|In Brief - Up for re-election in 2008. Democratic nominee for President in 2004. Elected to the U.S. Senate in Nov. 1984, re-elected in 1990, 1996 and 2002. Elected Lieutenant Governor, 1982. Private practice. Prosecutor, Middlesex County, 1976-79. Graduate of Boston College Law School, 1976. Democratic nominee for U.S. House in 1972. U.S. Navy, 1966-70; served in Vietnam and awarded three Purple Hearts. B.A. from Yale University, 1966. Born Dec. 11, 1943 at Fitzsimons Army Hospital in Aurora, CO. [Timeline].|
Steep Hill for a Second Run
He's been through the process so he knows what to expect, and he received the second highest number of votes ever in an American presidential campaign--59,028,109 compared to 62,028,285 for President George W. Bush--but a second run for the Democratic presidential nomination would likely have proven even more of a challenge for Sen. John Kerry than the first one. The last Democrat to gain the nomination twice was Adlai Stevenson in 1952 and 1956.
The 2004 Campaign
In the latter part of 2003, Kerry appeared down and almost out of the race for the 2004 Democratic nomination, yet he rebounded and came back. Democrats thought his experience as a Vietnam veteran would provide a sharp contrast against Bush. He was "electable." He also listened well and gave thoughtful responses in forums. On the downside Kerry often seemed unable to generate much excitement; perhaps because of his years in the Senate he has a somewhat ponderous speaking style, and one could see occasions where it required the noise of a marching band or bagpipes to add energy.
Kerry made some mistakes in the fall campaign that contributed to his defeat. In an amazing bit of political jujitsu, Swift Boat veterans managed to make his Vietnam service a liability. Kerry failed to respond adequately to the Swift Boat attacks. But there was more. Republicans seized on his remark that, "I Actually Voted for the $87 Billion Before I Voted Against It" to portray him as a flip-flopper. Kerry's choice of advisors who had been involved in Gore's defeat raised questions. The outspoken Teresa Heinz Kerry didn't fit the popular conception of a First Lady. Some Democrats were also upset that Kerry had about $14 million left in the Kerry for President Inc. (primary campaign) account at the end of the closely fought 2004 campaign. Kerry aides said they had held onto those funds in the event they were needed for a recount battle.
It can be argued that any Democratic candidate would have had a tough time defeating the incumbent president in a time of war. It can also be argued that given the array of forces aligned against Bush, a stronger candidate might have prevailed. In fact many people seemed to be voting against Bush rather than for Kerry.
Keeping a High Profile
Returning to the U.S. Senate, Kerry made children's health care his first priority. On January 24, 2005 he introduced the Kids Come First Act, S.114, which would expand coverage to more than 11 million uninsured children through the State Children’s Health Insurance Program (S-CHIP) and Medicaid. In early May Kerry held a series of four town hall meetings around the country to promote the bill, but it languished in committee. On Iraq, the issue which bedeviled him in 2004, Kerry moved to support a timetable for withdrawal. In an April 5, 2006 Op-Ed in The New York Times ("Two Deadlines and An Exit"), he wrote, "Iraqi politicians should be told that they have until May 15 to put together an effective unity government or we will immediately withdraw our military." Further, Kerry wrote, "If Iraq's leaders succeed in putting together a government, then we must agree on another deadline: a schedule for withdrawing American combat forces by year's end."
In March 2005 Kerry formed a new leadership PAC, Keeping America's Promise. He continued to show strong fundraising ability, and campaigned with and contributed to many Democratic candidates. Keeping America's Promise reported that in the 2006 cycle, "John Kerry gave away $14 million to over 260 Democratic candidates and committees in races up and down the ticket in nearly every state in the country." Further Kerry traveled to 35 states to campaign for candidates, and he gave $1.3 million to 31 veteran candidates.
Deciding Against a Second
A gaffe in the closing days of the 2006 campaign overshadowed Kerry's efforts. Speaking at a rally at Pasadena City College in California on October 30, Kerry told students to study hard, because "if you don't, you get stuck in Iraq." The outcry over this "botched joke" forced Kerry off the campaign trail. Even before that, however, there did not seem to be much enthusiasm about a second Kerry run. Additionally, Kerry is up for re-election to his Senate seat in 2008; under Massachusetts law he cannot run for two offices. In a January 24, 2007 e-mail, Kerry wrote, "I've concluded this isn't the time for me to mount a presidential campaign. It is the time to put my energy to work as part of the new Democratic majority in the Senate, to do all I can to end this war and strengthen our security and our ability to fight the real war on terror."
Readings and Articles
John Maggs. "Bucking History." National Journal. March 5, 2005 (cover story).
June 13, 2006-Campaign for America's Future's "Take Back America" Conference.
On the Web (March 31, 2006 grabs)
|Keeping America's Promise
(March 31, 2006 grabs)
|Friends of John
(Dec. 5, 2006 grab)
|Friends of John
(March 31, 2006 grab)
|Copyright © 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007 Eric M. Appleman/Democracy in Action|