From The Trail: Carl Cameron's Campaign Notebook

Carl Cameron
FNC's Chief Political Correspondent Carl Cameron sends quick notes back from the campaign trail.  Look for them here just for FOX Fans!

Tuesday, 3/9/04: Let the Battle Begin

While John Kerry was campaigning in Palm Beach Florida, starting point of the 2000 recount debacle that ended up in the Supreme Court, legal battles were already beginning in the 2004 campaign.

 The Bush-Cheney campaign plans to file a complaint with the Federal Election Commission against a Democratic special interest group that has announced plans to spend 4.5 million dollars on anti-Bush TV ads in key battleground states.

The Media Fund, which is run by former Clinton administration Deputy Chief of Staff Harold Ickes and former Kerry Campaign manager  Jim Jordan, has been raising money for months now.  (They recently hired Sarah Leonard-formerly of the Dean campaign.)

 The Media Fund ads will air in 17 battleground states and are meant to answer the current Bush-Cheney ad blitz.  It bought a million dollars worth of ads Monday, with more to follow.  The liberal online group "" is running similar ads and has already spent millions attacking President Bush.

Several campaign finance watchdog groups filed a complaint with the FEC against and other political groups — known as 527's — in January.  The groups appear in section 527 of the IRS code and claim to be exempt from various new restrictions on special interest group spending in the McCain-Feingold campaign finance reform act.

Now, the Bush-Cheney campaign plans to file a complaint against the Media Fund, alleging that the Media Fund is trying to influence the election and should have to register with the FEC as a regular political action committee.

The Bush campaign is suggesting that Media Fund donors may have broken the law by giving to the group, and it wants the FEC to find out whether they gave on the basis that their donations would be used to influence a federal election.  One of the Media funds biggest donors is billionaire George Soros. 

Media Fund spokesman James Jordan tells FOX News they are within the law because they do not directly call for the president's defeat and no corporate or union contributions are financing the ads.

Thursday, 2/19/04: Trade and Such

As noted in FNC reporting and elsewhere, for weeks John Edwards has to date found only one difference with John Kerry on issues. Edwards says he opposed NAFTA as a U.S. Senate candidate in 1998, while John Kerry voted for the trade deal.

Edwards and Kerry both agree that NAFTA needs reform to stop the export of American jobs and include labor, environmental and other protections.

This issue (if there really is one) may well have vanished for Edwards on Thursday when the AFL-CIO endorsed Kerry. The AFL-CIO was adamantly opposed to NAFTA and various other trade deals that over the last decade Bill Clinton, Kerry and other Democrats supported.

The AFL-CIO represents 64 labor unions with more than 13 million members nationwide. It has in excess of 40 million dollars ready to help the Democratic nominee. When the AFL-CIO throws its support behind Kerry there will be specific language offered by labor leaders shoring up Kerry against the Edwards NAFTA criticism.

Kerry will soon be easily able to counter punch any Edwards trade criticism by noting that the nation's labor groups, who opposed various trade deals, have looked at his record of "defending" workers and decided he is the best candidate to protect jobs.

Wednesday, 2/18/04: Money Matters

Democratic presidential candidate John Edwards says money will not be a problem in the days ahead as he vies for votes as the Kerry alternative in advance of Super Tuesday.

Since the Iowa caucuses Edwards has raised about $4 million, mostly in small Internet donations.  Because Edwards has not opted out of the public finance system he is eligible for taxpayer matching funds and could easily see his post-Iowa campaign income exceed $6 million.  Federal matching fund checks usually come out on the first of the month, meaning Edwards could get a big infusion of cash on the eve of Super Tuesday, March 2nd.   

Edwards’ aides also say that, if necessary, they will borrow against the federal match to beef up their coffers for the next two weeks.  The Edwards camp will not put an exact total on their cash on hand, but say it is more than adequate to target a few Super Tuesday states.

On March 2nd 10 states including California, New York, and Ohio vote.  Strategists for John Edwards say they will compete aggressively in Georgia, a southern state where Edwards expects to do well.  They will campaign in upstate New York hoping to tap rural and blue-collar voters in the Empire State. Edwards’ aides also hope to do well in Ohio, where manufacturing job losses have devastated parts of the state economy.  Edwards’ strategists are not planning to run ads in California arguing that it is too expensive.

On Thursday night Edwards plans a posh fundraiser in New York City to add still more cash to his war chest (we should know approximately how much Edwards hopes to raise on Thursday shortly).

Kerry has opted out of the public finance system, and as a consequence he is not subject to state-by-state federal spending limits but is not eligible for the kind of matching funds that Edwards is now looking forward to.

Monday, 2/16/04: Mixed Messages From Dean

Contradicting Howard Dean's claims on FNC's "Fox News Sunday" that he intends to keep his campaign going beyond an expected defeat in Wisconsin Tuesday, several top Dean advisers continue to insist that without a win Tuesday Dean must drop out. FNC has been reporting since Thursday that Dean aides have said without a win in Wisconsin the campaign is over.

Dean said on "Fox News Sunday" that he has not heard that some of his top staffers, as FOX reported Saturday, are preparing to quit the campaign Wednesday. Some of the very same staffers who intend to leave, however, say Dean has acknowledged in recent meetings that his chances of continuing are poor. Many Dean aides are searching for a dignified way for the candidate to bow out.

FOX News has learned that among the top Dean advisers strongly urging him to withdraw are Andy Stern, President of the SEIU labor union that continues to back Dean.

Sources tell FOX News that both Dean's campaign manager Roy Neel and National Campaign Chairman Steve Grossman are eager to begin turning Dean's grassroots organization into a operation that benefits the entire party.  Grossman is a former DNC chairman. [Ed. note: Shortly after this was filed FOX News confirmed that Grossman has left the Dean campaign. Read more.]

Finally, FOX News has learned that Iowa Senator Tom Harkin has communicated a candid message to Dr. Dean that a loss in Wisconsin should be the end of it, and if Dean insists on going forward key Democrats (like Harkin) who backed him will publicly say he should bow out.

Several top Dean advisers, reached after the doctor's "FOX News Sunday" appearance, conceded that the Governor is in fact preparing to end his campaign if he suffers another stinging loss.