Hail to the man who lost to the chief

by Eliot Brown

class=img_thumbleft>To the sound of Neil Young's "Rockin' in the Free World," Senator John Kerry hopped on a stage before a cheering crowd at a Chris Coleman rally in St. Paul on Monday.

Kerry, speaking on behalf of Coleman at Macalester College, pumped his fists in the air, shook hands with random supporters on the stage, and gave the crowd a gracious wave before launching into his talk. The whole act, complete with Kerry's awkward smile, was eerily reminiscent of the 2004 Presidential campaign.

In his speech, Kerry praised Coleman's vision and environmental focus but also highlighted many of his own accomplishments, such as his push to increase federal funding for police forces.

His talk was full of standard jibes against the Bush administration: "I haven't been practicing law for 25 years, I've never been a judge, and I met President Bush so I'm qualified to be on the Supreme Court," he said in reference to Harriet Miers.

And while he made no reference to 2008, Kerry managed to squeeze in familiar sound bites from his last presidential bid: "We shouldn't be closing down firehouses in American and opening them in Baghdad," he said while showing gratitude to the firefighter's union that showed up in large numbers. Democratic supporters may have wondered why a mayoral challenger with an apparently sizable lead would call in a proven election loser--and one whose performance is not fondly remembered by party loyalists. The Coleman campaign asked Kerry first for his endorsement and to come speak, not the other way around, says Bob Hume, a Coleman spokesperson. One imagines that Coleman hoped to underline the fact that Mayor Randy Kelly endorsed Bush--in a city where Kerry collected 73 percent of the vote. While Kerry did not mention Kelly in his speech, Coleman blasted the incumbent mayor because he "stood with Bush."

This trip to Minnesota was just one of many stops on Kerry's continued unofficial presidential campaign. Since his loss nearly one year ago, Kerry has continued to look and act just like a presidential candidate. He maintains an email list of supporters, he makes speeches denouncing the Bush administration around the country, and he continues to show his great interest in New Hampshire--the home of the first Democratic primary in early 2008.

Before speaking in St. Paul, Kerry could be found in Iowa on Sunday, speaking in Des Moines and Iowa City, and raising money for local candidates. His appearance in the state adds Kerry to the long list of presidential hopefuls who have visits scheduled this month. The Associated Press reported that Senate majority leader Bill Frist, Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, Indiana Sen. Evan Bayh, and Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney all will touch down at the Lindberg terminal in coming weeks.

While he has called a 2008 presidential run premature, Kerry finished the 2004 bid with over $10 million in campaign funds, started a new political action committee, Keeping America's Promise, and is paying staffers in New Hampshire to help out with state politics, according to the Washington newspaper Roll Call.

What are his chances in three years? It's tough to say, though if online betting sites serve as any guide, things don't looks so great. Two sites, and Paddy Power, each give Kerry 50:1 odds, and one site, William Hill Online Sports Betting, puts Kerry's chances below those of ousted minority leader Tom Daschle and Arnold Schwarzenegger, who would need a constitutional amendment to be President.

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