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Dean Sees Stars

From the January 21, 2004 Wall Street Journal: Why Howard Dean's endorsements didn't help him.

11:00 PM, Jan 22, 2004 • By FRED BARNES
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Kerry got lucky. A former Green Beret officer whose life he had saved in Vietnam, Jim Rassmann, idly flipped through a book about Kerry and read a passage about the rescue. He promptly contacted the Kerry campaign--this was three days before the caucuses--and agreed to come to Iowa, endorse Kerry, and tell the story of the rescue in public. His appearance transformed Kerry's service in Vietnam from a biographical item to a moving narrative. Better still, Rassmann identified himself as a registered Republican. His was an endorsement that did help.

Even with Dean sinking in polls, evidence that endorsements weren't working may not have reached New Hampshire by last Saturday. Wesley Clark, who skipped Iowa in his bid for the nomination, appeared with a dais-full of political figures who've endorsed him. Among them were former Arkansas senators Dale Bumpers and David Pryor, speechwriter Ted Sorenson, leftie propagandist Michael Moore, and Mary Frances Berry, once head of the U.S. Civil Rights Commission.

That wasn't all. General Clark had a new endorsement to trumpet. It was George McGovern, who lost 49 states as the Democratic presidential nominee in '72. McGovern didn't create much of a ripple, but Gen. Clark's premier celebrity endorser might have. Too bad Madonna wasn't there.

Fred Barnes is executive editor of The Weekly Standard.