March 09, 2004

John Kerry said Monday that he is building a legal team to prevent any voting irregularities this year in the state that put George W. Bush in the White House

Miami Herald: Evoking the razor-thin 2000 election that the U.S. Supreme Court ultimately settled, presumptive Democratic presidential nominee John Kerry said Monday that he is building a legal team to prevent any voting irregularities this year in the state that put George W. Bush in the White House.
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http://www.miami.com/mld/miamiherald/news/state/8139905.htm

Posted on Tue, Mar. 09, 2004

CAMPAIGN 2004
Kerry visits South Florida
On the eve of today's Florida presidential primary,
Sen. John Kerry rouses supporters with talk of
avoiding another recount battle and protecting Social
Security. He also strikes at the GOP.
BY PETER WALLSTEN AND LESLEY CLARK
pwallsten@herald.com

Evoking the razor-thin 2000 election that the U.S.
Supreme Court ultimately settled, presumptive
Democratic presidential nominee John Kerry said Monday
that he is building a legal team to prevent any voting
irregularities this year in the state that put George
W. Bush in the White House.

Kerry made his remarks to a crowd in Broward County, a
central battleground in the 2000 recount, responding
to a woman who asked what would keep the Republicans
from ``stealing the election again.''

Speaking on the eve of today's Florida presidential
primary, Kerry promised a strategy that could include
''pre-challenges'' and injunctions ''where necessary''
to avoid a repeat of 2000 in November.

''Not only do we want a record level of turnout,''
Kerry said to applause from hundreds gathered at a
community center, ``we want to make sure that every
vote is counted.''

While a string of early primary and caucus victories
beginning with Iowa in January and continuing through
Super Tuesday last week has assured Kerry the
nomination, he still needs to win delegates today in
Florida, Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas to
officially claim the Democratic mantle.

His leading Democratic rivals have dropped out, but
their names remain on the ballot in Florida while
long-shot contenders Dennis Kucinich and the Rev. Al
Sharpton have continued campaigning.

POLL RESULTS

Kerry's campaign swing came the day after a Herald/St.
Petersburg Times poll suggested that he has pulled
slightly ahead of the president in Florida -- leading
49 percent to 43 percent. Voters are growing
increasingly troubled about Bush's handling of the
economy, the war in Iraq and his ability to safeguard
retirement benefits, the poll found.

Republicans greeted Kerry with more accusations that
he flip-flops on key issues such as the war, education
policy and national defense, and that he would raise
taxes.

The latest attack surrogate Monday was Minnesota Sen.
Norm Coleman, who told reporters that Kerry was
duplicitous in October when he told an Arab-American
group that the security fence Israel is building along
the West Bank was a ''barrier to peace,'' considering
he now says he supports the fence as a security
measure.

Republicans believe that raising questions about
Kerry's consistency on Israel could erode support in
Florida, home to one of the nation's biggest Jewish
communities.

Kerry seemed intent Monday on refuting the image of a
waffler and signaled that he would fire back when
fired upon.

''I have 20 years of voting on Israel. Twenty years of
a 100-percent record,'' he said during an interview,
saying that his critical remarks earlier related not
to the fence itself but to its location.

On Social Security, an issue his campaign hopes to
highlight in senior-rich Florida, Kerry sought to turn
the rhetorical tables on a president who has proposed
letting people invest retirement savings in private
funds.

''I will never privatize Social Security,'' Kerry
said. ``Never.''

JAB FROM PRESIDENT

Kerry also sought to swat down a Saturday jab from the
president, who suggested that Kerry wanted to raise
taxes. Kerry has proposed rolling back tax cuts for
the wealthy.

''It's another, what should we call it, misleading
statement?'' Kerry said, drawing cheers of ''lies''
from the crowd.

Kerry's Florida visit began Monday. He ate breakfast
with about 50 fundraisers and donors, along with his
wife, Teresa Heinz Kerry, Sens. Bob Graham and Bill
Nelson and U.S. Reps. Alcee Hastings and Kendrick
Meek.

TAKING ON THE GOP

There, Kerry warned that he is ready to withstand an
onslaught from the GOP, suggesting that the
Republicans could take him on personally just as they
did to a fellow Vietnam veteran, Arizona Sen. John
McCain, during the 2000 GOP primary.

And, in a remark that drew a rebuke from the
Republican National Committee, Kerry told the donors
that the world awaits his ascent.

''I've met foreign leaders who can't go out and say
this publicly, but, boy, they look at you and say, you
gotta win this, you gotta beat this guy, we need a new
policy,'' said Kerry, who has talked about taking a
trip overseas as part of his campaign.

Ridiculing the remark, the RNC called Kerry an
''international man of mystery'' and suggested in a
statement that some of his biggest supporters are
North Korea's communist leader and Europe's most
liberal newspapers.

Besides the town hall meeting in Hollywood, he spoke
at rallies in downtown West Palm Beach and Tampa.

In Hollywood, Kerry said the U.S. government should
interview Haitian refugees before sending them back to
the Caribbean nation to face possible death and
political persecution.

POLICY ON CUBA

On Cuba, he said he does not support lifting the trade
embargo but embraced increased travel and engagement
-- a stance that puts him at odds with Bush.

But it was Kerry's talk of a legal team that offered a
reminder of memories sure to rev up his base:
allegations of voters turned away at the polls and
wrongly scrubbed from registration lists.

No legal team has been named, a Kerry spokesman said,
but the campaign was looking for lawyers in every
battleground state where problems could emerge.

Kerry pledged to look specifically at the new
touch-screen voting machines like the ones embraced
across South Florida after 2000.



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Posted by richard at March 9, 2004 01:21 PM