Saturday, March 11, 2006

Boston Globe: Kerry Takes Another Look at Presidency

Kerry takes another look at presidency
Says loss in 2004 made him tougher

By Rick Klein, Globe Staff | March 11, 2006

WASHINGTON — As Senator John F. Kerry prepared to make a return to presidential-style politics with a classic day of New Hampshire campaigning, he said that the 2004 run left him tougher and more eager to fight.

‘’When you get knocked on your ass and lose a race, you’ve got to stop and reflect on what you’re doing, why you’re doing it, what matters, and what’s important. And I did,” Kerry said in an interview in his Senate office on Thursday. ‘’There’s a very different John Kerry now who is absolutely crystal clear about how I communicate what I need to communicate. . . . People are going to be looking for leadership.”

Kerry’s efforts to launch another presidential bid have prompted grumbling from some Democrats, who question whether a second Kerry candidacy would be good for the party — or even realistic. Some party insiders expect that leading fund-raisers and strategists will push Kerry out before the race starts, in favor of a fresh face for a party desperate to retake power.

But in most respects, the Massachusetts Democrat has never stopped running for president. He has maintained an aggressive financial operation that, since the end of the last campaign, has raised nearly $4 million for Democrats in races across the country, and has sent $3 million of his own campaign funds to help other candidates.

‘’I only know that I’m in a position to make this choice,” Kerry said, reflecting his belief that he’d be a viable candidate should he decide to run. ‘’I'll do what I think is the right thing to do, based on my own gut and desire. I will not worry one instant about conventional wisdom. It was dead wrong in the last race, and it probably will be dead wrong again this time. I just don’t buy into some of the things I hear around here based upon what happens when I go out and see people around the country.”

Kerry has about $15 million on hand in his campaign accounts, a figure that is surpassed only by Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton of New York — who has a war chest of about $17 million — among potential 2008 Democratic contenders. He sends regular e-mails to a list of 3 million supporters and has begun trying to energize them by urging them to lobby on legislation and to help veterans who are running for Congress.

Many of the key figures from his 2004 run are still in Kerry’s fold, working for either his Senate office or his political action committee. He has assumed a higher-profile role in the Senate. And since November 2004, he has visited 22 states to campaign for local Democrats, deliver speeches, and generate support for his proposal for universal healthcare for children.

‘’He’s done a good job positioning himself as well as could be under the circumstances,” said Joe Keefe, a former New Hampshire Democratic Party chairman. ‘’In a party that historically wants to bury the previous nominee, he’s in a good position to buck that trend.”


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