Two of the Democrats most often mentioned as contenders for the White House in 2008 are currently paying staff to work for local candidates in New Hampshire, home of the nation’s first presidential primary, the paid-restricted Roll Call reports Thursday. Excerpts follow -- Kerry and Edwards spokespersons say it doesn't necessarily indicate a presidential bid, though experts say the move is a "fairly big step."
Massachusetts Sen. John Kerry and former North Carolina Sen. John Edwards, who shared the national ticket in 2004, are both using their leadership political action committees to pay the entire salary of a staffer working through the state party. Kerry is paying for Geoff Wetrosky to work to re-elect Manchester Mayor Bob Baines (D), while Edwards is underwriting Angie Siecker’s efforts on behalf of state Sen. David Gottesman’s bid for another term.
Baines was an early Granite State supporter of Kerry’s 2004 presidential primary bid and Wetrosky began working for him in April. In the 2004 cycle Wetrosky was on staff for the June special election victory of South Dakota Rep. Stephanie Herseth (D) and worked on the presidential effort in Florida during the general election.
Siecker served as a field operative for Edwards in the Iowa caucuses.
Steve Elmendorf, a longtime Democratic operative who is now a lobbyist with Bryan Cave Strategies, called the moves “a fairly big step in the process.”
“You do not pay staff in New Hampshire unless you are running for president or thinking about running for president,” he added.
Spokeswomen for both Kerry’s Keeping America’s Promise PAC and Edwards’ One America PAC insisted that their efforts were part of broader campaigns bolstering the Democratic Party from the bottom up and not a signal of an early-starting presidential bid.