Geronimo : What if Osama Bin Laden was killed prior to 9/11?

Part XXVIII

Where is the Love? - Culture 2003

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Well, MTV's 20th anniversary Music Awards were held last night. And just like every year, the big winner was -- well, really, who cares. As CNN's Jeanne Moos reports, this year the big winner was every guy or girl who's ever thought to themselves, "What if..?"
JEANNE MOOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The kiss that started on Madonna's and Britney Spear's lips has ended up on everyone's minds, here are just some of the many reactions.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It was nasty.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It was sexy.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think it was sick.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think they look very good together.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Off the hook. I loved it.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Madonna … back to her bisexual ways.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Don't you find it ironic women are making out on the stage almost the same day that they're pulling the Ten Commandments out of the court, down south?
Back in the Studio
MOOS: Unless it involves three female superstars, that is a kiss that won't soon be gone with the wind.
COOPER: Well sometimes a kiss is just a kiss
In 2003, millions of people watching the MTV Video Music Awards got more of a show, than they were expecting. During a performance of her new song, Madonna planted a kiss on one of the celebrities she was singing on stage with, Pop star Britney Spears. The moment was shocking to many viewers, and it made headlines around the world. The highly-publicized tabloid moment was aided by the two being at the height of their fame, recognised as the highest and second highest-paid female musicians of the year and both had briefly crossed into cinematic roles in James Bond and its spoof Austin Powers respectively. Both artists also released major albums Outrageous and Hollywood and neatly continued their, cultural domination. [1]

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Madonna kisses Britney Spears at the MTV Awards

Top 10 Selling Albums of the Year US
  1. Get Rich or Die Tryin' – 50 Cent
  2. Justified – Justin Timberlake
  3. Stripped – Christina Aguilera
  4. Number Ones – Michael Jackson
  5. Meteora – Linkin Park
  6. Dangerously in Love – Beyoncé
  7. Fallen – Evanescence
  8. Outrageous – Britney Spears
  9. Hollywood – Madonna
  10. Speakerboxxx/The Love Below - Outkast[2]
Transitioning to film. Peter Jacksons Lord of the Rings trilogy came to its triumphant conclusion and subsequently won critical and audience acclaim. A truly tremendous undertaking in converting Tolkien’s mythic tome to film was an astonishing achievement for the production studio, visual effects teams and the country of New Zealand that had played backdrop to the fantasy realm of middle earth for three years now. Its grand reception swept the box office and the awards ceremonies. Becoming the highest-grossing film of the year (replicating its predecessor in 2002) and becoming the second highest-grossing film ever made. More sequels thoroughly swept the box office in 2003 with a series of blockbusters including X-Men 2, Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines, Charlies Angels 2 Full throttle, two separate Matrix sequels (The Matrix Reloaded and The Matrix Revolutions and Gump & Co the sequel to the 1994 award-winning Forrest Gump starring Tom Hanks again as the titular Gump.

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(Left to Right) 2003 Releases, Lord of the Rings Return of the King, X Men 2, and Gump & Co

Gump & Co follows Forrest and his son ‘Little Forrest’ Gump Jr (played by Haley Joel Osmond) and details the Gump’s hectic lives in America through the 1980s and 1990s, such antics include losing control over the Bubba Gump Shrimp Company, meeting the Reagans, Clintons and the Bush’s, inventing New Coke, exposing the Iran Contra affair, inspiring Ross Perot to run for President and reporting on the Gulf War. While the film did well at the box office, and critics praised the acting duo of Hanks and Osmond for the adorable father-son relationship on screen, critics noted that the film had less heart than the original and was more focused on making its cultural references (like meeting John Hinkley Junior or cleaning the Exxon Valdez Oil spill) than it did telling its own story and did not perform as well as its original with the critics, the public or award shows.[3]

It is, perhaps, unfair that this new production should be so smothered under the reputation of its predecessor nearly 10 years ago. By so closely adhering to the exact structure of his original, and the loose plot of its text. But the liberal use of reference and the lines already made famous Zemeckis makes it hard not to make those comparisons, making it abundantly clear throughout that what is on offer here is nothing as original as the 1994 film, but simply an awkwardly long epilogue aided by Hanks and Osmond’s endearing performance. It simply doesn't work, lacking the strength of narrative, the heart, and is dragged down by the sheer weight of what came before.
– Barry McIlheney, Empire

It was also another good year for historical (and naval-based), films such as the epic Napoleonic Master and Commander starring Russell Crow, The Disney adventure Pirates of the Caribbean with Johnny Depp and the Civil War epic Cold Mountain. Bill Murray and Dianne Keating won best actor and best actress for their roles in Lost in Translation and Somethings Gotta Give.

Quentin Tarantino’s 4th Film, The Bride was due to be released in 2003, and in typical Tarantino, fashion was going to be a stylized and bloody mix of spaghetti western, Japanese drama and Chinese martial arts films starring actress Uma Thurman as the Bride. But disaster permanently halted the production when the lead actress was greatly injured in a car accident when the car she was driving turned over while filming a scene, requiring her to undergo emergency surgery and putting Director Tarantino, and Miramax Films under a criminal and civil investigation for lack of safety on the set. Though the film was nearly complete the litigation delayed the release of the film [4]

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Unreleased The Bride promotional material

Some predicted that 2003 would see the slow death of the reality show. This prophecy failed to surface thanks to the antics of the Osbournes, Paris Hilton and Joe Millionaire, the show that followed a group of single women, competing for the affection of a bachelor who was falsely billed as being a millionaire. 2003 also saw the end of Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Dawson's Creek, and the beginning of an acclaimed comedy Arrested Development a sudsy beach soap called The O.C. and much more. When it came to awards the usuals were rewarded like The Sopranos, The Shield, and The West Wing ( this season followed the Bartlet administration during his tumultuous re-election campaign where he meets numerous vice-presidential candidates, eventually backing ambitious young southerner Richard “Dick” Owens (Christian Slater) and narrowly winsre-election after a recount in Michigan, the President confronts other issues like a coup in El Salvador or a militia standoff in Colorado)[5]. The usual dramas were heaped with praise and nominations including James Gandolfini and Edie Falco, the Sopranos leads who were nominated and won the Best Actor and Best Actress category at the Emmys.

The 2003 World Sportsman and Sportswoman of the Year Awards went to Americans Lance Armstrong who won his fifth consecutive Tour de France and tennis player Serena Williams who won her fourth straight Grand Slam singles title at the Australian Open, completing her self-dubbed "Serena Slam," while in the men’s game Roger Federer won the grand slam title in Wimbledon. The Rugby World Cup co-hosted in Australia and New Zealand culminated in a thrilling final between New Zealand and England. With the scores tied up 17-17, a penalty shootout resulted in a victory for the New Zealand All Blacks[6]. And for controversy, the NBA superstar Kobe Bryant was arrested in connection with an investigation for a sexual assault accusation filed by a 19-year-old hotel employee; Bryant admitted to a sexual encounter with his accuser but insisted the sex was consensual. The case quickly became a media circus with parallels to the O.J. Simpson case and adopted a racial parallel, it continued for a year leading many brands to disassociate with Kobe including McDonald’s and Coca-Cola, if convicted on the single felony count, Mr Bryant faces four years to life in prison or probation and supervision in a sex-offender treatment program that could last 20 years to life.

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(Left) Leon MacDonald with the world cup winning kick, (Right) Kobe Bryant attends court

The White House waded into the sensitive issue of abortion, specifically the contentious ‘partial-birth abortion’ a form of late termination of a pregnancy. The term ‘partial birth’ was coined by anti-abortion/pro-life groups to describe a procedure of removing the fetus from the womb via the birth canal. The issue had been vocalised by Republicans who had passed laws banning the procedure in the 1990s that were subsequently vetoed by Democratic President Bill Clinton, who called the procedure a tragic necessity “a potentially life-saving, certainly health-saving, but still tragic decision to have the kind of abortion procedure that would be banned by HR 1833.”. But the issue remained a controversial one and both then candidates Bush and Gore supported some kind of ban but disagreed over the specific exceptions “I pledge to fight for a ban on partial-birth abortions.” Bush claimed on the trail. And once he became President the pro-life movement sought to claim on its promises. Pro-choice groups however claimed that the conservative attack was merely one of the many attacks on abortion in general.

Once in the White House, Bush supported the ban legislation and despite the loss of the house and senate majority, conservative Democrats were willing to back the bill. The battle was narrow but Republicans secured enough votes to defeat a filibuster and passed the measure 60-40 and the President signed the bill surrounded by cheering foes of abortion. Totally outlawing the procedure, Bush said that the country “'owes its children a different and better welcome”. But the legislation quickly entered grey legal territory as courts challenged its constitutionality based on it breaking the right to abortion previously found in the supreme court decision Roe V Wade and some politicians gave a brutal assessment of the act, Howard Dean former governor of Vermont said he was ''outraged that President Bush has decided that he is qualified to practice medicine.''. And some pundits predicted political troubles for the President. “The closer the pro-lifers get to attacking the core of Roe v. Wade, the bigger the political fallout will be.” Said one pollster.

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President George Bush signs the partial-birth abortion ban bill

The second major cultural battle that flared was the Gay right to marriage. The issue greatly heated up when Conservatives began to rally behind a movement to federally ban Gay Marriage or even a constitutional amendment to define marriage, and President Bush expressed support for "codifying marriage in the United States as being between one man and one woman." But the gay rights movement scored its greatest victory when in the same year, the Court of Massachusetts ruled in Goodridge v. Department of Public Health that same-sex couples did have the right to be married, allowing same-sex marriage in the United States for the first time (as opposed the civil union laws in D.C., California and Vermont), Massachusetts Governor Shannon O’Brien (D) said she would not oppose the court’s decision “The court has made its decision and I see no reason to oppose it, I won't waste time to prosecute love” Forgoing any legal challenge and becoming the first state in the nation to effectivly legalize gay marriage.

View attachment 757805
Gay rights advocates celebrate in Boston

In other events the Human Genome Project was completed, when (two years ahead of schedule) the international research project had successfully mapped and sequenced all the genes of the human genome. Yugoslavia officially dissolved into a loose union of Serbia and Montenegro and the notorious Warlord and President of Liberia, Charles Taylor refuses to resign only to be subsequently dislodged from power by surrounding rebel leaders, west African forces and a United States marines’ intervention in operation Shining Express a standoff that ended in the Liberian army’s defection and Charles Taylors arrest[7].

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(Left to Right) Magazine cover on the Human Genome project, Charles Taylor under arrest, Yugoslavia dissolves.

A Youtube Video covering the end of Taylor's Presidency


[1] The clearest reaction to 9/11 and the war on terror was a lot of music and artists shifting abruptly in tone to be more sombre or serious, Madonna did an anti-war shift and Spears fully broke away from teen pop. This is more gradual.
[2] upbeat music is more popular
[3] Gump & Co the book was written by the author half out of greed and half out of spite, and would likely diverge a lot in adaptation onto the screen, but I kept the bare bones.
[4] Is it a coincidence that Tarantino’s three movies after 2001 were entirely revenge-focused? The accident is based on a real incident.
[5] The West Wing went on to focus more on foreign policy and terrorism ITTL focuses on ’90s issues and Bartlett's re-election is harder
[6] The Rugby World Cup IOTL was held solely in Australia due to some political disputes that get butterflied.
[7] IOTL Taylor resigned and fled into exile for several years, but he tries to call the international communities bluff.
Cool movie posters for X-Men 2, Gump and Co. and The Bride. All of them look like they could be real movie posters. Also, Bill Murray winning Best Actor for Lost in Translation means that Scarlett Johansson could have gotten an Oscar nomination early for her performance as Charlotte since she's also the other main character.
 
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Hey so this is a random thing and idk if you take requests, but could please Hugo Chavez be removed from power (either democratically or by the military), as Venezuelan it would make this excellent timeline even better
 
Hey so this is a random thing and idk if you take requests, but could please Hugo Chavez be removed from power (either democratically or by the military), as Venezuelan it would make this excellent timeline even better
I can't speak for @Iwanh, but for me the point of a TL is trying one's best to sketch out what would happen following a POD, rather than wish fulfillment. I find that a TL starts to suffer when we begin departing from realism in order to check off boxes on our wish-list. Just my two cents.
 
I can't speak for @Iwanh, but for me the point of a TL is trying one's best to sketch out what would happen following a POD, rather than wish fulfillment. I find that a TL starts to suffer when we begin departing from realism in order to check off boxes on our wish-list. Just my two cents.
I wholeheartedly agree.
 
Hey so this is a random thing and idk if you take requests, but could please Hugo Chavez be removed from power (either democratically or by the military), as Venezuelan it would make this excellent timeline even better
I looked into the power struggle in Venezuala for possible outcomes, but I decided that even if the US was directly involved in the attempted coup in OTL, ITTL they're involvement would not be even more hawkish. I am happy to take suggestions for how TTL would impact Venezuela going forward though.
 

BrockSampson

Gone Fishin'
Hey so this is a random thing and idk if you take requests, but could please Hugo Chavez be removed from power (either democratically or by the military), as Venezuelan it would make this excellent timeline even better
I don’t think Chavez could be removed even with the US less focused on Middle East wars. That said, there would be a little less fuel for the fire of anti-Americanism that Chavez could spew out and the US may be able to be more aware of issues that Chavez is causing. Probably won't move the dial that much though.
 
Without an invasion might oil prices be different?

Since Venezuela under Chavez became more reliant on fuel, having a period where it is more middling prices means there is less margin for a later price crash. Maybe can effect down the line.
 
Without an invasion might oil prices be different?

Since Venezuela under Chavez became more reliant on fuel, having a period where it is more middling prices means there is less margin for a later price crash. Maybe can effect down the line.
It may temper/delimit some of Chavez’s ambitions, since his programs don’t have the same amount of money available to fund. He may just be a much more run of the mill Pink Tide figure as a result
 
Part 31 : Mini-Tuesday
Part XXXI
Mini-Tuesday


The President came before the public for his third State of the Union address. Unlike his previous this was a clearly designed pitch foreshadowing his own re-election campaign, it blended reminders of his achievements as President, piloting the nation's economy into recovery, as well as guiding the country to new strengths abroad, seeking to undercut opposition attacks against his leadership. The next few weeks would be key to the nation’s political future until the address, neither the Democratic nor the Republican primaries had started, but also the United Nations was going to issue its final report detailing the end of weapons inspections in Iraq, and summarize the missions’ conclusions. Blix had already previewed what the report’s conclusion was going to be, that no WMD had been found. The preview alone was a blow to the administration, some of whom were still holding out that they could yet prove the U.N., and the Democrats in Congress wrong, and firmly restore the administration's credibility on the issue and prove the commander in chief right. But steadily the administration had been preparing to retreat from the issue, and talk of the WMD had been pulled from White House addresses. So too was Bush’s Press Secretary Ari Fleischer who resigned over Christmas, a prominent advocate of the administration's Iraq policy he had been accused of being less than truthful with reporters over the issue.

When it came to Iraq, in the state of the union, Bush already pivoted his administration's goals in Iraq describing his approach as so far successful. “Because of America’s leadership the world and the United Nations have begun to confront these issues, but we all know there is more to be done, Saddam Hussein cannot be trusted to permanently demilitarize by himself, and it remains this administrations policy to see a truly free Iraq”.

Bush spent most of his time on domestic policy, which polls generally showed he was weaker on than any of the prominent Democratic candidates. He played the Republican balancing act pledging compassion on economic issues to reach moderate and swing voters and stuck to conservatism on social issues to rally the Republican base. He pledged to protect the American family, schools and religious institutions as the “pillars of civilization, that must remain strong in America,” He promised to define marriage as between a man and a woman and swore to fund abstinence education and drug testing in schools, both tools he claimed that would “save children’s lives”. These were commitments designed by political advisor Karl Rove to target social conservative groups. There wasn’t much in terms of any new policy in the speech, instead largely promoting his agenda and chastising the Democrats for sabotaging him elsewhere and committing to veto their efforts to socialize Medicare, he ended with words that reminisced his fathers “And so, we move on together, a rising nation. Thank you. God bless you, and God bless the United States”.

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President Bush delivering the 2004 State of the Union
98%. The final Report by Hans Blix detailed that 98% of Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction had been accounted for and had been destroyed or were otherwise unusable. The report was written in a typically diplomatic language and occasionally praised the U.S. administration for sending the American forces that forced Iraq into compliance with international inspections. The report said that inspectors had not been blocked, though it detailed plenty of attempted Iraqi intimidation. Sufficient members of the Iraqi government had submitted themselves for interviews and illegal missiles had been demolished. But after the extensive search, investigators had found no evidence of existing weapons of mass destruction, and that almost all of Iraq’s former chemical weaponry had been accounted for. As for the missing 2%, the inspectors were certain it would be by now, chemically inert and of no serious danger. The committee found no evidence of mobile test facilities, or missile stockpiles, underground laboratories, illicit drone programmes, biological cultures or uranium refining facilities. But Blix still left some doubt in the report, he noted that there was no detailed evidence of the destruction of the WMD prior to the inspector's arrival, Iraq had failed to turn over records or fully comply with investigators as to absolutely prove the destruction of such weapons. Against everyone’s hopes, there were no clear answers to be had, to those against intervention, the UN had carried out its duty and concluded that Iraq was not proven to be in breach of its weapons obligations, but it had declined to absolutely prove itself innocent, no one felt comfortable labelling Saddam’s Iraq as truthful but Blix’s cold detailed account of the disarmament process had come to its end. The spin doctors were quick to move, with the pro-intervention articles highlighting Iraq’s failure to fully comply and the failure to prove the destruction of WMD.

The conclusion of the inspections meant that the issue was to go back to the United Nations Security Council to decide on intervention, but it was already a moot point, the election of new council members meant that two swing votes, Mexico and Cameroon had been replaced by solid no’s, Brazil and Algeria also permanent members France, Russia and China were each satisfied with Blix’s report, President Jospin said that he was “satisfied and relieved by the report” and thankful that “no military action is needed to be taken” all but guaranteeing a veto. President Putin stated he was glad a “political solution had been found” and Chinese foreign minister Li Zhaoxing said, “we are glad that war has been averted”. By February 2004, the idea of armed intervention by the United States was fading from the public mindset, as the public was more focused on domestic politics and even hawks seemed to have dropped the idea of a unilateral American invasion.

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UN weapons inspector Hans Blix

But the release of the U.N. Iraq weapons report reopened the political debate in the halls of the United States Congress and was greatly enflamed when the Chairman of the Senate intelligence committee Bob Graham (a frequent critic of the Bush administration's Iraq policy) announced that the committee would be opening its own review of Iraqi WMD, as well as the quality of the U.S. intelligence process. The announcement was of special concern to the White House, CIA, Defence and State department who had all assured each other that their assessments of Iraqi WMD were correct, only to be undercut by the steady drip of leaks, rumours and off-the-record conversations doubting the administration's line, Graham himself said that the committee would “investigate serious allegations that the administration engaged in manipulation or misleading of the American people”. Republican officials were quick to chastise the investigation as a partisan attack “Senator Graham sounds more like a conspiracy theorist than a sitting Senator” said a party spokeswoman. But there were serious accusations that were spread across the administration, the CIA was accused of whitewashing a report handed to congress ahead of crucial votes on Iraq, many cabinet officials were accused of spreading misleading info on Iraq’s weapons capabilities, and the Defence department faced severe allegations of repeating totally false ‘intelligence’ brought to them by Iraqi exile groups in exchange for funding. In the face of the investigation the administration put on a brave face pledging to “continue working with congress to fully determine the threat of Iraqi WMD”, but most Republicans did not seem keen to comply with the investigation and held up the remaining questions in the U.N. report as some vindication for their support for Saddam’s removal and reiterated their support for the President. For instance, Senator Jeff Sessions of Alabama said, “It’s clear now, from the U.N. that the President is right, Iraq constitutes a clear threat” and even more moderate Republicans were keen to move on, Senator Trent Lott said that “We need to stop grousing about these Washington issues, that don’t matter outside the beltway”.

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Senate Intelligence Committee chairman Bob Graham (D)

But it was clear where the nation’s political focus was, the ongoing race for the Democratic nomination. On February 3rd, the 3 Democratic frontrunners were going up against each other in the first multi-state primary race, it was the sink or swim moment for the candidates. Former Vice-President Al Gore, twice snubbed now, placing third in Iowa and second in New Hampshire to his Senatorial adversaries John Edwards and John Kerry. The states up to the plate were Delaware, South Carolina, Missouri, Oklahoma, North Dakota, New Mexico, and Arizona. Pollsters and analysts, who had for weeks predicted a sweep for Gore were increasingly pushing states into the toss-up category. Senator Edwards crept into first place in South Carolina (his birth state and neighbour to the state where he served North Carolina) and after his Iowa win, he polled evenly with Gore in neighbouring Missouri. Kerry, off the back of his from-behind victory in New Hampshire, also received a bump in national polling within spitting distance from Gore in Delaware, North Dakota, and Arizona. The primary was clearly going to be eventful, and each candidate hit the trail furiously.

The Edwards campaign rallied in South Carolina, where a month ago the campaign struggled to fill its own campaign offices, it now filled out churches and venues with supporters. “The crowds are building and building, it's clear people are thinking a lot differently about this race after Iowa”. Edwards said, amazed by his growing crowd sizes, where he delivered his stump speech focused on pledging more money for health care and education, and a tax credit for working and middle-class families, denouncing the Bush administration for ignoring the working poor and its cosiness with Washington lobbyists. He vowed to defeat the President by appealing across the country "I can beat him in the North, in the West, in the Midwest and even in the South!". His campaign was clearly excited heading into the mini-Tuesday election “We were expected to finish fourth in Iowa and drop out after New Hampshire, but the momentum is with us … we’ve got lighting in a bottle”.

The Kerry campaign, recently on the verge of dropping out, was juiced by his victory in New Hampshire, with analysts owing his victory to the many undecided voters, and those who flipped from Gore last minute, he appealed to much of Gore’s voters without holding any of Gore’s unfortunate baggage. Campaigning in Fargo North Dakota, a state Kerry had surged in, he ran against the unfair economic politics of the Bush administration as well as attacking trade agreements that don’t consider the American worker “The Democrats of North Dakota want a new President they just don’t know who it is yet” said one undecided voter, Kerry swung through the country hitting Missouri and Oklahoma both hotly contested states. In Tulsa, Kerry began to hammer on his military experience (a rarity for him) and his experience in the field compared to any other candidate including President Bush “They have never been to war, and the President of the United States never even completed a tour of duty stateside. We need the real deal and that's, in my opinion, John Kerry” said Senator Max Cleland, endorsing Kerry.

Al Gore campaigned in the neighbouring Missouri, where he blasted the networks with last-minute advertising, desperate to fight off his advancing adversaries in the delegate-rich state, he leaned into his characteristics as a family man first, always beside his wife Tipper "My husband has made healthcare the centrepiece of his campaign, as well as education," she said. "We think that if you can give every family, every child, a healthy start with health care and the very best educational system possible, then we are doing our best to strengthen families and communities and therefore keep our nation strong”. The Gore campaign redoubled its efforts to pump up his base, touting his experience, and legislative bona-fides, but it was becoming clear that Gore was no longer the inevitable candidate he once was. But he still had the gilded front runner status, polling ahead of his opponents in most states. The Gore campaign took its own swipes at the Edwards and Kerry campaign by co-opting their message, Gore began to run ads focusing on his own Vietnam background and promoted his anti-poverty agenda “While this President has cut taxes for the top 1% of Americans the poverty level has risen, we need an innovative president to create high-quality jobs”

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Main Democratic Candidates running for President Gore, Kerry and Edwards

The campaign became frantic as all the candidates rushed around the country, scrambling to bump up their polls, every percentage mattered, in some states, it was the difference between winning and losing, but staying competitive still meant delegates 'Win or lose, as long as we get as many delegates as we can.' A Gore staffer said in New Mexico. Gone were the hopes of a Gore super sweep, akin to the one he had achieved in 2000, they were now fighting for every delegate, campaigning in Arizona, the former Vice-President slammed the Bush administration for failing to confront drug manufacturers, and the invigorated Gore said: “The President says it's not the government's role to dictate drug prices, but when you're on the other end of unfair price gouging or are getting ripped off by drug makers I think the government should step in”. Gore was on fighting form confident that once he notched victories under his belt, his campaign would regain momentum, compounded by his establishment support and durable campaign coffers.

“How about those Panthers?'” John Edwards asked a crowd in Missouri celebrating his home team's Superbowl victory only days earlier “That really says something, all those Carolinians winning in Texas, I look forward to repeating their successes”. Without a hair out of place and a crisp suit, Senator Edwards campaigned in the mid and southwest, campaigning so strongly that his voice had become hoarse by the time he landed in New Mexico. The polls had been turning progressively in his favour after his victory, perhaps his class-based campaign was taking hold in the country.

Kerry whipped out his old-school Kennedyesque oratory skills ''Americans should not just be working for the economy; the economy should be working for Americans.'' He said at a union hall in Delaware before he spent 45 minutes signing every hat, flag and photograph placed in front of him. Kerry needed every vote, despite his New Hampshire victory he was still behind in every state, the afterglow may be fading and the press was reporting that Gore was regaining momentum, the attention he received after his win wasn’t all good, people called him sincere, authentic but not charismatic or energetic, and the Edwards campaign had taken a shot at him calling him just another Washington insider, Kerry’s team was confident they would garner a strong finish, win a couple of states and position him as the alternative to Gore, best placed to beat the President in November.

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Democratic candidates in their youth: Gore, Kerry and Edwards
The results of the first multi-state contest in the Democratic race shook things considerably for all three major candidates, it was highly competitive, with all three major candidates qualifying for delegates in practically every contest. In the broadest assessment of the voters in both geography and popular terminology yet, the verdict was clear, big wins for Gore and Edwards. The immediate takeaway was that Gore was back in the race. After his campaign spent weeks on the backfoot, with falling poll numbers and failure to win either of the early state contests; the Gore campaign had a great reason to celebrate after spiralling doubts, Gore had prevailed in 4 states, winning the Arizona and Delaware primaries and the New Mexico and South Dakota caucuses. "My heart is full tonight," Gore said Tuesday night in Washington state (the site of an upcoming contest). "This is your victory, too," he told a crowd of supporters.

But what seemed like the moment the Gore campaign would finally shine, the national attention was quickly drawn away from him, when outsider candidate Senator Edwards kept his campaign alive with three primary victories in South Carolina, Missouri and Oklahoma. The first-term Senator's victories meant that, though was still behind Gore in terms of delegates, he was tied in the number of states won. Edward's heavy campaigning in the Southern states had paid off, “his is an amazing night for us, “first in South Carolina, first in Missouri, first in Oklahoma”. The close contest, led to narrow victories for both camps, in New Mexico and Missouri where both Gore and Edwards narrowly beat the other. "Everything exceeded my expectations, thank you so much," Edwards told the crowd. "Tonight, you said that the politics of lifting people up beats the politics of tearing people down,” he said.

For Kerry it was a clearly disappointing night, failing to win any of the states in the contest and coming up distant seconds in Oklahoma and Delaware where he had hoped for wins. Pundits wondered whether Kerry had the steam to keep his campaign going, but Kerry remained typically stoic in his appearance and gave no indication he was preparing to pull out of the race “It is important not take anything for granted, I am humbled by your support, looking back on what we have achieved, it is enormous, and I look forward to carrying this campaign forward.” Though there were concerns that the Kerry campaign did not have the funding necessary to effectively compete.

Analysis of the night showed where each candidate's successes and failures could be attributed, in a poll of Democratic voters most important issues, defeating Bush and the economy were the key issues. Senator Edward's successes came from his appeal to white, working class and more moderate voters, as well as higher-than-expected support from minority groups who were expected to be heavily for Gore as well as the undecided voters that had swung for Kerry in New Hampshire. Gore significantly improved from the previous contests with older and more liberal voters.

The votes recast the campaign, there was still no clear front runner, no runaway victories, no default candidate and all three candidates swiftly jumped back onto the campaign trail preparing for upcoming contests in Michigan and Washington states to be followed by primaries in Tennessee and Virginia next.


Feb 3rd "Mini-Tuesday " Results

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Candidates Gore, Edwards and Kerry speak following the election results

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February 3rd Mini-Tuesday results

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February 3rd Mini-Tuesday results, county map

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Democratic primary results as of February 4th

 
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Part XXXI
Mini-Tuesday


The President came before the public for his third State of the Union address. Unlike his previous this was a clearly designed pitch foreshadowing his own re-election campaign, it blended reminders of his achievements as President, piloting the nation's economy into recovery, as well as guiding the country to new strengths abroad, seeking to undercut opposition attacks against his leadership. The next few weeks would be key to the nation’s political future until the address, neither the Democratic nor the Republican primaries had started, but also the United Nations was going to issue its final report detailing the end of weapons inspections in Iraq, and summarize the missions’ conclusions. Blix had already previewed what the report’s conclusion was going to be, that no WMD had been found. The preview alone was a blow to the administration, some of whom were still holding out that they could yet prove the U.N., and the Democrats in Congress wrong, and firmly restore the administration's credibility on the issue and prove the commander in chief right. But steadily the administration had been preparing to retreat from the issue, and talk of the WMD had been pulled from White House addresses. So too was Bush’s Press Secretary Ari Fleischer who resigned over Christmas, a prominent advocate of the administration's Iraq policy he had been accused of being less than truthful with reporters over the issue.

When it came to Iraq, in the state of the union, Bush already pivoted his administration's goals in Iraq describing his approach as so far successful. “Because of America’s leadership the world and the United Nations have begun to confront these issues, but we all know there is more to be done, Saddam Hussein cannot be trusted to permanently demilitarize by himself, and it remains this administrations policy to see a truly free Iraq”.

Bush spent most of his time on domestic policy, which polls generally showed he was weaker on than any of the prominent Democratic candidates. He played the Republican balancing act pledging compassion on economic issues to reach moderate and swing voters and stuck to conservatism on social issues to rally the Republican base. He pledged to protect the American family, schools and religious institutions as the “pillars of civilization, that must remain strong in America,” He promised to define marriage as between a man and a woman and swore to fund abstinence education and drug testing in schools, both tools he claimed that would “save children’s lives”. These were commitments designed by political advisor Karl Rove to target social conservative groups. There wasn’t much in terms of any new policy in the speech, instead largely promoting his agenda and chastising the Democrats for sabotaging him elsewhere and committing to veto their efforts to socialize Medicare, he ended with words that reminisced his fathers “And so, we move on together, a rising nation. Thank you. God bless you, and God bless the United States”.

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President Bush delivering the 2004 State of the Union
98%. The final Report by Hans Blix detailed that 98% of Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction had been accounted for and had been destroyed or were otherwise unusable. The report was written in a typically diplomatic language and occasionally praised the U.S. administration for sending the American forces that forced Iraq into compliance with international inspections. The report said that inspectors had not been blocked, though it detailed plenty of attempted Iraqi intimidation. Sufficient members of the Iraqi government had submitted themselves for interviews and illegal missiles had been demolished. But after the extensive search, investigators had found no evidence of existing weapons of mass destruction, and that almost all of Iraq’s former chemical weaponry had been accounted for. As for the missing 2%, the inspectors were certain it would be by now, chemically inert and of no serious danger. The committee found no evidence of mobile test facilities, or missile stockpiles, underground laboratories, illicit drone programmes, biological cultures or uranium refining facilities. But Blix still left some doubt in the report, he noted that there was no detailed evidence of the destruction of the WMD prior to the inspector's arrival, Iraq had failed to turn over records or fully comply with investigators as to absolutely prove the destruction of such weapons. Against everyone’s hopes, there were no clear answers to be had, to those against intervention, the UN had carried out its duty and concluded that Iraq was not proven to be in breach of its weapons obligations, but it had declined to absolutely prove itself innocent, no one felt comfortable labelling Saddam’s Iraq as truthful but Blix’s cold detailed account of the disarmament process had come to its end. The spin doctors were quick to move, with the pro-intervention articles highlighting Iraq’s failure to fully comply and the failure to prove the destruction of WMD.

The conclusion of the inspections meant that the issue was to go back to the United Nations Security Council to decide on intervention, but it was already a moot point, the election of new council members meant that two swing votes, Mexico and Cameroon had been replaced by solid no’s, Brazil and Algeria also permanent members France, Russia and China were each satisfied with Blix’s report, President Jospin said that he was “satisfied and relieved by the report” and thankful that “no military action is needed to be taken” all but guaranteeing a veto. President Putin stated he was glad a “political solution had been found” and Chinese foreign minister Li Zhaoxing said, “we are glad that war has been averted”. By February 2004, the idea of armed intervention by the United States was fading from the public mindset, as the public was more focused on domestic politics and even hawks seemed to have dropped the idea of a unilateral American invasion.

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UN weapons inspector Hans Blix

But the release of the U.N. Iraq weapons report reopened the political debate in the halls of the United States Congress and was greatly enflamed when the Chairman of the Senate intelligence committee Bob Graham (a frequent critic of the Bush administration's Iraq policy) announced that the committee would be opening its own review of Iraqi WMD, as well as the quality of the U.S. intelligence process. The announcement was of special concern to the White House, CIA, Defence and State department who had all assured each other that their assessments of Iraqi WMD were correct, only to be undercut by the steady drip of leaks, rumours and off-the-record conversations doubting the administration's line, Graham himself said that the committee would “investigate serious allegations that the administration engaged in manipulation or misleading of the American people”. Republican officials were quick to chastise the investigation as a partisan attack “Senator Graham sounds more like a conspiracy theorist than a sitting Senator” said a party spokeswoman. But there were serious accusations that were spread across the administration, the CIA was accused of whitewashing a report handed to congress ahead of crucial votes on Iraq, many cabinet officials were accused of spreading misleading info on Iraq’s weapons capabilities, and the Defence department faced severe allegations of repeating totally false ‘intelligence’ brought to them by Iraqi exile groups in exchange for funding. In the face of the investigation the administration put on a brave face pledging to “continue working with congress to fully determine the threat of Iraqi WMD”, but most Republicans did not seem keen to comply with the investigation and held up the remaining questions in the U.N. report as some vindication for their support for Saddam’s removal and reiterated their support for the President. For instance, Senator Jeff Sessions of Alabama said, “It’s clear now, from the U.N. that the President is right, Iraq constitutes a clear threat” and even more moderate Republicans were keen to move on, Senator Trent Lott said that “We need to stop grousing about these Washington issues, that don’t matter outside the beltway”.

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Senate Intelligence Committee chairman Bob Graham (D)

But it was clear where the nation’s political focus was, the ongoing race for the Democratic nomination. On February 3rd, the 3 Democratic frontrunners were going up against each other in the first multi-state primary race, it was the sink or swim moment for the candidates. Former Vice-President Al Gore, twice snubbed now, placing third in Iowa and second in New Hampshire to his Senatorial adversaries John Edwards and John Kerry. The states up to the plate were Delaware, South Carolina, Missouri, Oklahoma, North Dakota, New Mexico, and Arizona. Pollsters and analysts, who had for weeks predicted a sweep for Gore were increasingly pushing states into the toss-up category. Senator Edwards crept into first place in South Carolina (his birth state and neighbour to the state where he served North Carolina) and after his Iowa win, he polled evenly with Gore in neighbouring Missouri. Kerry, off the back of his from-behind victory in New Hampshire, also received a bump in national polling within spitting distance from Gore in Delaware, North Dakota, and Arizona. The primary was clearly going to be eventful, and each candidate hit the trail furiously.

The Edwards campaign rallied in South Carolina, where a month ago the campaign struggled to fill its own campaign offices, it now filled out churches and venues with supporters. “The crowds are building and building, it's clear people are thinking a lot differently about this race after Iowa”. Edwards said, amazed by his growing crowd sizes, where he delivered his stump speech focused on pledging more money for health care and education, and a tax credit for working and middle-class families, denouncing the Bush administration for ignoring the working poor and its cosiness with Washington lobbyists. He vowed to defeat the President by appealing across the country "I can beat him in the North, in the West, in the Midwest and even in the South!". His campaign was clearly excited heading into the mini-Tuesday election “We were expected to finish fourth in Iowa and drop out after New Hampshire, but the momentum is with us … we’ve got lighting in a bottle”.

The Kerry campaign, recently on the verge of dropping out, was juiced by his victory in New Hampshire, with analysts owing his victory to the many undecided voters, and those who flipped from Gore last minute, he appealed to much of Gore’s voters without holding any of Gore’s unfortunate baggage. Campaigning in Fargo North Dakota, a state Kerry had surged in, he ran against the unfair economic politics of the Bush administration as well as attacking trade agreements that don’t consider the American worker “The Democrats of North Dakota want a new President they just don’t know who it is yet” said one undecided voter, Kerry swung through the country hitting Missouri and Oklahoma both hotly contested states. In Tulsa, Kerry began to hammer on his military experience (a rarity for him) and his experience in the field compared to any other candidate including President Bush “They have never been to war, and the President of the United States never even completed a tour of duty stateside. We need the real deal and that's, in my opinion, John Kerry” said Senator Max Cleland, endorsing Kerry.

Al Gore campaigned in the neighbouring Missouri, where he blasted the networks with last-minute advertising, desperate to fight off his advancing adversaries in the delegate-rich state, he leaned into his characteristics as a family man first, always beside his wife Tipper "My husband has made healthcare the centrepiece of his campaign, as well as education," she said. "We think that if you can give every family, every child, a healthy start with health care and the very best educational system possible, then we are doing our best to strengthen families and communities and therefore keep our nation strong”. The Gore campaign redoubled its efforts to pump up his base, touting his experience, and legislative bona-fides, but it was becoming clear that Gore was no longer the inevitable candidate he once was. But he still had the gilded front runner status, polling ahead of his opponents in most states. The Gore campaign took its own swipes at the Edwards and Kerry campaign by co-opting their message, Gore began to run ads focusing on his own Vietnam background and promoted his anti-poverty agenda “While this President has cut taxes for the top 1% of Americans the poverty level has risen, we need an innovative president to create high-quality jobs”

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Main Democratic Candidates running for President Gore, Kerry and Edwards

The campaign became frantic as all the candidates rushed around the country, scrambling to bump up their polls, every percentage mattered, in some states, it was the difference between winning and losing, but staying competitive still meant delegates 'Win or lose, as long as we get as many delegates as we can.' A Gore staffer said in New Mexico. Gone were the hopes of a Gore super sweep, akin to the one he had achieved in 2000, they were now fighting for every delegate, campaigning in Arizona, the former Vice-President slammed the Bush administration for failing to confront drug manufacturers, and the invigorated Gore said: “The President says it's not the government's role to dictate drug prices, but when you're on the other end of unfair price gouging or are getting ripped off by drug makers I think the government should step in”. Gore was on fighting form confident that once he notched victories under his belt, his campaign would regain momentum, compounded by his establishment support and durable campaign coffers.

“How about those Panthers?'” John Edwards asked a crowd in Missouri celebrating his home team's Superbowl victory only days earlier “That really says something, all those Carolinians winning in Texas, I look forward to repeating their successes”. Without a hair out of place and a crisp suit, Senator Edwards campaigned in the mid and southwest, campaigning so strongly that his voice had become hoarse by the time he landed in New Mexico. The polls had been turning progressively in his favour after his victory, perhaps his class-based campaign was taking hold in the country.

Kerry whipped out his old-school Kennedyesque oratory skills ''Americans should not just be working for the economy; the economy should be working for Americans.'' He said at a union hall in Delaware before he spent 45 minutes signing every hat, flag and photograph placed in front of him. Kerry needed every vote, despite his New Hampshire victory he was still behind in every state, the afterglow may be fading and the press was reporting that Gore was regaining momentum, the attention he received after his win wasn’t all good, people called him sincere, authentic but not charismatic or energetic, and the Edwards campaign had taken a shot at him calling him just another Washington insider, Kerry’s team was confident they would garner a strong finish, win a couple of states and position him as the alternative to Gore, best placed to beat the President in November.

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Democratic candidates in their youth: Gore, Kerry and Edwards
The results of the first multi-state contest in the Democratic race shook things considerably for all three major candidates, it was highly competitive, with all three major candidates qualifying for delegates in practically every contest. In the broadest assessment of the voters in both geography and popular terminology yet, the verdict was clear, big wins for Gore and Edwards. The immediate takeaway was that Gore was back in the race. After his campaign spent weeks on the backfoot, with falling poll numbers and failure to win either of the early state contests; the Gore campaign had a great reason to celebrate after spiralling doubts, Gore had prevailed in 4 states, winning the Arizona and Delaware primaries and the New Mexico and South Dakota caucuses. "My heart is full tonight," Gore said Tuesday night in Washington state (the site of an upcoming contest). "This is your victory, too," he told a crowd of supporters.

But what seemed like the moment the Gore campaign would finally shine, the national attention was quickly drawn away from him, when outsider candidate Senator Edwards kept his campaign alive with three primary victories in South Carolina, Missouri and Oklahoma. The first-term Senator's victories meant that, though was still behind Gore in terms of delegates, he was tied in the number of states won. Edward's heavy campaigning in the Southern states had paid off, “his is an amazing night for us, “first in South Carolina, first in Missouri, first in Oklahoma”. The close contest, led to narrow victories for both camps, in New Mexico and Missouri where both Gore and Edwards narrowly beat the other. "Everything exceeded my expectations, thank you so much," Edwards told the crowd. "Tonight, you said that the politics of lifting people up beats the politics of tearing people down,” he said.

For Kerry it was a clearly disappointing night, failing to win any of the states in the contest and coming up distant seconds in Oklahoma and Delaware where he had hoped for wins. Pundits wondered whether Kerry had the steam to keep his campaign going, but Kerry remained typically stoic in his appearance and gave no indication he was preparing to pull out of the race “It is important not take anything for granted, I am humbled by your support, looking back on what we have achieved, it is enormous, and I look forward to carrying this campaign forward.” Though there were concerns that the Kerry campaign did not have the funding necessary to effectively compete.

Analysis of the night showed where each candidate's successes and failures could be attributed, in a poll of Democratic voters most important issues, defeating Bush and the economy were the key issues. Senator Edward's successes came from his appeal to white, working class and more moderate voters, as well as higher-than-expected support from minority groups who were expected to be heavily for Gore as well as the undecided voters that had swung for Kerry in New Hampshire. Gore significantly improved from the previous contests with older and more liberal voters.

The votes recast the campaign, there was still no clear front runner, no runaway victories, no default candidate and all three candidates swiftly jumped back onto the campaign trail preparing for upcoming contests in Michigan and Washington states to be followed by primaries in Tennessee and Virginia next.


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Candidates Gore, Edwards and Kerry speak following the election results

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February 3rd Mini-Tuesday results

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February 3rd Mini-Tuesday results, county map

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Democratic primary results as of February 4th
Love it! Great work as always @Iwanh
 

BrockSampson

Gone Fishin'
Nice to see things wrapping up in Iraq the way I had hoped they had in real life. Well done with the campaign section as well, it can’t be easy to come up with different ways to write, “and then they campaigned in X, where the polls showed Y.”
 
Does that mean this Mad TV Skit has to change?
Probably a few things in the song will get changed.

With the sequel to Forrest Gump (Gump & Co) coming out, I'm pretty sure 50 Cent might mention it in the song. It's mentioned in the timeline that Gump & Co did fine at the box office and with critics and audiences, though its praise wasn't as great as the original. If 50 Cent does mention it in C.R.A.P., he'll either say it's the only other good summer movie of 2003 (the other being Finding Nemo), or he'll hate it with the other movies he mentioned in the song.

Sorry it took so long to reply.
 
If Gore wins the primaries then he has a good chance of beating Bush
As for Edwards…that’s going to depend on if he can keep his dick in his pants
 
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