[Posted January 22, 2003] The six declared candidates for the Democratic presidential nomination appeared on the same stage for the first time last night at a Washington, DC dinner organized by NARAL Pro-Choice America to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the U.S. Supreme Court's Roe vs. Wade decision. Sen. John Edwards (D-NC), Rev. Al Sharpton, Sen. Joe Lieberman (D-CT), Rep. Dick Gephardt (D-MO), former Gov. Howard Dean (D-VT), and Sen. John Kerry (D-MA) each spoke to the crowd of about 1,300 people.
Not surprisingly, all six strongly backed a woman's right to choose, but they took different approaches the issue in their speeches, which ran seven to eight minutes each. Sharpton generated the most enthusiastic crowd response with some humorous introductory remarks. Dean, an unknown figure to many in the crowd, drew upon his experience as a doctor and a governor and delivered a very well received speech. Gephardt made an impression with a "confessional" speech in which he explained how he moved from the pro-life views he had held at the beginning of his political career to his pro-choice position.
A reception before the speeches and the dinner afterward provided opportunities for the candidates to meet with some of the activists. Dean and Kerry lingered longest. Over the next year these six candidates, and perhaps several others still to announce, will appear at many of these so-called "cattle show" events as they seek to woo activists' support. The first votes in the Democratic primary process will be cast about a year from now; the Iowa cacuses are scheduled for Jan. 19, 2004 and the New Hampshire primary for Jan. 27, 2004.
Copyright © 2003 Eric M. Appleman/Democracy in Action.