Kerry Defends Nomination Delay

This trial balloon is still floating:

Boston Globe — Kerry justifies idea of nomination delay

John F. Kerry yesterday defended the idea of leaving the Democratic National Convention in July without a formal nomination as his party’s presidential candidate, saying that there is ample political precedent to support it and that Republicans are complaining about the move because “someone might have a way of neutralizing their advantage.”

The Massachusetts senator told the Globe: “One thing I can tell you is that on Wednesday night, the [candidate for] vice president of the United States will be nominated and give a speech, and on Thursday night I will give my speech.”

Asked if it would be a nomination acceptance or merely a party address, Kerry winked and leaned back in his seat as his campaign charter jet flew from Hanscom Field to Dulles International Airport outside the nation’s capital.

At the same time, two prominent campaign finance watchdogs questioned whether it would be legal for the host committee to spend $15 million in federal funds to stage the Democratic National Convention if the event does not produce Kerry’s nomination.

“I think there is a very strong case here that it would be illegal,” said Fred Wertheimer, who runs a campaign finance organization called Democracy 21. “They received the money to conduct a nominating convention, and a nominating convention tends to include the concept of a nominee. At a minimum, they face real legal questions.”

Representative Martin T. Meehan of Lowell, a fellow Democrat and coauthor of the country’s new campaign finance law, agreed that the $15 million is at risk. “The question is whether it could be made up in private contributions,” the congressman said.

One also wonders about the logic of nominating a vice presidential candidate but not the presidential candidate, given that the former is chosen by the latter. The minimal tactical advantage this move would afford–since there are plenty of ways to spend “outside” money on advertising that are techically legal–would seem far outweighed by the flack generated.

FILED UNDER: 2004 Election, Democracy, , , , , ,
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. delta dave says:

    kerry’s efforts to manipulate the dimolib convention may be a final nail in his campaign chances. American’s (generally speaking) hate liars and cheats. kerry seems to have been given a pass on lying (after all we know EVERYBODY lies), but not playing by normal convention rules smacks of cheating.

    We all have been cheated at one time or another and we hate it on two levels — personal and intellectual…..Personal because we took a loss; Intellectual because we have been personally made a dupe and fool.

    So his dalliance with gerrymandering the convention is at his own great peril. The CHEATER.

  2. Jim says:

    Lets take this issue to the realm of the absurd. I understand that the federal funds are approx 75 million. Why not wait until….lets say Oct 31 to declare the nominee and then you have 75 million to spend the week of the election. As long as Kerry’s donations continues until then…why not? Or maybe Bush should wait….it would be the most interesting game of chicken.

    Or maybe Kerry will never ‘accept’ the nomination and if he loses in November he can say he didn’t lose the election because he was never in the election….a perfect Kerryism.

  3. Attila Girl says:

    I understand the rationale, and I know that anyone who was going to vote for him from the beginning will find this an acceptable workaround, given that we’ve never had the Dem and GOP conventions simultaneously (and maybe now we should, since they are increasingly meaningless).

    But this election is going to be decided by those in the middle who could go either way, and this maneuver is *not* going to appear Presidential.

  4. cj says:

    Kerry is appearing more and more to be a money-grubbing politician. I don’t think that plays well to the “union member” type base of the Dem party.