THE FIGHT'S ON!: THREE DEMOCRATS VIE IN TENNESSEE

THE FIGHT'S ON!: THREE DEMOCRATS VIE IN TENNESSEE

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Clark in kitchen; Edwards on stump

A day after his chief rivals in Tuesday’s Tennessee presidential primary campaigned in Memphis, Massachusetts Senator John Kerry picked up some momentum in the same place. State Senator Steve Cohen came on board Thursday , in a public teleconference with an old foe, 9th District congressman Harold Ford Jr. The duet between the two, who dueled in the 1996 9th District Democratic primary and have never been close, was so cozy -- with Cohen calling Ford a “great congressman” and Ford congratulating Cohen on his career achievements, including his successful sponsorship of the state lottery -- that at times they sounded almost like running mates. Neither would venture a prediction on Kerry’s showing, but each noted that the senator is doing well in statewide poll soundings so far. Ford has been a national co-chair of the Kerry campaign, while Cohen was formally neutral until Thursday. The teleconference emanated from the state senator’s Midtown Memphis home. Retired General Wesley Clark and North Carolina Senator John Edwards, winners in this week’s primaries in Oklahoma and South Carolina, respectively, made morning appearances in Memphis on Wednesday, and both served notice that they’ll be spending beaucoup time in Tennessee between now and Tuesday. Clark launched a bus tour from Memphis which scheduled several Tennessee stops on Wednesday and Thursday, and Edwards also went on to other appearances in the state. Each will retrace his steps at least once, with another Memphis stop scheduled for both. Both candidates claimed momentum for their efforts on Wednesday, with Clark emphasizing his call for “a higher standard of leadership” and Edwards promising an end to a condition in which there are “two Americas,” one for the wealthy and one for everybody else. As if conscious of his need to draw distinctions between himself and Edwards, who is widely considered Kerry’s current chief contender, Clark threw down the gauntlet during an energized appearance at a pancake breakfast at the Arcade Restaurant in downtown Memphis. Distinguishing between himself and unnamed “other candidates,” Clark noted that they seemed now to oppose a series of Bush-administration initiatives, ranging from tax cuts to the No Child Left Behind education act to the controversial Patriot Act to authorization for the war in Iraq, but, in each case, said Clark, “they voted for it!” By the time Clark hit Jackson later in the day the names “John Kerry” and “John Edwards” were expressly included in that stretch of the general's reconfigured stump speech. In an email to reporters later, and Edwards campaign spokesperson said, “Wesley Clark is doing what desperate politicians do when they are losing ground - resorting to misleading negative political attacks.... These negative attacks from Wesley Clark represent the very type of political, petty sniping voters are so tired of.” The email goes on to contend that Senator Edwards has differences with President Bush on No Child Left Behind, as well as “important issues like trade, jobs, and tax cuts for the wealthy,” and counters Clark’s attack with It is ironic that somebody who made hundreds of thousands of dollars lobbying the Bush administration and changed his positions on numerous issues would now accuse others of acting like Washington politicians.” At his Wednesday morning appearance in Memphis, Edwards appeared in the lobby of The Opheum theatre with several local Democrats, including prominent African-American city councilman Myron Lowery, who introduced him. Lowery had previously munched pancakes at Clark’s Arcade affair. The North Carolina senator made an appeal in Memphis, as he had elsewhere on the campaign trail, to recommit the Democratic Party to a defense of civil rights. Shelby County Democrats, gathering at Coors Brewery for a straw poll Thursday night, gave Kerry a slight lead over Edwards, Clark, and the rest of the field. The vote was: Kerry 42; Edwards 37; Clark 24; Howard Dean 11; Dennis Kucinich 2

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