Alec Bolton, a college history teacher, was handing out John Kerry palm cards at a Baltimore polling place March 2, Super Tuesday. “I support Kerry,” he told the World. But he said he would vote for any Democratic nominee in November. “It’s anybody but Bush,” he said. “We have to get him out. He’s the worst president in American history.”
That was the overwhelming sentiment among millions of voters in primaries and caucuses in 10 states. Kerry, the junior Democratic senator from Massachusetts, was the big winner, carrying all but Vermont, whose voters chose their former governor, Howard Dean. California, Connecticut, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New York, Ohio, and Rhode Island all went heavily for Kerry. He even carried Georgia, disappointing North Carolina Sen. John Edwards who ended his campaign the next day.
Kerry ran strongly with men, women, African American, Latino and white voters, and union voters. His weakness was among those who identified themselves as independents and Republicans.
With 925 of the 2,162 delegates needed to clinch the nomination, Kerry has become the presumed Democratic nominee. It sets the stage for a head-to-head confrontation between Kerry and Bush.
Speaking to a victory rally in Washington, Kerry said, “We have no illusions about the Republican attack machine. … But I know that together we are equal to this task. I am a fighter. In 2004, one united Democratic Party, we can and we will win this election, and we will build one America of freedom and of fairness for all.” He called for an increase in the minimum wage, denouncing an economy in which “a worker works all week and still lives in poverty.”
Many grassroots activists who have campaigned for Dean, Dennis Kucinich, Al Sharpton and Carol Moseley Braun point out that these candidates’ outspoken anti-Bush positions on vital issues over the past six months have united and energized millions of voters who are determined to remove Bush in November. They warn that if Kerry yields to pressure to shift to the right, he will undermine the “get-out-the-vote” enthusiasm generated by these strong stands.
They plan to counter those rightward pressures by hammering on basic issues like ending the U.S. occupation of Iraq, and calling for jobs and universal health care. In Ohio, many voters told reporters as they left their polling place that the overriding issue for them in this election is “jobs, jobs, jobs.”
Andy Juniewicz, a spokesperson for the Kucinich campaign in Cleveland, pointed out that the Ohio lawmaker is the only candidate who voted against the job-destroying NAFTA trade deal. Kucinich promises to seek repeal of NAFTA if elected. “Kucinich is planning to stay in this race all the way to the convention in Boston,” Juniewicz said.
Kucinich garnered 9 percent of the vote in his home state and 17 percent in the Minnesota caucuses. Reflecting the strong antiwar stands of Kucinich and Dean, Minnesota caucus meetings approved resolutions against Bush’s policy of preemptive war, calling for peaceful resolution of international disputes through the United Nations. In Minneapolis’ 7th Ward, Precinct 4 voters approved a resolution calling on the state attorney general to “do all within his power to prevent the dispatch of Minnesota troops to Iraq except under the command of military forces of the United Nations.”
Jarvis Tyner, Communist Party USA executive vice chair, told the World, “The battle lines are drawn in this election. The overwhelming sentiment of the voters is, ‘Bush must go!’ I would only add that ‘Bushism’ must go as well. Bush’s speech to the national governors’ meeting was blatantly pro-corporate, blatantly imperialist. He made clear in his arrogance that his administration rests on a doctrine of war and violence.”
The labor movement and its allies in Congress injected Bush’s “jobless recovery” into the elections by launching a campaign to stop the export of jobs. At a rally in front of the AFL-CIO headquarters, where he received the labor federation’s endorsement, Kerry blasted “Benedict Arnold corporate CEOs” who squirrel away billions in profits in off-shore tax havens and export jobs to lands of cheap labor. He called for closing the loopholes that subsidize the export of jobs.
The AFL-CIO sent an e-mail message to millions of union members, charging “Congress and President George W. Bush are considering $40 billion in new tax breaks and new trade deals that would encourage companies to export U.S. jobs while 10 million jobless people are looking for work in America. We can stop this and change America if thousands of people speak out about this outrage.”
The message, available at www.unionvoice.org, urges people to bombard Bush and Congress with demands that they block the tax incentives for job export. Several lawmakers, led by Rep. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), introduced the “Defending American Jobs Act of 2004” to close those loopholes.
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