Will 2020 be a repeat of 2004 for Dems?

Democrats by 2004 had become obsessed with defeating incumbent President George W. Bush.
Four years earlier, in the 2000 election, Bush had won the Electoral College but lost the popular vote. Democrats were still furious that Bush supposedly had been “selected” by the Supreme Court over the contested vote tally in Florida rather than “elected” by the majority of voters.

By late 2003, Bush’s popularity had dipped over the unpopular Iraq War, which a majority in both houses of Congress approved but had since disowned.

Bush was attacked nonstop as a Nazi, fascist and war criminal. “Bush lied, people died” was the new left-wing mantra.
Talk of Bush’s impeachment was in the air. Democrats remembered that his father, George H.W. Bush, lost his re-election bid in 1992. They hoped the same fate awaited his son.

Neither presidential candidate Al Gore nor vice presidential candidate Joe Lieberman from the defeated 2000 ticket wanted to run again in 2004. Sen. John Edwards was a charismatic newcomer candidate, but he was increasingly proving to be a smarmy empty suit.

Oddly, none of the Democrats wished to identify with the last successful liberal president, two-term Bill Clinton, or his policies. In 2000, Gore also ran away from the president under whom he served as vice president — and lost.
Within that void, little-known Vermont Gov. Howard Dean announced early on that he was running. And for most of 2003, according to polls, Dean was the front-runner of the Democratic primary field.
Dean was running on an ever-harder-left agenda. His chief allure to primary voters was that he was the most venomous of the candidates in references to Bush, and he loudly claimed that he had always been against the Iraq War.

The rest of the Democratic field was full of even more radical fringe candidates, including Sen. Carol Moseley Braun of Illinois, Rep. Dennis Kucinich of Ohio, and the Rev. Al Sharpton of New York.
The so-called “centrists” — House Minority Leader Dick Gephardt of Missouri and Sen. Bob Graham of Florida — found no traction as the entire Democratic field went harder left.

As the first 2004 primaries loomed, Democratic donors, officeholders and blue-collar workers became concerned that Dean might be too far ahead to be stopped. They warned of a landslide loss similar to the one Democrats suffered in 1972, when the party had foolishly nominated the ultra-liberal Sen. George McGovern of South Dakota.


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