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‘We walked right into it’ Democrats lament as GOP builds a pre-election model to trap John Kerry
The Hill ^ | 5/18/04

Posted on 05/18/2004 10:56:19 AM PDT by areafiftyone

The one-vote defeat of an extension of unemployment benefits last week has sparked fear among Democrats that Republicans have developed a legislative model that will cast Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) repeatedly in a bad light before the election.

The extension needed 60 votes to pass in the Senate, and 12 Republicans made sure the final tally was 59-40, with only one absentee, presidential candidate Kerry.

At least one Republican senator, Elizabeth Dole (N.C.), was prepared to switch to a no vote to make sure the measure was defeated even if Kerry returned to cast his vote, a Democrat charged.

Even if Dole had stood firm, observers on both sides believe the GOP leadership would have been able to turn other Republicans to ensure defeat.

But by calculating the vote to a nicety, the GOP managed to make Kerry appear to be responsible for the defeat because he was a no-show.

The Democrats say they suspect the Republicans engineered the one-vote margin, and the incident underlines how both parties are expected to use the legislature to tarnish their opponents.

They timed it just perfectly, said one Senate Democratic aide. We walked right into it yes.

One Democratic senator who asked not to be quoted by name said: My understanding is that the Republicans were interested in creating a one-vote margin.

Asked whether Republicans manipulated the outcome of the vote, Eric Ueland, Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist's (R-Tenn.) deputy chief of staff, flashed a smile and replied: I have no comment and that's on the record.

Robert Steurer, the press secretary for Senate Majority Whip Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), said the only reason the motion failed was that Senator Kerry was out of town at a fundraiser in Kentucky. A Republican aide said the outcome was always going to be 59 and that Republicans were nervous being so close to 60.

If Republicans did engineer the vote to embarrass Kerry, it worked. It got front-page national press coverage and seemed to undermine Kerry's campaign pitch that he was the candidate who would do the most to help those harmed by the economy under President Bush.

The vote also underscored the vulnerabilities that a sitting senator faces when seeking the presidency. Kerry has struggled to defend some of the thousands of votes he has cast in his career, such as that against the $87 billion appropriation for the war in Iraq. He has missed 80 of 94 votes this year.

All 12 Republicans who voted with Democrats on last week's motion had voted for the motion the last time it came up so the Republicans could not be said to have boosted the total to 59.

But a Democratic aide said Dole, who backed the motion, told key Democratic senators she would change her vote if Kerry decided to return to Washington and cast the crucial 60th vote. The indications are that other members of the GOP would have done the same.

We know that Republicans said they would switch their votes if Kerry came back, said the Senate Democratic aide. We knew for certain that Dole was the first one who would switch. Dole, a freshman who is not up for re-election this year, cast her vote late in the 15-minute vote.

If Kerry showed, there would have been a whole lot of pressure on somebody, said a Democratic leadership aide.

Asked whether Dole was prepared to switch her vote, Brian Nick, her spokesman, replied, She was planning to vote yes. We didn't know that it was a one-vote margin until it was a one-vote margin.

North Carolina has suffered big job losses, including 5,000 in a single day at the Pillowtex textile plant. Dole definitely feels like it's appropriate to extend the benefits at this time, Nick said.

On the previous failed attempt to extend unemployment benefits, Kerry and Sen. John Edwards (D-N.C.) who were both campaigning missed the vote. That time, it fell two votes short of the 60-vote threshold.

Sen. Ben Nighthorse Campbell (R-Colo.), who was in the hospital at the time, also missed the vote. A Democratic aide said Campbell told Sen. Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.), the amendment's sponsor, soon thereafter that he would have voted for her amendment.

This time around, Campbell told the Democrats that because Colorado's employment conditions had improved, he would vote against the motion, said the aide. He voted no last week.

Sen. Kit Bond (R-Mo.), who is up for reelection, and Sen. Jim Talent (R-Mo.), both of whom have compiled generally conservative voting records, also voted with the Democrats. Missouri has suffered severe losses of manufacturing jobs.

Most of the other Republicans who backed the motion have relatively liberal voting records, including Sens. Susan Collins and Olympia Snowe (R-Maine), or come from states that have lost hundreds of thousands of jobs. Sens. George Voinovich and Mike DeWine of Ohio both voted for it. Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) usually votes with GOP leaders, but she is engaged in a tight re-election race and backed the motion.

Sens. John McCain (R-Ariz.), Arlen Specter (R-Pa.), Gordon Smith (R-Ore.) and Lincoln Chafee (R-R.I.) also voted for it. Zell Miller (D-Ga.), who usually votes with Republicans, voted against it.

Sources who were on or near the floor during the vote said they didn't witness any overt arm-twisting, and no senator switched his vote during the roll call Tuesday.

Democratic aides said party leaders provided Kerry with ample notice after the vote was announced last Monday evening and told him it would be close. He was given all the information ; including the part that Dole was going to switch over, said the Democratic aide. Cantwell plans to file the amendment to the defense authorization bill on the floor this week, although she may decide to seek a vote on another bill.<



TOPICS: News/Current Events
KEYWORDS: awol; kerry; unemploymentbenefits; votingrecord

1 posted on 05/18/2004 10:56:23 AM PDT by areafiftyone
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To: areafiftyone
Posted here
2 posted on 05/18/2004 10:59:20 AM PDT by Pete
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To: areafiftyone

Another reason why Senators (regardless of Party) make poor Presidential candidates.


3 posted on 05/18/2004 10:59:52 AM PDT by dfwgator (It's sad that the news media treats Michael Jackson better than our military.)
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To: areafiftyone; Howlin

Paranoia abounds within the Leftist machine. If Kerry misses a crucial vote on a subject he's been bitching and moaning about for months, it's Bush's fault. Now I've heard it all....


4 posted on 05/18/2004 11:00:12 AM PDT by anniegetyourgun
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To: areafiftyone

The Democrats say they suspect the Republicans engineered the one-vote margin, and the incident underlines how both parties are expected to use the legislature to tarnish their opponents.


You can't herd cats and you can't get republicans to coordinate this closely.

They admit this is what they do and now accuse the republicans.


5 posted on 05/18/2004 11:02:24 AM PDT by PeterPrinciple
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To: Pete

Drat - I did a search on the title "We Walked Right Into It" and didn't realize that someone posted it leaving out those words in the title. That is why it didn't come up with my search!


6 posted on 05/18/2004 11:06:38 AM PDT by areafiftyone (Democrats = the hamster is dead but the wheel is still spinning)
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To: areafiftyone

That's happened to me before, too. Once I posted an article that I was (rather huffily) told was actually posted several times before. No one bothered to put the right key words in. I finally figured that's why there is the "add key words" function that I'd never noticed before.


7 posted on 05/18/2004 11:14:40 AM PDT by jwalburg (Maroons for Kerry)
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To: areafiftyone

Hilarious. Who were the other 40 Senators that voted "no"?


8 posted on 05/18/2004 11:17:09 AM PDT by Lunatic Fringe (John F-ing Kerry??? NO... F-ING... WAY!!!)
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To: areafiftyone
Heh. Cool!

If this is true, it's about flipping time that the Republicans started playing by the same rules the Democrats have been playing by for years.

Optimally, they'd just do their danged jobs and stop worrying about external politics-- but I think, as a country, we're WAY beyond that point.

More power to them. The Dems are just pissed because they didn't think of it first.

9 posted on 05/18/2004 11:19:23 AM PDT by Egon (Yo, PETA: Salad = Food of my Food! Feel free to stumble into a pigpen, so I can eat you too!)
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To: areafiftyone

It seems to me the dems might be right for once and maybe the conservative side should take advantage of this hole. Except that the conservative side refuses to take ANY advantages it is given--they seem to have this honor thing going on. Actually, it's sort of like us fighting terrorists.


10 posted on 05/18/2004 11:20:52 AM PDT by freeangel (freeangel)
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To: jwalburg; areafiftyone

Fuggedaboudit

"@#*+ 'em if they can't get over it, you tried; they failed to use the correct posting proticol.


11 posted on 05/18/2004 11:23:17 AM PDT by mondoman (si vis pacem, para bellum)
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To: areafiftyone
One Democratic senator who asked not to be quoted by name said: My understanding is that the Republicans were interested in creating a one-vote margin. </> This, from the Party that has been consistently filibustering (sp) the President's cabinet assignments and judicial nominees, and then says that the same did not do enough to avert a national tragedy... Nothing to see here...
12 posted on 05/18/2004 11:25:45 AM PDT by Christian4Bush (I approve this message: character and integrity matter. Bush/Cheney for '04.)
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To: areafiftyone
If Republicans did engineer the vote to embarrass Kerry, it worked. It got front-page national press coverage and seemed to undermine Kerry's campaign pitch that he was the candidate who would do the most to help those harmed by the economy under President Bush.

It got front-page national press?? Where? Kerry's home country of France?? The thing was barely mentioned from this news junkie's perspective.

13 posted on 05/18/2004 11:26:01 AM PDT by Recovering_Democrat (I'm so glad to no longer be associated with the Party of Dependence on Government!)
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To: Recovering_Democrat

I know. It was only mentioned by a few select media outlets. I am hoping that Bush will put that missed vote in a new TV ad.


14 posted on 05/18/2004 11:28:05 AM PDT by areafiftyone (Democrats = the hamster is dead but the wheel is still spinning)
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To: areafiftyone

Kerry could have taken this issue away simply by showing up and doing his job. If he had, there would be no way those nasty Republicans could have trapped him. End of story.


15 posted on 05/18/2004 11:32:41 AM PDT by SandyInSeattle (You need tons click "co-ordinating")
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To: areafiftyone

Whoo, those wascally wepublicans are at it again!


16 posted on 05/18/2004 11:57:18 AM PDT by onehipdad (Make no mistake, we are now engaged in World War III....)
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To: areafiftyone

I don't get it, how do the republicans make any hay out of the story that John Kerry would have been help the poor unemployed if he had been here, but he wasn't so we screwed the poor bast@rds? And that is exactly how it would be spun by the left.


17 posted on 05/18/2004 12:07:56 PM PDT by RobFromGa (There isn't always an easy path, but there is always a right path.)
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To: areafiftyone

(s)

Vast Right Wing Committee meeting next month...


(/s)


Now imagine when the Federal Marriage Amendment comes up for a vote before the election...it will make kerry the pink poodle.


18 posted on 05/18/2004 1:26:32 PM PDT by longtermmemmory (Vote!)
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