JFK Announces 2004 Presidential Candidacy
John Forbes Kerry, maintaining that "George Bush's vision does not live up to the America" the decorated war hero once defended, officially declared his candidacy for the Democratic presidential nomination Tuesday.
Kerry Officially Announces 2004 Candidacy
By MIKE GLOVER
The Associated Press
Tuesday, September 2, 2003; 10:34 AM
MOUNT PLEASANT, S.C. - John Kerry, maintaining that "George Bush's vision does not live up to the America" the decorated war hero once defended, officially declared his candidacy for the Democratic presidential nomination Tuesday.
Using the aircraft carrier USS Yorktown as a backdrop, the Vietnam War veteran presented himself as the alternative to the Republican leader - and the Democrat with the credentials to emerge from the crowded field of nine aspirants and seize the party's nomination.
"In challenging times we need leadership that knows how to make America safer, that knows how to put America back to work," Kerry told the crowd. "The president has misled America and he has made our path more difficult as a result."
The four-term senator made his formal announcement after months of campaign-style appearances and debates with fellow Democratic presidential hopefuls.
"I reject George Bush's radical new vision of a government that comforts the comfortable at the expense of ordinary Americans," Kerry said. "George Bush's vision does not live up to the America I enlisted in the Navy to defend."
John Forbes Kerry has the initials of a one-time Democratic president - JFK - and a comparable pedigree - Ivy League education, commander of a small Navy craft during wartime and Massachusetts senator. Perceived as the front-runner early on in this campaign, that notion evaporated in the heat of rival Howard Dean's summer surge.
While the bulk of his speech was aimed at Bush, Kerry also took aim at his Democratic foes.
"Some in my party want to get rid of all tax cuts - including those for working families," he said. "That's wrong. We need to be on the side of America's middle class and I've proposed a tax cut for them because it's the right way to strengthen our economy."
Dean, the former Vermont governor, has used an aggressive anti-Washington theme to gain momentum, coupled with his staunch opposition to the U.S.-led war against Iraq. Dean, who has called for repealing all of Bush's tax cuts, vaulted to a 21-point lead over Kerry in New Hampshire.
"Today, with confidence in the courage of our people to change what is wrong and do what is right, I come here to say why I'm a candidate for president of the United States," Kerry said.
Kerry was joined by crew members of a Navy gunboat he commanded in Vietnam, where he won a Silver Star, Bronze Star and three Purple Hearts. Introducing Kerry was former Sen. Max Cleland of Georgia, who lost both legs and an arm in Vietnam combat. It is all part of Kerry's core argument that his military experience gives him unique credibility among the Democratic contenders to confront Bush on national security issues.
"I am running so we can keep America's promise - to reward the hard work of middle class Americans and pull down the barriers that stand in their way and in the way of those struggling to join them," Kerry said.
The Massachusetts Democrat also appeared on several nationally broadcast morning news shows, telling NBC's "Today" he believes "our foreign policy is arrogant and we are losing influence and respect in the world."
Some in the Kerry camp argue that he should begin challenging Dean directly to blunt his momentum, while others see that as a sign of panic and argue for patience. Kerry dismissed the polls showing him slipping.
"We always knew there were going to be two or three candidates in the race," said Kerry, arguing that his campaign is geared for the long haul. While others have scored early, Kerry said he's cranking up his campaign at a time when voters are beginning to pay attention.
"That's why I'm announcing my campaign now and that's why the polls don't mean anything today," he said Monday. "America is only just beginning to listen."
While Kerry has sought to focus attention on his war-hero background, some have urged him to broaden his appeal. With a distinctly martial theme for his announcement, there was little evidence he was taking that step.
"Americans have always had the extraordinary courage to do what's right for the country," said Kerry. "He (Bush) has turned it into a game for the privileged."
The choices Kerry faces with a campaign that's faltered early are hardly new.
Former Vice President Al Gore relocated his campaign to Nashville, Tenn., and pared back his staff when his campaign faltered early in the 2000 presidential race.
After South Carolina, where Democrats vote during the third week of the nominating season, Kerry was headed to Iowa where precinct caucuses take place Jan. 19. On the second day of his announcement swing, Kerry was heading to New Hampshire, which has tentatively has set its primary for Jan. 27, before heading home to Boston and a hometown rally.
There were mixed signals about the direction Kerry would take. While he has maintained his focus on his military background, he has sharpened his attacks on Dean on issues like Dean's backing for the repeal of all of Bush's tax cuts, including provisions that aid middle-income workers.
"Real Democrats don't raise taxes on the middle class," Kerry argues.
address: Associated Press
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