There once was a man from Nantucket ...
By John Mercurio
CNN Political Unit
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WASHINGTON (CNN) -- It's St. Patrick's Day. It's also the one-year anniversary of the day President Bush issued his final ultimatum to Saddam Hussein. In politics, both days will be feted, often at the same time.
Vice President Dick Cheney, who the Grind hears may wear a green necktie, travels to Ronald Reagan's California to paint a gloomy picture of John Kerry's foreign-policy world (or, in Cheney's parlance, "the clearest choice" voters have faced since 1984.) Cheney is scheduled to speak at the Reagan Presidential Library near Los Angeles.
Kerry, who the Grind hears also may wear a green necktie, visits Washington's Foggy Bottom to speak about protecting military families in times of war.
In his speech, Cheney will make direct comparisons between Bush and Reagan, telling this Reagan-friendly audience that it's important for American leaders to have "clear and consistent goals."
"We must support those around the world who are taking risks to advance freedom, justice and democracy -- just as President Reagan did. American policy must be clear and consistent in its purposes," Cheney will say. "And American leaders -- above all the commander in chief -- must be confident in our nation's cause and unwavering until the danger to our people is fully and finally removed."
In his speech at George Washington University, Kerry will say the United States is "bogged down" in Iraq. He'll say the Bush administration "stubbornly holds to failed policies that drive potential allies away."
Back on Capitol Hill, aides to Republican National Committee Chairman Ed Gillespie and Democratic National Committee Chairman Terry McAuliffe prepared for St. Patrick's Day by penning limericks they could shoot like spitballs at each other. ("There once was a man from Nantucket. ..." You get the idea. More on this below.)
Prolonging the flap
Meanwhile, Republicans will seek to keep Kerry's claims of foreign supporters in the headlines another day. Both Cheney and President Bush weighed in Tuesday, guaranteeing the flap will enjoy another 24 hours of life.
"At the very least, we have a right to know what he is saying to foreign leaders that makes them so supportive of his candidacy," Cheney said Tuesday in Colorado. "We are the ones who get to determine the outcome of this election -- not unnamed foreign leaders."
Bush also responded, while talking to reporters in the Oval Office. "If you're going to make an accusation in the course of a presidential campaign, you ought to back it up with facts," he said.
For what it's worth, Kerry has received his first official endorsement from a foreign leader, or at least a leader-elect. "I think Kerry will win. I want Kerry to win," Spanish Prime Minister-elect José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero, told the Guardian newspaper last weekend.
Kerry also received some help from a somewhat surprising source, former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean, who agreed to hold a conference call Tuesday defending the senator from GOP demands that he identify the foreign leaders who support his bid to oust Bush.
"Given the proclivity of this administration to threaten those, both at home and abroad, who are candid, that is a silly proposal," Dean said. "This is the same administration who threatened to fire someone [at the Department of Health and Human Services] who was going to tell Congress that cost estimates for the Medicare bill were too low. For Kerry to reveal the names of foreign leaders would simply open up those nations to retribution.
"If I were Kerry, I wouldn't name those names because [Bush] would clearly make their lives difficult."
In the spirit of St. Paddy's Day, Gillespie's scribes (the Grind assumes the chairman didn't pen this himself) spent Tuesday (or at least a couple minutes of it) drafting a limerick dedicated to Kerry.
It goes like this:
"There once was a man from Nantucket
Whose misstatements could fill up a bucket
Oft the truth he has bent
Like his 'Irish descent'
Of his record he says, 'I'll just duck it.' "
Democrats (specifically, the DNC's new national spokesman Jano Cabrera) promptly responded:
"There also was a yank from Connecticut
Who utterly lacked any etiquette.
He claimed Texas blood,
Threw the truth in the mud,
Think his word is his bond? Don't bet on it."
Moving on ...
In perhaps the most widely distributed e-mail Tuesday, the Grind brings you an excerpt of former President Clinton's fund-raising pitch on Kerry's behalf. In his letter, Clinton reminds would-be donors of the "Republican attack machine" that conspired against him and urges them not to let the same thing happen to Kerry.
"Just a week after [Bush] began his multimillion advertising blitz, Republicans have gone negative with the first of what will certainly be a barrage of attack ads. This is a major test for John Kerry's campaign -- and it's a significant opportunity for you and me," Clinton wrote.
"It's our chance to demonstrate that, in 2004, we're not going to yield an inch to the Republican attack machine when it comes to defining what this campaign is all about. It's our chance to give John Kerry the kind of immediate, dramatic support he needs to stand toe-to-toe with the president and force him to debate the real issues in this campaign."
Also, the Grind has the latest ad spending estimates from TNS Media Intelligence/Campaign Media Analysis Group, CNN's consultant on ad spending. The group estimates ad spending in the nation's top 100 media markets; the actual spending amounts are likely higher. The estimates cover March 3 through Sunday.
Bush-CheneyEstimated ad spending: At least $8,197,514Number of spots aired: 8,071States: Arkansas, Arizona, California, Florida, Iowa, Maine, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, New Hampshire, New Mexico, Nevada, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Washington, Wisconsin, West Virginia and national cable.
KerryEstimated ad spending: At least $310,137Number of spots aired: 415States: Arkansas, Arizona, Florida, Iowa, Maine, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, New Hampshire, New Mexico, Nevada, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and West Virginia.
Interest groupsCitizens United (anti-Kerry): 34 spots, $25,420Log Cabin Republicans (pro-same-sex marriage): 34 spots, $69,103MoveOn.org (anti-Bush): 3,651 spots, $3,184,203New Democratic Network (pro-Democratic, Spanish-language ads): 69 spots, $13,294The Media Fund (anti-Bush): 2,124 spots, $2,061,101