Thursday, September 28, 2006

After 14 trips and 30 days, Bayh trails in N.H., Iowa

After 14 trips and 30 days, Bayh trails in N.H., Iowa

For Howey Political Report Sept. 28, 2006

Since July 2005, Indiana Democrat Evan Bayh has racked up a total of almost 30 days visiting two states considered key to winning his party's presidential nomination.

Last weekend the senator made his fifth trip to New Hampshire and tomorrow he begins his ninth tour of Iowa. According to Democracy In Action statistics, only one other Democrat, John Edwards, has invested more time in both states.

It was a busy week for the New Hampshire Democratic Party with no fewer than five presidential contenders romancing voters at one point or another somewhere in the state. The list of rival suitors included Sen. Chris Dodd (Conn.); Govs. Tom Vilsack (Iowa) and Bill Richardson (N.M.), and former Virginia Gov. Mark Warner.

A two-day swing through the state began on a fortuitous note for Bayh when the Associated Press disseminated an article on Sunday wherein he asserted that Iraq is not the central front in the war on terrorism.

"Iraq is taking the focus away from Afghanistan and Iran," he told reporter Norma Love. "We've diverted so many resources to Iraq." The 500-word article went on to mention the senator's contention that the U.S. needs to begin the process of leaving Iraq by stabilizing the country so more focus can be placed on Afghanistan and Iran.

"We need to say we're not going to be there forever," he said.

Sunday night the former Indiana governor appeared at a "Countdown to Victory" dinner hosted by the Manchester City Democrats. Bayh said his party needs to do a better job of standing up to Republicans on national security and pocketbook issues, according to Riley Yates of the Union Leader. He also presented the group with a check for $5,000.

Bayh's message earned a warm reception among the 125 in attendance, and news reports of appearances in Nashua and North Hampton were also favorable.

Tomorrow the centrist Democrat is slated to begin a four-day schedule in Iowa with a Friday evening event at the Boone County Brown-Woodard Dinner. Saturday evening he will attend a reception honoring Dubuque County Democrats. Sunday begins with a breakfast for U.S. House candidate Phil Hare in Rock Island, Ill. Bayh will then attend a reception for Scott County Democrats in Davenport, a Get Out The Vote Rally in Coralville, and an appearance in Ankeny on behalf of the local candidate for state senate. Monday he is slated to appear at separate venues for state senate candidates in Mason City, Cedar Falls, Webster City and Fort Dodge.

Sen. Barack Obama of Illinois, another Democrat considered a potential presidential candidate, is also slated to appear in Iowa over the weekend. Obama will campaign in Davenport for Bruce Baley, who is running for a seat in the U.S. House. This will be his second visit to the Hawkeye State - the first generated reams of publicity earlier this month.

Dan Pfeiffer, Bayh's communications director, told HPR the senator's presentation throughout Iowa will be similar to what he offered Democrats in Manchester last weekend. According to the Union Leader's coverage of that event, Bayh discussed healthcare, education, economic priorities and the need for Democrats to counter the consistent and politically successful GOP message.

Despite Sen. Bayh's extraordinary efforts, indications are he has yet to win Democrats in the numbers required to finish well in the early contests.

In last Monday's Union Leader, Yates cited State Sen. Lou D'Allesandro who said the Indiana Democrat is not among the first tier of potential candidates.

"I think Bayh's right behind them, but he is behind them," D'Allesandro said.

Bayh has implied he intends to make up his mind about a run over the coming Thanksgiving holiday. Fortunately for him plenty of time remains to try and make up deficits in the polls should he choose to seek the nomination.


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