Party power brokers can giveth endorsements, and they can taketh them away, as Howard Dean is learning. Dean's buzz last fall was fueled in part by some early vows of support from party leaders and labor unions. Now that Dean's candidacy appears long-shot at best, some endorsers are quietly and unceremoniously withdrawing their support.
U.S. Rep. Carolyn Cheeks Kilpatrick (D-Mich.) on Sunday withdrew her backing of Dean, less than a month after her original endorsement. "The people of Michigan and my constituents in the 13th Congressional District have spoken," said Kilpatrick.
The 1.5 million-member American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees also withdrew its endorsement in a private meeting with the candidate over the weekend, according to Democratic officials. Today, if you try to read documents about Dean on the union's Web site, you'll just get error messages. Could be a coincidence, of course.
Al Gore, whose early endorsement of Dean caused an in-party brouhaha and, some believe may have precipitated Dean's slide by making him an attractive target for opponents, still stands by his man, if in measured tones. At a Tennessee rally on Sunday, Gore "referred to his candidate in a nonpartisan manner," writes Katharine Seelye in the New York Times. "[Gore] said he appreciated that Dr. Dean 'spoke forthrightly' against the war in Iraq, brought new people into the party and inspired the grass roots over the Internet. But Mr. Gore told the crowd that 'any one of these candidates is far better than George W. Bush.'"