August 30th, 2007
05:00 PM ET
14 years ago

Is Chris Dodd 2008's John Kerry?

Will an endorsement from a firefighters union help Chris Dodd like it helped John Kerry?

IOWA CITY, Iowa (CNN) - Democratic presidential candidate Chris Dodd called Thursday one of the best days he's had on the trail so far. Of course, for a man who's polling as low as he is, "best" is relative.

The senator from Connecticut stood on stage for what could eventually prove to be a helpful photo op. Holding his hand under the lights was the man often credited with lifting John Kerry's 2004 presidential bid to a new level. That man is Harold Schaitberger.

Schaitberger is the president of the International Association of Fire Fighters, a union representing 281,000 full-time professional fire fighters.

Wednesday he announced the IAFF is throwing all of its support behind long-shot candidate Chris Dodd.

"I have committed myself to this campaign...until we get to the White House," Schaitberger said.

"One of the things I admire about fire fighters," Dodd said, "[is] they don't sit around and just say 'who's winning?' They ask themselves 'who should win?'"

And according to today's polls, Dodd certainly isn't winning. But even though he argued that "poll numbers in August mean nothing," you can't ignore the fact that he's consistently coming in at around 1 percent.

Now the question is, could this endorsement change anything?

Let's rewind four years. Sen. John Kerry, then seen as a long-shot for the Democratic presidential nominee, was given this very same endorsement.

"I talked with Sen. Kerry this morning," Dodd told a group of reporters.

"People had written John off–they said his numbers were too low. Harold Schaitberger and fire fighters said 'We don't care about numbers. We think John Kerry will be the best candidate for this party and make the best president.'"

Even Kerry told CNN in a statement, "There's no doubt in my mind that when they endorsed my campaign early when I was lagging in the polls, during some real bumps in the road they helped keep my campaign going and helped spread our message."

Kerry continued, "I still keep a picture at home of Harold Schaitberger...

standing by my side the night we won the New Hampshire primary."

But is it at all accurate to say that Chris Dodd is 2008's John Kerry? That depends. The political landscape was quite different.

For one, Kerry's poll numbers four years ago were higher than Dodd's are today, both surveys taken prior to the IAFF endorsement. A CNN/USA Today/Gallup poll from August 4-6, 2003 showed Kerry at 12 percent–fourth place among the Democratic field at the time. That's about 11 points more than Dodd's now.

"Kerry was also helped by the sense of 'Where else are we going to go?'"

said Dennis Goldford, a professor of Politics at Drake University in Des Moines. "Edwards seems too young, and Dean imploded...So in a way Kerry was helped by the process of elimination. I don't know if Dodd has that advantage in this particular year."

Regardless, Thursday was a good day for Dodd, even though he contends one other day also stands out in his mind.

"The day I convinced my wife that I ought to [run for president] was a pretty good day," he said with a smile

-CNN Iowa Producer Chris Welch

Filed under: Chris Dodd • Iowa • John Kerry
soundoff (13 Responses)
  1. Ronald, Modesto CA

    These far left-wing firefighter unions DO NOT represent the majority of respectable firefighting officers. And as a irrelevant candidate, Dodd is just looking for something to get an ounce of attention, which CNN appears to be happy give.

    August 30, 2007 08:47 pm at 8:47 pm |
  2. Jared Tualatin Oregon

    Dodd stands no chance. It's as simple as that.

    August 30, 2007 09:02 pm at 9:02 pm |
  3. Jeff Spangler, Arlington, VA

    I hope Dodd is not another Kerry, who was too much of a pantywaist to attack Bush for the dim bulb and puppet he has proven himself to be. It's time for everyone to take off the gloves and tell the sordid truth about the Bush/Cheney/Rove/Gonzales/Neocon bull we've been fed for eight years.

    August 30, 2007 11:28 pm at 11:28 pm |
  4. Andrew, Jakarta, Indonesia

    John Kerry was sacrificed because the DNC knew they couldn't win the 2004 election. How else can you explain the candidacy of a man who was so inept that while claiming to be a decorated vet he was abusive to the serving military?

    August 31, 2007 01:21 am at 1:21 am |
  5. Antonia Perez, Trenton, NJ

    I certainly hope so. Democrats must provide a viable option to Clinton.

    August 31, 2007 07:27 am at 7:27 am |
  6. Christian, Tampa FL

    Dodd isn't going to win. This is not the 2004 election, and a great number of variables are different, including the fact that far more people are paying attention to the primaries this time around and attaching to specific candidates as if it were the general election.

    It will be Hillary or Obama, because they represent something completely different purely from the standpoint of celebrity. I highly doubt that another white male is going to be the nominee for the Democrats.

    August 31, 2007 10:01 am at 10:01 am |
  7. Nicole Day, Boise ID

    As the article says .. in 2003 Kerry was trailing other unproven candidates. Now Dodd trails some major heavyweights. Sorry but I dont see Dodd climbing out of this whole. The dems are very happy with the current field.

    August 31, 2007 10:09 am at 10:09 am |
  8. James, Phoenix AZ

    There is a huge difference between the Kerry Campaign of 2004 and the Dodd Campaign of 2008 – Kerry won the nomination. Dodd has NO chance. He is counting on a "Hail Mary" throw where the top 3 candidates somehow fallout of the race and he is left standing to catch the nomination.

    Ain't going to happen.

    August 31, 2007 01:23 pm at 1:23 pm |
  9. David, Salinas, CA

    I agree that Chris Dodd has no real chance at the nomination because the field is so strong.

    And while I’m no fan of Senator Kerry for personality reasons, it’s unfair to say he was “claiming to be a decorated vet.” He really is one.

    August 31, 2007 08:35 pm at 8:35 pm |
  10. David, Salinas, CA

    Journalists who won’t accept criticism on their own web site need to find a new line of work.

    Where are the “add a comment” links, CNN?

    September 1, 2007 03:03 pm at 3:03 pm |
  11. Jim, New Hampshire

    Some may not want to hear but it's just better to accept it:

    It's going to be Hillary and Barack my friends.

    Dodd has no chance!

    September 2, 2007 09:54 am at 9:54 am |
  12. Brad, Fargo, North Dakota

    There is always (a) candidate(s) who surges. I expect Sen Dodd to surge. He is by far the best candidate. I have wanted him to run for President quite some time. Read his speech from last Nov delivered at Howard Univ. His vision is enormous. BRH, North Dakota State Coordinator.

    September 9, 2007 11:46 pm at 11:46 pm |