With War Looming
Six Presidential Hopefuls Speak at the California Democratic Party Convention
Sacramento, California -- March 14-16, 2003
Enjoying their sweep of statewide offices in elections this past November but troubled by the looming prospect of war with Iraq, Democrats from across the state gathered in Sacramento for the party's convention on March 14-16, 2003. 

Amid speeches by the state's top Democrats, six of the nine announced Democratic candidates for president--Sen. John Kerry, Sen. John Edwards, Gov. Howard Dean, Rev. Al Sharpton, Rep. Dennis Kucinich, and Amb. Carol Moseley Braun--addressed some of the 2,238 registered delegates.  Five of the campaigns also sought to sign up supporters at tables in the hallway.  Although Sen. Lieberman did not attend, he made an appearance by video and his campaign had one of the tables.  By contrast, Rep. Gephardt had no noticable presence; a spokesman pointed out that he keynoted the convention last year.
Moseley Braun
Other Convention Photos
California Democrats
Anti-War Demonstration
A Smaller Protest

The delegates seemed to be largely opposed to war with Iraq.  Many sported yellow "No War" stickers.  Mayme Hubert, a delegate from San Rafael, passed out flyers promoting an anti-war demonstration and march on Saturday.  "I am desperately opposed to this war," she stated.  Hubert praised Gov. Dean and Rep. Kucinich for being "steady on as doves." 

During his speech on Friday night, Sen. Kerry endured a couple of shouts of "No war, John, no war."  Sen. Kerry defended his position, stating, "As I said in my speech on the floor of the United States Senate and as I have said everywhere across this country, the United States of America should never go to war because it wants to, we should go to war because we have to."  Likewise Sen. Edwards received some boos but maintained his view that "Saddam Hussein is a serious threat."

The big winner at the convention was Howard Dean.  Dean began his speech in a similar manner to his DNC speech three weeks earlier, asking the audience, "What I want to know...is what in the world so many Democrats are doing supporting the President's unilateral intervention in Iraq?"  After the former Vermont governor brought his speech to an impassioned close, the Dean table was swarmed by people wanting to sign up.  "We were beseiged," said Joe Ross, who is helping to organize the state for Dean on a volunteer basis.  "These are the people who are active in campaigns," he enthused.  Ross said the response to the speech marked "the beginnings of an effective organization," and he noted that California is a large source of donors so Dean can expect to benefit from increased fundraising as well.  Dean's success was perhaps best summed up by a delegate waiting at Sacramento airport for her flight home.  "The one that did really well was this one named Dean; I had never heard of him," she stated. 

California, which holds its primary on March 2, 2004, will send 440 delegates, or slightly more than 10 percent of the total delegate votes, to the 2004 Democratic National Convention in Boston.
Sen. John Kerry - March 14, 2003 n/a
Sen. John Edwards - March 15, 2003
Gov. Howard Dean - March 15, 2003
Rev. Al Sharpton - March 15, 2003 n/a
Rep. Dennis Kucinich - March 16, 2003
Amb. Carol Moseley Braun - March 16, 2003
Sen. Joe Lieberman - video March 16, 2003 n/a

Copyright © 2003 Eric M. Appleman/Democracy in Action.