Memo to the Democratic presidential candidates: When you call Pennsylvania Gov. Edward G. Rendell (D), don't talk about money.
Rendell, the former Democratic Party chairman and ex-mayor of Philadelphia, was asked at this week's National Governors Association meeting whether he might endorse someone for president. "Nobody calls me for an endorsement," he complained with a laugh. "They call me to help raise money, but nobody calls about an endorsement."
The reason, he suspects, involves the comparative lateness of his state's primary election. During his 2002 gubernatorial bid, he said, several of the prospective presidential candidates offered -- and delivered -- campaign contributions. But one prospective candidate, whom he declined to name, pledged money that never arrived.
After a while, Rendell's campaign aides called for an explanation. He said they were told the politician's priorities were with campaigns in states with early primaries or caucuses in 2004. Pennsylvania's primary isn't until April. "They told us, 'Your primary is too late,' " Rendell said.
Democrats Do the Primary Shuffle
Democrats in several states are considering moving up their presidential primaries next year -- changes that could significantly affect how quickly the party picks a nominee, and who it might be.
Virginia is eyeing Feb. 10, and Arizona recently shifted its date to Feb. 3, just a week after New Hampshire's first-in-the-nation primary and 15 days after the Iowa caucuses. Arizona joins South Carolina and Missouri, which earlier set their primaries for that day.
The big unknown is Michigan, where new Gov. Jennifer M. Granholm (D) faces a fight within her party over when to schedule its primary.
Sen. Carl M. Levin (D-Mich.), who long has objected to the privileged status of Iowa and New Hampshire, and the United Auto Workers (UAW) reportedly want Michigan's primary held the same day as New Hampshire's. But the Democratic National Committee says that would violate party rules, and might result in Michigan's delegation being barred from the national convention. State party chairman Mark Brewer favors Saturday, Feb. 7, which would give Michigan its own day on the calendar.
The timing could have a big impact on both Sen. John F. Kerry (D-Mass.), who will have trouble getting the support of the auto workers because of his advocacy of higher fuel efficiency standards, and Rep. Richard A. Gephardt (D-Mo.), who is courting the UAW.
Granholm said yesterday that she is "open" on the question of scheduling the primary.
Hillary in Their Hearts?
Democratic National Committee members gave their cheers to the party's presidential candidates last weekend, but do their hearts belong to Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.)?
It's unscientific, but Mary Stanley, who sold political memorabilia at the meeting, noticed a pattern when delegates bought candidate buttons, priced at two for $5. "If you like John Kerry, you get a Kerry button and a Hillary button," she said. "If you like John Edwards, you get an Edwards button and a Hillary button. If you like Howard Dean, you get a Dean button and a Hillary button."
Only declared candidates for 2004 were invited to speak, so the New York senator wasn't on stage to settle the issue.
McCain Scores GOP Legal Tactics
Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) accused his party yesterday of spreading "disinformation" about the nation's new campaign finance law in order to make the regulations -- being contested in court by the GOP and others -- seem more onerous than they are.
"I understand that the Republican National Committee has a litigation-related interest in making the Reform Act appear unworkable," McCain said in a letter to RNC Chairman Marc Racicot. "It is a terrible mistake, however, to adopt scorched-earth tactics which may scare local party volunteers out of politics in order to achieve some perceived short-term litigation advantage."
RNC spokesman Jim Dyke rejected the charges. "We don't need to create confusion or distress," he said. "The law has done that."
Staff researcher Brian Faler contributed to this report.