Harold Meyerson

Harold Meyerson is the editor-at-large at The American Prospect and a columnist for The Washington Post. His email is hmeyerson@prospect.org

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ST. LOUIS -- Over at Pat's Bar and Grill on Thursday night, the Kerry campaign reached the limits of its momentum. One day earlier, it had been able to turn out roughly 1,000 people to a hastily called rally at the community college just down the street, for which the candidate flew in straight from Boston. The night before that, the campaign's managers had gotten 200 people to attend a New Hampshire watch-election party. But now they'd called a debate-watch party, too, during the evening commute time, with the temperature at 12 degrees and with snow starting to fall. In New Hampshire, that would have deterred nobody, but New Hampshirites spend four years training for primary week. Here in Missouri, to say that nobody was even thinking about a contested presidential primary is to understate. Until nine days ago, this was all Gephardt country. Now it's all last-minute shopping -- a vast, unanticipated political Christmas Eve. And so, for the first half-hour of the debate, a total of 11...

Iron John

NASHUA, N.H. -- If Karl Rove thinks he can take down John Kerry the way his mentor, Lee Atwater, took down Michael Dukakis, he's got another thing coming. The Kerry who delivered that victory speech in Manchester on Tuesday night was the most effective Democratic politico since the fall of Bill Clinton. Within his first two minutes at the microphone, Kerry had delivered a stinging populist attack on the president and managed to identify himself with his Vietnam vet comrades who surrounded him onstage. "I depended on the same band of brothers I depended on some 30 years ago," said Kerry, thanking Max Cleland and a bunch of guys wearing the insignias of their old units for delivering in New Hampshire as they had in Iowa. "We're a little older, a little grayer, but we still know how to fight for our country!" Almost instantaneously, Kerry deployed both his offense and defense. On the stump, he is seldom so succinct: Digressions abound, adverbs pop up to take the punch from his punch...

Crowd Control

NASHUA, N.H. -- He's got the experience, the Lincoln-like elongation, the Kennedy-esque turns of phrase, the environmental activists attesting to his record, and the guys from his gunboat attesting to his guts. But can John Kerry campaign? We'll know soon enough -- tonight, actually -- just how he impressed the citizens of New Hampshire. Another strong victory, coupled with last week's out-of-nowhere triumph in Iowa, will mean Kerry has a commanding lead on the Democratic field. But it will also mark something of a victory of John Kerry over John Kerry. For Kerry is not exactly a born campaigner. In this field, the campaigner with all the moves is John Edwards, who states his case as flawlessly and powerfully as he did to countless Carolina juries. Edwards held his penultimate rally Monday night at the Hudson Theater in downtown Manchester, and I had the good fortune to watch him from the balcony, to see him glide around the stage with the kind of ease and intensity that comes from...

Pulling Punches

GOFFSTOWN, N.H. -- The spin room of a desultory debate doesn't really offer much in the way of spin. The Democrats are frozen in the grip of niceness just now; the specter of the penitent Howard Dean (D-Vt.), reciting his record as governor in hopes of arresting his fall, has put them all on painfully good behavior. Thursday night's debate offered precious little red meat of any kind. Democrats refrained from attacking one another, a dynamic that surely helped front-runner Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.). Worse yet, because their questioners confronted them ad nauseum with one Republican attack after another -- so you raise taxes, senator, or waffle on the war, or mock your Catholic God (Brit Hume's question on abortion rights, posed not once but twice to retired Gen. and practicing Protestant Wesley Clark) -- the candidates had practically no opportunity to go after George W. Bush on the economy or any number of other real issues. Spin rooms are the province of restatements and...

People Person

NASHUA, N.H. -- Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) came here Wednesday afternoon speakin' and shoutin' populism. Well, not shoutin' exactly. More like enthusiastically declaimin'. "I'm running for president so you will have a president who's on your side," he said, "and who will take on the powerful interests that stand in your way." He named those interests: "the drug industry, big oil and HMOs." He brought up Enron and WorldCom, Tyco and Tyson, corporations that "take advantage of [the president's] creed of greed." He vowed to repeal last year's Medicare bill -- a bill that established "a benefit for prescription-drug companies" -- in favor of one that allows the state and federal governments to negotiate lower drug prices. He promised to repeal the ban on reimporting drugs from Canada. And Kerry was just warming to the occasion. He next took up "the fight to make our workplace fair." He pledged "to remove every single loophole, every single incentive, every single provision that rewards...

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