The Real Deal? A Kerry Wins TL

Discussion in 'Alternate History Discussion: After 1900' started by Sabot Cat, Oct 16, 2018.

  1. Threadmarks: Chapter 1: 2004-2005

    Sabot Cat A Trans Girl and Proud Of It

    May 5, 2013
    Indianapolis, Indiana
    The Real Deal? A Kerry Wins TL

    Chapter 1: 2004-2005

    NYT breaks warrantless wiretaps

    On Oct. 18, 2004, the New York Times broke that President George W. Bush had authorized a secret warrantless surveillance program. [1] The president defended the program as necessary to save American lives from terrorists in a televised address the following day. The president further pledged to prosecute those responsible for leaking it. [2]

    Democratic nominee Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., called the warrantless wiretaps a “clear violation of the law.”[3] Sen. Russ Feingold, D-Wis., described the surveillance program, “one of the greatest attempts to dismantle our system of government that we have seen in the history of our country.”[4] Senate Democrats demanded an immediate investigation into the program and whether or not the White House had engaged in criminal acts. Sen. Arlen Specter, R-Pa., joined his Democratic colleagues in calling for an investigation into the program after the 2004 elections.[5] “It’s inexcusable,” Specter said, “this is clearly and categorically wrong.”[6] Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., concurred, “We have to resolve the issue to show Americans we are nation of law not outcomes.” Graham then voiced his support for the intelligence committee to look into the matter, adding, “If you allow [Bush] to make findings, he becomes the court.”[7]

    The revelation of the secret surveillance program had an immediate and major impact on the presidential election. Kerry continued his momentum from his success in the debates, and was able to gain ground on national security issues while leapfrogging the president on personal qualities such as honesty and trustworthiness.[8] A toxic narrative began to emerge for the President in the final weeks of the election: he thought himself above the law and was dishonest, misleading the public on issues of national importance such as Iraq. Furthermore, he failed to do anything to create jobs, expand healthcare coverage, or prevent the dramatic rise of gasoline prices that began in October and peaked on election day.[9]


    On Nov. 2, 2004, John Kerry was elected the 44th President of the United States with 50.4% of the popular vote and 298 Electoral College votes, carrying 24 states and the District of Columbia. Kerry became the first presidential candidate to win a majority of the popular vote since George Bush in 1988, and the first since Benjamin Harrison in 1888 to win the election without carrying a single Southern state. Kerry shared his weakness in the South with Senate Democrats, who lost Georgia, North Carolina, and South Carolina in open elections despite gains in Alaska, Colorado, Illinois, and Kentucky. Louisiana went to a runoff, as Republican nominee Rep. David Vitter failed to attain a majority in the first round. The fate of the election would decide control of the Senate, as a Republican gain would mean that the Senate would have no net change, with 51 Republicans and 49 Democratic caucus members.

    Both parties spent heavily in Louisiana, with Rep. Chris John emphasizing his endorsement from retiring conservative Sen. John Breaux (D-La.), as well as his support of tax cuts and the partial-birth abortion ban. John had a record of voting with Bush more than two-thirds of the time, but Vitter attempted to claim John was a “Washington liberal”.[10] Vitter argued that he would be an effective check on the incoming president, a claim that John echoed. Ultimately, Vitter won by more than 3 percent through holding down John’s margins in the New Orleans suburbs that the Republican had represented in the House.


    The Louisiana runoff elections not only confirmed that there were no net changes in the Senate, but no net changes in the House for the first time in history. Observers noted that this was a part of a larger trend from the previous four cycles which featured an increasingly uncompetitive battleground for House elections, with fewer party switches and incumbent defeats.[11] President George W. Bush’s defeat was attributed to John Kerry being viewed as a more reliable steward of the status quo by the voting public. Others argued the result was a sign that the nation was divided culturally and politically, with the elections only deepening these divisions.


    “I pledge to do my part to try to bridge the partisan divide,” Kerry said. “Today I hope we can begin the healing.”[12]

    2004 elections

    President: 298 D, 240 R
    Senate: +0 (R: 51 -> 51; D: 48 -> 48; I: 1)
    House: +0 (R: 229; D: 204; I: 1)

    John Kerry/John Edwards defeats George W. Bush/Dick Cheney (D gain from R)

    Alabama: Incumbent Richard Shelby (R) wins re-election
    Alaska: Former Governor Tony Knowles (D) defeats incumbent Lisa Murkowski (R) [13]
    Arizona: Incumbent John McCain (R) wins re-election
    Arkansas: Incumbent Blanche Lincoln (D) wins re-election
    California: Incumbent Barbara Boxer (D) wins re-election

    Colorado: State Attorney General Ken Salazar (D) wins in an open race
    Connecticut: Incumbent Chris Dodd (D) wins re-election
    Florida: Betty Castor (D) wins in an open race
    Georgia: U.S. Representative Johnny Isakson (R) wins in an open race
    Hawaii: Incumbent Daniel Inouye (D) wins re-election
    Idaho: Incumbent Mike Crapo (R) wins re-election
    Illinois: State Senator Barack Obama (D) wins in an open race
    Indiana: Incumbent Evan Bayh (D) wins re-election
    Iowa: Incumbent Chuck Grassley wins re-election (R)
    Kansas: Incumbent Sam Brownback wins re-election (R)

    Kentucky: State Senator Daniel Mongiardo (D) defeats incumbent Jim Bunning (R)
    Louisiana: U.S. Representative David Vitter (R) wins in an open race
    Maryland: Incumbent Barbara Mikulski (D) wins re-election
    Missouri: Incumbent Kit Bond (R) wins re-election
    Nevada: Incumbent Harry Reid (D) wins re-election
    New Hampshire: Incumbent Judd Gregg (R) wins re-election
    New York: Incumbent Chuck Schumer (D) wins re-election
    North Carolina: Richard Burr (R) wins in an open race
    North Dakota: Incumbent Bryon Dorgan (D) wins re-election
    Ohio: Incumbent George Voinovich (R) wins re-election
    Oklahoma: U.S. Representative Tom Coburn (R) wins in an open race

    Oregon: Incumbent Ron Wyden (D) wins re-election
    Pennsylvania: Incumbent Arlen Specter (R) wins re-election
    South Carolina: U.S. Representative Jim DeMint (R) wins in an open race
    South Dakota: Incumbent Tom Daschle (D) wins re-election
    Utah: Incumbent Bob Bennet (R) wins re-election
    Vermont: Incumbent Patrick Leahy (D) wins re-election
    Washington: Incumbent Patty Murray (D) wins re-election
    Wisconsin: Incumbent Russ Feingold (D) wins re-election

    Connecticut’s 4th: Diane Farrell (D) defeats incumbent Chris Shays (R)
    Colorado’s 3rd: John Salazar (D) wins in an open election
    Georgia’s 12th: John Barrow (D) defeats incumbent Max Burns (R)
    Illinois’s 8th: Melissa Bean (D) defeats incumbent Phil Crane (R)

    Indiana’s 9th: Incumbent Baron Hill (D) wins re-election
    Kentucky’s 4th: Geoff Davis (R) wins in an open election
    Louisiana’s 3rd: Charlie Melancon (D) wins in an open election
    Louisiana’s 7th: Charles Boustany (R) wins in an open election
    New York’s 27th: Brian Higgins (D) wins in an open election
    Texas’s 1st: Louie Gohmert (R) defeats incumbent Max Sandlin (D)
    Texas’s 2nd: Ted Poe (R) defeats incumbent Nick Lampson (D)
    Texas’s 10th: Michael McCaul (R) wins in an open election
    Texas’s 11th: Mike Conaway (R) wins in an open election
    Texas’s 24th: Kenny Marchant (R) wins in an open election

    Washington’s 8th: Dave Ross (D) wins in an open election

    The Cabinet of John Kerry [14]


    Kerry’s First 100 Days: Ending the Era of Ashcroft


    President John Kerry vowed in his inaugural address to return to America’s values by renewing its commitment with its allies in a war against terrorism.[15]“We will be stronger at home and respected again abroad,” Kerry said. “We will lead the world through the strength of our alliances and our convictions.”[16]

    Through executive action, Kerry addressed the warrantless surveillance program that had caused the electoral downfall of his predecessor. To “end the era of Ashcroft”[17], Kerry directed the Justice Department to end sneak-and-peek searches and require roving wiretaps to have an identifiable target.[18] The Justice Department also audited the NSA in ensuring sufficient probable cause had been established before one’s communications were monitored.[19][20]

    Kerry further sought to mend international perceptions of the United States through changing course on its treatment of ‘unlawful enemy combatants’. Kerry issued an executive order to review the disposition of prisoners at Guantanamo Bay naval base, with the goal of the prisoners being ultimately transferred and the prison closed down if funding could be made available from Congress. In the duration, the executive order required the camp to be in compliance with the Geneva Conventions.[21] Kerry then issued an executive order to end the use of torture, referred to as “enhanced interrogation techniques” during the Bush administration.[22]

    On February 18,[23][24] Kerry unveiled a multi-pronged proposal for Iraq called the “Strengthening America’s Armed Forces and Military Family Bill of Rights Act” or just the Military Family Bill of Rights[25], which passed with bipartisan support.

    “Never again will parents or husbands or wives of soldiers have to send them body armor instead of photographs and care packages,” Kerry said. [26]

    The cost of implementing the law was priced at $8 billion a year.[27] It included the addition of 40,000 more active-duty Army personnel, of which 20,000 were combat troops, 5,000 were special forces, and the rest were civil affairs officers and military police.[28] The statutorily authorized size of the Army was increased to 530,000, and the authorized size of the Marines was increased to 188,000.[29] The death gratuity, paid in the event a service member dies, was increased from $12,000 to $250,000, while military spouses were permitted to remain in government housing for a year after the death of a service member. Finally, the Military Family Bill of Rights created a “military relief fund” that taxpayers can choose to contribute, akin to the small amount of tax money voluntarily contributed to presidential campaigns.

    In February 22, Kerry touted NATO’s joint statement saying that all member states would provide personnel, equipment, and funding to the NATO Training in Iraq (NTM-I).[30] Kerry suggested this was a result of a NATO meeting about Iraq and the Middle East as a whole, in which he called for the international community to help stabilize the region.[31] Kerry further praised the European Union’s commitment to provide $38 million in assistance for the Iraqi parliamentary elections, and their pledge to help train Iraqi law enforcement and judicial officials. Critics were quick to point out that the actions of NATO and the EU were not the result of Kerry’s efforts, but were initiated before he had been inaugurated.

    Critics further charged that the president’s promises for greater international involvement in the occupation of Iraq had gone unfulfilled. In fact, Italy, Hungary, Poland, Portugal, and Ukraine had all announced that they were withdrawing their forces as 2004 ended and 2005 began.[32] Kerry had secretly tried to fulfill these promises in private talks with prominent European leaders such as Chancellor Gerhard Schröder of Germany and President Jacques Chirac of France.[33] Kerry had strongly insisted that they commit troops to make the Iraq occupational force a truly multinational coalition, or the United States would withdraw within three to six months.[34] Kerry was essentially threatening the destabilization of Iraq, and leaned on France and Germany due to their economic stake in the region. [35] Schröder and Chirac were unimpressed with Kerry’s threat, [36] and called his bluff by offering support they had already pledged to former President George W. Bush in the form of their contributions to the NATO mission and the EU humanitarian aid.

    As the first post-occupation Iraqi government began to take shape, Kerry urged power sharing between Shiites, Sunnis, and Kurds.[37][38][39]

    “The United States will not have a permanent military presence in Iraq,” Kerry said. “The United States will insist that the Iraqis establish a truly inclusive political process and meet the deadlines for finishing the Constitution and holding elections in December. We're doing our part: our huge military presence stands between the Iraqi people and chaos, and our special forces protect Iraqi leaders. The Iraqis must now do theirs.”[40]

    However, Kerry had very little pull in the Iraqi government’s formation or processes. In fact, he was unable to secure a proposal he touted on the campaign trail for the United Nations to authorize the appointment of a high commissioner in Iraq modeled on the High Representative for Bosnia and Herzegovina.[41]The Iraqi government resented further foreign interference in their government, and believed it undermined their credibility as a sovereign nation if the UN had veto power over their officials.

    Iran and North Korea

    Kerry had better luck with his diplomatic initiatives in Iran. The president entered the United States into negotiations between Iran and the EU-3, or France, Germany, and the United Kingdom about their nuclear program. Iran sought unsanctioned use of uranium as a power source pursuant to their rights in the Treaty of Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT), in cooperation with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and to avoid referral to the United Nation’s Security Council.[42] European negotiators sought assurances that Iran would not develop nuclear weapons, and the Bush administration had taken a hardline stand against Iran enriching uranium for any use. [43] Consequently, the EU-3 were previously unable to offer the necessary incentives to Iran to cooperate during the Bush administration.[44]

    Kerry helped to guide the talks towards a longer-term diplomatic solution by entertaining the possibility of Iran enriching uranium for civilian use. In the early spring of 2005, Iran proposed a preliminary deal in which they would strictly adhere to set a of voluntary restrictions on their uranium enrichment program with increased oversight from the IAEA. Iranian negotiators stated that they would remain bound by the NPT, and that religious leaders would speak out against the use of nuclear weapons. European diplomats felt that their Iranian counterparts were acting in good faith and that the agreement was in complete conformity with international law.[45]

    On May 18, 2005, Kerry announced an interim agreement in Paris among the United States, the EU-3, and Iran. This marked the first formal agreement between the United States and Iran in decades.[46] By executive order, Kerry lifted numerous economic sanctions on Iran.[47] In exchange, Iran pledged to continue its freeze of its civilian nuclear program, until a long-term deal could be worked out by all parties for voluntary limits and inspections. The lifting of sanctions was a significant boon to the economies of all parties.[48] Gas prices decreased while Iranian incomes increased, helping the approval ratings of both President John Kerry and President Mohammad Khatami of Iran. [49] The economic boost strengthened the reformists in the 2005 presidential election, with two reformists, former president Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani and Mehdi Karoubi, advancing to the runoff on June 17. Rafsanjani would win his third nonconsecutive term on June 24 and committed himself to continuing the outgoing administrations’ nuclear negotiations with the United States and the EU-3.[50]


    In addition to the high-profile negotiations with Iran, Kerry reestablished diplomatic channels with North Korea after they had been all but terminated under the Bush administration.[51] Kerry thus fulfilled his campaign promise to resume bilateral talks with North Korea in addition to the multilateral talks that were already underway.[52] Kerry pledged to restart the construction of light water reactor nuclear power plants in North Korea under the U.S.-North Korea Agreed Framework that been frozen in 2003,[53] while North Korea pledged to dismantle all of its existing nuclear facilities.[54] Multilateral talks for implementing this framework, including acceding to IAEA inspectors to appraise the progress of the dismantling, were scheduled for the rest of 2005 and into 2006.

    Beyond the first 100 days

    As Kerry saw progress in carrying out his foreign policy goals, he struggled to get the Republican Congress to approve any of his domestic agenda. Kerry had urged Congress to consider a bill that would use tax credits to expand healthcare and higher education access, but Republicans argued that the plan would displace the role of private insurers and cost taxpayers too much. Consequently, the measure did not come to a vote in either chamber of Congress. Republicans also opposed Kerry’s education proposals, which would provide a ten-year $200 billion entitlement to the states called the “National Education Trust Fund” to help schools stay in compliance with NCLB and IDEA requirements. [55] Republicans argued that the proposal increased spending without corresponding cuts in other domestic programs and rejected Kerry’s proposals to fund them through increasing taxes on higher income brackets or closing “tax loopholes.”

    Republicans were more amenable to the “Great Teacher for Every Child” proposal, which would have increased teacher salaries by $5,000 or more in “troubled” schools and in high-demand subjects such as math and science at a cost of $30 billion over ten years.[56] However, it faced opposition from teachers’ unions, as it would have partially tied teacher pay to student performance on standardized tests. The National Education Association (NEA) leaned on Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle to help defeat the measure in the upper chamber.[57] Another Kerry proposal, the “Service for College” program, would have allowed high school students to engage in public service similar to Americorps for two years in exchange for four years of equivalent public tuition at a cost of $13 billion over 10 years.[58] However, it received no legislative action whatsoever.

    The final Department of Education appropriations bill that Kerry signed into law on Aug. 2, 2005 saw one significant change, which was a revamping of the 21st Century Community Learning Centre Program to the “School’s Open ‘Til 6” program, expanding and increasing funding for afterschool programs from $1 billion to $2.5 billion by 2007.


    Kerry had an easier time securing an increase of anti-crime spending by $15 billion over ten years.[59][60][61] This included an expansion of the COPS hiring grants to the $1 billion level per year, the amount it received during the Clinton administration before receiving cuts during the Bush administration.[62]Federal aid to local governments combating the use of methamphetamine was also increased. To assist in those efforts, the bill also banned bulk purchases for over-the-counter medications used to manufacture the drug. Finally, the appropriations bill allocated funds for 5,000 additional community prosecutors to be hired over the next five years. This bill represented a high watermark between Congressional Republicans and President Kerry, which would become increasingly acrimonious as the former found themselves mired in a corruption scandal.

    In November 2005, Congressman Duke Cunningham, R-Calif., resigned from the House and pled guilty to accepting $2.5 million in bribes, mail fraud, wire fraud, and underreporting his taxable income. House Majority Leader Tom DeLay, R-Texas was indicted for money laundering and criminal conspiracy in autumn 2005, after which he temporarily resigned his position before making it permanent the following January. The same month, Congressman Bob Ney, R-Ohio, resigned as chairman of the House Administration Committee because of his ties with Jack Abramoff amidst the emerging Abramoff Indian lobbying scandal. Shortly thereafter, Abramoff would plead guilty to the felonies of tax evasion, conspiracy, and fraud, while under investigation for bribery of public officials. Kerry blasted the Republicans for being corrupt, and in turn Congress became more combative over the president’s policies in Iraq.

    After the 2005 Iraqi parliamentary elections in December concluded without the sectarian violence that marred the January campaign, Kerry organized a summit between Iraqi stakeholders of various sects and ethnicities.[63] The president then withdrew a total of 40,000 troops from Iraq by Christmas,[64][65]and stated his intention for the “bulk of American combat forces” to be withdrawn by the end of 2006.[66] However, a rider was introduced by Rep. Peter King (R-N.Y.) to the Department of Defense’s appropriations that would require benchmarks to be met before forces could be withdrawn from Iraq. These benchmarks included “reducing the level of sectarian violence”, as well as “denying international terrorists a safe haven”, and their fulfillment was to be at the discretion of Congress.[67] Kerry threatened to veto the budget, arguing it threatened the emerging peace in Iraq and unconstitutionally usurped the authority of the president to direct the disposition of the armed forces as the nation’s commander-in-chief. Republicans refused to back down and passed the bill with King’s benchmarks rider. Thus, on Dec. 30, 2005, Kerry vetoed the budget and the government went into shutdown.

    Chapter 1 Notes and Bibliography

    [1] “We were operating against the backdrop of the 2004 presidential race between George W. Bush and John Kerry. With a week or two to go before the election, Lichtblau and I, along with Corbett and Taubman, went to New York for a meeting with Keller and Abramson to decide whether the story would be published.” My Life as a New York Times Reporter in the Shadow of the War on Terror and Critics Question Timing of Surveillance Story
    [2] - Inquiry into leak of NSA spying program launched - Dec 30, 2005
    [3] John Kerry Bashes Bush Wiretaps, Talks of 2008
    [4] Watergate's Dean stars at censure Bush hearing
    [5] Specter Says Surveillance Program Violated the Law
    [6] Illusions of Security
    [7] - Democrats call for investigation of NSA wiretaps - Dec 18, 2005
    [8] Race Tightens Again, Kerry’s Image Improves | Pew Research Center
    [9] Gas rationing and gas lines are unlikely, despite price hike - Oct. 13, 2004
    [10] - Vitter fights Dems, history - Nov 3, 2004
    [12] Kerry Concedes
    [14] Next: Kerry's key Cabinet choices
    Kerry Exploring Cabinet Options (
    Kerry Camp Keeping Mum on Possible Cabinet
    First outlines of potential Kerry Cabinet begin to take shape
    [15] The First 100 Days
    [16] - Transcript: Bush, Kerry closing statements - Oct 1, 2004
    [17] Kerry pledges to end 'era of Ashcroft' - The Boston Globe
    [18] Bush Ad Falsely Implies Kerry Would Repeal Wiretaps of Terrorists -
    [20] Updated - The Obameter: Revise the Patriot Act to increase oversight on government surveillance
    [21] Updated - The Obameter: Close the Guantanamo Bay Detention Center
    [22] Obama's Order Ends Bush-Era Interrogation Tactics
    [23] Kerry would quickly expand military
    [24] S. 460 (is) - Strengthening America's Armed Forces and Military Family Bill of Rights Act
    [25] John F. Kerry: "Protecting Our Military Families in Times of War": Remarks of John Kerry
    [26] John F. Kerry: "Protecting Our Military Families in Times of War": Remarks of John Kerry
    [27] Kerry Says He Would Add 40,000 to Army (
    [29] Kerry: $8B for troop increase, benefits
    [31] The First 100 Days
    [34] The Lesson of John Kerry’s Secret Iraq Plan
    [35] The Lesson of John Kerry’s Secret Iraq Plan
    [36] Subscribe to read | Financial Times
    [37] Gates arrives in Iraq as Abizaid says he's leaving
    [38] John Kerry: U.S. Wants Inclusive Iraq, But Won't Choose Its Rulers | HuffPost
    [39] Kerry Presses for Iraq Peace but Warns Militants Could Force U.S. Action
    [40] The Speech the President Should Give
    [41] Kerry calls for Iraq high commissioner
    [42] Iran's Nuclear Program Timeline and History | NTI
    [43] Iran: how the West missed a chance to make peace with Tehran
    [45] Iran: how the West missed a chance to make peace with Tehran
    [46] Iran nuclear deal agreed at Geneva talks
    [47] Obama signs executive order revoking Iran nuclear sanctions
    [48] Iran Normalizaton Book.pdf
    [49] Iran Normalizaton Book.pdf
    [51] Bush Administration and North Korea.htm
    [52] - Bush, Kerry: Nukes most serious threat - Oct 1, 2004
    [53] Reactor Project Ends in Failure
    [54] U.S.-Korean Deal on Arms Leaves Key Points Open
    [57] Teachers Unions: Money to Congress | OpenSecrets
    [60] Kerry Blasts Bush on Guns (
    [61] Updated - The Obameter: Fully fund the COPS program
    [62] Updated - The Obameter: Fully fund the COPS program
    [63] John Kerry Lays Out Plan for Iraq Pullout
    [64] John Kerry Lays Out Plan for Iraq Pullout
    [65] Kerry: 'Let Iraqis Stand Up for Iraq'
    [66] Kerry Urges U.S. to Start Withdrawal From Iraq
    Last edited: Oct 17, 2018
  2. Threadmarks: Chapter 2: 2006

    Sabot Cat A Trans Girl and Proud Of It

    May 5, 2013
    Indianapolis, Indiana
    Chapter 2: 2006

    Government shutdown and Iraq withdrawal timetable

    The new year began with the U.S. government in shutdown, as President John Kerry and the Republican Congress clashed over setting benchmarks for withdrawal from Iraq. Most Americans believed that going to Iraq War was a mistake, that the benefits outweighed the costs,[1] and the conflict did not contribute to a broader fight against terrorism.[2] Nearly two-thirds or more agreed with the Kerry administration’s ongoing attempts to draw down the number of troops in Iraq,[3] and that U.S. troops in Iraq should leave as soon as possible.[4] The public thus approved of the president’s conduct of the war, and agreed with his plan.[5] Although Kerry’s approval rating declined with the shutdown, the Democrats jumped to a 7 point lead in the generic congressional ballot with voters blaming the Republicans and showing little to no support for their agenda.[6][7]

    The Abramoff Indian lobbying scandal had also done damage to the Republican Party’s image, something Kerry further capitalized on with a five-year ban on lobbying for officials serving in his administration.[8] With the presidential party gaining seats in the previous two midterm elections of 1998 and 2002, the Democratic Party had a good chance of doing the same in 2006 with their anti-corruption message. The Republicans also struggled with recruitment and fundraising in the unfavorable national environment. For the upcoming Senate races, both Gov. John Hoeven of North Dakota[9] and Rep. Shelley Moore Capito of West Virginia[10] refused to run against the popular incumbents in their states. In contrast, the Democratic Party saw strong recruitment and fundraising for both the House and Senate. State Senate President Jon Tester of Montana[11], Rep. Sherrod Brown of Ohio[12] and State Treasurer Bob Casey of Pennsylvania[13] sought to defeat a trio of Republican incumbents who were underwater in popularity, two of whom represented states that Kerry had won in 2004.

    As the State of the Union address approached, Republicans feared that the president had effectively outmatched them in the court of public opinion and would likely do further damage if the government remained in shutdown by Jan. 31, 2006. Thus, ten days before this deadline, Republicans passed a compromise continuing resolution that put the meeting of Iraq benchmarks at the discretion of the executive branch. Kerry signed this into law, but nonetheless railed against Republican obstructionism in his State of the Union address. The president’s complaints went unheard, as months passed without legislative progress on any issue.

    With the Republicans at least effectively conceding the president’s policy in Iraq, Kerry set a timetable in June 2006 for a complete withdrawal aside from minimal security forces in a year and month via an agreement with the newly elected Iraqi government.[14] An over-the-horizon force was to be left in Kuwait, Qatar, and others, with a regional security arrangement.[15] This arrangement was popular with public, especially midterm swing voters.[16] The Iraq Summit was held between the leaders of the government of Iraq, nations neighboring Iraq, representatives from the Arab League and the European Union, the Secretary General of NATO, and leaders of every United Nations Security Council permanent member nation.[17] Kerry saw a short-term increase in approvals for the Iraq Summit,[18] with a majority of Americans viewing it as a success while a minority believed that it was a concession to foreign powers.[19]


    Congress rejects Kerry’s Supreme Court nominee

    On July 3, 2006, Chief Justice William Rehnquist died of complications related to his thyroid cancer. On Aug. 13, 2006, Kerry named federal appeals court judge Sonia Sotomayor as his nominee for chief justice.[20][21]

    “Throughout Judge Sotomayor’s legal career, she has demonstrated a commitment to interpreting the Constitution of the United States according to the law,”[22] Kerry said. “It’s a testament to this commitment and her qualifications that that she has been appointed by both a Republican president, George H.W. Bush, and a Democratic president, Bill Clinton.”[23]


    President George H.W. Bush appointed Sotomayor to the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York in 1991 by unanimous consent of the Senate, before President Bill Clinton appointed her to the Court of Appeals in 1998. The Senate confirmed her to the latter position by a vote of 67-29. Republicans in the Senate as well as the Wall Street Journal editorial page warned at the time that she was on a fast track to the Supreme Court.[24] Rush Limbaugh declared that Sotomayor was an ultraliberal on a “rocket ship” to that position.[25]

    Limbaugh denounced Sotomayor as a “racist” for saying in 2001, “I would hope that a wise Latina woman with the richness of her experiences would more often than not reach a better conclusion than a white male who hasn't lived that life.” Limbaugh and former Speaker Newt Gingrich were among those that mobilized Republican opposition to her nomination. Senate Minority Leader Bill Frist refused to bring Sotomayor’s nomination up for a vote. Despite this, 54 percent of the public supported Sotomayor’s confirmation according to Gallup.[26] The American Bar Association also gave Sotomayor the rating of “well qualified”, the ABA’s highest rating.

    Foley scandal and 2006 midterms

    On Sept. 12, Republicans received politically unwelcome news when Sen. Lincoln Chafee of Rhode Island was defeated by Mayor Steve Laffey of Cranston in the Republican primary.[27] Laffey campaigned on Chafee’s vote to reopen the government and his support for Sotomayor’s nomination. The bad news would continue in the first week of October, when major news organizations reported that Congressman Mark Foley of Florida sent sexual messages to teenage boys serving as congressional pages. Foley resigned as Republican leadership received scrutiny for an alleged cover-up of the incident. 43 percent of Americans polled by Survey USA believed that Speaker Dennis Hastert should resign from Congress, 20 percent believed he should resign as speaker, and 27 percent believe he should remain in his position.[28] Democrats jumped to a 4-point lead in the generic congressional ballot shortly after the scandal broke.[29]

    Democrats surged ahead in the polls for the open Senate races in Maryland, Minnesota, New Jersey, and Rhode Island. Republican Senators in Ohio and Pennsylvania also began to trail their Democratic challengers again, while the Republican leads in the Senate races for Montana and Missouri fell to single digits. Former President George W. Bush redoubled his efforts to campaign for Republicans in competitive Senate and gubernatorial races, especially in the Midwest. Bush hoped to shore up their approvals, but he couldn’t compete with the popular incumbent president. By November, Kerry’s approval rating was at 61 percent[30] as Americans generally approved of both his foreign policy and his domestic policy.

    Under the Kerry administration, gas prices decreased, and unemployment reached a five-year low. At the same time, GDP increased while the stock market regularly hit all-time highs. From January 2005 to November 2006, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported the creation of 4.4 million jobs, nearly midway to the administration’s goal of 10 million new jobs by the end of 2008. 60 percent of those surveyed by a New York Times/CBS News poll rated the economy as good or very good.[31] Going to the polls on Election Day 2006, most voters trusted Democrats on the economy, healthcare, and honesty in government.

    Republicans failed to overcome the blue tilt and high Kerry approvals in the states of Maryland, Minnesota, New Jersey, and Rhode Island, where the Democrats swept all four open races. The status of Sen. Rick Santorum (R-Pa.) as the most unpopular Senator in the country also paved the road to his downfall against State Treasurer Bob Casey Jr. (D-Pa.). The high-profile corruption scandals for the Ohio Republican Party also sunk Sen. Mike DeWine’s re-election bid against Rep. Sherrod Brown.


    With a net gain of three seats in the Senate and 14 seats in the House, the Democrats took control of both chambers of Congress. The result was historically normative in that the Democratic Party’s vote share and margin declined in the House of Representatives.[32] However, this was the first time in history that the presidential party took new control of Congress during a midterm, and the second time at least one chamber was flipped to the presidential party during a midterm since 2002. The 2006 elections were the third consecutive midterm cycle in which the president’s party made gains after 1998 and 2002. The results were attributed to Kerry’s high approvals, the economy, the Abramoff scandal, and the Foley scandal.


    On Jan. 3, 2007, Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) was elected Speaker of the House of Representatives and Sen. Tom Daschle (D-S.D.) was elected Senate Majority Leader. The same day, the Senate confirmed Sonia Sotomayor as Chief Justice of the United States by a vote of 61-39. Despite initial conservative opposition, Sotomayor made history as the first Latino American and the first woman to become Chief Justice.[33] “No speech can fully capture my joy in this moment,” Sotomayor said.[34]

    With his policy agenda receiving a new lease on life, President John Kerry pledged in his State of the Union address to take action on issues such as healthcare and energy independence with the new Congress.

    Kerry said, “These elections proved that if Congress won’t help fix Americans’ problems, Americans will help fix Congress’s problems.”[35]

    2006 midterm elections
    House: +14 D (R: 229 -> 216; D: 205 -> 219; I: 1 -> 0)
    Senate: +3 D (R: 51 -> 48; D: 48 -> 51; I: 1)

    Arizona: Jon Kyl (R hold)
    California: Dianne Feinstein (D hold)
    Connecticut: Joe Lieberman (D hold)
    Delaware: Tom Carper (D hold)
    Florida: Bill Nelson (D hold)
    Hawaii: Daniel Akaka (D hold)

    Indiana: Richard Lugar (R hold)
    Maine: Olympia Snowe (R hold)

    Maryland: Ben Cardin (D hold)
    Massachusetts: Ted Kennedy (D hold)
    Michigan: Debbie Stabenow (D hold)
    Minnesota: Amy Klobuchar (D hold)

    Mississippi: Trent Lott (R hold)
    Missouri: Jim Talent (R hold)
    Montana: Conrad Burns (R hold)

    Nebraska: Ben Nelson (D hold)
    Nevada: John Ensign (R hold)
    New Jersey: Bob Menendez (D hold)
    New Mexico: Jeff Bingaman (D hold)
    New York: Hillary Clinton (D hold)
    North Dakota: Kent Conrad (D hold)

    Ohio: Sherrod Brown defeats Mike DeWine (R hold)[36]
    Pennsylvania: Bob Casey Jr. defeats Rick Santorum (D gain from R)[37]
    Rhode Island: Sheldon Whitehouse (D gain from R)

    Tennessee: Bob Corker (R hold)
    Texas: Kay Bailey Hutchinson (R hold)
    Utah: Orrin Hatch (R hold)

    Vermont: Bernie Sanders (I hold)
    Virginia: George Allen (R hold)
    Washington: Maria Cantwell (D hold)
    West Virginia: Robert Byrd (D hold)
    Wisconsin: Herb Kohl (D hold)

    Wyoming: Craig L. Thomas (R hold)

    Arizona’s 8th: Gabrielle Giffords wins in an open election (D gain from R)
    California’s 11th: Jerry McNerney defeats incumbent Richard Pombo (D gain from R)
    Connecticut’s 5th: Chris Murphy defeats incumbent Nancy Johnson (D gain from R)
    Colorado’s 7th: Ed Perlmutter wins in an open election (D gain from R)

    Georgia’s 8th: Mac Collins defeats incumbent Jim Marshall (R gain from D)
    Georgia’s 12th: Max Burns defeats incumbent John Barrow (R gain from D)

    Indiana’s 2nd: Joe Donnelly defeats incumbent Chris Chocola (D gain from R)
    Indiana’s 8th: Brad Ellsworth defeats incumbent John Hosteller (D gain from R)
    Iowa’s 1st: Bruce Braley wins in an open election (D gain from R)

    Iowa’s 3rd: Jeff Lamberti defeats incumbent Leonard Boswell (R gain from D)
    New Hampshire's 2nd: Paul Hodes defeats incumbent Charlie Bass (D gain from R)
    New York's 20th: Kirsten Gillibrand defeats incumbent John Sweeney (D gain from R)
    New York’s 24th: Mike Arcuri wins in an open election (D gain from R)
    North Carolina’s 11th: Heath Shuler defeats incumbent Charles Taylor (D gain from R)
    Ohio’s 18th: Zack Space wins in an open election (D gain from R)
    Pennsylvania’s 7th: Joe Sestak defeats incumbent Curt Weldon (D gain from R)
    Pennsylvania's 10th: Chris Carney defeats incumbent Don Sherwood (D gain from R)
    Texas’s 22nd: Nick Lampson defeats incumbent Shelley Sekula-Gibbs (D gain from R)
    Texas’s 23rd: Ciro Rodriguez defeats incumbent Henry Bonilla (D gain from R)
    Vermont’s at-large: Peter Welch wins in an open election (D gain from I)

    [1] Gallup Poll Review: Key Points About Public Opinion on Iraq
    [2] Poll Shows a Shift in Opinion on Iraq War
    [3] Gallup Poll Review: Key Points About Public Opinion on Iraq
    [5] The Iraq-Vietnam Comparison
    [6] Government Shutdown: Polls Show Voters Blamed GOP For 1995 Crisis | HuffPost
    [7] The Government Shutdown Effect: Big In The Short Term, Small After That
    [8] From 2004 “100 Days To Change America” -John Kerry’s Action Plan For His First 100 Days in Office
    [11] SurveyUSA News Poll #8541
    [12] confirms-he-will-challenge-DeWine-for-Senate-seat.html
    [13] Voters Guide 2006: 2 battle Casey for Democratic U.S. Senate nomination
    [14] On Iraq, Kerry Again Leaves Democrats Fuming
    [16] A Crucial Vote
    [17] Congressional Record, V. 152, Pt. 9, June 16, 2006 to June 27 2006
    [18] Frisch_s1.docx
    [19] Americans are satisfied with how North Korea summit went - CNNPolitics
    [20] Guessing Begins on Judgeships in a Kerry Term
    [22] - Rehnquist has thyroid cancer surgery - Oct 25, 2004
    [23] Transcript of Obama-Sotomayor announcement -
    [24] The Souter Strategy
    [25] G.O.P., Its Eyes On High Court, Blocks a Judge
    [26]Majority of Americans Favor Sotomayor Confirmation
    [28] Poll Report Popup
    [29] Foley Page Scandal Hits Republicans While They're Down
    [30] More than Bill Clinton’s approval in 1998: Presidential Approval Ratings -- Bill Clinton Comparable to John F. Kennedy’s approval in 1962 and George W. Bush’s approval in 2002:
    [31] This Time, It’s Not the Economy
    [32] The 2004 vote shares were 49.2% for the Democrats and 47.0% for the Republicans, while the 2006 vote shares were 48.4% for the Democrats and 47.3% for the Republicans, with a swing of 1.1 percent in the margin.
    [33] Sotomayor OK'd for Supreme Court
    [36] and
    Last edited: Nov 21, 2018
  3. Charcolt Canvassing for Maverick Case

    Jul 29, 2014
    I’m very impressed by how well researched this timeline is! Definitely excited to see more of it
  4. r1ncewind Well-Known Member

    May 16, 2014
    agreed, very well written and interesting timeline!
    TimTurner likes this.
  5. TimTurner Cartoon Phanatic

    Apr 11, 2015
    DFW area, Texas (no, Tibecuador)
  6. X_X Well-Known Member

    Nov 24, 2017
    Good timeline, interesting to see that Foley still causes a blue wave.
    Last edited: Oct 23, 2018
  7. Sabot Cat A Trans Girl and Proud Of It

    May 5, 2013
    Indianapolis, Indiana
    Thank you very much to you all for the kind comments! And yeah the Foley scandal and the economy helped to prevent the midterms from going badly for the Democrats, a blue wave by typical Democratic midterm standards OTL at least.
    TimTurner likes this.
  8. Unknown Member

    Jan 31, 2004
    Corpus Christi, TX
    What happened to Katrina?
  9. 297* Well-Known Member

    Nov 18, 2014
    It is probably the same as OTL, except maybe Kerry doesn't get scrutinized for it because he's not an unpopular incumbent and his response is different?

    My question is, would Bill Richardson agree to becoming Secretary of Energy after serving only two years as Governor of New Mexico? For me, it makes the most sense for him to accept a Cabinet position in 2012, after he left office as Governor. However, him being scandal-plagued before then would preclude him from consideration. I was thinking Richardson would be tapped to serve as Secretary of Commerce. Maybe Diane Denish could select Gary King as the new Lieutenant Governor of New Mexico? Maybe also Sally Pederson could select Chet Culver as the new Lieutenant Governor of Iowa?
  10. Sabot Cat A Trans Girl and Proud Of It

    May 5, 2013
    Indianapolis, Indiana
    Regular updates will resume this Tuesday, sorry for the schedule slip!

    Butterflied, a tropical storm happening the same way in the same place with a year of different intervening events struck me as implausible.

    The 2004 speculation was that Bill Richardson would be offered the job - I had him accept, but I could see him not accepting as well.
    297* likes this.
  11. V-J Resources From Westminster

    Sep 11, 2007
    You've certainly done research for this, which is refreshing on here.

    On a cursory glance, I'm dubious about the House flipping in 2006, I think you're being overly generous to the Democrats in some races. I doubt Nancy Johnson would lose outside of the wave year of OTL, for instance. The Senate flipping is much more plausible - Santorum would still struggle and Rhode Island is a write-off if Chaffee is primaried.

    I'm really not sure about Frist not scheduling a vote for Sotomayor. With Garland, there was the rationale that a president shouldn't fill a seat in an election year - that has a long history as an argument, having been tasked against LBJ as far back as 1968. (And the Reagan WH feared it increasingly in 1987) In the first year of a president's term, there's nothing to really grasp onto. Given Sotomayor is also a Latino, the optics are very bad as well. (I don't think it would have been Sotomayor as CJ personally, it really felt like Kagan was being groomed in Dem circles as the Democratic candidate when Rehnquist went, but that's a judgement call)

    I don't see Richardson taking his old job at all. Yes, he'll have been batted around as a potential name, but only because journos can't be bothered to look for anyone else as a potential Energy Sec! He took the NM governor's seat to be a potential VP or nominee, and he won't be going back into Cabinet. Gorelick also might have been a confirmation battle, as she'd been charged by Republicans with being one of the architects of the lack of intelligence-sharing between the FBI and the CIA in the lead-up to 9/11, as well as other issues...
  12. Accurateworldwar Pineapple on Pizza is a sin

    Apr 16, 2016
    Ohio, United States
    I don't really see how extreme weather events can just end up butterflied away.
  13. V-J Resources From Westminster

    Sep 11, 2007
    Presumably you're not familiar with the origins of the term 'Butterfly Effect'...

    Another thing I thought of is that if Kerry wins there'll be two vacancies in 2005 on the supreme court as IOTL. If O'Connor doesn't retire after checking Rehnquist was still going to hold on (and she might, even with Kerry) then Souter almost certainly would; the only thing he was really waiting on was his full retirement benefits at 65.
    TheLoneAmigo likes this.
  14. Accurateworldwar Pineapple on Pizza is a sin

    Apr 16, 2016
    Ohio, United States
    I am, but in reality, I can't see just one election going another way changing an entire hurricane season that quickly.
  15. Threadmarks: Chapter 3: 2007

    Sabot Cat A Trans Girl and Proud Of It

    May 5, 2013
    Indianapolis, Indiana
    Chapter 3: 2007

    Democrats take on healthcare as election looms

    The first bill passed by the Democrats in the newly elected Congress was the Fair Minimum Wage Act, on Jan. 10, 2007.[1] The bill increased the minimum wage from $5.15 per hour to $7.25 per hour.[2] In his State of the Union address, President John Kerry touted the minimum wage increase, and pledged to continue to create jobs, clean up corruption in Washington, establish energy independence for the United States, and make affordable healthcare and education available to more Americans.

    “We're stuck with a 20th century healthcare system that just doesn't work for a 21st century economy,” Kerry said.[3]

    Kerry sought to circumvent the problems that plagued the 1993 healthcare proposal from former President Bill Clinton by crafting it as a package of tax cuts. The Kerry healthcare plan offered tax credits for healthcare for the unemployed, small businesses, and retirees. [4] For those who were formerly employed, the bill offered a 75 percent refundable credit for health insurance premiums for up to six months. The bill also offered as refundable tax credit for employers at small businesses for up to 50 percent of employee health insurance premiums. Retirees from 55 to 64 who are not on an employer sponsored plan could receive a 25 percent refundable tax credit towards the cost of a health insurance plan purchased through the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program.[5]

    “We need to use every weapon in our arsenal until everyone is covered, including making the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program affordable and accessible for everyone in America with targeted tax credits for small businesses, middle-class families, and people between jobs,” Kerry said.[6]

    Kerry’s healthcare proposal also included a “Kids First” proposal which expanded coverage through allowing children and adults whose income were two to three times the poverty level to be covered by the Children’s Health Insurance Program and Medicaid.[7] The plan would increase the maximum amount of qualifying expenses for the Child and Dependent Care Tax Credit from $3,000 to $5,000, while also making the credit partially refundable and available for parents staying at home to raise their infants.[8]

    “No child in America should lack health insurance. Leaving 11 million American children uninsured is wrong,” Kerry said.

    Despite the primary mechanism of the bill being tax cuts, the healthcare plan received widespread conservative condemnation. The Heritage Foundation argued that the Kerry healthcare plan shifted costs from employers to taxpayers and would likely result in healthcare cost increases.[9] They also argued that while the tax credits were commendable, they should target individuals and not businesses.[10] Bloomberg criticized the plan for increasing the deficit, as ending the Bush tax cuts on high incomes did not offset the new costs.[11] A block of conservative Democrats, Sen. Blanche Lincoln of Arkansas, Sen. Max Baucus of Montana and Sen. Kent Conrad of North Dakota, rejected opening the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program via tax credits.[12] Former President George W. Bush led a more caustic chorus of criticism.

    “The government shouldn’t dictate our healthcare. Americans should be able to decide,” Bush said. “President Kerry wants to nationalize healthcare.”[13]


    In March 2007, former President George W. Bush announced the creation of a presidential exploratory committee while chiding Kerry’s domestic and foreign policies.

    “Instead of defending America, Kerry is giving foreign powers an international veto over our national security. Our troops deserve better from a commander in chief,” Bush said.[14]

    Bush pledged to protect America from foreign threats, invigorate the economy through tax cuts, oppose the nationalization of healthcare, and secure Social Security for the future. Bush trailed Kerry in initial polls after the announcement, with the scandals of his administration resurfacing after former Chief of Staff to the Vice President Scooter Libby was convicted of perjury and obstruction of justice earlier that month.[15] Nonetheless, his bid was met with widespread enthusiasm from the Republican base as well as Republican officials, with over a hundred Representatives, Senators, Governors, and state legislators endorsing Bush by the end of April.

    By the time Bush officially declared in June, he had managed to clear the Republican field. Aiding in this was the fact that Bush would only be serving for one term if elected, and his support could prove pivotal in the open field of the 2012 Republican primary. Governor Mitt Romney of Massachusetts was widely speculated to be a likely candidate, as he had started to move to the right on various policies, such as withdrawing support for a regional cap-and-trade program after previously favoring it,[16] endorsing the Bush tax cuts after previously opposing them,[17] opposing a federal law that would prohibit discrimination against LGBT people in the workplace after campaigning for it in a previous election,[18] going from signing a military-grade assault weapons ban as governor[19] to joining the National Rifle Association while opposing any gun control legislation,[20] and shifting from pro-choice to pro-life.[21]Romney also sharply criticized Kerry’s decision to begin withdrawing from Iraq, calling it “naked political calculation or simply sheer ineptitude.”[22]

    Despite all of this speculation for a Romney candidacy, former President Bush was challenged only by U.S. Representative Ron Paul of Texas, who surprised observers through quickly raising millions of dollars and gaining numerous online supporters despite Bush’s prohibitive lead in nationwide and statewide primary polling. Bush also began to trade the lead with Kerry in general election polling, as the latter’s approvals slid from their heights in 2006 due to an emerging financial crisis.

    In the summer of 2007, numerous lenders who offered subprime mortgages filed bankruptcy as housing prices declined or leveled off.[23] Some economists warned that a national recession was on the horizon. Despite gloomy economic prospects, Kerry’s approvals among his own party remained healthy. Support for Kerry among Democrats never declined below 7 in 10, and he held commanding leads over potential high-profile primary challenges such as former Vice President Al Gore and Senator Hillary Clinton. His approval among Democrats would take a hit however when Kerry announced that the withdrawal from Iraq would be delayed from July 2007 to April 2008.[24] Kerry cited the increase in sectarian violence and American causalities for extending the deadline. The “Draft Gore” movement picked up steam in response to the announcement, as his top advisers from the 2000 campaign began to lay infrastructure for a run.[25]

    In April 2007, the Kerry healthcare plan was folded into a broader tax cut to reinvigorate the economy. The tax reform bill offered at least $300 in tax rebates for those with an adjusted gross income of $75,000[26] and introduced the “College Opportunity Tax Credit” which increased tuition tax credits from $1,500 to $2,500. The bill also targeted small businesses and corporations for tax decreases, cutting the corporate tax rate from 35 percent to 33.25 percent. The revenue impact of this would be offset by ending the deferral of tax liability of foreign subsidiaries of U.S. multinational companies.[27] Small businesses would also be offered a refundable tax credit for up to 50 percent of employee health insurance premiums. The bill would further increase small businesses’ write offs for new investments in 2008 from $125,000 to $200,000. Net operating carry back period for losses was also increased from two years to five years for taxable years ending in 2007 and 2008. Finally, the bill provided funding for over $20 million in microloans.[28]


    “Small businesses already employ more than half of our country’s workforce, so we need to make sure that entrepreneurs have money in their pockets to continue to grow their businesses,” Kerry said.[29]

    Despite retooling the healthcare reform into a broader tax relief package targeted at individuals and businesses, Republican opposition remained stiff. The Democratic leadership thus began to move towards passing the bill through the reconciliation process. As the Byrd Rule allowed budgetary legislation to be blocked if it significantly increased the deficit over ten year, the tax reform plan originally called for the spending increases to be paid for by phasing out the Bush tax cuts for those with annual earnings above $200,000,[30] while making them permanent for those with an income below $200,000. [31] However, this received opposition from conservative Democrats and Republicans, while some doubted that the bill would even be revenue-neutral even if it phased out the Bush tax cuts for wealthier Americans. Thus, a sunset provision was instead added so that its tax credits would expire on January 1, 2017. With no Republican votes in favor, the House and Senate passed the Tax Relief and Affordable Care Expansion Reconciliation (TRACER) Act on April 29. Kerry signed TRACER into law in June 2007.

    “This law is a national commitment to a healthcare system that can be a reflection of our ambitions and not an accident of our history,” Kerry said.[32]

    Clean coal? A challenge from Gore

    In August 2007, Kerry proposed the Energy Independence Act, which he stated would lower gas prices and create jobs. [33] The EIA established tax credits for alternative energy production, provided $5,000 incentives for customers who buy “clean energy” vehicles, and authorized the use of oil from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve to lower gas prices. The EIA also introduced a 20 percent nonrefundable credit for the purchase of certain energy-efficient electric and gas heat pumps as well as water heaters.[34] Finally, the bill provided $10 billion over the next decade to develop cleaner and more efficient coal-firing plants. The EIA passed Congress with bipartisan approval and was signed into law on Sept. 14, 2007.

    Former Vice President Al Gore sharply criticized the EIA, and the notion of “clean coal” that Kerry had championed on the campaign trail and as president.

    “The coal companies have received $10 billion dollars because of the lie that there is such a thing as ‘clean coal’,” Gore said. “Clean coal’s like healthy cigarettes — it does not exist.”[35]

    The sharp criticism fueled speculation that Gore was considering a run for the presidency. Gore and Kerry had a chilly professional relationship, with the former hanging up on the latter during the primary campaign after the former Vice President had endorsed Howard Dean for the Democratic nomination.[36]Kerry repaid the favor by not including Gore in any position within his administration, nor consulting him on energy policy. Gore went on to become an environmental activist, with his film An Inconvenient Truth receiving an Academy Award for Best Documentary. In addition to this, Gore received a Nobel Peace Prize for his environmental work in October 2007. Gore was viewed favorably by 58 percent of the public,[37] and the grassroots movement developing since the summer to recruit Gore to run against Kerry had received sizable numbers of donations and volunteers.


    On Oct. 19, 2007, Gore announced that he would be running for the Democratic nomination for President of the United States. Gore again assailed Kerry for his support of clean coal, and for failing to submit the Kyoto Protocol to a vote in the Senate despite Democratic control of the upper chamber.[38] Gore further criticized the president for the numerous tax cuts in TRACER, especially those for businesses. Gore argued that Kerry had reneged on his promise to cut the deficit, and instead followed in Bush’s footsteps through providing tax cuts to the upper class when he could have invested the money in social programs.

    “The amount of money this administration is giving to the wealthiest could be used to invest in education, health care, and prescription drugs. We need smart investments for the future, not massive tax cuts that only grow our deficit,” Gore said.[39]

    Gore called for placing Medicare payroll tax revenue into a trust fund so that it could not be used on other initiatives. [40] Gore also called for raising taxes on the wealthy as well as corporations to fund new spending on a universal healthcare plan that did not rely on tax cuts. Gore instead favored a more ambitious single-payer healthcare program.[41] Finally, Gore positioned himself to the left of Kerry on the Iraq War, which he stated the president had flip-flopped on.

    “The decision to continue to occupy Iraq is not only tragic but absurd,” Gore said.[42]

    Kerry responded in a press conference to Gore’s primary challenge with one sentence, “Bring it on!”

    On Dec. 10, 2007, the United States officially entered a recession. [43]

    Chapter 3 Notes and Bibliography

    [2] Kerry proposes $7 minimum wage
    [3]Getting moving on healthcare - The Boston Globe
    [5] Details Matter: A Closer Look at Senator Kerry's Health Care Plan
    [6]Getting moving on healthcare - The Boston Globe
    [7] Kerry vs. Bush on Health Care
    [8] Full Report
    [9] Details Matter: A Closer Look at Senator Kerry's Health Care Plan
    [10] Details Matter: A Closer Look at Senator Kerry's Health Care Plan
    [11] Bloomberg - Are you a robot?
    [12] The Five Democrats Who Voted Against The Public Option | HuffPost
    [13] Election 2004: What Happened? | VQR Online
    [14] Bush rips Kerry on 'global test' remark
    [15] Jurors convict Libby on four of five charges
    [16] Mitt Romney worked to combat climate change as governor
    [17]Romney finds 'no new taxes' promise suits him after all
  16. Accurateworldwar Pineapple on Pizza is a sin

    Apr 16, 2016
    Ohio, United States
    This is great so far! The detail continues to be very impressive.

    Also, Gore 2008!
  17. Sabot Cat A Trans Girl and Proud Of It

    May 5, 2013
    Indianapolis, Indiana

    Rep. Nancy Johnson faced the worst defeat of any Republican incumbent in 2006 aside from Rep. John Hostettler in Indiana's 8th, losing by 12 points in a year where Democrats nationally won by 8 points. Chris Murphy effectively - and whether or not truthfully - to the scandals of the time, and there's some evidence that her own campaign strategy may have been counterproductive. Johnson's defeat is one of the incumbent defeats I'm most certain, as even with a tied PV she'd be on track to lost by about 4 points. Of course, real campaigns don't have universal swing applied, but the Republican scandals are still there and John Kerry would be pretty popular, which I think would allow Murphy to conduct a similarly successful campaign.

    Frist was both grandstanding to appease conservative Republicans, as well as to prevent the overall balance of the court from shifting dramatically, rationale be damned.

    Richardson might not, I think that's fair. Also, as far as Gorelick goes, I don't think would be sufficient to prevent her confirmation during the honeymoon period.

    All I can say is that this and other things you've observed will be addressed in the next update~
  18. Threadmarks: Chapter 4: 2008 (Part I)

    Sabot Cat A Trans Girl and Proud Of It

    May 5, 2013
    Indianapolis, Indiana
    Chapter 4: 2008 (Part I)

    Fannie Mae scandal, O’Connor retires

    President John Kerry faced the greatest challenges to his political future ever in his presidency. An economic recession diminished his political capital, and the majorities for his party in Congress were thin enough to make major legislation to tackle the crisis next to impossible while being sufficient to receive all of the blame for the country’s problems. And two men, one who won the popular vote in 2000 and the other who won the presidency, were attacking Kerry from the left and the right. Emblematic of this double-team was the controversy surrounding Fannie Mae.

    Federal regulators found that executives from Fannie Mae engaged in deceptive accounting practices and role in the emerging subprime mortgage crisis, and Kerry was the second-highest recipient of campaign contributions from the company.[1] The Bush campaign also released a television advertisement that highlighted the connection between Secretary of the Treasury Jim Johnson and Fannie Mae, which was being scrutinized for its rule in the subprime mortgage crisis.

    The ad pointed out that Johnson served as an executive for Fannie Mae, before accusing him of becoming wealthy from “cooking the books and betraying the public trust”, before questioning the trustworthiness and judgment of Kerry on the economy.[2] Corroborating the advertisement’s claims, a report from the Office of Federal Housing Enterprise Oversight showed that Fannie Mae underreported Johnson’s compensation as $6 million to $7 million. Johnson’s true compensation was nearly thrice that amount at $21 million.[3]


    The Bush campaign also attacked Attorney General Jamie Gorelick, who previously served as Vice Chairman of Fannie Mae. Gorelick received $779,625 as a part of the same falsified transactions that had benefited Johnson.[9] Gorelick said in a 2002 interview, “We believe we are managed safely. We are very pleased that Moody's gave us an A-minus in the area of bank financial strength.”[10] This was a year before regulators found $9 billion of losses that Johnson nor Gorelick had recorded.[11] In 2005, Kerry defended both Johnson and Gorelick against accusations of wrongdoing, arguing that they had little direct involvement in the scandal.

    However, after the Bush ads, Kerry dismissed Johnson and Gorelick from his Cabinet. On Dec. 19, 2007, the 110th Congress adjourned to allow for recess appointments the following year. Two days later, Associate Justice Sandra Day O’Connor announced her retirement from the Supreme Court.

    “I will leave with enormous respect for the integrity of the Court and its role under our constitutional structure,” O’Connor said.[12]

    O’Connor did not provide a reason in her letter, but she retired to help take care of her husband who had Alzheimer’s.[13] O’Connor was reluctant to retire after the protracted battle in the Senate over Chief Justice Sonia Sotomayor, and thus she chose to depart at an ideal time for a recess appointment.

    After the 110th Congress convened for its second session on Jan. 3, 2008, Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle moved to adjourn the body for an intrasession recess. This would allow President John Kerry’s future recess appointments to serve until the next sine die adjournment on Jan. 3, 2009 at the latest.[14]

    Kerry announced that within ten days, he would be appointing the Dean of Harvard Law School Elena Kagan while the Congress was in recess.[15]

    “Massachusetts is proud of Elena Kagan's accomplishments, and we believe that as you get to know her as we do, she will earn broad bipartisan support,” Kerry said.[16]


    The president further announced the appointments of former Deputy Secretary of the Treasury Roger Altman to Secretary of the Treasury[17] and the president of the American Bar Association, as well as the former Mayor of Detroit, Dennis Archer to Attorney General. [18] As the White House planned, news of the Kagan nomination overshadowed the Cabinet reshuffle on the same day as the Iowa caucuses.

    Iowa caucuses and New Hampshire

    The Iowa caucuses were held on Jan. 3, 2008, the first contest of the 2008 presidential election cycle. Al Gore won in an upset victory, with most Iowa voters citing a desire for change on Iraq and healthcare.[19]

    “America is on the eve of a golden age in which the vitality of our democracy will be re-established by the people and will flourish more vibrantly than ever,” Gore said in a speech after his caucus win.[20]


    Gore began to surge to a dead-heat with the president in New Hampshire primary polling. Commentators believed the primary would prove to be decisive, citing the fact that former President Harry Truman in 1952 and former President Lyndon B. Johnson in 1968 both ended their re-election bids after losing the New Hampshire primary. The Kerry campaign downplayed expectations, arguing that the first two primary states were not representative of the Democratic Party as a whole, a majority of which were significantly more diverse and still supported the president. Kerry scored a narrow victory in New Hampshire, effectively mooted by the proportional representation system giving each candidate equal delegates due to the close margin.

    When Congress reconvened following Kerry’s recess appointments on Jan. 13, it became clear that the president’s stature was fast diminishing. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell announced that the Republican caucus would filibuster a confirmation vote on Kagan.

    "The American people are perfectly capable of having their say on this issue, so let's give them a voice. Let's let the American people decide,” McConnell said. "It seems clear President Kerry made this nomination not with the intent of seeing the nominee confirmed, but in order to politicize it for purposes of the election.”[21]

    Some accused Kerry of impropriety in appointing Kagan, as the nominee had donated $1,500 to his campaign committee in 2001-2002.[22] Conservative groups targeted Republican Senators up for re-election, such as Susan Collins, Judd Gregg, and Lindsey Graham, with primary challenge threats if they voted to break the filibuster.

    Sen. Richard Lugar (R-Ind.), Sen. Olympia Snowe (R-Maine) and Sen. John Warner (R-Va.) were thus the only Republican votes for cloture on Kagan’s nomination, which failed by a vote of 55-45. Kerry privately urged Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle to abolish the judicial filibuster for Supreme Court nominees, but Daschle rebuffed the president and progressives pressuring him to pursue the nuclear option.

    “We must maintain the institutional pillars of the Senate,” Daschle said. “I was not elected to deteriorate our norms and abandon our traditions.”[23]

    As Kerry was rebuffed by Daschle on the nuclear option, he would also face criticism from Gore on his immigration policies in the lead up to the Nevada caucuses. Gore took particular exception to the president’s record of deportations and increased spending on “strengthening the border” while taking little action on comprehensive immigration reform.[24] Gore contrasted this with his own efforts as Vice President, shepherding a program that provided citizenship to approximately 1.2 million people between 1995 and 1996.[25]

    “Immigration is what made us a great nation,” Gore said. “With each wave of immigrants, we are culturally richer and spiritually stronger.” [26]

    On Jan. 19, Kerry lost the Nevada caucuses, but he had a strategy for a rebound. Up to that point, Kerry had been running a “Rose Garden” strategy of appearing presidential and implicitly more electable. Exit polling revealed the chief problem with this: voters did not perceive Kerry to have a much higher stature or greater electability than Gore, the latter of which had served as Vice President for eight years before going on to win the popular vote in 2000. Gore was well-known by Democrats and maintained goodwill with the Democratic base through his environmental and anti-war activism after Bush was elected.

    Kerry thus accused Gore of being a political chameleon, pointing to his support for school prayer as well as his opposition to the federal funding for abortion and a ban on interstate handgun sales in 1988.[27]

    “Gore invented the Willie Horton attack later used by George Bush,” Kerry began to add in his speeches. “Gore accused the governor of my state of giving weekend passes to criminals.”[28]

    After winning the South Carolina primary by a decisive margin a week later, Kerry was ahead in delegate count and by a nearly 2:1 to margin in the popular vote. Although the strategy appeared to be initially successful, dissatisfaction with the ongoing recession suggested trouble was on the horizon for the Super Tuesday primaries and caucuses.

    The Super Tuesday fallout

    The Super Tuesday contests held on Feb. 5, 2008 could have decided the nomination due to the historic number of states participating in them. They would instead serve as a decisive rebuke of the president, as Gore surged to a more than 10 percent lead in the popular and attaining 200 more pledged delegates than the president despite trailing when accounting for superdelegates that backed Kerry. In the end, Kerry won Alabama, Connecticut, Delaware, Georgia, Illinois, Massachusetts, New Jersey, and New York, while Gore won Alaska, American Samoa, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Idaho, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Tennessee, and Utah.


    Regardless of ideology, Gore performed better with those who disapproved of the president. This allowed him to win not only progressives in caucus states, but conservatives and moderates in states such as Arkansas and Oklahoma who planned to vote for Bush in the general election if Kerry were to be re-nominated. Gore was also much more popular than Kerry among Latino and Asian voters, allowing him to achieve a rout in the Southwest, topped off by a more than 40 percent margin of victory in California. Kerry was most popular with African-American voters and competitive with Northern white voters. This allowed him to win by lop-sided margins in the deep South as well essentially tie with Gore in states like Illinois and New Jersey.

    However, the results from Super Tuesday suggested that this wasn’t a winning coalition for the president. Party insiders feared that Kerry would only continue to be routed and a challenger outside of what they believed was the ideological mainstream for the general electorate would receive the nomination. On Feb. 6, the day after Kerry’s lackluster Super Tuesday, former Gov. Mark Warner (D-Va.) quietly filed to run in the 14 nominating contests where the deadline hadn’t passed.[29]

    However, Warner’s planned campaign launch the following day was cancelled after CNN reported that the Portland police would be investigating a sexual assault claim against Al Gore, first reported in the National Enquirer and then the Portland Tribune.[30][31] Gore issued a categorical denial to the accusation.

    “The Gores cannot comment on every defamatory, misleading, and inaccurate story generated by tabloids,” Gore spokeswoman Kalee Kreider said. “Mr. Gore unequivocally and emphatically denied this accusation when he first learned of its existence two years ago. He stands by that denial.”[32]


    For the next three days, coverage was constant, and the electoral impact of the investigation was felt in the Feb. 9 caucuses and primaries. Turnout compared to previous contests had declined by an average of 10 percent, and margins in these states also shifted by more than 24 points against Gore according to the polling before the news broke. Kerry won Louisiana, Maine and the U.S. Virgin Islands, while narrowly losing the Nebraska and Washington caucuses. Kerry went on to win the District of Columbia and Maryland primaries by 3:1 and 2:1 two days later.

    However, coverage of the allegations began to change by that point, as CBS reported that the accuser failed a polygraph examination about the claim and would not disclose if she had been financially compensated by the National Enquirer for her story.[33][34] The receding impact of the accusation was visible in the Feb. 19 nominating contests, where Kerry won by narrow margins in the nonbinding Washington primary and the Wisconsin primary.

    “I want to thank the state of Wisconsin for its support of my presidency and this campaign,” Kerry said. “Just like your state motto, ‘Forward’, we will continue to move forward, stronger than ever before.”[35]

    Super Tuesday II

    On Feb. 27, the Multnomah County District Attorney office announced that Gore was cleared of sexual assault.

    “In light of conflicting witness statements, celebrity issues and lack of forensic evidence and denials by Mr. Gore, these accusations do not merit further inquiry,” District Attorney Michael Schrunk said. [36]

    According to Gallup, Gore’s favorable rating had rebounded to 45 percent over the month. [37] On Super Tuesday II, Gore won Ohio and Texas by more than 14 and 30 percent respectively as Kerry decisively won Rhode Island and Vermont. Gore would win the Wyoming caucus four days later, while Kerry won Mississippi. The following week would be the Florida and Michigan primaries, which had 313 delegates between them. With Kerry faltering in both the primaries and the polls, Warner formally announced on March 13 that he would be running for the Democratic nomination.


    Warner was a popular, centrist governor from a red state and well-liked by the party establishment. However, Warner credited his decision to run to the grassroots draft movement led by Democratic activists nationwide. In his opening speech, Warner pledged to “change the conversation” and conduct a positive campaign.

    “Politics is the only business I know of where doing nothing other than making the other guys look bad is an acceptable outcome,” Warner said. “That would never pass for success in the business world.”[38]

    On March 18, Gore won Michigan by 6 percent and Florida by 8 percent.[39]

    “No recounts will be needed here,” Gore joked.

    While the president’s situation began to look dire again, Mark Warner and the Iraq withdrawal would begin to change the dynamics of the race.

    Iraq withdrawal and the final primaries

    One of the most popular slogans chanted at Gore’s rallies was, “End the war, vote Al Gore!”

    These chants would become less frequent when, on April 2, 2008, Kerry presided over the withdrawal of U.S. soldiers from Iraq. A transitional force of 50,000 remained behind to train the Iraqi army, to be completed by 2009 pursuant to an executive agreement between the two nations.

    “We are pursuing both a political settlement and the withdrawal of American combat forces,” Kerry said. “We have led the way forward in Iraq.”[40]


    Bush criticized the withdrawal as premature and tantamount to conceding Iraq to terrorism. Gore argued that the U.S.’s involvement in Iraq remained substantial and that Kerry’s actions could not be accurately described as a withdrawal in absence of a final agreement. However, Kerry had a short-term rebound in his approvals among his own party. Despite trailing Gore by nearly ten points in the polling for the Pennsylvania primary, he lost by less than 3 percent. Aiding Kerry was Warner, who chipped away at Gore’s support among those who disapproved of the president.

    In the lead up to the Indiana primary, Sen. Evan Bayh (D-Ind.) endorsed Mark Warner and campaigned for him. The Washington Post’s Chris Cillizza speculated that Bayh was angling to be Warner’s running mate should the latter win the nomination at a brokered convention. The Warner campaign capitalized on these rumors and the increased media attention, while flooding Indiana, Kentucky, North Carolina, Virginia, and West Virginia with ads. The Kerry campaign strategically ran attack ads in these states attacking Gore for his opposition to coal. This all culminated in Kerry winning North Carolina, Gore narrowly winning Indiana, and Warner winning Virginia on May 6. Warner would then win the West Virginia primary a week later, and the Kentucky primary a week after that.

    The final five primaries in Idaho (nonbinding), Montana, Oregon, Puerto Rico, and South Dakota were all won by Gore. But with 1,862 pledged delegates and 120 superdelegates, he was still over 200 delegates short of the nomination. Kerry, on the other hand, finally had enough delegates to win on the first ballot with 1,588 pledged delegates and 631 superdelegates. Kerry was thus named by media outlets as the presumptive nominee and made a nationally televised victory speech on June 3.

    “If we remain a united Democratic Party, we will win this election and continue to build an America of freedom and fairness for all,” Kerry said.[41]

    Gore supporters balked and deluged Kerry superdelegates with phone calls and e-mails demanding they withdraw their support. Gore had won a majority of states, pledged delegates, and votes, with a margin of victory of 7 percent representing 2 million more votes than the sitting president. In the wake of overwhelming pressure, more than twenty superdelegates switched from supporting Kerry to being uncommitted within three days. Media outlets now reported that the Democratic National Convention would an open convention.


    Three men vied for the nomination: the unpopular sitting president, a former vice president disliked by a majority of the public with views the party considered to be outside of the political mainstream, and a former Governor who was the only potential nominee with a net positive favorable rating but had only won a little more than 5 percent of the primary vote. Whoever won the nomination in August would have the unenviable task of uniting the party around him and defeating former President George W. Bush.

    Chapter 4 Notes and Bibliography

    [1]Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac Invest in Democrats - OpenSecrets News
    [5] Bloomberg - Are you a robot?
    [6] The Trouble With Fannie Mae (
    [39] Kerry and Gore refused to participate in the disputed early primaries, and they were thus rescheduled.
  19. Accurateworldwar Pineapple on Pizza is a sin

    Apr 16, 2016
    Ohio, United States
    This is really great so far. I'm really hoping to see a redo of Bush vs. Gore with a Gore victory in 2008.
    CountDVB, Sabot Cat and TimTurner like this.
  20. Threadmarks: Chapter 5: 2008 (Part II)

    Sabot Cat A Trans Girl and Proud Of It

    May 5, 2013
    Indianapolis, Indiana
    Chapter 5: 2008 (Part II)

    Housing market woes and platform squabbles

    As the economic crisis continued to worsen, President John Kerry signed the Housing and Economic Recovery Act of 2008 at the end of June to assist homeowners with troubled mortgages and stabilize the housing market. Setting aside $375 billion for the Federal Housing Administration, the plan targeted millions facing foreclose through loan modification, cost sharing and other means to incentivize the reduction of monthly payments by lenders.[1] The law also established a line of credit from the Treasury to Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, which soon took them over. The two companies collectively owned or guaranteed $6 trillion of the nation’s home mortgage debt, or nearly half.[2]


    As the president and Congress addressed the mortgage crisis, the Federal Reserve attempted to stave off the financial sector’s collapse. Chairman of the Federal Reserve Robert Rubin,[3] widely criticized for enabling the risky financial practices which made the crisis possible, [4] now served as the architect of an unpopular bailout approach. Rubin led the creation of the Primary Dealer Credit Facility (PDCF) in March, which expanded the Federal Reserve’s balance sheet from $800 billion to over $2 trillion.[5] This was the first time in history that the Federal Reserve acted as a direct lender to investment banks.[6]

    In August, Lehman Brothers received $88 billion in liquidity assistance from the PDCF to stave off bankruptcy and allow the United Kingdom based bank Barclays to organize a shareholder vote for acquiring Lehman Brothers Holding Inc. (LBHI). Lehman Brothers secured the vote by backing down on its initially high prices for its stock while initiating a six-month wind down plan.[7] The Federal Reserve also loaned an additional $85 billion to the American International Group (AIG).[8] As these liquidity assistance measures were conducted through the Federal Reserve and not by the Kerry administration, the president was able to temporarily distance himself from the unpopular bailouts while championing the more popular intervention into the housing crisis.

    Unemployment stopped increasing from June to August and Kerry’s approvals were rebounding from their previous lows. Kerry’s chances of being nominated had increased, and key to this was former Gov. Mark Warner, whose attempts to persuade Kerry’s pledged delegates to nominate him were almost uniformly unsuccessful. Warner thus turned to negotiations with Kerry on the platform, as he wanted to take it in a more conservative direction. Warner believed that Kerry’s chief problem in politics was that he refused to work in a bi-partisan way to get things done, and that in the general election, he refused to moderate or deviate from what he perceived to be the party line.

    "I can't tell you where he ever broke with anything in Democratic orthodoxy,” Warner said of the president.[9]


    Warner wanted Kerry to agree to establishing a bipartisan congressional commission to address the costs of the Medicare and Social Security programs.[10][11] The commission’s ultimate recommendations would be binding in that they would then subject to an up or down vote.[12] Warner’s proposal would serve as an alternative to Bush’s Social Security partial privatization plan using voluntary savings accounts. Kerry was leery of this proposal, and instead used it to pressure Gore into dropping out before the convention or risk being locked out of the platform and rule change negotiations.

    The platform committee consisted of appointees from the Chairperson of the Democratic National Convention, while the candidates could appoint non-voting members. The Gore campaign demanded the right to appoint a majority of the platform committee’s voting members because the former vice president won a majority of the vote. The Kerry campaign suggested instead that the Kerry and Gore campaigns receive an equal number of voting appointees on the platform committee. In the end, the Democratic platform was released on Aug. 9, 2008, with little evident influence from the Gore campaign.[13]

    Warner’s influence was more apparent, with bipartisan appealing planks in the 2004 platform being readopted, such as explicitly voicing support for the Second Amendment, naming Israel as an ally, and promoting coal as an alternative energy source.[14] The platform further adopted Warner’s proposal to create a bipartisan congressional commission to address the debt and deficit whose recommendations would be subject to an up or down vote, while reiterating a 2004 call for fiscal responsibility to strengthen Social Security.[15]

    With the platform secure, Warner dropped out of the running and endorsed President John Kerry on Aug. 10, 2008.

    “Kerry is a leader who understands the world today, the future we seek and the experience we need,” Warner said.[16]

    While this would have been enough to put Kerry over the top in June, Kerry had lost approximately 100 superdelegate endorsements to Gore. These delegates felt it important to nominate the popular vote winner or became disillusioned with the president’s floundering response to the economic crisis. Furthermore, nearly one-third of Warner’s delegates were superdelegates, almost all of whom were elected officials in competitive races seeking to distance themselves from the unpopular president. These delegates remained uncommitted, and the convention remained open on its first day on Monday, Aug. 25.

    Unconventional convention

    Former Vice President Al Gore, as a superdelegate from Tennessee, presented his own name for the nomination and delivered a brief nationally televised address to the delegates.[17] Gore first affirmed the importance of defeating Bush in the fall and reiterated key planks from his platform, “We need to provide healthcare for all and solutions for the climate crisis.”[18] He then made an argument for his nomination, urging the delegates to ratify the outcome of the Democratic primaries in terms of votes and pledged delegates.

    “We must eschew the inside contest of the delegate hunt for the outside contest of ideas and inspiration, where voters can make the best choice for our party and our future,” Gore said.[19]


    In his own nominating speech, Kerry championed progress during his administration on the issues that Gore raised in his speech, such as healthcare.

    “I welcome the debate about healthcare,” Kerry said. “Because we have ensured Americans will have broader coverage and lower costs for their health insurance. We passed the most substantial healthcare reform legislation since Medicaid to make that possible.”[20]

    Other speakers at the 2008 Democratic National Convention included former Governor Mark Warner of Virginia, U.S. Senator Evan Bayh of Indiana, Secretary of Energy and former Governor Bill Richardson of New Mexico, and Vice President John Edwards of North Carolina. The theme of the convention was Democratic unity, and the progress the Kerry administration had made over the last four years.

    On Aug. 28, 2008, the convention took the rollcall for the presidential nomination. 57 U.S. Representatives, Senators, and Governors abstained in the vote, many of whom were former Warner delegates. By the time the rollcall got to the Virgin Islands, it became clear that Kerry was poised to narrowly win the nomination. Boos and shouts from Gore delegates threatened to drown out the rollcall vote, which Kerry delegates responded to with scattering chants of “U-S-A!” and “Help is on the way!” Convention Chair Nancy Pelosi struggled to restore order, before Gore used the Tennessee delegation’s floor microphone to make an impromptu speech.

    “We need to prevent Bush from going back to the White House,” Gore said. “We can’t let him repeat the policies that got us bogged down in Iraq and showed contempt for our Constitution.”[21]

    In the end, Gore won 1,866 pledged delegates and 259 superdelegates, the latter representing more than double his June total. But Kerry secured the nomination with the votes of 1,722 pledged delegates and 522 superdelegates, representing a total of 2,244 delegates to Gore’s 2,125 delegates. Despite Gore’s calls for unity, Kerry’s speech was frequently interrupted by boos and then loud applause and supportive chanting to drown it out. In his address, Kerry stressed that he would not cut benefits and programs such as Social Security, while Bush would. The president also affirmed the superlative nature of the United States in the world, and how Bush would forfeit the gains that his administration made in foreign policy.

    “Our country is unparalleled in its might and moral leadership,” Kerry said. “We are respected by our allies and feared by our enemies.”

    While the Democratic National Convention was chaotic and uncertain, the Republican National Convention from Sept. 1 to Sept. 4 in Minneapolis-St. Paul, Minnesota was a pageant with only one mystery: who would serve as the running mate for former President George W. Bush?

    Former Vice President Dick Cheney was out of the running due to his persistent unpopularity and the Scooter Libby scandal. The shortlist thus consisted of former Gov. John Engler of Michigan, former Sen. Bill Frist of Tennessee, former Gov. George Pataki of New York, former National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice, and Gov. Mitt Romney of Massachusetts. Both former Secretary of State Colin Powell and Sen. John McCain of Arizona took themselves out of the running. All of these and more were speakers at the convention, which focused on those negatively impacted by the recession, the hope offered by the Republicans, and the proven record of the former president.

    On the last day of the convention, former President George W. Bush was formally nominated by his party and announced Gov. Mitt Romney as his running mate. Bush pledged to “renew the American promise” and “bring leadership and a sense of purpose back to the White House.”


    The RNC was widely viewed as a success, with Bush seeing a significant boost in his nationwide and battleground state leads over Kerry. Aiding this was a substantially larger campaign budget, as Bush outraised his opponent by a ratio of 2:1, with nearly $800 million in campaigns funds according to the Federal Election Commission. The Republicans would wield their mountain of political capital on capitol hill in the debates over bailouts for the financial sector.

    Bailouts and debates

    While the Federal Reserve’s loans helped to provide liquidity to financial firms, the Kerry administration found that they failed to improve capital adequacy. While firms received enough cash from the Fed to meet their obligations, their capital position remained the same because the loans represented an outstanding liability to the Fed.[22] Due to this undercapitalization, Citigroup was facing the prospect of bankruptcy. The Kerry administration feared a systemic risk to the economy of the United States and the world should Citigroup fail.[23]Thus, to improve capital adequacy of these major firms and shore up Citigroup, Kerry worked with Democratic leaders in Congress to craft the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008, or the Wall Street bank bailout. The bill’s primary purpose would be to allocate $700 billion to a Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP), which the Treasury would use to acquire illiquid mortgage-based securities.

    “This affects everybody. This is not a Wall Street bailout, this is a rescue of Main Street,” Kerry said.[24] Kerry championed the limits on executive pay and stated that the bill would provide new accountability for the market.[25]

    The bank bailout proved to be a hard sell, disapproved of by most of the public.[26][27] Bush blasted the plan, joined by Congressional Republicans who refused to vote for the proposal. They proposed instead a mortgage insurance plan which would provide coverage for mortgage-backed securities and charge their holders premiums to pay for it.[28] Numerous Democrats in competitive districts also opposed the Kerry proposal, and cited their opposition as standing up to the president. The House thus voted down the presidential bailout plan on Sept. 17, 2008, causing the Dow Jones to lose over 700 points and the NASDAQ composite to lose 8 points. Kerry effectively disappeared from the campaign trail to secure votes for the bailout or craft emergency alternatives.

    As negotiations dragged on over the week, the Kerry campaign requested the first presidential debate to be rescheduled from September to October. The Bush campaign refused, and the Sept. 26 was thus cancelled entirely. On Sept. 28, the Senate narrowly passed the first bailout proposal with a majority of the Republican caucus voting against it.[29] The second House vote on the legislation narrowly passed on Oct. 1, picking up Democratic votes that it did not previously have while still only securing support from a little over one-third of the Republican caucus.

    As the first presidential debate had been cancelled, the vice-presidential debate received record viewership on Oct. 2, 2008. Vice President John Edwards and Gov. Mitt Romney primarily clashed on the Kerry administration’s response to the economic crisis.


    “Kerry doesn’t have any prospect of meeting the challenge of the times,” Romney said. “Americans are ready to see the take home pay, the growth, and the jobs that they had when Bush was in office.”[30]

    “John and I have addressed poverty like no other administration,” Edwards said. “We raised the minimum wage and helped ensure that Americans receive good paying jobs.”[31]

    Romney was widely judged to have won the debate decisively, defying expectations that people would be able to relate to Edwards more as a working-class champion than Romney as a former venture capitalist. Aiding in this was that the Kerry administration was effectively painted by the Bush campaign as cozy with Wall Street due to the bailout programs.

    On Oct. 15, Kerry debated Bush in the sole presidential debate of the election, held at Hofstra University and moderated by Bob Schieffer. Bush criticized Kerry for failing to uphold his promises to create 10 million jobs, cut the deficit in half, and lower gas prices.[32] Bush noted that under Kerry, unemployment went from 4 to 7 percent, the deficit increased, and gas prices rose to the unprecedented high of nearly $4 a gallon.[33]

    “My opponent has raised your taxes and showed no leadership in this economic crisis,” Bush said. “I believe that we need to lower taxes to create more jobs.”[34]

    Kerry argued that Bush would worsen the lives of numerous vulnerable Americans through his partial privatization proposal and his pledge to rollback TRACER, the landmark health care reform of the Kerry administration.

    “We have to protect Social Security from privatization,” Kerry said. “I have not cut benefits. I’ve instead made life-saving medicine more affordable.”[35]

    Kerry also criticized the Bush’s judgment by pointing to his foreign policy, arguing that the former president’s plan to reverse the Iraq withdrawal would cost lives. Bush, in turn, argued that Kerry was allowing Iran and North Korea to pursue nuclear weapons.

    “We cannot allow the Iranian regime to gain nuclear weapons,” Bush said. “America must act as leader in the world to confront this threat.”[36]

    In his closing statement for the final debate, Bush echoed Reagan’s line in the 1980 presidential debate with Carter by asking the public, “Are you better off now than you were four years ago? If you are, you might be Tim Johnson. But if you’re like the millions of Americans unemployed by the Kerry economy, you got another choice.”


    Kerry was judged to have lost the presidential debate with Bush, attributed to minimal preparation due to the economic crisis occupying his time and preexisting antipathy towards the sitting president for both the high unemployment as well as the unpopular bank bailout programs. His approval rating had sunk to 31 percent, with less than 6 in 10 Democrats expressing approval. It appeared likely that Kerry and the Democratic Party would be on the wrong end of a landslide.



    Former President George W. Bush secured his second nonconsecutive term on Nov. 4, 2008, with 54.5 percent of the popular vote and 475 electoral votes from 45 states. Kerry received 40.0 percent of the vote and 63 electoral votes by carrying Washington D.C. and five northeastern states: Maryland, Massachusetts, New York, Rhode Island, and Vermont. Kerry posted the worst incumbent performance in popular and electoral vote margins since Jimmy Carter lost to Ronald Reagan in 1980. The election was the first rematch since 1892, which pit former President Grover Cleveland against President Benjamin Harrison. Like President Cleveland after the 1892 election, George W. Bush won the nomination of his party thrice in a row and became the second president in history to win a nonconsecutive second term. The election attracted significantly fewer participants compared to 2004, with turnout from the voting age population at 52.6 percent.


    Alongside George W. Bush’s landslide, Republicans gained 54 seats in the House and 8 seats in the Senate. This propelled Republican control of Congress to heights unseen since Reconstruction, with 270 House seats and 56 Senate seats. Long-term incumbents such as Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa) lost their seats, as freshmen to the Senate including former Gov. Mike Huckabee (R-Ark.), Rep. Dave Camp (R-Mich.) and Rep. Shelley Moore Capito (R-W. Va.) were poised to help the new President fulfill a conservative agenda on economics, foreign policy, and social issues. Seeming to confirm this new national mood, the voters of Arizona, California, and Florida approved referendums to ban same-sex marriage. But the Republicans had a great task in front of them: to reverse the largest economic downturn since the Great Depression.


    “A new term is a new opportunity to reach out to the whole nation. We have one country, one constitution, and one future that binds us,” Bush said. “And when we come together and work together, there is no challenge too great for America.”[37]

    2008 elections
    House: +54 R (R: 216 -> 270; D: 219 -> 165)
    Senate: +8 R (R: 48 -> 56; D: 51 -> 43; I: 1)

    George W. Bush/Mitt Romney defeats John Kerry/John Edwards (R gain from D)

    Alabama’s 5th: Wayne Parker (R) wins in an open election
    Arizona’s 8th: Tim Bee (R) defeats Gabrielle Giffords (D)
    Arkansas’s 1st: Rick Crawford (R) wins in an open election
    Arkansas’s 2nd: Andy Mayberry (R) wins in an open election
    California’s 11th: David Harmer (R) defeats Jerry McNerney (D)
    California’s 20th: Andy Vidak (R) defeats Jim Costa (D)
    Colorado’s 3rd: Wayne Wolf (R) defeats John Salazar (D)
    Florida’s 2nd: Steve Southerland (R) defeats Allen Boyd (D)
    Georgia’s 2nd: Mike Keown (R) defeats Sanford Bishop (D)
    Hawaii’s 1st: Charles Djou (R) wins in an open election
    Illinois’s 8th: Joe Walsh (R) defeats Melissa Bean (D)
    Illinois’s 17th: Andrea Lane Zinga (R) defeats Phil Hare (D)
    Indiana’s 2nd: Jackie Walorski (R) defeats Joe Donnelly (D)
    Indiana’s 8th: John Hostettler (R) defeats Brad Ellsworth (D)
    Indiana’s 9th: Mike Sodrel (R) defeats Baron Hill (D)
    Iowa’s 1st: David Hartsuch (R) defeats Bruce Braley (D)
    Kansas’s 3rd: Nick Jordan (R) wins in an open election
    Kentucky’s 6th: Andy Barr (R) defeats Ben Chandler (R)
    Louisiana’s 2nd: Joseph Cao (R) defeats William J. Jefferson (D)
    Louisiana’s 3rd: Jeff Landry (R) wins in an open election
    Massachusetts’ 10th: Jeff Perry (R) wins in an open election
    Michigan’s 1st: Dan Benishek (R) wins in an open election
    Minnesota’s 8th: Chip Cravaack (R) defeats Jim Oberstar (D)
    Mississippi’s 4th: Steven Palazzo (R) defeats Gene Taylor (D)
    Missouri’s 3rd: Ed Martin (R) defeats Russ Carnahan (D)
    Missouri’s 4th: Vicky Hartzler (R) defeats Ike Skelton (D)
    New Hampshire's 2nd: Charlie Bass (R) defeats Paul Hodes (D)
    New York’s 1st: Lee Zeldin (R) defeats Tom Bishop (D)
    New York's 20th: Chris Gibson (R) defeats Kirsten Gillibrand (D)
    New York’s 24th: Richard L. Hanna (R) defeats Mike Arcuri (D)
    North Carolina’s 2nd: Renee Ellmers (R) defeats Bob Etheridge (D)
    North Dakota at-large: Rick Berg (R) defeats Earl Pomeroy (D)
    Ohio’s 18th: Fred Dailey (R) defeats Zack Space (D)
    Pennsylvania’s 7th: Pat Meehan (R) defeats Joe Sestak (D)
    Pennsylvania's 10th: Tom Marino (R) defeats Chris Carney (D)
    Pennsylvania’s 11th: Lou Barletta (R) defeats Paul Kanjorski (D)
    Pennsylvania’s 12th: William Russell (R) wins in an open election
    South Carolina’s 5th: Mick Mulvaney (R) defeats John Spratt (D)
    South Dakota’s at-large: Kristi Noem (R) defeats Stephanie Herseth Sandlin (D)
    Tennessee’s 4th: Scott DesJarlais (R) defeats Lincoln Davis (D)
    Tennessee’s 6th: Diane Black (R) wins in an open election
    Tennessee’s 8th: Stephen Fincher (R) wins in an open election
    Texas’s 17th: Bill Flores (R) defeats Chet Edwards (D)
    Texas’s 22nd: Pete Olson (R) defeats Nick Lampson (D)
    Texas’s 23rd: Quico Canseco (R) defeats Ciro Rodriguez (D)
    Texas’s 27th: Blake Farenthold (R) defeats Solomon Ortiz (D)
    Utah’s 2nd: Morgan Philpot (R) defeats Jim Matheson (D)
    Virginia’s 9th: Morgan Griffith (R) defeats Rick Boucher (D)
    Washington’s 2nd: John Koster (R) defeats Rick Larsen (D)
    Washington’s 3rd: Jaime Herrera (R) defeats Denny Heck (D)
    Washington’s 8th: Dave Reichert (R) defeats Dave Ross (D)
    West Virginia’s 1st: David McKinley (R) wins in an open election
    Wisconsin’s 3rd: Dan Kapanke (R) defeats Ron Kind (D)
    Wisconsin’s 7th: Sean Duffy (R) wins in an open election

    Alabama: Jeff Sessions (R hold)
    Alaska: Ted Stevens (R hold)

    Arkansas: Mike Huckabee defeats Mark Pryor (R gain from D)
    Colorado: John Suthers defeats Mark Udall (R hold)
    Delaware: Joe Biden (D hold)
    Georgia: Saxby Chambliss (R hold)
    Idaho: Jim Risch (R hold)

    Illinois: Dick Durbin (D hold)
    Iowa: Bob Vander Plaats defeats Tom Harkin (R gain from D)
    Louisiana: John N. Kennedy defeats Mary Landrieu (R gain from D)

    Massachusetts: Ed Markey (D hold)
    Michigan: Dave Camp wins in an open race (R gain from D)
    Minnesota: Norm Coleman (R hold)
    Mississippi: Thad Cochran (R hold)

    Montana: Danny Rehberg wins in an open race (R gain from D)
    Nebraska: Mike Johanns (R hold)
    New Hampshire: John E. Sununu (R hold)

    New Jersey: Dick Zimmer wins in an open race (R gain from D)
    New Mexico: Heather Wilson (R hold)
    North Carolina: Elizabeth Dole (R hold)
    Oklahoma: Jim Inhofe (R hold)
    Oregon: Gordon H. Smith (R hold)

    Rhode Island: Jack Reed (D hold)
    South Carolina: Lindsey Graham (R hold)
    South Dakota: Mike Rounds defeats Tim Johnson (R gain from D)
    Tennessee: Lamar Alexander (R hold)
    Texas: John Cornyn (R hold)
    Virginia: Bob McDonnell wins in an open race (R hold)

    West Virginia: Shelley Moore Capito wins in an open race (R gain from D)
    Wyoming: Mike Enzi (R hold)
    Wyoming special: John Barrasso (R hold)

    Chapter 5 Notes and Bibliography

    [2] Bush signs housing bill as Fannie Mae grows | Reuters
    [3] Kerry Exploring Cabinet Options (
    [4] Kerry Exploring Cabinet Options (
    [8] Day&action=keypress&region=FixedLeft&pgtype=article
    [19] Adapted from Gore political consultant Tad Devine’s words
    [29]Without the bankruptcy of Lehman Brothers, the urgency for passing the bailout is not as apparent.
    Last edited: Dec 7, 2018