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

Part 34 : Bullets & Ballots, Part 2 (Democratic Nomination)

Part XXXIV Bullets & Ballots, Part 2

March 2nd would be the largest primary day of the calendar, 10 states would be holding their primaries and caucuses, and in one night over a quarter of the available delegates would be decided and divvied out between the two remaining serious candidates, Former Vice President Al Gore and Senator John Edwards, if either candidate came out significantly ahead of the other it would more than likely signal the end of the contest and decide the winner of the Democratic nomination.

There were many big prizes to be won on the night, including California and New York the two most populous states in the union, the whole country was represented with the new England region well-represented including Massachusetts, Vermont, and Rhode Island in the mix. The mid-west was also there with Ohio and Minnesota and the South would not be left out with Georgia, and the mix of D.C. white suburbanites and Baltimore African Americans that made up Maryland. The contest guaranteed to give the nation the chance to decide their preference.

1665412326859.png

C-Span coverage of "Super Tuesday"

There was no clear front-runner in the race, and polls teetered one way or the other in terms of the Democratic party's intentions. It was certain that both candidates were battling for every last vote, none comforted by their leads in each respective state. Looking at the map, Gore had an advantage in California and New York the ‘big enchiladas’ as the pundits put it, where the electorate and trends leaned in his favour. But Edwards's momentum was clearly felt as many Democrats stayed out of the endorsement game, clearly hedging their bets, but Gore still scored major endorsements from California Senator Dianne Feinstein and the Senatorial Spouse of his former boss Hilary Clinton, putting aside apparent animosity between the two, calling him “The greatest advisor, friend and indeed President you could ask for”. But Edwards continued to stun with the surprise endorsement of the editorial board of the nation's largest newspaper the New York Times, describing him as having “enormous discipline [making] a direct and genuinely emotional connection with people of all backgrounds. … who is easy to envision in the White House” The paper did praise Gore for his ability to communicate and that he was clearly very knowledgeable, suggesting he would make a perfect addition to any cabinet, but conceded that he was lacking in style and was hampered by the past and worries that a rematch between Gore and Bush would distract the country from today's issues, or to put a less kind columnists words to paper “Oh, boo hoo. This isn't about Al Gore's redemption. And it isn't a grudge match. The last thing we need now is a wallow in the past -- which a Gore nomination is almost certain to entail”.

In California with its mammoth 370 delegates, Gore had a lead where his newer liberal views found a more receptive audience. It was the first time that Californians would get a chance to have an important role in the nomination process since 1972. But both candidates campaigned in the state, and Edwards had built up a well-organized campaign, and pundits noted that despite California's leanings the state still had millions of moderate democrats and independents. “Even if Gore wins it, Edwards can't afford to give in, there are still many undecided,” said a Golden State pundit, California had recently become the centre of pollical controversy when San Francisco mayor Gavin Newsom had begun signing marriage licenses for same-sex couples, effectively legalizing same-sex marriage, and the stunt had even sparked the idea of the state legalizing the practice which according to polls a majority of Californians and Americans opposed.

Outside of the big prizes, Edwards held a stronger hand, in the mid-west area of Ohio and Minnesota, his message of economic populism, and reexamining trade deals played very well and he polled above Gore in both states. Ohio was a critical state and both candidates campaigned in the state but campaigning across the nation stretched Edward's campaign fairly thin.
1665412294912.png

New York debate between John Edwards and AL Gore

The true toss-ups were Georgia, Maryland and the New England states. Gore had initially polled well with African American voters giving him a wide lead in the south, but Edwards's surge had made significant inroads with black voters and he remained attractive to southern more moderate white Democrats, despite Gore's background. Both candidates played to their southern roots ''I share the values that rural Southerners share; faith, family, and integrity. Those are the things I've believed in all my life” Said Edwards, while Gore took to the stages with as much energy he could muster and indulged a strong southern accent, outside of his usual statesman-like demeanour and talked about the importance of his faith while criticizing the Presidents ‘right-wing’ religion "If you elect me President, the voices of all faith-based organizations will be integral to the policies set forth in my administration.''. In New England, endorsements played a powerful role, Gore received the support of the popular former Vermont governor Howard Dean, while in Massachusetts Senator Ted Kennedy had endorsed John Edwards, boosting each in those respective states, but both candidates still stacked the airwaves with advertising to capture as many votes as possible Gores former running mate Connecticut Senator Joe Lieberman endorsed him, and despite Rhode Islands, usual low profile, both the candidate's spouses Tipper Gore and Elizabeth Edwards came to rally in the small state.

Democrats across the country were making their final decisions. “Everyones evaluating who can beat Bush?" Said one pundit, and with so many battleground states, the candidates were stretched thin across the country, the candidates were becoming clearly exhausted; months before the actual campaign had actually begun and both men raced against the clock to pull off, late in the game polling bounces. At the same time, it also became clear that President Bush was also ramping up his re-election campaign, as he began delivering his first campaign speeches and the first political adverts were hauled out touting the Presidents achievements, including his support for the energy industry information countering attacks fom Democrats on his climate policy (and Enron). But another elephant wandered into the room in the shape of Ralph Nader the green party candidate of 4 years prior, many Democrats still blamed him for siphoning off crucial Gore-leaning voters in Florida, and Nader declared that “the two-party duoplacy needs to be opposed” and called Washington D.C ‘corporate occupied territory in his announcement he was running.

Democrats across the country cast their ballots, as the candidates wrapped up their tours of the nation. With Gore in Atlanta and Edwards in New York each candidate framed themselves as the best way to beat George Bush, and rejuvenate the American economy with the options being ‘common sense experience’ or ‘fresh-faced energy’

1665412246251.png

Super Tuesday Results

1665412144729.png

State results following Super Tuesday
The polls mostly bore out, despite the results being close, in terms of delegates, states and popular vote, Senator John Edwards had come out ahead of former Vice President Al Gore. His insurgent campaign pulled off a number of close victories once seen as an impossibility, in states across the country Massachusetts, Ohio, Georgia, and the greatest of the night California! where Gore had enjoyed a polling lead. An exultant Edwards stepped out “This was a dog fight, but we bite harder than their bark” The visibly tired senator’s voice began to grow hoarse toward the end of his speech "The truth is I may be losing my voice, but you haven't lost yours, thank you".

But Gore wasn’t out yet, he still held the delegate lead thanks to Superdelegates, and at his own rally he celebrated “Thank you for your votes to empower Americans healthcare, for building and training green collar jobs, and against tax cuts for the wealthy and votes for reclaiming American leadership, so it was and so it shall be again.” The final showdown between the candidates would begin in a number of southern states.

But despite Gore’s optimistic outlook the polls began to truly turn against him, Edwards awash in the warm glow of his victories gained a substantial polling bounce. His support inside the Democratic party widened expanding his winning coalition. Additional surveys came in the days after Super Tuesday that confirmed public perceptions of the two candidates, Edwards was seen as the more favourable candidate and for the first time, several polls showed him beating Bush in the general election by several points. Edward's victory in Georgia was also a key indicator of his growing support from black voters, combined with his support from moderate voters.

1665412035259.png

(Left) celebratory rally for John Edwards and (right) Al Gore on Super Tuesday

The next round of states were all southern ones, where both Edwards and Gore tried to claim the home advantage. The North Carolinian and the Tennesean both attempted to woo the electorates, especially in the wide plains of texas Texas where Gore saw his best chance to prove the pollsters wrong and win back the momentum of the race At a rally in San Antonio, Mr. Gore went after the President seeking to counter claims that he was too liberal and planning to raise taxes “These are scare tactics, and I think it a shame that the president has already departed from the truth”. All candidates were also making eager efforts to expand their share of the growing Hispanic voting base, with the President meeting with the Mexican president Vicente Fox, while John Edwards made his pitch by highlighting his family values and support for growing the American Dream to immigrants, while Gore flexed his bilingual prowess ''I say to you tonight, 'Todavia no han visto nada,' '' Mr Gore said. ''You ain't seen nothing yet.'' And focused on his values of education and healthcare, Gore’s struggle to appeal to Hispanic voters compared to President Clinton had been a significant factor in his loss in 2000 loss (And losing California).
On what was dubbed 'Southern Tuesday' the democratic party voted again, what originally looked like a close night for the candidates turned into a southern sweep for Edwards who cleaned up, winning every state competition, only losing American Samoa which offered only 3 total delegates, in the big ticket items of Texas and Florida Edwards had trounced Gore by wide margins. It was an unforgettable moment for the Edwards campaign signifying that he had won his greatest victory “If I am smiling, its because this campaign has only just begun” With his wife and children by his side he thanked the glowing crowd and exited the stage the clear frontrunner for the Democratic nomination

1665412017768.png

"Southern Tuesday" results
There was now no room for error in the Gore campaign if he were to somehow turn back the tide but the evidence was pouring in that Democrats had made up their minds on who they thought could best beat Bush. A further round of polling doubled down on Edward's advantages, his favourably and his electability inflated while Gore’s numbers sagged. Gore’s campaigners began to irk about a lack of discipline, and a general lack of morale as Democratic insiders, one by one refused to give their support to the candidate and after a few more contests in March, Gore’s chances were becoming increasingly impossible to overcome, and his favours continued to drop following two painful losses in Kansas then the delegate-rich Illinois (a major Gore must win) only 3 days later.

The headlines were becoming harsher and harsher, each pronouncing Gore’s second run for the presidency dead in the water “Al Gore is as good as dead … there is no good news on the horizon as Democrats seem to have increasingly made up their mind on their preferred choice for the nominee and the democratic leadership is anxious to consolidate in preparation for a long and expensive campaign against the sitting President Bush” - Slate.com: The Gore Finale? The delegate math technically panned out, if Gore could pull off a series of crushing victories pending a swift implosion of the Edwards campaign, the candidate had encouraging words for his supporters “We are fighting for a sane government that can make smart decisions and right now that is what this campaign continues to be about” but more and more the wind was blowing the other direction.

It looked as if Democrats had settled on the candidate of choice. Gore still fought on, winning victories in smaller states, and territories, including Alaska and the Democrats abroad, but following several superdelegate shifts and another Edwards victory in Wyoming, It was clear that the writing was on the wall. Following a few days of political pondering, Gore officially withdrew from the Democratic race for President, and urged his supporters to back his former rival John Edwards in the November election “This is a bitter day, some have accused this campaign of being about the past, but we know that this was always about the future … I want to thank you as Democrats for the honor of being your nominee for president four years ago and I want to thank everyone for joining me again today and I want all of you to help John Edwards be the next president of the United States.”

Following Gore’s endorsement, Senator John Edwards gave a speech for the first time as the presumptive Democratic nominee “I want to thank Al Gore for his decades of service both for the Democratic party and our country, for many he represents the distinguished soul of the party and has inspired thousands to enter public service” But he also opened his first blistering attacks on the White House previewing the general election to come “We can't kid ourselves, with the Republican attack machine and their bag of dirty tricks we don’t know what they are willing to do, but I can promise you that together I have no doubt that we will defeat them, that with your help were on a one way ticket to the White House!”

Any dissection of the 2004 Democratic nomination, usually centres on the failure of the Gore campaign, Gore widely tipped for the nomination following his 2000 narrow defeat had seemingly snatched defeat from the jaws of victory and sent Democrats into the arms of the upstart Edwards. His campaign suffered from a severe lack of enthusiasm from Democratic insiders and though he maintained a strong following among the party's more ideological activists, his major selling point, his experience had become a turnoff for many voters. He was polarizing to many and had a high unfavourability rating, and attracted strong media scrutiny. and perhaps the biggest blow was the stain of already losing a presidential election. Many Americans were prepared to move on from the election of 2000 and many Americans desperately hoped to avoid a rematch. This was compared to Edward's campaign, a longshot, grassroots campaign that focused on attracting the centre of the Democratic party into its ranks, once he emerged as the best non-Gore candidate, the party was quick to attach itself to his candidacy.[1]

1665411890187.png

2004 Democratic Party Presidential Primaries final results

1665412568998.png

(Left) 2000 Democratic Nominee former Vice President Al Gore
(Right) 2004 Democratic Nominee Senator John Edwards


1665411796474.png
New York arrests, 'foil cyanide plot'
Associated Press
Tue 18 Mar 2004 11.16 BST
The mayor of New York, Mark Green, today said that a potential terrorist attack on the New York City subway station had been averted, with the arrest of 6 men and the seizure of several chemicals that when combined form the deadly hydrogen cyanide gas.
The suspects, who allegedly were linked with radical Islamic terror groups including Al-Qaeda, the Afghanistan-based terror organisation responsible for the bombing of an American military base last year and several attempted plane hijackings 2 years ago, had planned to build devices capable of spreading the gas across the New York City subway system, Mr Green said.
"We have prevented a serious attack on the level of the World Trade Center bombing” police Commissioner Raymond Kelly said, referring to the 1993 truck bomb at the base of the north tower, in which 6 people died and 1000 were injured saying that such an attack could result in serious illness and even death.[2]
Police claim they disrupted the plot when neighbours of one of the arrested an American José Padilla, they reported strange activity including strong chemical odours, loud phone conversations and once a fire. Padilla according to reports had travelled from the U.S. to the Afghanistan region multiple times where he is suspected of establishing contact with several terrorist organisations including undergoing training in building chemical and explosive weaponry.
Other members of the plot included three British-born men of Pakistani descent, and two other Americans from New York State with Yemeni backgrounds all accused of holding connections to several Islamic terror groups including the east Asian group Jemaah Islamiyah, and the prominent so-called ‘freelance terrorist’ Khalid Shaikh Mohammed accused of plotting numerous attacks against the U.S. who is believed to be residing in Taliban controlled Afghanistan
The head of the CIA who aided New York police in the investigation, George Tenet, said that the suspects had trained with numerous terrorist groups and that. "Most of them know how to prepare improvised explosive devices," he told reporters.
The suspects were arrested in a series of raids in the city of New York. The suspects had been under surveillance for weeks, Tenet said. They were being held on multiple attempted murder and conspiracy charges.
Mr Green said that the evidence against the four detainees was "strong and airtight", adding that follow-up operations were underway. "Let no one underestimate our determination to keep New York and New Yorkers safe," he said.
Chemical weaponry has occasionally been used by terror groups before, most notoriously there was an attack on Japan's Tokyo subway system by a religious cult using the nerve agent sarin killing 12 people and injuring hundreds. Inside the United States only months ago a plot by white supremacists to attack government buildings in Texas included a home-built cyanide gas bomb, but the plot was disrupted by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms[3]
The arrests have brought some criticism from civil rights groups who claim that some of the tactics used by police, including heavy surveillance, represented a possible abuse of authority …

1665412536030.png
(Left) Arrested 'cyanide plot' suspect José Padilla [4] (Right) the devices created to distribute the chemicals



[1] Gore didn't run in 2000 because he thought George Bush was too popular at the time. Sadly for Gore I agree with his OTL decision political comebacks in US politics are rare and I generally refer to Patton's quote "Americans love a winner and will not tolerate a loser". Perhaps Gore is special because he could legitimately claim he had actually won the 2000 election but my mind immediately goes to imagining if Hillary Clinton had tried to run in 2016 or Humprhey's run in 72
[2] There is little hard evidence for this plot and has only been referenced in several memoirs claiming that the plot was cancelled by Al-Qaeda leadership for several reasons. I have serious doubts as to the actual potential success of such a plot (chemical weapons are harder to construct and are less deadly than conventional explosives) but TTLs leader of AL Qaida was more focused on chemical and biological weaponry so they attempt to carry out the plot only for it to be dismantled in its preparatory stage
[3] A real plot that was overshadowed by the war on terror and the name was changed to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives after 9/11
[4] Jose Padilla is the 'terrorist' who famously attempted to build a nuclear bomb by following a parody guide that included "putting uranium in buckets and spinning them clockwise over your head" ITTL his plan is less audacious but just as unsuccessful
 
Well congratz John Edwards - perhaps offer the VP slot to a young northerner?

Also well done to Mayor Green for his people stopping a terrorist attack.

Hopefully the 2005 London bombings are stopped too.
 

Part XXXIV Bullets & Ballots, Part 2

March 2nd would be the largest primary day of the calendar, 10 states would be holding their primaries and caucuses, and in one night over a quarter of the available delegates would be decided and divvied out between the two remaining serious candidates, Former Vice President Al Gore and Senator John Edwards, if either candidate came out significantly ahead of the other it would more than likely signal the end of the contest and decide the winner of the Democratic nomination.

There were many big prizes to be won on the night, including California and New York the two most populous states in the union, the whole country was represented with the new England region well-represented including Massachusetts, Vermont, and Rhode Island in the mix. The mid-west was also there with Ohio and Minnesota and the South would not be left out with Georgia, and the mix of D.C. white suburbanites and Baltimore African Americans that made up Maryland. The contest guaranteed to give the nation the chance to decide their preference.

View attachment 780699
C-Span coverage of "Super Tuesday"

There was no clear front-runner in the race, and polls teetered one way or the other in terms of the Democratic party's intentions. It was certain that both candidates were battling for every last vote, none comforted by their leads in each respective state. Looking at the map, Gore had an advantage in California and New York the ‘big enchiladas’ as the pundits put it, where the electorate and trends leaned in his favour. But Edwards's momentum was clearly felt as many Democrats stayed out of the endorsement game, clearly hedging their bets, but Gore still scored major endorsements from California Senator Dianne Feinstein and the Senatorial Spouse of his former boss Hilary Clinton, putting aside apparent animosity between the two, calling him “The greatest advisor, friend and indeed President you could ask for”. But Edwards continued to stun with the surprise endorsement of the editorial board of the nation's largest newspaper the New York Times, describing him as having “enormous discipline [making] a direct and genuinely emotional connection with people of all backgrounds. … who is easy to envision in the White House” The paper did praise Gore for his ability to communicate and that he was clearly very knowledgeable, suggesting he would make a perfect addition to any cabinet, but conceded that he was lacking in style and was hampered by the past and worries that a rematch between Gore and Bush would distract the country from today's issues, or to put a less kind columnists words to paper “Oh, boo hoo. This isn't about Al Gore's redemption. And it isn't a grudge match. The last thing we need now is a wallow in the past -- which a Gore nomination is almost certain to entail”.

In California with its mammoth 370 delegates, Gore had a lead where his newer liberal views found a more receptive audience. It was the first time that Californians would get a chance to have an important role in the nomination process since 1972. But both candidates campaigned in the state, and Edwards had built up a well-organized campaign, and pundits noted that despite California's leanings the state still had millions of moderate democrats and independents. “Even if Gore wins it, Edwards can't afford to give in, there are still many undecided,” said a Golden State pundit, California had recently become the centre of pollical controversy when San Francisco mayor Gavin Newsom had begun signing marriage licenses for same-sex couples, effectively legalizing same-sex marriage, and the stunt had even sparked the idea of the state legalizing the practice which according to polls a majority of Californians and Americans opposed.

Outside of the big prizes, Edwards held a stronger hand, in the mid-west area of Ohio and Minnesota, his message of economic populism, and reexamining trade deals played very well and he polled above Gore in both states. Ohio was a critical state and both candidates campaigned in the state but campaigning across the nation stretched Edward's campaign fairly thin.
View attachment 780698
New York debate between John Edwards and AL Gore

The true toss-ups were Georgia, Maryland and the New England states. Gore had initially polled well with African American voters giving him a wide lead in the south, but Edwards's surge had made significant inroads with black voters and he remained attractive to southern more moderate white Democrats, despite Gore's background. Both candidates played to their southern roots ''I share the values that rural Southerners share; faith, family, and integrity. Those are the things I've believed in all my life” Said Edwards, while Gore took to the stages with as much energy he could muster and indulged a strong southern accent, outside of his usual statesman-like demeanour and talked about the importance of his faith while criticizing the Presidents ‘right-wing’ religion "If you elect me President, the voices of all faith-based organizations will be integral to the policies set forth in my administration.''. In New England, endorsements played a powerful role, Gore received the support of the popular former Vermont governor Howard Dean, while in Massachusetts Senator Ted Kennedy had endorsed John Edwards, boosting each in those respective states, but both candidates still stacked the airwaves with advertising to capture as many votes as possible Gores former running mate Connecticut Senator Joe Lieberman endorsed him, and despite Rhode Islands, usual low profile, both the candidate's spouses Tipper Gore and Elizabeth Edwards came to rally in the small state.

Democrats across the country were making their final decisions. “Everyones evaluating who can beat Bush?" Said one pundit, and with so many battleground states, the candidates were stretched thin across the country, the candidates were becoming clearly exhausted; months before the actual campaign had actually begun and both men raced against the clock to pull off, late in the game polling bounces. At the same time, it also became clear that President Bush was also ramping up his re-election campaign, as he began delivering his first campaign speeches and the first political adverts were hauled out touting the Presidents achievements, including his support for the energy industry information countering attacks fom Democrats on his climate policy (and Enron). But another elephant wandered into the room in the shape of Ralph Nader the green party candidate of 4 years prior, many Democrats still blamed him for siphoning off crucial Gore-leaning voters in Florida, and Nader declared that “the two-party duoplacy needs to be opposed” and called Washington D.C ‘corporate occupied territory in his announcement he was running.

Democrats across the country cast their ballots, as the candidates wrapped up their tours of the nation. With Gore in Atlanta and Edwards in New York each candidate framed themselves as the best way to beat George Bush, and rejuvenate the American economy with the options being ‘common sense experience’ or ‘fresh-faced energy’

View attachment 780697
Super Tuesday Results

View attachment 780696
State results following Super Tuesday
The polls mostly bore out, despite the results being close, in terms of delegates, states and popular vote, Senator John Edwards had come out ahead of former Vice President Al Gore. His insurgent campaign pulled off a number of close victories once seen as an impossibility, in states across the country Massachusetts, Ohio, Georgia, and the greatest of the night California! where Gore had enjoyed a polling lead. An exultant Edwards stepped out “This was a dog fight, but we bite harder than their bark” The visibly tired senator’s voice began to grow hoarse toward the end of his speech "The truth is I may be losing my voice, but you haven't lost yours, thank you".

But Gore wasn’t out yet, he still held the delegate lead thanks to Superdelegates, and at his own rally he celebrated “Thank you for your votes to empower Americans healthcare, for building and training green collar jobs, and against tax cuts for the wealthy and votes for reclaiming American leadership, so it was and so it shall be again.” The final showdown between the candidates would begin in a number of southern states.

But despite Gore’s optimistic outlook the polls began to truly turn against him, Edwards awash in the warm glow of his victories gained a substantial polling bounce. His support inside the Democratic party widened expanding his winning coalition. Additional surveys came in the days after Super Tuesday that confirmed public perceptions of the two candidates, Edwards was seen as the more favourable candidate and for the first time, several polls showed him beating Bush in the general election by several points. Edward's victory in Georgia was also a key indicator of his growing support from black voters, combined with his support from moderate voters.

View attachment 780695
(Left) celebratory rally for John Edwards and (right) Al Gore on Super Tuesday

The next round of states were all southern ones, where both Edwards and Gore tried to claim the home advantage. The North Carolinian and the Tennesean both attempted to woo the electorates, especially in the wide plains of texas Texas where Gore saw his best chance to prove the pollsters wrong and win back the momentum of the race At a rally in San Antonio, Mr. Gore went after the President seeking to counter claims that he was too liberal and planning to raise taxes “These are scare tactics, and I think it a shame that the president has already departed from the truth”. All candidates were also making eager efforts to expand their share of the growing Hispanic voting base, with the President meeting with the Mexican president Vicente Fox, while John Edwards made his pitch by highlighting his family values and support for growing the American Dream to immigrants, while Gore flexed his bilingual prowess ''I say to you tonight, 'Todavia no han visto nada,' '' Mr Gore said. ''You ain't seen nothing yet.'' And focused on his values of education and healthcare, Gore’s struggle to appeal to Hispanic voters compared to President Clinton had been a significant factor in his loss in 2000 loss (And losing California).
On what was dubbed 'Southern Tuesday' the democratic party voted again, what originally looked like a close night for the candidates turned into a southern sweep for Edwards who cleaned up, winning every state competition, only losing American Samoa which offered only 3 total delegates, in the big ticket items of Texas and Florida Edwards had trounced Gore by wide margins. It was an unforgettable moment for the Edwards campaign signifying that he had won his greatest victory “If I am smiling, its because this campaign has only just begun” With his wife and children by his side he thanked the glowing crowd and exited the stage the clear frontrunner for the Democratic nomination

View attachment 780694
"Southern Tuesday" results
There was now no room for error in the Gore campaign if he were to somehow turn back the tide but the evidence was pouring in that Democrats had made up their minds on who they thought could best beat Bush. A further round of polling doubled down on Edward's advantages, his favourably and his electability inflated while Gore’s numbers sagged. Gore’s campaigners began to irk about a lack of discipline, and a general lack of morale as Democratic insiders, one by one refused to give their support to the candidate and after a few more contests in March, Gore’s chances were becoming increasingly impossible to overcome, and his favours continued to drop following two painful losses in Kansas then the delegate-rich Illinois (a major Gore must win) only 3 days later.

The headlines were becoming harsher and harsher, each pronouncing Gore’s second run for the presidency dead in the water “Al Gore is as good as dead … there is no good news on the horizon as Democrats seem to have increasingly made up their mind on their preferred choice for the nominee and the democratic leadership is anxious to consolidate in preparation for a long and expensive campaign against the sitting President Bush” - Slate.com: The Gore Finale? The delegate math technically panned out, if Gore could pull off a series of crushing victories pending a swift implosion of the Edwards campaign, the candidate had encouraging words for his supporters “We are fighting for a sane government that can make smart decisions and right now that is what this campaign continues to be about” but more and more the wind was blowing the other direction.

It looked as if Democrats had settled on the candidate of choice. Gore still fought on, winning victories in smaller states, and territories, including Alaska and the Democrats abroad, but following several superdelegate shifts and another Edwards victory in Wyoming, It was clear that the writing was on the wall. Following a few days of political pondering, Gore officially withdrew from the Democratic race for President, and urged his supporters to back his former rival John Edwards in the November election “This is a bitter day, some have accused this campaign of being about the past, but we know that this was always about the future … I want to thank you as Democrats for the honor of being your nominee for president four years ago and I want to thank everyone for joining me again today and I want all of you to help John Edwards be the next president of the United States.”

Following Gore’s endorsement, Senator John Edwards gave a speech for the first time as the presumptive Democratic nominee “I want to thank Al Gore for his decades of service both for the Democratic party and our country, for many he represents the distinguished soul of the party and has inspired thousands to enter public service” But he also opened his first blistering attacks on the White House previewing the general election to come “We can't kid ourselves, with the Republican attack machine and their bag of dirty tricks we don’t know what they are willing to do, but I can promise you that together I have no doubt that we will defeat them, that with your help were on a one way ticket to the White House!”

Any dissection of the 2004 Democratic nomination, usually centres on the failure of the Gore campaign, Gore widely tipped for the nomination following his 2000 narrow defeat had seemingly snatched defeat from the jaws of victory and sent Democrats into the arms of the upstart Edwards. His campaign suffered from a severe lack of enthusiasm from Democratic insiders and though he maintained a strong following among the party's more ideological activists, his major selling point, his experience had become a turnoff for many voters. He was polarizing to many and had a high unfavourability rating, and attracted strong media scrutiny. and perhaps the biggest blow was the stain of already losing a presidential election. Many Americans were prepared to move on from the election of 2000 and many Americans desperately hoped to avoid a rematch. This was compared to Edward's campaign, a longshot, grassroots campaign that focused on attracting the centre of the Democratic party into its ranks, once he emerged as the best non-Gore candidate, the party was quick to attach itself to his candidacy.[1]

View attachment 780693
2004 Democratic Party Presidential Primaries final results

View attachment 780701
(Left) 2000 Democratic Nominee former Vice President Al Gore
(Right) 2004 Democratic Nominee Senator John Edwards


New York arrests, 'foil cyanide plot'
Associated Press
Tue 18 Mar 2004 11.16 BST
The mayor of New York, Mark Green, today said that a potential terrorist attack on the New York City subway station had been averted, with the arrest of 6 men and the seizure of several chemicals that when combined form the deadly hydrogen cyanide gas.
The suspects, who allegedly were linked with radical Islamic terror groups including Al-Qaeda, the Afghanistan-based terror organisation responsible for the bombing of an American military base last year and several attempted plane hijackings 2 years ago, had planned to build devices capable of spreading the gas across the New York City subway system, Mr Green said.
"We have prevented a serious attack on the level of the World Trade Center bombing” police Commissioner Raymond Kelly said, referring to the 1993 truck bomb at the base of the north tower, in which 6 people died and 1000 were injured saying that such an attack could result in serious illness and even death.[2]
Police claim they disrupted the plot when neighbours of one of the arrested an American José Padilla, they reported strange activity including strong chemical odours, loud phone conversations and once a fire. Padilla according to reports had travelled from the U.S. to the Afghanistan region multiple times where he is suspected of establishing contact with several terrorist organisations including undergoing training in building chemical and explosive weaponry.
Other members of the plot included three British-born men of Pakistani descent, and two other Americans from New York State with Yemeni backgrounds all accused of holding connections to several Islamic terror groups including the east Asian group Jemaah Islamiyah, and the prominent so-called ‘freelance terrorist’ Khalid Shaikh Mohammed accused of plotting numerous attacks against the U.S. who is believed to be residing in Taliban controlled Afghanistan
The head of the CIA who aided New York police in the investigation, George Tenet, said that the suspects had trained with numerous terrorist groups and that. "Most of them know how to prepare improvised explosive devices," he told reporters.
The suspects were arrested in a series of raids in the city of New York. The suspects had been under surveillance for weeks, Tenet said. They were being held on multiple attempted murder and conspiracy charges.
Mr Green said that the evidence against the four detainees was "strong and airtight", adding that follow-up operations were underway. "Let no one underestimate our determination to keep New York and New Yorkers safe," he said.
Chemical weaponry has occasionally been used by terror groups before, most notoriously there was an attack on Japan's Tokyo subway system by a religious cult using the nerve agent sarin killing 12 people and injuring hundreds. Inside the United States only months ago a plot by white supremacists to attack government buildings in Texas included a home-built cyanide gas bomb, but the plot was disrupted by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms[3]
The arrests have brought some criticism from civil rights groups who claim that some of the tactics used by police, including heavy surveillance, represented a possible abuse of authority …

(Left) Arrested 'cyanide plot' suspect José Padilla [4] (Right) the devices created to distribute the chemicals



[1] Gore didn't run in 2000 because he thought George Bush was too popular at the time. Sadly for Gore I agree with his OTL decision political comebacks in US politics are rare and I generally refer to Patton's quote "Americans love a winner and will not tolerate a loser". Perhaps Gore is special because he could legitimately claim he had actually won the 2000 election but my mind immediately goes to imagining if Hillary Clinton had tried to run in 2020 or Humphrey's run in 72
[2] There is little hard evidence for this plot and has only been referenced in several memoirs claiming that the plot was cancelled by Al-Qaeda leadership for several reasons. I have serious doubts as to the actual potential success of such a plot (chemical weapons are harder to construct and are less deadly than conventional explosives) but TTLs leader of AL Qaida was more focused on chemical and biological weaponry so they attempt to carry out the plot only for it to be dismantled in its preparatory stage
[3] A real plot that was overshadowed by the war on terror and the name was changed to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives after 9/11
[4] Jose Padilla is the 'terrorist' who famously attempted to build a nuclear bomb by following a parody guide that included "putting uranium in buckets and spinning them clockwise over your head" ITTL his plan is less audacious but just as unsuccessful
Though I am a bit disappointed that Al Gore didn't win the Democratic primaries, I do wonder what a Bush vs Edwards race will look like. This was a pretty interesting update.

Either way, your timeline's version of JibJab's This Land will look different with John Edwards as the Democratic nominee instead of John Kerry and without the War on Terror (assuming it still gets made). I do wonder who Edwards will choose as his running mate.

 
Last edited:

Part XXXIV Bullets & Ballots, Part 2

March 2nd would be the largest primary day of the calendar, 10 states would be holding their primaries and caucuses, and in one night over a quarter of the available delegates would be decided and divvied out between the two remaining serious candidates, Former Vice President Al Gore and Senator John Edwards, if either candidate came out significantly ahead of the other it would more than likely signal the end of the contest and decide the winner of the Democratic nomination.

There were many big prizes to be won on the night, including California and New York the two most populous states in the union, the whole country was represented with the new England region well-represented including Massachusetts, Vermont, and Rhode Island in the mix. The mid-west was also there with Ohio and Minnesota and the South would not be left out with Georgia, and the mix of D.C. white suburbanites and Baltimore African Americans that made up Maryland. The contest guaranteed to give the nation the chance to decide their preference.

View attachment 780699
C-Span coverage of "Super Tuesday"

There was no clear front-runner in the race, and polls teetered one way or the other in terms of the Democratic party's intentions. It was certain that both candidates were battling for every last vote, none comforted by their leads in each respective state. Looking at the map, Gore had an advantage in California and New York the ‘big enchiladas’ as the pundits put it, where the electorate and trends leaned in his favour. But Edwards's momentum was clearly felt as many Democrats stayed out of the endorsement game, clearly hedging their bets, but Gore still scored major endorsements from California Senator Dianne Feinstein and the Senatorial Spouse of his former boss Hilary Clinton, putting aside apparent animosity between the two, calling him “The greatest advisor, friend and indeed President you could ask for”. But Edwards continued to stun with the surprise endorsement of the editorial board of the nation's largest newspaper the New York Times, describing him as having “enormous discipline [making] a direct and genuinely emotional connection with people of all backgrounds. … who is easy to envision in the White House” The paper did praise Gore for his ability to communicate and that he was clearly very knowledgeable, suggesting he would make a perfect addition to any cabinet, but conceded that he was lacking in style and was hampered by the past and worries that a rematch between Gore and Bush would distract the country from today's issues, or to put a less kind columnists words to paper “Oh, boo hoo. This isn't about Al Gore's redemption. And it isn't a grudge match. The last thing we need now is a wallow in the past -- which a Gore nomination is almost certain to entail”.

In California with its mammoth 370 delegates, Gore had a lead where his newer liberal views found a more receptive audience. It was the first time that Californians would get a chance to have an important role in the nomination process since 1972. But both candidates campaigned in the state, and Edwards had built up a well-organized campaign, and pundits noted that despite California's leanings the state still had millions of moderate democrats and independents. “Even if Gore wins it, Edwards can't afford to give in, there are still many undecided,” said a Golden State pundit, California had recently become the centre of pollical controversy when San Francisco mayor Gavin Newsom had begun signing marriage licenses for same-sex couples, effectively legalizing same-sex marriage, and the stunt had even sparked the idea of the state legalizing the practice which according to polls a majority of Californians and Americans opposed.

Outside of the big prizes, Edwards held a stronger hand, in the mid-west area of Ohio and Minnesota, his message of economic populism, and reexamining trade deals played very well and he polled above Gore in both states. Ohio was a critical state and both candidates campaigned in the state but campaigning across the nation stretched Edward's campaign fairly thin.
View attachment 780698
New York debate between John Edwards and AL Gore

The true toss-ups were Georgia, Maryland and the New England states. Gore had initially polled well with African American voters giving him a wide lead in the south, but Edwards's surge had made significant inroads with black voters and he remained attractive to southern more moderate white Democrats, despite Gore's background. Both candidates played to their southern roots ''I share the values that rural Southerners share; faith, family, and integrity. Those are the things I've believed in all my life” Said Edwards, while Gore took to the stages with as much energy he could muster and indulged a strong southern accent, outside of his usual statesman-like demeanour and talked about the importance of his faith while criticizing the Presidents ‘right-wing’ religion "If you elect me President, the voices of all faith-based organizations will be integral to the policies set forth in my administration.''. In New England, endorsements played a powerful role, Gore received the support of the popular former Vermont governor Howard Dean, while in Massachusetts Senator Ted Kennedy had endorsed John Edwards, boosting each in those respective states, but both candidates still stacked the airwaves with advertising to capture as many votes as possible Gores former running mate Connecticut Senator Joe Lieberman endorsed him, and despite Rhode Islands, usual low profile, both the candidate's spouses Tipper Gore and Elizabeth Edwards came to rally in the small state.

Democrats across the country were making their final decisions. “Everyones evaluating who can beat Bush?" Said one pundit, and with so many battleground states, the candidates were stretched thin across the country, the candidates were becoming clearly exhausted; months before the actual campaign had actually begun and both men raced against the clock to pull off, late in the game polling bounces. At the same time, it also became clear that President Bush was also ramping up his re-election campaign, as he began delivering his first campaign speeches and the first political adverts were hauled out touting the Presidents achievements, including his support for the energy industry information countering attacks fom Democrats on his climate policy (and Enron). But another elephant wandered into the room in the shape of Ralph Nader the green party candidate of 4 years prior, many Democrats still blamed him for siphoning off crucial Gore-leaning voters in Florida, and Nader declared that “the two-party duoplacy needs to be opposed” and called Washington D.C ‘corporate occupied territory in his announcement he was running.

Democrats across the country cast their ballots, as the candidates wrapped up their tours of the nation. With Gore in Atlanta and Edwards in New York each candidate framed themselves as the best way to beat George Bush, and rejuvenate the American economy with the options being ‘common sense experience’ or ‘fresh-faced energy’

View attachment 780697
Super Tuesday Results

View attachment 780696
State results following Super Tuesday
The polls mostly bore out, despite the results being close, in terms of delegates, states and popular vote, Senator John Edwards had come out ahead of former Vice President Al Gore. His insurgent campaign pulled off a number of close victories once seen as an impossibility, in states across the country Massachusetts, Ohio, Georgia, and the greatest of the night California! where Gore had enjoyed a polling lead. An exultant Edwards stepped out “This was a dog fight, but we bite harder than their bark” The visibly tired senator’s voice began to grow hoarse toward the end of his speech "The truth is I may be losing my voice, but you haven't lost yours, thank you".

But Gore wasn’t out yet, he still held the delegate lead thanks to Superdelegates, and at his own rally he celebrated “Thank you for your votes to empower Americans healthcare, for building and training green collar jobs, and against tax cuts for the wealthy and votes for reclaiming American leadership, so it was and so it shall be again.” The final showdown between the candidates would begin in a number of southern states.

But despite Gore’s optimistic outlook the polls began to truly turn against him, Edwards awash in the warm glow of his victories gained a substantial polling bounce. His support inside the Democratic party widened expanding his winning coalition. Additional surveys came in the days after Super Tuesday that confirmed public perceptions of the two candidates, Edwards was seen as the more favourable candidate and for the first time, several polls showed him beating Bush in the general election by several points. Edward's victory in Georgia was also a key indicator of his growing support from black voters, combined with his support from moderate voters.

View attachment 780695
(Left) celebratory rally for John Edwards and (right) Al Gore on Super Tuesday

The next round of states were all southern ones, where both Edwards and Gore tried to claim the home advantage. The North Carolinian and the Tennesean both attempted to woo the electorates, especially in the wide plains of texas Texas where Gore saw his best chance to prove the pollsters wrong and win back the momentum of the race At a rally in San Antonio, Mr. Gore went after the President seeking to counter claims that he was too liberal and planning to raise taxes “These are scare tactics, and I think it a shame that the president has already departed from the truth”. All candidates were also making eager efforts to expand their share of the growing Hispanic voting base, with the President meeting with the Mexican president Vicente Fox, while John Edwards made his pitch by highlighting his family values and support for growing the American Dream to immigrants, while Gore flexed his bilingual prowess ''I say to you tonight, 'Todavia no han visto nada,' '' Mr Gore said. ''You ain't seen nothing yet.'' And focused on his values of education and healthcare, Gore’s struggle to appeal to Hispanic voters compared to President Clinton had been a significant factor in his loss in 2000 loss (And losing California).
On what was dubbed 'Southern Tuesday' the democratic party voted again, what originally looked like a close night for the candidates turned into a southern sweep for Edwards who cleaned up, winning every state competition, only losing American Samoa which offered only 3 total delegates, in the big ticket items of Texas and Florida Edwards had trounced Gore by wide margins. It was an unforgettable moment for the Edwards campaign signifying that he had won his greatest victory “If I am smiling, its because this campaign has only just begun” With his wife and children by his side he thanked the glowing crowd and exited the stage the clear frontrunner for the Democratic nomination

View attachment 780694
"Southern Tuesday" results
There was now no room for error in the Gore campaign if he were to somehow turn back the tide but the evidence was pouring in that Democrats had made up their minds on who they thought could best beat Bush. A further round of polling doubled down on Edward's advantages, his favourably and his electability inflated while Gore’s numbers sagged. Gore’s campaigners began to irk about a lack of discipline, and a general lack of morale as Democratic insiders, one by one refused to give their support to the candidate and after a few more contests in March, Gore’s chances were becoming increasingly impossible to overcome, and his favours continued to drop following two painful losses in Kansas then the delegate-rich Illinois (a major Gore must win) only 3 days later.

The headlines were becoming harsher and harsher, each pronouncing Gore’s second run for the presidency dead in the water “Al Gore is as good as dead … there is no good news on the horizon as Democrats seem to have increasingly made up their mind on their preferred choice for the nominee and the democratic leadership is anxious to consolidate in preparation for a long and expensive campaign against the sitting President Bush” - Slate.com: The Gore Finale? The delegate math technically panned out, if Gore could pull off a series of crushing victories pending a swift implosion of the Edwards campaign, the candidate had encouraging words for his supporters “We are fighting for a sane government that can make smart decisions and right now that is what this campaign continues to be about” but more and more the wind was blowing the other direction.

It looked as if Democrats had settled on the candidate of choice. Gore still fought on, winning victories in smaller states, and territories, including Alaska and the Democrats abroad, but following several superdelegate shifts and another Edwards victory in Wyoming, It was clear that the writing was on the wall. Following a few days of political pondering, Gore officially withdrew from the Democratic race for President, and urged his supporters to back his former rival John Edwards in the November election “This is a bitter day, some have accused this campaign of being about the past, but we know that this was always about the future … I want to thank you as Democrats for the honor of being your nominee for president four years ago and I want to thank everyone for joining me again today and I want all of you to help John Edwards be the next president of the United States.”

Following Gore’s endorsement, Senator John Edwards gave a speech for the first time as the presumptive Democratic nominee “I want to thank Al Gore for his decades of service both for the Democratic party and our country, for many he represents the distinguished soul of the party and has inspired thousands to enter public service” But he also opened his first blistering attacks on the White House previewing the general election to come “We can't kid ourselves, with the Republican attack machine and their bag of dirty tricks we don’t know what they are willing to do, but I can promise you that together I have no doubt that we will defeat them, that with your help were on a one way ticket to the White House!”

Any dissection of the 2004 Democratic nomination, usually centres on the failure of the Gore campaign, Gore widely tipped for the nomination following his 2000 narrow defeat had seemingly snatched defeat from the jaws of victory and sent Democrats into the arms of the upstart Edwards. His campaign suffered from a severe lack of enthusiasm from Democratic insiders and though he maintained a strong following among the party's more ideological activists, his major selling point, his experience had become a turnoff for many voters. He was polarizing to many and had a high unfavourability rating, and attracted strong media scrutiny. and perhaps the biggest blow was the stain of already losing a presidential election. Many Americans were prepared to move on from the election of 2000 and many Americans desperately hoped to avoid a rematch. This was compared to Edward's campaign, a longshot, grassroots campaign that focused on attracting the centre of the Democratic party into its ranks, once he emerged as the best non-Gore candidate, the party was quick to attach itself to his candidacy.[1]

View attachment 780693
2004 Democratic Party Presidential Primaries final results

View attachment 780701
(Left) 2000 Democratic Nominee former Vice President Al Gore
(Right) 2004 Democratic Nominee Senator John Edwards


New York arrests, 'foil cyanide plot'
Associated Press
Tue 18 Mar 2004 11.16 BST
The mayor of New York, Mark Green, today said that a potential terrorist attack on the New York City subway station had been averted, with the arrest of 6 men and the seizure of several chemicals that when combined form the deadly hydrogen cyanide gas.
The suspects, who allegedly were linked with radical Islamic terror groups including Al-Qaeda, the Afghanistan-based terror organisation responsible for the bombing of an American military base last year and several attempted plane hijackings 2 years ago, had planned to build devices capable of spreading the gas across the New York City subway system, Mr Green said.
"We have prevented a serious attack on the level of the World Trade Center bombing” police Commissioner Raymond Kelly said, referring to the 1993 truck bomb at the base of the north tower, in which 6 people died and 1000 were injured saying that such an attack could result in serious illness and even death.[2]
Police claim they disrupted the plot when neighbours of one of the arrested an American José Padilla, they reported strange activity including strong chemical odours, loud phone conversations and once a fire. Padilla according to reports had travelled from the U.S. to the Afghanistan region multiple times where he is suspected of establishing contact with several terrorist organisations including undergoing training in building chemical and explosive weaponry.
Other members of the plot included three British-born men of Pakistani descent, and two other Americans from New York State with Yemeni backgrounds all accused of holding connections to several Islamic terror groups including the east Asian group Jemaah Islamiyah, and the prominent so-called ‘freelance terrorist’ Khalid Shaikh Mohammed accused of plotting numerous attacks against the U.S. who is believed to be residing in Taliban controlled Afghanistan
The head of the CIA who aided New York police in the investigation, George Tenet, said that the suspects had trained with numerous terrorist groups and that. "Most of them know how to prepare improvised explosive devices," he told reporters.
The suspects were arrested in a series of raids in the city of New York. The suspects had been under surveillance for weeks, Tenet said. They were being held on multiple attempted murder and conspiracy charges.
Mr Green said that the evidence against the four detainees was "strong and airtight", adding that follow-up operations were underway. "Let no one underestimate our determination to keep New York and New Yorkers safe," he said.
Chemical weaponry has occasionally been used by terror groups before, most notoriously there was an attack on Japan's Tokyo subway system by a religious cult using the nerve agent sarin killing 12 people and injuring hundreds. Inside the United States only months ago a plot by white supremacists to attack government buildings in Texas included a home-built cyanide gas bomb, but the plot was disrupted by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms[3]
The arrests have brought some criticism from civil rights groups who claim that some of the tactics used by police, including heavy surveillance, represented a possible abuse of authority …

(Left) Arrested 'cyanide plot' suspect José Padilla [4] (Right) the devices created to distribute the chemicals



[1] Gore didn't run in 2000 because he thought George Bush was too popular at the time. Sadly for Gore I agree with his OTL decision political comebacks in US politics are rare and I generally refer to Patton's quote "Americans love a winner and will not tolerate a loser". Perhaps Gore is special because he could legitimately claim he had actually won the 2000 election but my mind immediately goes to imagining if Hillary Clinton had tried to run in 2016 or Humprhey's run in 72
[2] There is little hard evidence for this plot and has only been referenced in several memoirs claiming that the plot was cancelled by Al-Qaeda leadership for several reasons. I have serious doubts as to the actual potential success of such a plot (chemical weapons are harder to construct and are less deadly than conventional explosives) but TTLs leader of AL Qaida was more focused on chemical and biological weaponry so they attempt to carry out the plot only for it to be dismantled in its preparatory stage
[3] A real plot that was overshadowed by the war on terror and the name was changed to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives after 9/11
[4] Jose Padilla is the 'terrorist' who famously attempted to build a nuclear bomb by following a parody guide that included "putting uranium in buckets and spinning them clockwise over your head" ITTL his plan is less audacious but just as unsuccessful
Sad that Gore didn't get the nomination. I don't really have much of an opinion on Edwards though I am interested in who his running mate will be and how he will do against George Bush in the election. Great writing.
 
Good as always!
I wish I could see the World Trade Center more and more times, I just want to see "them", they still alive after 2001😢 Thank you very much!
 
Though I am a bit disappointed that Al Gore didn't win the Democratic primaries, I do wonder what a Bush vs Edwards race will look like. This was a pretty interesting update.

Either way, your timeline's version of JibJab's This Land will look different with John Edwards as the Democratic nominee instead of John Kerry and without the War on Terror (assuming it still gets made). I do wonder who Edwards will choose as his running mate.



God, I'm old I remember watching that when it was new. I loved the update I really like this world I'm curious how it's going to end up thanks for the awesome work.
 
John Edwards as running mate. Thought it would be Bob Graham
Uh, John Edwards got the Democratic nomination in this timeline and was the running mate for John Kerry in the OTL 2004 US presidential election.

With Edwards as the Democratic nominee in this timeline, I wonder who will be his running mate will be.
 

Part XXXIV Bullets & Ballots, Part 2

March 2nd would be the largest primary day of the calendar, 10 states would be holding their primaries and caucuses, and in one night over a quarter of the available delegates would be decided and divvied out between the two remaining serious candidates, Former Vice President Al Gore and Senator John Edwards, if either candidate came out significantly ahead of the other it would more than likely signal the end of the contest and decide the winner of the Democratic nomination.

There were many big prizes to be won on the night, including California and New York the two most populous states in the union, the whole country was represented with the new England region well-represented including Massachusetts, Vermont, and Rhode Island in the mix. The mid-west was also there with Ohio and Minnesota and the South would not be left out with Georgia, and the mix of D.C. white suburbanites and Baltimore African Americans that made up Maryland. The contest guaranteed to give the nation the chance to decide their preference.

View attachment 780699
C-Span coverage of "Super Tuesday"

There was no clear front-runner in the race, and polls teetered one way or the other in terms of the Democratic party's intentions. It was certain that both candidates were battling for every last vote, none comforted by their leads in each respective state. Looking at the map, Gore had an advantage in California and New York the ‘big enchiladas’ as the pundits put it, where the electorate and trends leaned in his favour. But Edwards's momentum was clearly felt as many Democrats stayed out of the endorsement game, clearly hedging their bets, but Gore still scored major endorsements from California Senator Dianne Feinstein and the Senatorial Spouse of his former boss Hilary Clinton, putting aside apparent animosity between the two, calling him “The greatest advisor, friend and indeed President you could ask for”. But Edwards continued to stun with the surprise endorsement of the editorial board of the nation's largest newspaper the New York Times, describing him as having “enormous discipline [making] a direct and genuinely emotional connection with people of all backgrounds. … who is easy to envision in the White House” The paper did praise Gore for his ability to communicate and that he was clearly very knowledgeable, suggesting he would make a perfect addition to any cabinet, but conceded that he was lacking in style and was hampered by the past and worries that a rematch between Gore and Bush would distract the country from today's issues, or to put a less kind columnists words to paper “Oh, boo hoo. This isn't about Al Gore's redemption. And it isn't a grudge match. The last thing we need now is a wallow in the past -- which a Gore nomination is almost certain to entail”.

In California with its mammoth 370 delegates, Gore had a lead where his newer liberal views found a more receptive audience. It was the first time that Californians would get a chance to have an important role in the nomination process since 1972. But both candidates campaigned in the state, and Edwards had built up a well-organized campaign, and pundits noted that despite California's leanings the state still had millions of moderate democrats and independents. “Even if Gore wins it, Edwards can't afford to give in, there are still many undecided,” said a Golden State pundit, California had recently become the centre of pollical controversy when San Francisco mayor Gavin Newsom had begun signing marriage licenses for same-sex couples, effectively legalizing same-sex marriage, and the stunt had even sparked the idea of the state legalizing the practice which according to polls a majority of Californians and Americans opposed.

Outside of the big prizes, Edwards held a stronger hand, in the mid-west area of Ohio and Minnesota, his message of economic populism, and reexamining trade deals played very well and he polled above Gore in both states. Ohio was a critical state and both candidates campaigned in the state but campaigning across the nation stretched Edward's campaign fairly thin.
View attachment 780698
New York debate between John Edwards and AL Gore

The true toss-ups were Georgia, Maryland and the New England states. Gore had initially polled well with African American voters giving him a wide lead in the south, but Edwards's surge had made significant inroads with black voters and he remained attractive to southern more moderate white Democrats, despite Gore's background. Both candidates played to their southern roots ''I share the values that rural Southerners share; faith, family, and integrity. Those are the things I've believed in all my life” Said Edwards, while Gore took to the stages with as much energy he could muster and indulged a strong southern accent, outside of his usual statesman-like demeanour and talked about the importance of his faith while criticizing the Presidents ‘right-wing’ religion "If you elect me President, the voices of all faith-based organizations will be integral to the policies set forth in my administration.''. In New England, endorsements played a powerful role, Gore received the support of the popular former Vermont governor Howard Dean, while in Massachusetts Senator Ted Kennedy had endorsed John Edwards, boosting each in those respective states, but both candidates still stacked the airwaves with advertising to capture as many votes as possible Gores former running mate Connecticut Senator Joe Lieberman endorsed him, and despite Rhode Islands, usual low profile, both the candidate's spouses Tipper Gore and Elizabeth Edwards came to rally in the small state.

Democrats across the country were making their final decisions. “Everyones evaluating who can beat Bush?" Said one pundit, and with so many battleground states, the candidates were stretched thin across the country, the candidates were becoming clearly exhausted; months before the actual campaign had actually begun and both men raced against the clock to pull off, late in the game polling bounces. At the same time, it also became clear that President Bush was also ramping up his re-election campaign, as he began delivering his first campaign speeches and the first political adverts were hauled out touting the Presidents achievements, including his support for the energy industry information countering attacks fom Democrats on his climate policy (and Enron). But another elephant wandered into the room in the shape of Ralph Nader the green party candidate of 4 years prior, many Democrats still blamed him for siphoning off crucial Gore-leaning voters in Florida, and Nader declared that “the two-party duoplacy needs to be opposed” and called Washington D.C ‘corporate occupied territory in his announcement he was running.

Democrats across the country cast their ballots, as the candidates wrapped up their tours of the nation. With Gore in Atlanta and Edwards in New York each candidate framed themselves as the best way to beat George Bush, and rejuvenate the American economy with the options being ‘common sense experience’ or ‘fresh-faced energy’

View attachment 780697
Super Tuesday Results

View attachment 780696
State results following Super Tuesday
The polls mostly bore out, despite the results being close, in terms of delegates, states and popular vote, Senator John Edwards had come out ahead of former Vice President Al Gore. His insurgent campaign pulled off a number of close victories once seen as an impossibility, in states across the country Massachusetts, Ohio, Georgia, and the greatest of the night California! where Gore had enjoyed a polling lead. An exultant Edwards stepped out “This was a dog fight, but we bite harder than their bark” The visibly tired senator’s voice began to grow hoarse toward the end of his speech "The truth is I may be losing my voice, but you haven't lost yours, thank you".

But Gore wasn’t out yet, he still held the delegate lead thanks to Superdelegates, and at his own rally he celebrated “Thank you for your votes to empower Americans healthcare, for building and training green collar jobs, and against tax cuts for the wealthy and votes for reclaiming American leadership, so it was and so it shall be again.” The final showdown between the candidates would begin in a number of southern states.

But despite Gore’s optimistic outlook the polls began to truly turn against him, Edwards awash in the warm glow of his victories gained a substantial polling bounce. His support inside the Democratic party widened expanding his winning coalition. Additional surveys came in the days after Super Tuesday that confirmed public perceptions of the two candidates, Edwards was seen as the more favourable candidate and for the first time, several polls showed him beating Bush in the general election by several points. Edward's victory in Georgia was also a key indicator of his growing support from black voters, combined with his support from moderate voters.

View attachment 780695
(Left) celebratory rally for John Edwards and (right) Al Gore on Super Tuesday

The next round of states were all southern ones, where both Edwards and Gore tried to claim the home advantage. The North Carolinian and the Tennesean both attempted to woo the electorates, especially in the wide plains of texas Texas where Gore saw his best chance to prove the pollsters wrong and win back the momentum of the race At a rally in San Antonio, Mr. Gore went after the President seeking to counter claims that he was too liberal and planning to raise taxes “These are scare tactics, and I think it a shame that the president has already departed from the truth”. All candidates were also making eager efforts to expand their share of the growing Hispanic voting base, with the President meeting with the Mexican president Vicente Fox, while John Edwards made his pitch by highlighting his family values and support for growing the American Dream to immigrants, while Gore flexed his bilingual prowess ''I say to you tonight, 'Todavia no han visto nada,' '' Mr Gore said. ''You ain't seen nothing yet.'' And focused on his values of education and healthcare, Gore’s struggle to appeal to Hispanic voters compared to President Clinton had been a significant factor in his loss in 2000 loss (And losing California).
On what was dubbed 'Southern Tuesday' the democratic party voted again, what originally looked like a close night for the candidates turned into a southern sweep for Edwards who cleaned up, winning every state competition, only losing American Samoa which offered only 3 total delegates, in the big ticket items of Texas and Florida Edwards had trounced Gore by wide margins. It was an unforgettable moment for the Edwards campaign signifying that he had won his greatest victory “If I am smiling, its because this campaign has only just begun” With his wife and children by his side he thanked the glowing crowd and exited the stage the clear frontrunner for the Democratic nomination

View attachment 780694
"Southern Tuesday" results
There was now no room for error in the Gore campaign if he were to somehow turn back the tide but the evidence was pouring in that Democrats had made up their minds on who they thought could best beat Bush. A further round of polling doubled down on Edward's advantages, his favourably and his electability inflated while Gore’s numbers sagged. Gore’s campaigners began to irk about a lack of discipline, and a general lack of morale as Democratic insiders, one by one refused to give their support to the candidate and after a few more contests in March, Gore’s chances were becoming increasingly impossible to overcome, and his favours continued to drop following two painful losses in Kansas then the delegate-rich Illinois (a major Gore must win) only 3 days later.

The headlines were becoming harsher and harsher, each pronouncing Gore’s second run for the presidency dead in the water “Al Gore is as good as dead … there is no good news on the horizon as Democrats seem to have increasingly made up their mind on their preferred choice for the nominee and the democratic leadership is anxious to consolidate in preparation for a long and expensive campaign against the sitting President Bush” - Slate.com: The Gore Finale? The delegate math technically panned out, if Gore could pull off a series of crushing victories pending a swift implosion of the Edwards campaign, the candidate had encouraging words for his supporters “We are fighting for a sane government that can make smart decisions and right now that is what this campaign continues to be about” but more and more the wind was blowing the other direction.

It looked as if Democrats had settled on the candidate of choice. Gore still fought on, winning victories in smaller states, and territories, including Alaska and the Democrats abroad, but following several superdelegate shifts and another Edwards victory in Wyoming, It was clear that the writing was on the wall. Following a few days of political pondering, Gore officially withdrew from the Democratic race for President, and urged his supporters to back his former rival John Edwards in the November election “This is a bitter day, some have accused this campaign of being about the past, but we know that this was always about the future … I want to thank you as Democrats for the honor of being your nominee for president four years ago and I want to thank everyone for joining me again today and I want all of you to help John Edwards be the next president of the United States.”

Following Gore’s endorsement, Senator John Edwards gave a speech for the first time as the presumptive Democratic nominee “I want to thank Al Gore for his decades of service both for the Democratic party and our country, for many he represents the distinguished soul of the party and has inspired thousands to enter public service” But he also opened his first blistering attacks on the White House previewing the general election to come “We can't kid ourselves, with the Republican attack machine and their bag of dirty tricks we don’t know what they are willing to do, but I can promise you that together I have no doubt that we will defeat them, that with your help were on a one way ticket to the White House!”

Any dissection of the 2004 Democratic nomination, usually centres on the failure of the Gore campaign, Gore widely tipped for the nomination following his 2000 narrow defeat had seemingly snatched defeat from the jaws of victory and sent Democrats into the arms of the upstart Edwards. His campaign suffered from a severe lack of enthusiasm from Democratic insiders and though he maintained a strong following among the party's more ideological activists, his major selling point, his experience had become a turnoff for many voters. He was polarizing to many and had a high unfavourability rating, and attracted strong media scrutiny. and perhaps the biggest blow was the stain of already losing a presidential election. Many Americans were prepared to move on from the election of 2000 and many Americans desperately hoped to avoid a rematch. This was compared to Edward's campaign, a longshot, grassroots campaign that focused on attracting the centre of the Democratic party into its ranks, once he emerged as the best non-Gore candidate, the party was quick to attach itself to his candidacy.[1]

View attachment 780693
2004 Democratic Party Presidential Primaries final results

View attachment 780701
(Left) 2000 Democratic Nominee former Vice President Al Gore
(Right) 2004 Democratic Nominee Senator John Edwards


New York arrests, 'foil cyanide plot'
Associated Press
Tue 18 Mar 2004 11.16 BST
The mayor of New York, Mark Green, today said that a potential terrorist attack on the New York City subway station had been averted, with the arrest of 6 men and the seizure of several chemicals that when combined form the deadly hydrogen cyanide gas.
The suspects, who allegedly were linked with radical Islamic terror groups including Al-Qaeda, the Afghanistan-based terror organisation responsible for the bombing of an American military base last year and several attempted plane hijackings 2 years ago, had planned to build devices capable of spreading the gas across the New York City subway system, Mr Green said.
"We have prevented a serious attack on the level of the World Trade Center bombing” police Commissioner Raymond Kelly said, referring to the 1993 truck bomb at the base of the north tower, in which 6 people died and 1000 were injured saying that such an attack could result in serious illness and even death.[2]
Police claim they disrupted the plot when neighbours of one of the arrested an American José Padilla, they reported strange activity including strong chemical odours, loud phone conversations and once a fire. Padilla according to reports had travelled from the U.S. to the Afghanistan region multiple times where he is suspected of establishing contact with several terrorist organisations including undergoing training in building chemical and explosive weaponry.
Other members of the plot included three British-born men of Pakistani descent, and two other Americans from New York State with Yemeni backgrounds all accused of holding connections to several Islamic terror groups including the east Asian group Jemaah Islamiyah, and the prominent so-called ‘freelance terrorist’ Khalid Shaikh Mohammed accused of plotting numerous attacks against the U.S. who is believed to be residing in Taliban controlled Afghanistan
The head of the CIA who aided New York police in the investigation, George Tenet, said that the suspects had trained with numerous terrorist groups and that. "Most of them know how to prepare improvised explosive devices," he told reporters.
The suspects were arrested in a series of raids in the city of New York. The suspects had been under surveillance for weeks, Tenet said. They were being held on multiple attempted murder and conspiracy charges.
Mr Green said that the evidence against the four detainees was "strong and airtight", adding that follow-up operations were underway. "Let no one underestimate our determination to keep New York and New Yorkers safe," he said.
Chemical weaponry has occasionally been used by terror groups before, most notoriously there was an attack on Japan's Tokyo subway system by a religious cult using the nerve agent sarin killing 12 people and injuring hundreds. Inside the United States only months ago a plot by white supremacists to attack government buildings in Texas included a home-built cyanide gas bomb, but the plot was disrupted by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms[3]
The arrests have brought some criticism from civil rights groups who claim that some of the tactics used by police, including heavy surveillance, represented a possible abuse of authority …

(Left) Arrested 'cyanide plot' suspect José Padilla [4] (Right) the devices created to distribute the chemicals



[1] Gore didn't run in 2000 because he thought George Bush was too popular at the time. Sadly for Gore I agree with his OTL decision political comebacks in US politics are rare and I generally refer to Patton's quote "Americans love a winner and will not tolerate a loser". Perhaps Gore is special because he could legitimately claim he had actually won the 2000 election but my mind immediately goes to imagining if Hillary Clinton had tried to run in 2016 or Humprhey's run in 72
[2] There is little hard evidence for this plot and has only been referenced in several memoirs claiming that the plot was cancelled by Al-Qaeda leadership for several reasons. I have serious doubts as to the actual potential success of such a plot (chemical weapons are harder to construct and are less deadly than conventional explosives) but TTLs leader of AL Qaida was more focused on chemical and biological weaponry so they attempt to carry out the plot only for it to be dismantled in its preparatory stage
[3] A real plot that was overshadowed by the war on terror and the name was changed to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives after 9/11
[4] Jose Padilla is the 'terrorist' who famously attempted to build a nuclear bomb by following a parody guide that included "putting uranium in buckets and spinning them clockwise over your head" ITTL his plan is less audacious but just as unsuccessful
A Gore comeback bid in 2004 or 2008 probably would fare about what the same in the primaries as in your timeline.
 
Part 35: Wolverine
Part XXXV Wolverine

Saddam Hussein the long-time dictator of Iraq sat down for a rare in-depth interview with western media channels. The president was upbeat in his mood, and it wasn’t hard to see why, from his perspective, he had won a great victory over the United States. The United Nations had just completed an investigation, concluding that it had found no evidence that Iraq had violated international laws regarding its weapons programmes, and inspectors were preparing to leave the country.

It was a long interview where the dictator at times stared down the lens of the camera, or the interviewer Dan Rather, times where he pounded his balled-up fist on the table and through a translator he conveyed his absolute conviction that he would remain the President of Iraq and that the United States would never conquer the Iraqi people “Despite their lies, or their supposed superpower status, the Iraqi people will never submit to a godless American force, and now we have convinced the world of this!”

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Saddam Hussein interview with 60 minutes

It had been a year since the beginning of the Iraqi disarmament crisis, when an American jet had crashed/been shot down in the Iraqi desert, killing the pilot and its weapons officer, igniting tensions between the USA and Iraq, with the US accusing Saddam of violating UN accords and hoarding so-called ‘weapons of mass destruction' but after months of missile strikes upon Iraq, the great behemoth of the United States had been forced to back down, confronted by the US’s allies, and the Democratic-controlled congress who were against the Presidents intervention in Iraq.

Saddam had been making the same gloating remarks for months, mocking President Bush, calling him the ‘lesser Bush’ and declaring that he was far smarter than the ‘chimp president’. His interviews and taunts did not go unnoticed in the White House.

The American president, despite efforts by members of his administration to try to move on from Iraq and into his re-election bid, had been prevented by powerful advocates who continued to call for the downfall of the Baathist regime. American policy had begun to reflect this increasingly hardline policy. The 'no-fly' zones in the north and south of Iraq became policed heavier still, and the rules of engagement were opened, allowing coalition forces to strike at any attempt to organize Iraqi forces in the regions. The harsh enforcement policy was described as a ‘no drive zone’ designed to deny the Iraqi government any ability to coordinate its forces in Kurdish or Southern regions. It was a policy that had been championed by the hardliners in the Bush administration since the beginning. US and British jets targeted military bases (largely destroyed in the previous year's campaign), lines of communication and even military convoys and troop movements. This harsh enforcement was heavily criticised by humanitarian and anti-war groups as exacerbating the pain for Iraqi civilians, the harsh bombing campaigns, and harsh sanction enforcement had devastated Iraqi infrastructure and quality of life, leading to routine electricity, food and water poverty.

The ‘no-drive zone’ envisaged by Deputy Defence Secretary Paul Wolfowitz was designed to break Baghdad’s hold on Southern Iraq just as it had done in the north, hoping to trigger some kind of uprising against Saddam as had occurred in 1991 or 1999 or even a military coup like in 1996. But unlike the neocon Wolfowitz, most officials were confident that Iraq would continue to defy the U.S., Saddam still controlled enough military, paramilitary and police forces to enforce his rule in southern Iraq and the Shia were not in a position to rise up, despite the CIA’s growing efforts to sow the seeds with bribes and propaganda, which flooded the Kurdish and Shia regions. All of these activities encompassed the IFRA (Iraqi Freedom Activities), a series of covert actions greenlit by the President designed to bring about the overthrow of the Iraqi dictatorship.

IFRA included large-scale espionage on the Iraqi regime, coercion of members of the regime and using weapons inspections as additional cover for said operations. Supplying opposition groups with money and equipment, the funding of Iraqi expatriate groups prominently the Iraqi National Congress (INC) led by controversial leader Ached Chalabi and the creation of exile militant groups like the ‘Free Iraqi Forces’ (FIF were forces prepared in Kuwait expected by Chalabi to one day succeed the Iraqi Army). U.S. propaganda was spread throughout the country via pamphlets, radio and television stations established in Kurdish and Kuwaiti territory to blast out the 'truth' of the Saddam regime and encourage revolt.

President Bush had already ordered covert military action in the Kurdish region to aid the Kurdish Peshmerga forces to drive out radical Islamist forces encamped in the border region between Kurdish territory and Iran. This was to allow any Kurdish forces to join a potential war or aid an uprising against Saddam’s Iraq, this activity ended in a Kurdish victory and the militants fleeing onto Iranian soil.

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Kurdish Fighters on the left and the area of the Kurdish offensive on the left

The covert activity didn’t go entirely unnoticed by the wider world, it became publicly known during the crisis that the US had a large-scale espionage operation inside Iraq, and the Iraqi government had taken every opportunity to publicly expose the ‘American meddling’ showing off supposed bugs and rounding up accused traitors to receive swift and brutal executions, including several Iraqi colonels accused of providing the Americans with military information who were consequently dragged to death through the desert. The cat-and-mouse game between the US and Iraqi intelligence was a brutal one, with significant sums of money used to bribe and extract assets before the Fedayeen militia could cull them. The extent of the bribery payments stretched so far that in some villages the American dollar replaced the Iraqi dinar as local currency.

There were worries in Washington that these operations were stretching the capability of US intelligence, or that the number of operations was tipping the CIA’s hand and aiding Iraqi anti-espionage efforts. Additionally, there was no clear goal to the operations outside destabilization and it wasn’t clear that these efforts were very successful. Despite the no-drive zones Baghdad’s influence in the south did not waver and attempts to sow seeds of protest were stamped out just as quickly by local police and militia. But the department of Defence wanted results regardless, frustrated by the CIA and the State departments disagreements, Vice President Cheney, and Defence Secretary Rumsfeld entirely sidestepped them, taking their directives straight to the President.

Operation Wolverine was an operation to finally pull off regime change in Iraq, authorized by the President in the previous year, but instead of a U.S. invasion, something the public and the President had now dismissed as too politically risky, Wolverine blueprinted a surgical strike to remove Saddam Hussein and decapitate the Iraqi government. The death of President Saddam Hussein would be used to trigger a revolt in Southern Iraq, aided by harsh enforcement of the no-drive zone and what remained of those loyal to the old regime, would be cast out of the south. After that the plans were vague, perhaps the U.S. would expand their aerial operations to the whole of Iraq enabling the end of the Baathist state entirely, and U.S. special forces in Kuwait could enter to aid the new autonomous southern Iraq. These vagaries were one of the many reasons that the full scale of the operation was never widely discussed or taken seriously by many career intelligence officers or diplomats, except between its architects and the President, with major cabinet departments only vaguely aware of the plot to instigate an internal coup, the hardliners feared that Secretary of State Colin Powell or maybe National security advisor Condoleezza Rice would try to dissuade an attempt to kill the dictator, warning the unknown consequences, the lack of a clear successor and allegations that the U.S. would be breaking international and domestic laws. Reluctantly CIA director George Tenet (over the heads of some subordinates) supported the operation agreeing that killing Saddam according to analysts would bring down the state, reportedly telling the President he was “the keystone, without him it all falls apart” (Tenet has objected to this version of events)[1].

Saddam Hussein had survived half a dozen plots to kill him. The U.S. had launched missile attacks in the ’90s that struck locations that Saddam was known to frequent, and several members of the Iraqi military had been briefly swayed only to be swiftly purged by the dictator. Numerous CIA and Mossad plots had been put into the planning stages, but all these operations were scrapped due to the Iraqi leader's increasingly evasive nature, he utilized body doubles, often arrived to meetings late or not at all and he had become far more reclusive reportedly in fear of an American assassination attempt, neglecting to communicate over the telephone and relying on an informal line of communication with his subordinates.

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Saddam Hussein tile portrait in Iraq

Despite the administration trying to shift away from Iraq following the UN report, a constant warm simmer of criticism remained, the administration used the House investigation to attack Iraq and Democrats as soft on Saddam, reminding the public of his misdeeds, massacring Kurds and Shia, invading Kuwait, the oil fires, the deaths of American servicemen, plots to assassinate Americans, and ties to terrorist groups that had plotted attacks inside the United States and killed Americans abroad. The administration rejected to provide Congress evidence going straight to the public, President Bush told the Press “Regardless of what some in Congress or the media say, we must stop this dangerous killer”

The final stage of Wolverine involved a covert military mission to be undertaken by specially trained Iraqi exiles nicknamed Scorpions, unlike the regular exile forces in the FIF the Scorpions were usually Kurds and had undergone some specialist training and some held connections to opposition groups inside Iraq. The Scorpions represented the CIA’s best-trained assets inside and outside of Iraq, who conducted the bulk of espionage and sabotage exercises, as well as plotting out targets for American strikes. In the event of an American invasion, the Scorpions were supposed to help create chaos but since its postponement, their mission had changed dramatically. The Scorpions were given the task of sparking the planned uprising, 80 men equipped with Soviet equipment and dressed as Iraqi soldiers would seize control of an Iraqi airbase near the Kuwaiti border outside the city of Basra and broadcast its message, giving the impression of an internal uprising already in progress.[2]

With the decapitation strike and the internal revolt, the DoD thought that it would provide ample opportunity for the Iraqi people to revolt and cast out the remnants of Saddam’s forces. It was a radical plan, but it was a big step down for the hardliners and went down well with the President. There were detractors, the legalists and diplomats who worried that the President would be in breach of international and domestic law, but after a year of internal division over Iraq policy, the administration settled on Wolverine as swift and decisive action with manageable consequences for them politically and globally. For Bush it was something that needed to be done, he wasn’t going to back down against Saddam.[3]

On May the 2nd 2004, U.S. intelligence reported that Saddam Hussein would be leading a meeting of his national security team from a compound located in the suburbs of Baghdad for the first time since the Desert Badger bombing campaign began nearly a year ago. It represented the first real opportunity to strike at Saddam and came a month after Hussain’s U.S. interview which had infuriated the President and compelled the national security team to action a strike. Following confirmation of Saddam’s arrival and upcoming address. President George W Bush ordered the strikes.

Publicly the strikes were yet another round of punishment, ordered to demolish terrorist infrastructure. But these strikes were clearly different, rather than the fifth fleet unveiling a round of missiles, the compound required greater force, the security and potential depth of the supposed compound meant that conventional missiles would leave the President unscathed, only demolishing its above-ground layer. To properly destroy the site, stealth fighters would need to drop bunker-buster bombs. The two jets would be required to enter Iraqi airspace unprotected, through the stormy Persian Gulf from Qatar, being mid-air refuelled on the Iraq border, then traverse the most heavily defended section of Iraqi airspace. Their only defence was some cover provided by strikes into the no-fly zone, and a few UAVs to lure the attention of the Iraqi forces. The jets weaved across the sky over the Tigris River just above the overcast sky, an hour and a half after the order was given, the bombs were released, and the planes curled off still very alone in enemy airspace dashing to escape and to refuel when the refuelling tanker got in radio contact with a jet pilot and asked how everything went. The pilot replied, “I’ll let you know when I find out what we hit.”

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(Left) Stealth fighter over Iraq, (Right) compound strike position

8000 pounds worth of explosives had struck the compound that supposedly contained members of the Iraqi leadership including Saddam Hussein. But there was no way of knowing if anyone had been killed in the strike. But in its aftermath, there was clearly panic amongst the Iraqi government as forces struggled to communicate with one another, and Baghdad readied for further attacks. With the bombing carried off, the remainder of Wolverine began. The American radio, television stations and propaganda leaflets reported on the strike describing that President Hussein had been ‘gravely injured’, President Bush gave a short announcement to the press reporting the U.S. bombing as part of a “routine American strategy to deplete Iraq’s warfighting capabilities and to destroy its ability to conduct terror” saying that the action was “necessary and just, killers cannot hide from justice”. The President's statement did not mention the target of the operation, and there was still no firm confirmation of Saddam’s death.

The President's statement resembled one made by his father following the Gulf War, calling directly upon the Iraqi people to take action. “Only the Iraqi people have the ability to take the action that would end this, that would bring our nations together, to remove the killers and dictators that rule them, to build a free Iraq” That message was subsequently broadcast on the U.S.-operated Iraqi media outlets. As his words carried through American and Iraqi ears, the Scorpion forces crossed the border aboard soviet era transport helicopters and converged on the Az-Zubayr airstrip, the airstrip was easily captured by the well-armed exiles and they quickly began to broadcast their own message calling for an uprising, a message that was also picked up by the U.S. propaganda and spread “Saddam and his Sons are criminals and the Iraqi military calls on the Iraqi people to overthrow them to take to the streets.”.

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(Left) Iraqi military helicopter, (Right) Scorpion strike point


The global reaction was of shock, besides some verbal back-and-forth, there had been no serious escalation between the United States and Iraq since the end of UN inspections. The President had given away very little to America's allies, fearing that someone would forewarn the Iraqis. The world and the American public reacted as they always did, with dismay from those opposed to Bush’s unilateralism and applauding from those in favour, there had been little groundwork laid for the military strikes and most assumed that tensions were easing. But no one in the administration was listening to the protests of the UN.. or a few liberals in congress, they were all waiting with bated breath to learn the results of the military strikes and the response of the Iraqi people.

The President also waited for more info as he met with the Prime Minister of Australia Kim Beazley. The two had an awkward history, Beazley had been an overall supporter of the President's foreign policy and had joined an informal anti-terror alliance of the United States, the United Kingdom and Australia to collaborate in intelligence to counter Islamic terrorist groups in the middle east and south-east Asia, but Beazley had been forced to withdraw support from an invasion of Iraq due to domestic opposition. In the meeting ‘Bomber' Beazley took a strong interest in the U.S. strike, committing himself to a continued alliance with the U.S. and shared his hope privately with Bush “Saddam’s regime of ratbag thugs are overthrown with the support of the Iraqi people”.

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Prime Minister Kim Beazley meets President George Bush

The stage had been set for a year, the Iraqi military had been battered, unable to organize through most of the country with the ever-present American air force hanging over them, the President's military compound was in flames and the oppressed Iraqi people had been urged by a supportive American government and a hundred ‘Iraqi troops’ to revolt. The world watched waiting to see if the Iraqi people would seize the opportunity, but by the night of the 2nd, the world had yet to witness much. The CIA fed reports of defiant civilians breaking curfew, and other signs of protest, some Shia militia strode out in defiance of Baathist law to practise faith and spread illegal literature, but these stories were coupled with those of continued suppression.

Thousands of Iraqi soldiers, police and loyal Fedayeen travelling street by street, house by house to impose curfews, beat protesters and fire on anyone who demonstrated. When news of a government building supposedly being occupied in Nasiriyah, regime forces levelled it with mortars. And in Basra where the Scorpions broadcast could still be heard, regime forces switched off the power, tore up telephone lines and raised barricades to prepare for a potential invasion. There were some signs of confusion, Fedayeen squared off with the military in the port city, confused that a coup could be underway and destroyed their own government helicopters. The sound of gunshots either exchanges of fire or summary executions continued through the night.

Just before the morning light broke over the cradle of civilisation a familiar voice crept out across Iraq’s national airwaves “In the name of Allah, The Merciful, The Compassionate, remember his words with this message 'I am with you: give firmness to the Believers: I will instil terror into the hearts of the Unbelievers: smite ye above their necks and smite all their fingertips off them.' … Long live Great Iraq and its valiant army of Mujahideen. Long live our glorious Arab nation. The wretched aggressors and infidel traitors shall be extinguished” said the voice of Saddam Hussein.

Operation Wolverine was already a failure. The objective was out of grasp, Saddam’s apparent survival and the broadcast of his voice were the nails in the coffin. Outside of Basra, there were no signs of a breakdown in Iraqi command or a military revolt to be seen. Iraqi protests never escalated to a significant degree to disturb the regime failing to reach that of the 99 or 91 uprisings and didn’t require significant bloodshed to put them down. The frustration was apparent in the west wing, as cabinet members and advisors who had been primed to believe that the Iraqi people were begging for an opportunity to overthrow Saddam, were noticeably dismayed by the results.

As for the elite ‘Scorpions’, it didn’t take long for their forces to be surrounded by bands of Iraqi troops, ordered to eliminate all descent by the President (and supposedly the prophet) himself. Isolated and without orders the Scorpions were doomed. The CIA always intended such an operation to be the spark of a greater revolt and would be willing to provide air support to destroy the Iraqi military. But with the failure of the operation, the Iraqis did not need to send organized divisions into the region instead relying on its loyal local militia to take back the airbase with small arms. There was no chance of safely extracting the soldiers without putting American soldiers at severe risk of being shot down. Unwilling to assist or extract the Scorpions they were left to their ultimate fate when Saddam’s loyal forces closed in, attacking the airbase destroying their helicopters and killing most of the exiles and capturing the rest.

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(Left) Iraqi police celebrate, (Right) captured Iraqi 'Scorpions'

Operation Wolverine was a calamitous failure, post-operation analysis, as well as congressional investigation, showed that at every point the United States had systematically failed to grasp its lack of clarity in Iraq. The CIA and DoD had continued to rely on inaccurate assessments of the Iraqi population and Saddam's power structure. American informants were more often than not double agents supplying false information, deliberately lying as a means of escaping the country or were totally misinformed themselves. DoD came under fire for its continued reliance on patently inaccurate information supplied by exile groups, including the publically reported fraudster Achmed Chalabi who fed information on Iraq’s supposed readiness for revolution directly to the executive branch (congressional inquiry revealed that Iran was also paying Chalabi for the same information). Most of the criticism was initially levelled at the strike in Baghdad when the Department of Defence was eventually forced to admit that there was no confirmation of the existence of any bunker, or if Saddam Hussein had ever been present at the compound on the day in question (the informant who provided this crucial tip, a guard at the Presidents palace was subsequently killed for conspiring against the regime), additionally the compound strike was reported to be a complete failure, one stealth fighter had missed its target entirely and the other only destroyed the exterior wall of the compound. However, there was pushback citing the merits of cruise missile strikes in the south, against Iraqi military movements as being far more successful. The regime's immediate reaction to news of a potential uprising sent a few columns of Iraqi troops out, including a Republican Guard formation from a command base in Amrah. These formations were struck under the basis of the no-fly zone causing significant casualties and a few notable deaths including the Governor of Basra, Walid Tawfiq and the head of the Republican Guard Qusay Hussein (One of Saddam's sons), both deaths were confirmed in a subsequent broadcast by Saddam who hailed them as martyrs who were supposedly going south to defeat the potential uprising, President Bush, in contrast, hailed Qusay's death calling him a’ perpetrator of genocide and said the strikes were necessary to prevent Iraq killing more Shia.

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[5]
(Left ) Qusay Hussain, Saddam's middle child and head of the Fedayeen, (Right) Walid Tawfiq Governor of Basra

The role of the Scorpions took longer to be raised in the public eye, but a congressional inquiry, leaks and an Associated Press expose in 2005 detailed the extent of the US’s role in the mission even revealing the site in Nevada where the Scorpions were trained. It was also revealed that the operation was widely predicted to be a failure by many members of the CIA who derided the Scorpions as unprofessional and referred to the entire incident as the Bay of Goats’ [4] a parody of the CIA Bay of Pigs operation, the failed attempt to invade Cuba and overthrow Castro using exiles in 1961.

The operation drew near uniform condemnation by the world and the administration's political opponents who slammed Bush for conducting military action seemingly without sufficient pretence or authorization while ignoring military or analytical consensus. The 2004 Democratic nominee John Edwards called the President's actions ‘preposterous’ “Congress has been clear to the President, if he has legitimate reasons to use military force, he must share those reasons with Congress, the President hasn’t asked or received our authorization”. The U.S. Senate which had already opened an investigation into possible attempts by the administration to mislead the public regarding Iraq opened up a new line of attack on the Department of Defence, that some officials specifically Secretary Rumsfeld and his deputy Wolfowitz, were continuing to promote unverified information and sourcing. Honing in on their relationship with Achmed Chalabi, the millions provided to his exile group, Chalabi’s criminal history and connections with the Iranian government. The ‘Bay of Goats’ became a fiasco for the administration, perceived as a blunder by most of the public with key members of the administration under the microscope, the President decided to act requesting the resignation of both Paul Wolfowitz and CIA director George Tenet accused by many of promoting Operation Wolverine over the heads of his subordinates. Wolfowitz was replaced by the Secretary of the Navy Gordon England and Tenet was replaced with career diplomat and counter-terrorism expert Paul ‘Jerry’ Bremer.

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[6]
(Left to Right) Former Deputy Secretary of Defence Paul Wolfowitz and his successor Navy Gordon, President George W Bush, Former Director of Central Intelligence George Tenet and his successor Paul Bremer


[1] George Tenet was divided over Iraq policy, giving into the invasion to keep his job, ITTL he gives into this plan instead
[2] this was one of many real plans to formulate a casus belli against Iraq, IOTL the scorpions became a military police force/ torture team
[3] it is clear from his own writings that George Bush was very personally involved in the decision to remove Sadda,
[4] this is how former CENTCOM commander Anthony Zinni described such an operation
[5] A♣, flap flap flap
[6] Ladies and gents, we got him
 
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Great post! I was on the edge of my seat waiting to see if Saddam survived.
TTL’s AH.com will certainly be filled with "WI: Saddam was killed during Operation Wolverine"
 
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