CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa – John Kerry (search) encouraged his Iowa supporters Saturday to stick with his Democratic presidential campaign despite lagging poll numbers and Al Gore's endorsement of rival Howard Dean (search).
"I've never met a citizen of Iowa who ever wanted a national leader or anybody else to tell them who to vote for," the Massachusetts senator told unionized fightfighters at a training session for the Jan. 19 party caucuses.
If it's anyone who should believe every vote should be counted, "it's Al Gore," Kerry said, alluding to the Florida ballot controversy in ther 2000 presidential election.
Dean's rivals were stunned when Gore endorsed Dean recently and have been attempting to play down its impact ever since.
It's unclear how many votes Gore's endorsement will win Dean in Iowa, but it got him the support of at least one of the state's leading activists — Democratic National Committee member Pat Marshall, who was a strong Gore backer in 2000.
Schait Berger, president of the International Association of Firefighters that has endorsed Kerry, said he doesn't expect Dean will get much help from Gore, who, he said, "found a way to lose Arkansas, New Hampshire and his own home state" of Tennessee to President Bush three years ago.
Kerry has reorganized his campaign management in recent weeks in an effort to make up ground to Dean, who has surged to the front of the Democratic field with an anti-war populist campaign that rallies against the Washington establishment. He has also stepped up his expressions of outrage against the Bush administration in a style similar to Dean.
"It's time to get mad," Kerry told the firefighters. "It's time for each and every one of you to get angry because they are fooling people."
Kerry accused President Bush of not giving enough financial support to firefighters, overextending troops in Iraq and failing to improve health care.
COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) — Democratic presidential candidate Dick Gephardt (search) demanded Saturday that front-runner Howard Dean release records of meetings and phone calls about tax breaks given to corporate villain Enron (search).
Gephardt alleged that Dean, while Vermont's governor, "met regularly with the corporate chiefs who benefited from the tax windfall he created for them. A chief beneficiary of his tax cuts for corporate special interests was Enron."
Dean has faced questions about corporate tax breaks enacted during his 11 years as governor. Enron set up a special insurance subsidiary in Vermont in 1994, a year after the Dean-supported tax break to the insurance industry took effect.
Dean insists he never gave tax breaks to Enron, the Houston energy-trading company whose 2001 bankruptcy cost thousands of employees their retirement accounts.
"Just more desperate distortion and negative attacks from Dick Gephardt," Dean spokesman Jay Carson said. "He would rather desperately attack governor Dean than talk about his record."
Carson said Enron had given $176,000 to the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee at a time when Gephardt was the Democratic House leader. Gephardt said Saturday the campaign committee raised money from a lot of people, and the reason the Dean campaign knows about it is because the records are open to the public.
Dean has come under heavy fire from his rivals since former Vice President Al Gore endorsed him on Monday.
"I call on Howard Dean to release all records of meetings, phone calls or negotiations between him, or representatives of his administration, and Enron executives regarding this tax break," Gephardt said.
Carson said releasing any records was not the issue.
"In 1994, know one knew that Enron was a bad company," Carson said. "This is like punishing a bank because a tax cheat has some of his money in a savings account there."
LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) — Sen. Joe Lieberman's (search) Democratic presidential campaign attacked rival Wesley Clark (search) on Saturday for using his contacts to make money after leaving government service.
Lieberman campaign director Craig Smith said Clark is running for president on his status as a public servant but has not been telling voters about how he built wealth after leaving the Army as a four-star general in 1999.
"He's been a registered lobbyist longer than he's been a registered Democrat," Smith said in a conference call. Clark entered the race for the Democratic nomination in September and registered as a Democrat on Oct. 3.
Clark earned less than $100,000 in 1999 but built his 2002 income to $1.6 million, according to the Democratic presidential candidate's tax records released Friday by his campaign.
Clark's campaign put the former NATO commander's net worth between $3 million and $3.5 million.
Spokesman Chris Lehane said Clark was a registered as a lobbyist for one company, Little Rock-based data firm Acxiom Corp., for which he said Clark received a $150,000 retainer.