Democratic Presidential Candidate Sen. John Kerry Wins in Contests in Michigan, Washington and Maine
Presidential candidate Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) on Saturday "crushed his opponents" and "pushed on toward securing his party's presidential nomination" with wins in the Democratic primaries in Washington state and Michigan, the Washington Times reports (Fagan, Washington Times, 2/8). Kerry also had "a solid victory" in the Maine Democratic caucuses on Sunday, the New York Times reports (Rosenbaum, New York Times, 2/9). In Washington state, with 97% of precincts reporting, Kerry received 49% of the vote, followed by former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean (D) with 30%, Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-Ohio) with 8%, Sen. John Edwards (D-N.C.) with 7% and retired Army Gen. Wesley Clark (D) with 3% (Washington Times, 2/8). In Michigan, with 100% of precincts reporting, Kerry received 52% of the vote, followed by Dean with 17%, Edwards with 14% of vote, Clark and the Rev. Al Sharpton (D) with 7% and Kucinich with 3% (Cain et al., Detroit News, 2/8). In Maine, with 50% of precincts reporting, Kerry received 45% of the vote, followed by Dean with 26%, Kucinich with 15%, Edwards with 9% and Clark with 4% (Jansen, Portland Press Herald, 2/9). Kerry, as a result of the wins on Saturday, has "more than twice as many delegates as his closest pursuer" with 412 delegates, followed by Dean with 174, Edwards with 116, Clark with 82 and Sharpton with 12, the Washington Times reports (Washington Times, 2/8). Candidates must have 2,161 delegates to win the Democratic presidential nomination. Although 85% of delegates remain undecided, Kerry rivals "must establish their viability over the next 10 days" to challenge his lead before March 2, "when more than 1,100 delegates will be chosen," the San Francisco Chronicle reports (Sandalow, San Francisco Chronicle, 2/8).
At a speech Saturday at a Democratic dinner in Richmond, Va., Kerry accused the Bush administration of "siding with HMOs and insurance companies over patients on health care" and "embracing extreme policies" and said that Democrats remain "defenders of mainstream values" on health care and other domestic issues, the Washington Post reports (Balz, Washington Post, 2/8). He added that the primary results this weekend "show that our campaign is uniting Americans from different parts of our country and different walks of life" to make health care "affordable and accessible to all our people" (Washington Times, 2/8). The U.S. health care system has a number of problems, and President Bush "has no answer at all, no program at all, none, nothing, nada, niente," Kerry said on Sunday at a rally in Chesapeake, Va. (Gerstenzang/La Ganga, Los Angeles Times, 2/9). Meanwhile, in an interview with CBS' "Face the Nation" on Sunday, Dean said that voters should have the ability to select a candidate "from outside Washington who actually has a record of delivering health care and balancing the budget" (Broder/Harris, Washington Post, 2/9).
The Washington Post on Monday examined the "absence of sharp policy differences" among the Democratic presidential candidates on health care and other issues. Although the candidates have published issue books and papers and posted their positions on their campaign Web sites, they "have had a hard time making distinctions that the voters can get their teeth into," according to Stephen Hess of the Brookings Institution. Stephen Moore of the Club for Growth said that after Rep. Dick Gephardt (D-Mo.), who supported a near-universal health care proposal, ended his campaign, the candidates "sound pretty much the same on health care." Bruce Reed, president of the Democratic Leadership Council, said, "Everyone thought health care would be a hotly debated issue, but it turned out not to be because everyone had a plan, and except for Gephardt's, only the wonks could tell the difference" (Broder, Washington Post, 2/9).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.