Iowa newspapers make their cases for Kerry, Edwards

January 19, 2004

SOME IOWA newspapers have endorsed Democratic candidates in the state's precinct caucuses that are being held tonight. Here's what they say:

The Des Moines Register endorses Sen. John Edwards of North Carolina:

John Edwards is one of those rare, naturally gifted politicians who doesn't need a long record of public service to inspire confidence in his abilities. His life has been one of accomplishing the unexpected, amid flashes of brilliance.

The underlying theme of the Democrats is that the government under President Bush is serving the interests of wealth and privilege, not of ordinary Americans. Howard Dean's call to "take our country back" is the rallying cry.

Dr. Dean has the slogan, but it is Mr. Edwards who most eloquently and believably expresses this point of view, with his trial-lawyer skill for distilling arguments into compelling language that moves a jury of ordinary people. He speaks of there being two Americas:

"One America does the work, while another America reaps the reward. One America pays the taxes, while another America gets the tax breaks. If we want America to be a growing, thriving democracy with the strongest middle class on Earth, we must choose a different path."

What a clear and attractive choice an Edwards vs. Bush fall campaign would offer. Beginning in the Iowa caucuses ... Democrats would do well to give that choice to Americans.

The Iowa City Press-Citizen endorses Sen. John Kerry of Massachusetts:

Democratic Party caucus-goers will decide who they'd like to unseat Republican President George W. Bush. Their votes should go to Massachusetts Sen. John Kerry. ... Mr. Kerry possesses the right experience to best serve as president, particularly with American troops serving in Iraq and Afghanistan and considering our nation's increasingly uneasy relationship with long-standing allies.

Iraq and foreign policy matters likely will raise the greatest challenges to America in the next two years, not only in terms of potential threats to the United States but in the very philosophy upon which our nation bases its policies and decisions. President Bush proposes a largely unilateral path, while some Democratic candidates suggest retreat.

Mr. Kerry, however, proposes a reasonable third option: confronting the problems of the world by leading a wide coalition of free nations. On Iraq, Mr. Kerry has called for a specific timetable that establishes self-government and transfers political power and reconstruction decisions to whom they belong: the people of that land. An internationalization of troops would help ensure the peace while freeing America's overextended military to meet other dangers.

Rather than pin economic growth on tax cuts for the wealthy or on big government programs, Mr. Kerry would encourage job creation through a new manufacturing jobs credit, by investing in new technology and by seeking energy independence in a "race" for alternate and renewable fuels.

In addition, Mr. Kerry proposes keeping Mr. Bush's recent tax cuts for the working and middle classes while rolling back those to Americans earning more than $200,000 a year. Ultimately, his plan calls for balancing the federal budget not by massive harsh cuts to programs or through outlandish tax hikes that hurt everyday Americans, but by developing our economy and hence increasing our tax revenues.

Growing medical and insurance costs as baby boomers enter retirement conspire to undermine consumer buying power and the health of many companies. Merely getting all Americans covered by health insurance is inadequate for the challenge ahead, while adopting a massive government program only will present more problems than it solves. Mr. Kerry offers a viable alternative: Offer impressive incentives to businesses so every American can receive health insurance while interceding to ensure that big insurance and drug companies don't inflate health care costs purely for profit's sake. He also would bolster Medicare and the Children's Health Insurance Program to help seniors and the young receive affordable health care.

The Hawk Eye of Burlington endorses Mr. Kerry:

Leading Democrats such as Al Gore and Bill Bradley believe that former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean has the appeal to broaden the party's base and perhaps draw enough new voters to the polls in November to give the Democrats a boost.

But it's far from clear that Dr. Dean would be able to sustain excitement for his campaign, let alone show coattail strength.

By fall, voters will be looking for a solid alternative to President Bush, who still faces struggles with Iraq and an uncertain economy. Sen. John Kerry looks more stable than Dr. Dean.

Iraq is a developing black hole. Dr. Dean garnered much of his early support by bashing the White House's ill-advised invasion. But is Dr. Dean, who lacks any real military or foreign policy credentials, the right Democrat to challenge Mr. Bush on Iraq?

Mr. Kerry has a much more impressive foreign policy rM-isumM-i. And his military background is unquestioned.

Dr. Dean is a fresh voice in national politics. The temptation is to go with the hot candidate. But John Kerry shows greater promise as the Democratic nominee.

Columnist Ellen Goodman will return Thursday.

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