For the most part, Gephardt's campaign has been...a miserable failure. (Sorry, Geppy, but it's true.) From his speech today, I get the sense that Dean will not be on his future Christmas card list. I'll say this for him, the bland blonde one from the Heartland sounded very sincere.
Democrats must "be clear about where we stand and be truthful with the American people," Gephardt said as part of his broadest assault on Dean to date. "There is no room for the cynical politics of manufactured anger and false conviction." He accused Dean of harboring "great contempt" for the Iowa caucuses and of being a "fair-weather friend" of workers.
Gephardt used his final major speech of the Iowa campaign for a broad indictment of Dean. Although the congressman has slammed Dean before, this was by far his most comprehensive and personal critique of the Dean candidacy.
Gephardt, who has the most riding on Iowa because a loss would likely signal the end of his political career, considers Dean the biggest, if not the only, obstacle to winning here, a top adviser said. With a large number of voters undecided, Gephardt wanted to show how consistent and reliable he has been for voters, compared with Dean.
After laying out a case that he offered Iowans the boldest alternative to President Bush, Gephardt pounded Dean for flip-flopping on free trade; misrepresenting himself as a "straight-talker"; hiding his records as governor and coddling corporations; previously supporting less spending on Medicare and opposing an assault weapons ban; making "excuses" for his misstatements; and saying "outrageous" things about foreign affairs.
"I have come to realize that Howard Dean isn't shooting from the hip," Gephardt said here to an audience primarily of union workers and senior citizens. "That's just making excuses for him. Howard Dean knows exactly what he's saying when he says it. And if you think he's contradicting himself, well, as far as he's concerned that's your problem, not his."