1.29.2004

POLITICS - Dean Dot-Com

Tapped has some great commentary on the outing of Joe Tripping from the Dean campaign. The Columbia Journalism Review connects the dots a little further...

The bottom line:

After beginning the primaries with the largest war chest ($30+ million), the Dean Organization can barely cover operating costs and its debts. Trippi bet the house on winning Iowa and New Hampshire, and it didn't work. To be fair, Trippi would be a hero today if Dean had won first in Iowa and New Hampshire. (But Dean would still be broke.)

There seems to be a decisive split in the Dean campaign between the people who want to run a full-state campaign and the people who want to focus on a few key states. Trippi was keen on a national assault, while the frugal Dean wanted to play a bit more stragically. With Trippi gone, the focus is now on winning a few key states and running a "delegate" campaign.

Trippi has been replaced by Roy Neel, former Telecom lobbyist and long-time Gore advisor. Some are saying that Gore is trying to protect his only endorsement, because a non-Dean nominee will render Gore's future endorsements less persuasive. In Gore's defense, I'd say that his own interests in computer science coincided with Dean's internet model, and he endorsed that model as the future of political participation. It's too bad that it was tethered to Howard Dean.

What does all this mean for the future of the Dean campaign? Well, let's just say that you can't have a campaign without pain. His tirades against Washington insiders will now ring slightly hollow because he has sought coordinated assistance from a circle of "insiders". It's tough for him to be serious about balancing budgets when political chatter is centered on a $30 million bust in Iowa and New Hampshire. It's tough to talk tough about NAFTA when you're endorsed by a key NAFTA supporter like Gore.

I hate to be a Monday morning quarterback and talk about Dean's prior actions. From this point on, he has to establish a national image beyond the "Anti-War Guy". His attempts in IA and NH weren't effective enough to convince voters to vote his way. The attacks against Kerry are coming, and Dean has to be able to play them to his advantage. If he can't get voters to choose him over Kerry in a tie, then he has to hope that the media (and other candidates) throw something up against Kerry in the next couple weeks.

In the near future, pundits will scour Kerry's position over the Iraq War(s), and his voting (and attendance ) records. I'll be posting on the status of these attacks sometime this weekend.

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