WS>>The Democrats' Southern strategy
carl william spitzer iv
cwsiv_2nd at JUNO.COM
Mon Mar 29 17:24:18 MST 2004
THE WASHINGTON TIMES
Georgia Sen. Zell Miller shocked his fellow Demo-
crats when he came out swinging at the party's would-be
standard-bearers for the 2004 presidential contest. Last
week, he said he couldn't trust any of the Democratic candi-
dates in the race and suggested that the country would be
imperiled if any one of them somehow found his way into the
White House. Over the weekend, a few of the Democratic
candidates reminded the Southern part of the country that
they are not interested in their votes.
Political pandemonium erupted when former Vermont
Gov. Howard Dean stated, "I still want to be the candidate
for guys with Confederate flags in their pickup trucks."
Perhaps not the best choice of words, but his point was
clear enough: Mr. Dean thinks his support for capital pun-
ishment and gun-ownership rights will make him appealing to
conservative Southern voters despite his liberal positions
on most other issues. Other Democratic candidates took aim
and fired immediately. "If I said I wanted to be the can-
didate for people that ride around with helmets and swasti-
kas, I would be asked to leave," said the Rev. Al Sharpton.
"I would rather be the candidate of the NAACP than the NRA,"
said Massachusetts Sen. John Kerry. Missouri Rep. Dick
Gephardt claimed that Mr. Dean was pandering to elements
"who disagree with us on bedrock values like civil rights."
It didn't occur to any of the Democratic candidates
that their attacks on Mr. Dean came at the expense of paint-
ing all Southerners as racists. Mr. Miller maintains that
most national Democrats do not understand the South and make
campaign strategies based on the notion that the Southern
vote "can go to hell." As he told Tim Russert on "Meet the
Press" two days ago: "The South right now, if you took its
economy, it would be the third largest in the world, next to
the United States as a whole and next to Japan. Fifty-five
hundred African-Americans right now hold office in the
South . . . This is not the South that Howard Dean thinks it
is. Sure, we drive pickups, but on the back of those pickups
you see a lot of American flags. It's the most patriotic
region in the country."
Elections are being held in Mississippi and Ken-
tucky today, and more will take place in Louisiana next
week. All three are historically Democratic states, but
their electorates are leaning toward picking up Republican
governors ? a signal that Democrats are not in touch with
many traditional constituencies. In Saturday's Des Moines
Register, Howard Dean suggested, "We can't beat George Bush
unless we appeal to a broad cross-section of Democrats." His
Democratic competitors seem to disagree.
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