Friday, August 19, 2005

Coverage of Kerry in Seattle, Part 2

Kerry blisters Republicans, touts Democratic comeback at state level
By David Ammons, AP Political Writer | August 19, 2005

SEATTLE –John Kerry, last year’s unsuccessful Democratic nominee for president, was back on the campaign trail Friday — this time promoting a Democratic resurgence at America’s state capitals as the party attempts to rebuild.

After blistering Republicans on everything from Iraq to health care, the Massachusetts senator said Democrats have an opportunity to rebuild simply by addressing the concerns that affect people’s daily lives — energy, transportation, health care and security.

His comments came before 750 Democratic state legislators attending the National Conference of State Legislatures. He announced plans to campaign and raise money for Democratic legislative candidates across America.

He may use those chits for a new White House bid, but said in an interview that he’s taking his political plans a day at a time.

“I don’t have a timeline,” he said. “I’m just going to go out and see what we can do about ‘06 (midterm elections for Congress and state legislatures), try to be as helpful as possible, and then begin to make some judgments.”

The ill-fated campaign was still clearly on Kerry’s mind, with an analysis and a broadside against Bush and congressional Republicans taking up the lion’s share of his 35-minute speech to the Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee’s luncheon.

Kerry scoffed at the idea that Democrats need an extreme makeover.

“We have to go out and fight for the real issues that make a difference in the lives of the American people and we don’t need some great lurch to the right or lurch to the left or redefinition of the Democratic Party.

“The last thing America needs is a second Republican Party.”

He said it’s no surprise that Democrats have been gaining at state capitals after falling behind Republicans in the 1990s. Democrats control both chambers in 19 states and Republicans in 20 states, and the two parties currently have almost equal numbers of state lawmakers nationwide.

Democrats moved 10 chambers into their column last year, “the best overlooked story of 2004,” said Colorado Senate President Joan Fitz-Gerald, chairwoman of the national campaign group.

More states are targeted, and Democrats hope to be in good position when legislative and congressional boundaries are redrawn after the 2010 census, she said.


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