive AT THE CONVENTION. Please remember that the Kucinich campaign would have to end if one person (i.e. Dean) coasted to wins in Iowa and New Hampshire.

In other words, it's not a statewide deal, but a caucus-by-caucus deal.

My initial impressions:
  • I'm concerned that it makes it look like Kucinich is dropping out, even though they're trying to make it clear that it's just a one-time thing based on the Iowa rules.
  • Even with that, it probably benefits the Kucinich campaign by getting him some press. He's got support, but little coverage.
  • If (big if) Edwards had voted against the Iraq war in October 2002, he would be my easy second choice at this point, based on what I've heard from him in the debates. He's sharp, articulate, and decent. Watching the debates, I thought that Edwards and Sharpton were consistently the most impressive, if you ignored specific positions and went solely with the quality and delivery of the arguments. I may have watched Kucinich with the too-critical eye of a fan, and I generally found Dean, Kerry, Gephardt and Lieberman to be insufferable. I only saw one debate with Clark in it, and was neither greatly impressed nor turned off. I remember Kucinich saying in an interview that Edwards was his best friend among the contestants.
  • I hope it works, and it gives Dennis a boost! Finishing third or fourth would be an enormous help to the campaign. Having Edwards win would probably at least be a boost for Dennis' positions.