Kerry tries to regain spot as front-runner

Posted 10:00pm November 20

by Nell McGarity
U-WIRE Washington Bureau

Massachusetts Sen. John Kerry, once the front-runner for the Democratic nomination, has made several changes in his campaign in the past week to try to reclaim the lead in New Hampshire which most polls show is held by former Vermont Governor Howard Dean.

In the past week, the Kerry campaign has undergone many high-level staff changes that have caused many to ask if the Senator’s campaign stalled for too long.

On Nov. 10, Kerry fired campaign manager Jim Jordan, replacing him with Mary Beth Cahill, the Chief of Staff for Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, D-Massachusetts. This major change comes only three months before the primary in Iowa.

Jordan, the former head of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, was ousted after Kerry has fallen from his early an early lead to third in most Iowa polls and is trailing Dean in New Hampshire.

Due to this shake up, his chief spokesman and deputy finance director resigned from the campaign shortly there after.

On Nov. 14, Kerry publicly announced that he would not accept public funds to finance his bid, investing some of his own money to the cause. By accepting public funds, the candidate is capped at a $45 million spending limit.

This announcement came after Dean turned down the funds, making this the first time that two democratic candidates have turned down funds as well as the first time that both parties have forgone the regulations.

“The decision to forgo matching funds probably helps him because it does not limit him. If he hopes to compete with Dean, he’s going to have to forego spending limits and it will be something that he can explain since Dean [opted out] first. Since Dean went first, he really got the best of both worlds in this instance,” said Professor James T. Smith, a professor of American politics at American University.

With this potential for a monetary advantage, Kerry could reclaim the lost ground during the crucial primaries.

“He should be competitive in New Hampshire because he is from the area. If he does better than expected, then it will just build momentum and the staff changes will be old news. If he does not, then it will just add to it,” said Smith.

Smith points out that despite the attention the past weeks events have gotten, that the problem that the Kerry campaign is facing is one which began early on.

“The problem goes back to him supporting the war, and that is probably when he lost his front-runner status. At the time, it was probably a good idea, but it gave Dean momentum,” Smith said.

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