Soft announcements…

Add Sen. John Kerry to the list of Democrats thinking of running for president in 2004 but softening their announcements in the aftermath of the mid-term elections. Last week, Rep. Richard Gephardt issued a statement that he would not run for the House leadership; it included a veiled announcement of his intentions to run for president.

Surely it’s obvious that running for president is a life-altering decision that requires a politician to consult with family, friends, and advisors. Why call attention to this obvious first step? It’s called a “floater.” One of the best recent examples was Bill Clinton’s floater about hosting a TV talk show: float the information into the public sphere–softly–and see what happens. If the reception is good–go for it. If not–disavow any connection to the floater or take the prearranged escape route.

Kerry’s floater, at first, hardly seems controversial. The field of Democrats has been growing, slowly, since December 2000. But the recent debacle at the polls seems to have soured the party and, perhaps, the public on the so-called front-runners. Kerry isn’t in that crowd, and he doesn’t want to be identified with them. (via PoliticalWire)

UPDATE (11:15 a.m.): From the Des Moines Register, here’s why Kerry doesn’t want to be lumped with the so-called front-runners. Iowa Democrats are apparently rejecting Gephardt and Daschle as failed leaders. A politician who wants the White House has to go through Iowa to get it.