Tuesday, December 07, 2004

Kerry will tell Iowans thanks

By Ed Tibbetts

The campaign is over. The campaign has begun. Or so it seemed Monday, when U.S. Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., announced he will visit Iowa on Friday.

An aide said the trip is to thank Iowa supporters for their efforts on behalf of Kerry’s 2004 Democratic candidacy for president. But the Friday evening trip surely will fuel speculation that the senator is merely laying down his marker, albeit early, for a 2008 bid.

The 6 p.m. event will be in Des Moines at the Hotel Fort Des Moines, where Kerry held his victory rally the night of the Iowa caucuses. The surprise win in January propelled him to the party’s presidential nomination, but he went on to lose the Hawkeye State to President Bush in the general election by a very narrow margin.

"John Kerry is forever grateful to the thousands of Iowans who set him off on an incredible journey, beginning with a history-making, against-all-odds caucus victory," said David Wade, a spokesman. "The campaign is over, but the fight in our country continues for affordable health care, good jobs, energy independence and a foreign policy that lives up to our values."

Over the weekend, Kerry went to New Hampshire, which holds the country’s first primary election shortly after the caucuses, to thank supporters there, too. But the speech, according to local news reports, sounded more like a campaign-style call to action.

"I feel so passionate about these issues that I am going to use all the energy God gives me to pursue them," Kerry said, according to an account published in the Manchester, N.H.-based Union Leader newspaper.

It also was announced over the past few days that Kerry intends to form a political action committee to help state and local candidates. That often is seen as a way to build support for a candidacy in early primary states.

Asked whether the visit to Iowa should not be taken as a sign of a future bid, Wade said, "It’s a signal that he’s deeply grateful for the hard work and commitment of so many Iowans who stood with him when he was in single digits in every poll." Wade added that Kerry also was saying thanks in Massachusetts.


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