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Kerry considers postponing acceptance of nomination

Move tied to money considerations


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WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Sen. John Kerry may postpone accepting his party's presidential nomination at the July Democratic convention -- a tactic aimed at reserving his campaign war chest for the fight against President Bush.

Under federal campaign rules, once a candidate accepts the party nomination, the campaign is limited to spending around $75 million.

The Republican convention is five weeks later than the Democratic convention, meaning Kerry's $75 million would start being drained more than a month earlier than Bush's.

By postponing the acceptance of the nomination, Kerry could continue to spend the private money he's raised during the primary season, and those funds would not be counted against the $75 million limit.

"As a party we are committed to ensuring that we are not fighting with one hand tied behind our backs," said Democratic National Committee spokesman Jano Cabrera.

The Bush-Cheney campaign took delight in the issue.

"Only John Kerry could be for a nominating convention, but be against the nomination," Ken Mehlman, the Bush-Cheney campaign manager, said in a written statement. "This is just the latest example of John Kerry's belief that the rules are for other people, not for him."

But one Kerry campaign source said the Bush-Cheney campaign made its own calculations to get the maximum benefit from the convention.

"Karl Rove and his political army strategically selected the latest convention in American political history in order to stack the deck against Democrats, who would be forced to survive on public money for five additional weeks while the GOP continued to spend their special-interest war chest," the source said, referring to a top Bush adviser.

"You bet Democrats will consider many options to help level the playing field."

Not accepting the nomination at the convention would be a rarity in American political history.

Democratic party sources stressed that delaying the acceptance of the nomination is just one thing that the Kerry campaign is considering. But they made clear the party is committed to finding a way to maximize the amount of money Kerry and the Democratic Party have available to go against Bush.

Kerry spokeswoman Stephanie Cutter said other options being examined include looking at how state and local parties -- as well as the Democratic National Committee -- might help the Kerry campaign.

"We will find a way to level the playing field," Cutter said.

The Democratic convention is scheduled for July 26 to July 29; the Republican convention is from August 30 to September 2.


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