Democratic Candidates Continue to Make the Case
Ten Presidential Hopefuls Address Members of the DNC at the Party's Fall Meeting

All ten Democratic candidates for president spoke to members of the Democratic National Committee at the party's annual fall meeting, held in Washington, DC from October 2-4, 2003.
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[Posted October 21, 2003]  Before the Iraq war, in February 2003, seven of the then nine Democratic presidential candidates spoke to members of the DNC during the party's winter meeting in Washington, DC.  At that meeting that former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean was just starting to generate some buzz with his direct attack on party leaders and his anti-war stance.  Sen. John Kerry, seen by many as a leading candidate, was recovering from prostate surgery and did not appear at that meeting, nor did Sen. Bob Graham, a new entrant into the field. 

Seven months later, from October 2-4, 2003, members of DNC again gathered in Washington.  The war, or at least major combat operations, had ended, but soldiers continued to die in Iraq and the price tag, in the form of an $87 billion supplemental, was being widely discussed.

During those seven intervening months, the nine Democratic candidates had made the rounds at dozens of candidate forums, they stumped in Iowa, New Hamsphire and other key states, and they gained a tenth contender, Gen. Wesley Clark. 

Probably the biggest story of the past seven months was Howard Dean emergence as a, or the, leading candidate.  The Dean campaign proved adept at generating buzz through such events as a Sleepless Summer tour, a world record conference call, and most recently a third quarter fundraising effort that far outpaced those of the other candidates.  Meanwhile, Sen. Kerry had run a largely nondescript campaign, Rep. Dick Gephardt had been accumulating labor endorsements, Sen. Edwards had trouble getting traction despite a solid campaign, Sen. Joe Lieberman did not find much enthusiasm for his candidacy, Sen. Graham's campaign appeared to be on the rocks, Rep. Dennis Kucinich remained marginalized, and Amb. Moseley Braun and Rev. Al Sharpton rounded out the field. 

The Speeches
In this context, the ten Democratic candidates delivered what were supposed to be ten minute speeches.  Given the partisan audience, their remarks contained plenty of critiques of President Bush; a few of the candidates also directed jibes at other Democratic hopefuls.  Each campaign was allowed to distribute 75 signs throughout the hall.  In addition, young supporters in the back of the room and up in the balconies cheered on their respective candidates.

Click on photos  for more.
Other photos from the meeting.
October 3, 2003 Speeches
Dean broke little new ground.
Lieberman introduced his "lead with integrity"  theme.
Clark opened by directly addressing those who have questioned his Democratic credentials, and he drew one of the biggest laughs when he stated that Bush would need brothers in 49 other states in addition to Florida.
Kucinich continued his strong anti-war message and argued that he can in fact win.
Moseley Braun read her speech.
Kerry, apparently making up for his absence at the previous meeting, spoke for the longest time; he had lines for each of the major Democratic constituencies and aimed a few barbs at Dean.  Some of the Kerry supporters in the audience resorted to plastic whistles to amplify the reaction, something not seen with the other campaigns.