Boston Phoenix

Issue Date: January 23 - 29, 2004

Vote Kerry in New Hampshire

JOHN KERRY returned to New Hampshire after his table-turning victory in the Iowa caucuses a new candidate: less cocky, more focused, more human. Kerry has learned and grown on the campaign trail, and that has re-energized his campaign, which, until the Iowa turnaround, appeared to be heading for the margins of the presidential race. Kerry is again a contender, and we hope that New Hampshire voters will maintain Kerry’s momentum by voting him to the top of the ticket in next week’s primary.

If Iowa offers any indication of what Democrats and independent progressive voters at large are looking for, it boils down to these two questions: who has the best shot of beating Bush? And who is best qualified to be president?

Kerry’s Iowa upset and his concurrent surge in New Hampshire are a tribute to his considerable and tenacious political skills. President Bush and his go-for-the-jugular strategist, Karl Rove, are formidable opponents. Whoever emerges as the party’s nominee will face the most focused, funded, and ruthless opponent of his career. To beat Bush, Democrats need a candidate of character, temperament, and standing. And while we salute all the Democratic candidates for their fidelity to their own visions of public service, we think that John Kerry has the broadest vision and the widest experience. And that is why he deserves New Hampshire’s vote.

How does Kerry stack up when compared to the other front-runners, Howard Dean and Wesley Clark? And how does he fare against the other Iowa "winner," John Edwards?

Dean deserves great credit for making the war with Iraq a central issue in this campaign, although we are among those who find his position more than a bit disingenuous, on close examination, when compared to that of many other Democrats. Dean also deserves great credit for mobilizing those opposed to the war and those who felt politically disenfranchised by the radical right-wing policies of Bush. But is candidate Dean, the man who essentially told a 65-year-old questioner in Iowa to sit down and shut up, ready for the task of personal leadership? Does Howard Dean, whose painfully overwrought performance on the night of the Iowa caucuses aroused comment and criticism, have the temperament to lead Democrats to victory not only in the White House, but in Congress and in state elections across the nation?
We think that when it comes to finding a national standard-bearer, John Kerry stands the tallest.

Wesley Clark, free from the competition of Iowa, has made strong inroads in New Hampshire. And his maverick candidacy has understandable appeal for voters who cherish their political independence. In an age when terrorists menace, when the bizarre regime in North Korea threatens to export nuclear technology, and when instability in the Middle East and Western Asia threatens peace and prosperity, Clark — a former general and NATO commander — certainly has a claim on voters’ imaginations. But for all that Clark has to offer, he lacks a solid grounding in domestic policy as well as big-league political experience.

John Edwards rightfully captured the imagination of Iowans with a positive and forward-looking campaign that is, frankly, refreshing in presidential politics. Obviously a man of immense talent and considerable charm, he doesn’t strike us as one who has been tempered and tested enough in political struggle, although he’ll show his true mettle in the weeks to come.

In his nearly 20 years in the Senate, John Kerry has actively dealt with issues of war and peace, terrorism and international malfeasance, social justice and human rights. He’s grappled with the best way to provide health care and education to all citizens. In his private life, he served in Vietnam, where he was three times wounded and twice decorated for bravery. Recognizing the magnitude of our national error, he then helped lead the fight to change policy there, along the way helping to raise two daughters. He understands the balance between the public and the private.

We think Kerry is the best of the field. We urge New Hampshire voters to give him their vote.

Copyright © Phoenix Media Communications Group.  Reprinted by permission.  (Susan Ryan-Vollmar, 03/01/04)

The endorsement was arrived at through what News Editor Susan Ryan-Vollmar described as "a pretty informal process."