Thursday, June 26, 2003

Howard Dean vs John Kerry
Why John Kerry is the only Democratic Candidate who can Beat Bush in 2004
Opinion by Jim Witkins

I like Howard Dean. I recently saw him speak at a Democratic Convention in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, where his core supporters turned out in mass to rally for their hero. They were loud, excited and energetic. I was impressed. I left with a newfound admiration for the man and his organizational achievements early in the campaign. That said, I don't believe Howard Dean should be the Democratic Presidential Candidate in 2004.

Later that evening in a more subdued speech, (more subdued because of the lateness of the evening rather than what was said) Senator John Kerry outlined his vision for a better America, touching on the key issues of his campaign. While the applause meter never quite reached the decibels that Dean provoked, I couldn't help but notice the level of respect that Kerry's comments generated from the room of 1000 plus democrats.

Clearly both men connected well with their core democratic audience, and either one stands a good chance of winning the democratic nomination, yet from my perspective in that conference room, I believe only John Kerry has a realistic shot at beating George W. Bush in the 2004 Presidential Election.

I base that conclusion on simple math. 32% of voters describe themselves as Republicans, 31% Democrats, and a whopping 35% of American voters now claim to be Independents. Whoever captures that demographic wins the Whitehouse.

While independent voters are a diverse group, hard to pin down on certain issues, they do prefer candidates with common sense solutions over partisan ideology. They tend to ignore the left/right/center arguments and cut to the heart of the issue. How are you going to make America a better place for me? I believe John Kerry's vision for America more closely matches what many of these independent voters are seeking.

Kerry's good friend Senator John McCain tapped into this sentiment as he ran for the republican nomination in 2000. Had he won his party's nomination I think there's a good chance he would have handily won the general election against Gore with a stronger showing from the independent vote. It's quite possible the country may have been spared the Florida debacle that ensued.

If the Democratic Party is smart they will nominate the candidate most able to appeal to the independent vote. For my money that candidate is John Kerry.

Jim Witkins is founder of Independents For Kerry, a grassroots organization for independent voters which promotes Senator John Kerry for President of the United States in 2004.


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