Democratic Presidential Candidate Sen. John Kerry Wins Iowa Caucuses
Democratic presidential candidate Sen. John Kerry (Mass.) on Monday "scored a commanding come-from-behind victory" in the Iowa caucuses, finishing first among the five Democratic candidates who competed there, the Washington Post reports (Harris, Washington Post, 1/20). With 97.6% of precincts reporting, Kerry captured 38% of the delegates, Sen. John Edwards (S.C.) won 32%, former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean secured 18%, Rep. Dick Gephardt (Mo.) brought in 11% and Rep. Dennis Kucinich (Ohio) scored 1% (Harwood et al., Wall Street Journal, 1/20). Former Army Gen. Wesley Clark, Sen. Joseph Lieberman (Conn.) and the Rev. Al Sharpton did not compete in the Iowa caucuses. Kerry's and Edwards' move into the forefront and the "disappointing finishes" for Dean and Gephardt represent a "complete reversal of their positions in the polls" as of late December, the Des Moines Register reports. In backing Kerry and Edwards, Iowa caucus-goers -- about 122,000 state residents participated -- showed support for "moderate Democrats," according to the Register. For example, Kerry and Edwards have called for more modest health care expansions than Dean and Gephardt (Beaumont, Des Moines Register, 1/20). Both Dean and Gephardt have proposed repealing all of Bush's $1.7 trillion in tax cuts over 12 years to fund domestic programs, particularly universal health care. Kerry and Lieberman support repealing tax cuts only among the highest-income households (California Healthline, 1/7). According to the New York Times, caucus-goers were "far more likely to cite health care and the economy than the war in Iraq as their more pressing concerns" (Nagourney, New York Times, 1/20). Entrance polls indicated that 28% of caucus participants cited health care and Medicare as their top priority; 29% cited the economy and jobs; and 14% cited the Iraq war, the Journal reports (Wall Street Journal, 1/20).
"It feels like comeback Kerry. I like it. I'm just going to work state for state as hard as you saw me work here," Kerry said (Barabak, Los Angeles Times, 1/20). Edwards said his second-place finish is "the direct result of people responding to the positive message of hope" in his campaign. Dean said, "I'm delighted to finish in the top three. On to New Hampshire" (New York Times, 1/20). The Los Angeles Times reports that weaker finishes for Dean and Gephardt stem in part from campaign attacks over Medicare, with Gephardt "leading the assault on TV and in a series of increasingly harsh stump speeches" (Los Angeles Times, 1/20). The candidates now face "an exhausting sprint of primaries and caucuses" that should result in a Democratic nominee by the end of March, the New York Times reports (New York Times, 1/20).
After finishing fourth in the Iowa caucuses, Gephardt on Monday ended his presidential campaign, USA Today reports. "This didn't come out the way we wanted. My campaign to fight for working people may be ending tonight, but our fight will never end. We will reclaim the White House in 2004 because we have to," Gephardt said (Stone, USA Today, 1/20). The decision to drop out of the race and to depart Congress at the end of his current term "puts an end to a formidable career that has loomed large on the Washington stage" for more than 25 years, the Post reports (Washington Post, 1/20).
NPR's "Morning Edition" on Monday reported on the Democratic presidential candidates' attention to health care reform at the Iowa caucuses. The segment includes comments from Drew Altman, president and CEO of the Kaiser Family Foundation; Stuart Altman, health economist and professor of national health policy at Brandeis University's Heller School for Social Policy and Management; Gephardt; Kerry; Lieberman; Republican pollster Bill McInturff; and Ken Thorpe, an economist at Emory University and former Clinton administration health adviser (Rovner, "Morning Edition," NPR, 1/19). The complete segment is available online in RealPlayer. In addition, Gephardt Sunday on NBC's "Meet the Press" discussed his health care proposal, which would require employers to offer health insurance to workers and would expand federal programs to provide coverage for unemployed U.S. residents (Russert, "Meet the Press," NBC, 1/18). The complete transcript is available online.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.