2nd run would be tougher for Kerry
By ASSOCIATED PRESS
Published July 2, 2006
DES MOINES, Iowa - Seeking the presidency is harder the second time around.
As the race for 2008 builds, Democratic Sen. John Kerry has left little doubt about his intentions to try again after his loss to President Bush in 2004. He isn't the only also-ran considering another marathon.
Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., has the look of a White House hopeful. Three Democrats - 2004 vice presidential nominee John Edwards, retired Army Gen. Wesley Clark and Sen. Joe Biden of Delaware - sound a lot like presidential candidates.
Kerry faces a challenge of major proportions, convincing Democratic activists that a candidate who just lost an election can still carry his party's White House hopes.
"I think the Democratic Party, unlike the Republican Party, has had a historic reluctance to give people a second chance," said Democratic activist Jerry Crawford, a Des Moines lawyer who was chairman of Kerry's 2004 campaign in Iowa.
It's rare when Democrats give the nomination to a candidate who just failed.
Adlai Stevenson got a second chance against President Dwight Eisenhower in 1956, but Democrats were pessimistic about the odds of unseating a popular president. Their doubts were realized when Stevenson lost again.
Republicans, on the other hand, are more willing to give their nominees another try. Former President Richard Nixon lost in 1960, but then won the White House in 1968. Former Sen. Bob Dole sought his party's nomination in 1980 and 1988. He secured the GOP nod in 1996 but lost the general election to Bill Clinton.
Dole said the climb gets steeper on the next try.
"I think the advantage is the first time you are fresh and new to a lot of people and they haven't formed a judgment about you," Dole said. "The second time around, some people might say he's had his chance, we need a new face."
Kerry's allies acknowledge the struggle but are unwilling to give up the cause.
"Historically, the Democratic Party has tended to shoot its wounded," said former New Hampshire Democratic Party chairman Joe Keefe. "John Kerry has done everything within his power to rewrite that chapter."
The Massachusetts senator has raised nearly $9-million for candidates and the party and has campaigned atively across the country.
In statements popular with the party's liberal base , Kerry has said he was wrong to vote for the Iraq war resolution in 2002 and has called for an end to the conflict.
Kerry also has come out in favor of a timetable for withdrawing U.S. troops from Iraq. But he got almost no support, even among fellow Democrats, in recent Senate debate.
The amendment failed 86-13, and Kerry's push for the measure frustrated some in the party leadership.
Kerry has made three trips to Iowa. The state's caucuses launch the nominating season and Kerry's surprising victory in January 2004 propelled him to the nomination.
Attitudes have changed among state Democrats, with a recent Des Moines Register poll putting Kerry a distant third behind 2004 running mate Edwards, the former North Carolina senator, and New York Sen. Hillary Clinton.
Democratic consultant and Kerry ally Jenny Backus said Kerry must overcome "the Democratic curse" of dismissing losing candidates, no matter how well they perform.
"He has grown from the devastation of the last election," said former Sen. Max Cleland of Georgia. "A lot of people who are reacting to Kerry are reacting to the Kerry of '04."
[Last modified July 2, 2006, 02:25:24]
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