This article is about the Presidential Campaign of John Kerry, U.S. Senator from Massachusetts and the nominee of the Democratic Party who challenged Republican incumbent President George W. Bush in the U.S. presidential election on November 2, 2004. Ultimately, Kerry conceded defeat in the race in a telephone call to Bush at around 11 a.m. EST (16:00 UTC) on the morning of November 3.
Kerry supports the proposal of legalizing the status of illegal immigrants, pending a certain amount of working time in the US and passing a background check. Kerry has proposed border enforcement reformation and increases of border enforcement funding.
Kerry promises to increase funding for scientific research, to reduce restrictions on stem cell research, and to facilitate cooperation with foreign scientists by improving immigration and visa practices. He would support efforts to reduce global warming.
As a senator, Kerry has supported:
In an interview on July 4, 2004 Kerry told the Dubuque (Iowa) Telegraph Herald "I oppose abortion, personally. I don't like abortion. I believe life does begin at conception." "I can't take my Catholic belief, my article of faith, and legislate it on a Protestant or a Jew or an atheist," he continued in the interview. "We have separation of church and state in the United States of America." However, the Roman Catholic Church officially teaches against abortion, so he received an official warning to be excommunicated for heresy, but never actually was.
Kerry supports same-sex civil unions, though not same-sex marriage. Kerry supported legislation to provide domestic partners of federal employees the benefits available to spouses of federal employees. Kerry voted against the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) in the Senate in 1996 and opposes the proposed Federal Marriage Amendment (FMA). He and Senator Edwards were absent for the unsuccessful vote to invoke cloture on the FMA, a procedural move that the FMA's proponents had conceded beforehand would be defeated. In an interview with National Public Radio in February 2004, Kerry endorsed equal rights for same-sex couples, but commented that "the word marriage kind of gets in the way of the whole debate," because of the religious origin of marriage as being limited to male-female unions.
Kerry opposes the "don't ask, don't tell" policy and is in favor of lifting the ban on open gays and lesbians in the military. Since 1995, Human Rights Campaign, the nation's largest gay-rights advocacy group, has given Kerry a 100% rating for his voting record in Congress.
After the President launched the U.S. invasion against Iraq, without meeting all of Kerry's stipulation, Kerry reiterated his position and declared the Administration's Iraq policy reckless at best and baseless at worst. He has since been outspoken against the handling of the war and of the Bush Administration's stewardship of occupied Iraq, attacking what he calls poor planning and poor diplomacy on Bush's part, but supports remaining in Iraq until the task of reconstruction and reconciliation is complete. He changed his position on WMDS by saying they were not enough to go to war with Iraq. (Kerry's post-attack view on Iraq) This harmed Kerry's campaign in the eyes of some because they believe it has made him seem like a "flip-flopper", changing his position to better suit what is popular.
Kerry has been criticized by Howard Dean and others for his position on the war, which some say is inconsistent. Kerry has since explained his vote authorizing force by claiming that he believed the Senate resolution was intended to be a diplomatic "threat" to Saddam Hussein and not a blank check for war.
Throughout his Senate career, Kerry was also a staunch critic of many foreign policy initiatives of Republican Presidents. He opposed and voted against the Gulf War in 1991, and opposed funding the Contras in Nicaragua and similar armed groups in Latin America.
Kerry was preferred by most US allies, according to this poll
Kerry detailed proposals for homeland security efforts include enlisting the National Guard and AmeriCorps, creating a community defense service, ensuring first defenders and first responders are equipped and ready, improving information technology, reforming domestic intelligence, implementing public health initiatives and improving infrastructure security.
Kerry and fellow Vietnam-era Navy veteran Senator John McCain (R-AZ) have worked together in the early 1990s on U.S. Senate Select POW/MIA Committee. McCain and Kerry later joined together to urge President Clinton to break his promise to POW/MIA families by lifting the trade embargo against Vietnam.
Proposals for "Green and Clean Communities" include a Toxics Task Force at the EPA, fighting air pollution, water pollution and fighting other environmental hazards. Kerry has proposed a "Conservation Covenant." As part of the covenant, Kerry will extend the Endangered Species Act for the benefits of wildlife and habitat protection to public and private lands and reinvest public-land royalties back into land protection.
In 2002, Kerry was one of the leaders of the Senate filibuster that defeated the Bush administration's proposal to open the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to oil drilling. Kerry wants to participate in the development of an international climate change strategy to address global warming.
In 1998, the League of Conservation Voters gave Kerry an award for having one of the best environmental voting records in the Senate over the previous five years. In 2004, the Sierra Club endorsed Kerry, the first time it had endorsed a Presidential candidate before the party conventions.
Kerry's team of advisors included Robert Rubin on economic affairs and Gary Hart on foreign policy. James Johnson, a Washington businessman and democratic veteran, coordinated Kerry's search for a running mate, eventually settling on John Edwards.
In sheer numbers, however, Kerry had fewer endorsements than Howard Dean, who was far ahead in the superdelegate race going into the Iowa caucuses in February 2004, although Kerry lead the endorsement race in Iowa, New Hampshire, Arizona, South Carolina, New Mexico and Nevada. Kerry's main perceived weakness was in his neighboring state of New Hampshire and nearly all national polls. Most other states did not have updated polling numbers to give an accurate placing for the Kerry campaign before Iowa.
Heading into the primaries, Kerry's campaign was largely seen as in trouble; the key factor enabling it to survive was Kerry's mortgaging his own home and lending the money to his campaign. He also brought on the "magical" Michael Whouley who was Al Gore's national field director and would later become the Democratic National Committee's National Field Director for Kerry-Edwards. Whouley is widely credited with helping bring home the Iowa victory the same as he did in New Hampshire for Al Gore in 2000 against Bill Bradley.
The only notable labor union to endorse him early was the International Association of Fire Fighters; however, Kerry's support quickly snowballed as he won caucuses and primaries. He received a historic endorsement by the United Farm Workers on February 1, 2004 in Phoenix, Arizona. This was the first time the UFW had endorsed a candidate in the primary since Robert Kennedy. He received the endorsement of the League of Conservation Voters prior to the New Hampshire primary, a first for that organization as well.
He also received the support of each of his former competitors as they lost primaries and dropped out of the race, beginning with Missouri representative Dick Gephardt. Plenty of other notable Democrats followed, as did many labor unions which had previously backed Gephardt or Dean or stayed out of the race entirely (he won the endorsement of the entire AFL-CIO just prior to his Super Tuesday showdown with Edwards).
Becoming the nominee, he gained the support of virtually every Democratic politician and organization in the nation. Two notable exceptions were retiring Georgia Senator Zell Miller, a conservative Democrat who endorsed George W. Bush, and Ed Koch, the former three-term mayor of New York City. All of the former candidates for the nomination endorsed Kerry.
On September 29, John Eisenhower, the son of the former Republican president Dwight D. Eisenhower, endorsed Kerry in the New Hampshire Union Leader newspaper, saying that the Republican Party of today "is one with which I am totally unfamiliar". Ron Reagan, son of former President Ronald Reagan, also endorsed Kerry, saying that Bush had hijacked his father's real legacy for extremist purposes, and spoke at the Democratic National Convention.
Ralph Nader's running mate in the 1996 and 2000 elections, Native American activist Winona LaDuke, refused to support him in 2004. Instead, she stated: "I am voting for John Kerry this November. I love this land, and I know that we need to make drastic changes in Washington if we are going to protect our land and our communities."
The group, led by Vietnam veteran John O'Neill (Vietnam veteran), claimed that Kerry was "unfit to serve," based on various cited anecdotes regarding his wartime conduct, but also focused on his past activism in the anti-Vietnam war movement. While Kerry had criticized the government's highly unpopular war policy, the SBVT group claimed that his criticism was a "betrayal of trust" with other soldiers, and that by his activism he had caused direct and inexcusable "harm" to soldiers still at war. Other Vietnam veterans, including several who had served with Kerry, denounced the charges against him as completely false. (See John Kerry military service controversy.)
Many believe that the organization’s accusations coupled with the Kerry campaign’s slow reaction to them were a significant factor in Kerry’s November defeat.
One of the major criteria considered to be a factor in selecting a vice-presidential candidate was the ability to deliver a traditionally Republican or a swing state in the November election. Every successful Democratic presidential campaign since 1960 has included a politician from a swing state (usually in the South) who helped deliver one or more states for the Democrats.
By the first week of July 2004, pundits and those close to the Kerry campaign indicated that the vice-presidential selection had narrowed to three potential choices: U.S. Sen. John R. Edwards (N.C.), U.S. Rep. Richard A. "Dick" Gephardt (Mo.), and Iowa Gov. Thomas J. Vilsack, all of whom were reportedly instructed to clear their calendars for a potential announcement during the second week of July. Edwards, from North Carolina, is a Southerner; the other two, from Missouri and Iowa respectively, are Midwesterners (the Midwest is viewed as a key region containing numerous swing states). As of late June, the charismatic Edwards was the first choice of Democratic voters, according to several polls; some pundits attributed this to high name recognition, due to his runner-up status in the primaries.
On the morning of July 6, 2004, Kerry announced the selection of John Edwards as his running mate. However, at 10 p.m. on the night before the official announcement, the information was leaked by an airport worker who saw Edwards's name being painted on Kerry's plane, which was to be used to announce his choice of running mate. On July 6, the Kerry campaign sent an e-mail message to his supporters at about 8:15 a.m. EDT informing them of the choice, and made the formal announcement for 9 a.m. EDT in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
Following his official nomination at the Convention, Kerry received only a small bounce in the polls and remained effectively tied with his opponent, Bush. This was the first time in recent political history that a candidate failed to receive a substantial boost in post-convention poll numbers. Some political pundits attributed this small boost to the unusually small number of undecided voters as compared with previous presidential elections.
On September 20, the Bush campaign and the Kerry campaign jointly released a memorandum of understanding between the two campaigns. The 32-page MOU covered in minute detail many aspects of the staging and format for the presidential and vice-presidential debates.
On September 30, Kerry and Bush debated at University of Miami in Coral Gables, Florida in the first of three scheduled debates. This debate focused on foreign policy issues. Polls conducted immediately following the debate suggests that a majority of undecided voters believe that Kerry fared better than Bush did. Video later showed Kerry pulling something out of his jacket, apparently a piece of paper, in violation of the MOU. The Kerry campaign stated it was a pen. This still violated the MOU, but it would be taken much less seriously than if it were a piece of paper. The story did not develop into a major issue, though it received much coverage for a day or two.
On October 8, Kerry and Bush debated at Washington University in St. Louis in a town-hall style debate, with the questions asked by the audience of undecided voters. Polls were split as to who won this debate, as Bush's performance was greatly improved.
On October 13, Kerry and Bush debated at Arizona State University in Tempe, Arizona. The focus of this debate was domestic policy issues. Again, polls were split, but more indicated a win for Kerry than Bush.
Unlike the 2001 anthrax attacks, there was no threatening message inside, but police treat such incidents as possible bioterrorism. On the advice of the Secret Service, the campaign called local police, who sealed off the building and surrounding streets. The hazardous materials squad of the District of Columbia Fire Department was also called. An internal email distributed to all campaign workers said:
Though the air conditioning unit was shut down for a half-hour, several aides continued working. After personnel in biohazard suits entered the building, initial tests completed at around 7 p.m. showed that the powder was actually harmless and was possibly some type of garlic powder seasoning. The envelope, which contained two letter-size envelopes, was turned over to the FBI for further testing.
Some of Kerry's popular support came from "Anybody but Bush" voters - those who voted for him as a repudiation of the Bush administration's policies. One of the major focuses of his campaign was to attract voters to his stances on the issues, instead of as a de-facto opponent of the President.
The official Kerry for President website declares:
The Kansas City Star endorsed Kerry before the Missouri primary and wrote of him:
The Chattanooga Times Free Press endorsed Kerry before the Tennessee Democratic primary and editorialized:
The Washington Post had this editorial comment on Kerry's approaching front-runner status:
In an appearance in Milwaukee, fellow candidate and political rival Howard Dean stated, "When you act like Senator Kerry does, he appears to be more like George Bush than he does like a Democrat."
Critics of Kerry cite Associated Press reports that Kerry made efforts to keep loopholes for special interests. One loophole allowed American International Group to profit from liability insurance coverage it provided for the "Big Dig" project in Boston. AIG later provided the funds for Kerry's trip to Vermont and donated $30,000 (or more) to a group used to set up Kerry's presidential campaign (Company executives also donated $18,000 to his campaigns). Charles Lewis, head of the Center for Public Integrity, stated that "the idea that Kerry has not helped or benefited from a specific special interest, which he has said, is utterly absurd." Kerry has denied any connection between his assistance to AIG and its contributions to his campaign.
Other politicians, such as Republican opponents and conservative foes, describe Kerry as liberal and out-of-touch with their perception of the mainstream of American society. Commentator Pat Buchanan wrote:
Kerry was in favor of free markets, free trade, and fiscal prudence. The Americans for Democratic Action, a prominent liberal organization, rates Kerry's voting record better than that of Senator Edward Kennedy (D-MA), causing Republican National Committee chairman Ed Gillespie to joke, "Who would have guessed it? Ted Kennedy is the conservative senator from Massachusetts." (Kerry got a 93% from the ADA, Kennedy an 88%.)
On June 21, 2004, 48 Nobel laureates endorsed Kerry as they thought that he would increase the prosperity, health, environment, and security of Americans, attract talented scientists and engineers from abroad; and nurture a business environment that creates quality jobs. They criticized the Bush administration for reducing funding for scientific research, setting restrictions on stem cell research, ignoring scientific consensus on critical issues such as global warming, and hampering cooperation with foreign scientists by employing deterring immigration and visa practices.
A poll conducted in July and August 2004 showed that citizens of 35 countries, 30 preferred Kerry over Bush. Only Nigeria, the Philippines and Poland preferred Bush. India and Thailand were divided. US Allies such as the UK (47% Kerry to 16% Bush), Germany (74% Kerry to 10% Bush), Spain (45% to 7%), Italy (58% to 14%), Japan (43% to 23%) were all in favor of Kerry. Other countries such as Mexico (38% to 18%), Colombia (47% to 26%), China (52% to 12%) and South-Africa (43% to 29%) were in favor of Kerry as well.
Kerry's campaign used many slogans to describe his run for the presidency: