Before learning the results of yesterday's Democratic presidential primary in South Dakota, Tom Harkin told a Baltimore audience he'd continue campaigning in Maryland and other states.
"First of all, keep in mind, the name of this game is delegates, and he who has the most delegates wins," the Iowa senator said yesterday at Westminster Hall at the University of Maryland Law School. "At the end of today, mark my words, I will have more pledged delegates than anyone else in the race."
Mr. Harkin was referring to the delegates he won after finishing first in the uncontested Iowa caucuses earlier this month. Last week, he finished fourth in the New Hampshire primary and last night he was trailing Nebraska Sen. Bob Kerrey in South Dakota, according to voter exit polls and early returns.
"We're going to keep piling up the delegates," Mr. Harkin said to an enthusiastic audience of 200, mainly law students.
He predicted he'd do "darn well" in Maryland's Tuesday primary and in other states.
Mr. Harkin devoted most of his speech to attacks on President Bush and statements about his own proudly liberal program.
He mentioned the news that Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens has cancer, and said, "The last thing we need is another George Bush appointment to the Supreme Court."
He derided the "Reagan and Bush years" as a "trail of tears." He cited "loss of jobs," "erosion of our cities," "health care most students and most Americans can't afford . . . crime up, drugs up, debt up, grades down, opportunity down, the list goes on."
"The past 10 years we've had two presidents who believed that Americans could only get ahead by leaving some people behind," Mr. Harkin said.
He summarized Reagan-Bush economic programs as "hope that someday, something would trickle down. But it hasn't. Instead the national tide sank and all the boats sank with it. And today Maryland is forced to make cuts in education and job training to stay afloat."
He said his program would divert $280 billion in defense savings over the next 10 years to domestic needs, including public works.
He said he'd spend more on education programs, especially for young children, provide loans to anyone who wants to go to college and job training to those who don't, establish health insurance coverage for all Americans and, in four years, end the trade deficit.
Mr. Harkin received the loudest applause when he declared his support of abortion rights.
Fielding questions after his speech, he criticized the Bush administration for forcing Israel to choose between U.S. aid and settlements of occupied territory.
Mr. Harkin also criticized New Hampshire primary winner Paul E. Tsongas, likening the former Massachusetts senator's program to Republican policies.
Mr. Harkin referred to the other candidates as passing fancies. "It seems to me there's always the flavor of the month, one after the other, and when they get through tasting all the flavors, they'll come home to the basic values of the Democratic Party, which is what I represent."