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Kerry Bows Out of 2008 Race

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  • Ram Lau
    January 24, 2007 Kerry Bows Out of 2008 Race By ADAM NAGOURNEY http://www.nytimes.com/2007/01/24/washington/24cnd-kerry.html WASHINGTON, Jan. 24 – Senator
    Message 1 of 1 , Jan 25, 2007
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      January 24, 2007
      Kerry Bows Out of 2008 Race
      By ADAM NAGOURNEY
      http://www.nytimes.com/2007/01/24/washington/24cnd-kerry.html

      WASHINGTON, Jan. 24 – Senator John Kerry, the Massachusetts Democrat
      who narrowly lost the presidency to George Bush in 2004, announced
      today that he would not proceed with a second bid for the White House
      because he preferred to use his position in the new Senate majority to
      press for an end to American involvement in Iraq.

      "We came close, certainly close enough to be tempted to try again,
      there are powerful reasons to want to follow that fight now," Mr.
      Kerry said, invoking his 2004 race, at the conclusion of a 30-minute
      speech attacking Mr. Bush's Iraq policy on the floor of the United
      States Senate. "I've concluded that this isn't the time for me to
      mount a presidential campaign. It is the time to put my energy to work
      as part of the majority of he Senate and do all I can to end the war."

      Mr. Kerry's announcement of his political plans, if unveiled in an
      unorthodox place, was not a surprise, notwithstanding his early
      statements that he would run again for the White House. He was in
      effect bowing to a Democratic Party that was clearly unreceptive and
      that had turned its attention to new candidates, in particular
      Senators Barack Obama of Illinois and Hillary Rodham Clinton of New
      York, who got into the race over the past week. Many Democrats had
      said they expected Mr. Kerry would ultimately decide not to run after
      assessing how much strength he had in his party; as it is, most of his
      aides from the 2004 campaign have moved on.

      Still, his decision sent ripples across the political waters,
      answering one more question about what the final Democratic field
      might look like. More than that, it appeared to bring to completion a
      candidacy that for Mr. Kerry never completely ended after Election Day
      in 2004. That day began with exit polls showing him heading for a
      resounding win – aides were addressing him as Mr. President – and
      ended with him making a concession call to Mr. Bush. That experience,
      friends said, left Mr. Kerry bitter and frustrated and eager for a
      rematch.

      Fitting enough, he used his time on the Senate floor today to deliver
      a 30-minute speech that recounted his own history as a Vietnam veteran
      who returned from war nearly 40 years ago to become an opponent of the
      conflict. His voice cracking with emotion, he drew frequent contrasts
      between the two wars as he made a case against Mr. Bush's foreign
      policy in the Middle East and said that he thought he had a
      responsibility to make sure that the next president did not have to
      deal with cleaning up this war.

      "The fact is, what happens here in the next two years may irrevocably
      shape or terribly distort the administration of whichever candidate is
      next elected president," he said, adding: "I don't want the next
      president to find that they have inherited a nation still divided and
      a policy destined to end as Vietnam did."

      Mr. Kerry's speech drew tributes from fellow Democrats, including his
      Massachusetts colleague, Senator Edward M. Kennedy, who had been
      pushing Mr. Kerry to make a decision. Another Democratic senator
      running for president, Joseph Biden of Delaware, said: "My initial
      reaction to Senator Kerry's decision is one of extreme sadness. John
      Kerry is a major voice in American politics and the country would be
      much better off today if he were President."

      Mr. Kerry, 63, intends to run for a fifth term in the Senate in 2008,
      an aide said.

      The senator, in his rounds around the country since the election, has
      argued that he came close to winning in 2004 and would be a better
      candidate, with extra experience, in 2008. Mr. Kerry had turned his
      attention to the 2008 presidential race almost from the moment he
      conceded defeat to Mr. Bush in November 2004. After being daunted in
      the 2004 race as being equivocal on the war in Iraq, he had emerged as
      one of his party's leading opponents to the war, and had renounced his
      original support for the war resolution that caused him so many
      problems in the last election.

      But Mr. Kerry faced severe obstacles in trying to capture his party's
      nomination for a second time. For one thing, many of his supporters
      had made clear that they would not join him again should he try to
      run, with many blaming him for making mistakes in 2004 that cleared
      the way for Mr. Bush to win even as he was saddled with an unpopular
      war and a public that had turned largely against him.

      Mr. Kerry faced a unusually strong field of Democratic contenders,
      including Mrs. Clinton, Mr. Obama and his running-mate from 2004, John
      Edwards, the former senator of North Carolina, who has also been
      running since 2004 but has by all appearances done a much better job
      than Mr. Kerry of disassociating himself from their failed campaign.

      But Mr. Kerry's hopes for a resurrection were probably most damaged by
      what he said was a botched joke told while campaigning on behalf of
      congressional candidates in the final week of 2006 race. Republicans
      seized on what he said was a dropped word to try to say he had
      delivered a joke at the expense of American troops fighting in Iraq.
      Mr. Kerry responded by getting off the campaign trail and out of
      public view, at the urging of Democrats who thought that the White
      House might use this last-minute blunder to try to turn the campaign
      back to their advantage.

      For many Democrats, the remark was a reminder of instances of
      ineptness by Mr. Kerry as a campaigner, including his often troubled
      attempts to explain his changing views on the war in Iraq. Most
      famously, he said that he voted for an $87 billion war appropriation
      "before I voted against it," a piece of videotape that Republicans
      quickly turned into a defining caricature of the Democratic candidate.
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