Thousands of democrats will descend on Veteran’s Memorial Auditorium in Des Moines tonight to see six of their party’s presidential candidates — and former First Lady Hillary Clinton.
Democrats may see a guy named Bob Kunst set up in the auditorium’s lobby, selling buttons and bumper stickers touting Hillary Clinton as the Democrat’s best shot at beating George Bush. Kunst operates the www.hillarynow.com website. Kunst says the democrats who are in the race “just haven’t caught on.” Clinton, who has said she is not going to run for President in 2004, will serve as emcee for tonight’s event which will give candidates Carol Moseley Braun, Howard Dean, John Edwards, Richard Gephardt, John Kerry and Dennis Kucinich a chance to speak.
Kerry seems to be the candidate entering the event with the most at stake. Ranked in third here in most opinion polls and far behind Dean in New Hampshire, Kerry fired his campaign manager Sunday and Kerry, who is a Vietnam vet, has begun casting himself as a “fighter” who among the candidates has the best shot at beating George Bush next November. Kerry’s “fighting” rhetoric is reminiscent of the 1999 Iowa Democratic Party’s Jefferson-Jackson Day Dinner which featured the battle between Al Gore and Bill Bradley. It marked a turning point in Al Gore’s campaign as Gore unveiled a “Stay and Fight” slogan. On that night back in ’99, Gore questioned Bradley’s commitment to the Democratic party since Bradley decided to leave the U.S. Senate when Republicans took over. Gore said Bradley had “walked away” but Gore said he decided to “stay and fight” because it was a defining moment for the Democratic party.” All 7500 tickets to tonight’s main event have been snapped up.