Congressman Meeks made a splash with his early endorsement of John Jerry, and that support helped Meeks land a spot as the national co-chair of the campaign. Tribune photo by Ira Cohen.
On the heels of a month-long attack on Senator Kerry’s Vietnam record, Meeks launched some of his own.
“Everything Bush has touched—everything Bush has done in the last 20 years has been a failure,” said Meeks. “If you look at the corporations that he had from his Texas oil companies in Texas, they all ended up bankrupt and loosing money. And the one thing that was similar in all those situations: Bush and all his cronies made money even though the businesses lost money.”
Bush’s business record foreshadowed his squandering of the nation’s surplus, according to Meeks. “If you look at Texas when he was governor, he left there with record deficits. And now he has us in the United States in record deficits.”
Before The Run
“I knew this election was gong to be the most import election of my lifetime,” said Meeks, who succeeded the Rev. Floyd Flake in representing the Sixth Congressional District of Jamaica. By March 2003, “I met with every presidential candidate,” he said.
At the time, the field of candidates included a wide swath of Democrats, from the hawkish, pro-war Vice Presidential nominee Joe Lieberman to left-leaning candidates like Vermont Gov. Howard Dean and Ohio Congressman Dennis Kucinich.
In voting against authorizing the use of force in Iraq, Meeks broke with the Queens congressional delegation, and seemingly placed himself on the fringes of his own party. Of the six Queens congress members, only Meeks and Nydia Velazquez opposed the war.
In looking for a presidential nominee, Meeks did not use the vote on Iraq as his sole criteria. “I decide John Kerry had the proper resume, background and experience to be the leader and commander in chief of America right now, considering the world we currently live in.”
Kerry served for nearly two decades in the Senate and earned five medals during a four-month tour of Vietnam in which rescued a colleague under enemy fire.
That early endorsement paid off big when Kerry locked his party’s nomination earlier this year. “I therefore endorsed him well before most other people were endorsing presidential candidates,” Meeks said. “But I did it because I believe in him, and as a result of that, he decided to name me national co-chair of his campaign.”
Running Through Battle Grounds
Just as Bush’s poll ratings jumped slightly following the RNC, Meeks said, “We’re right where we want to be.”
“We’re going to win…286 to 312 [in electoral college votes],” predicted Meeks. “A minimum of 286.”
In contrast to the 36-day recount of 2000, Meeks said confidently, “We will not be waiting till one, two in the morning to determine who won this election; Kerry will have won it by 10 o’clock.”
To do so, Meeks is spending this campaign season in the turbulent waters between safe red and blue chunks of America, known as “the battleground states,” where even political experts say the results are unpredictable.
Meeks, whose primary opponent failed to qualify for the Sept. 14 primary, said, “I’m focusing full time, 100 percent of the time on John Kerry and John Edwards.”
In a nod to the district he’ll see little of in the upcoming weeks, he added, “The best thing I can do for the individuals in the Sixth Congressional District, the best thing I can do for people of the city of New York and the people of the state of New York, is get John Kerry elected President of the United States. And so I will be all over this country in battle ground states. I have a schedule that calls for me to be, starting on Monday [Sept. 6th] I’ll be Missouri, Michigan, Ohio, Arizona, Florida.”
“Every weekend from now through November, I’m on the campaign trail, and when we [in Congress] are out of session, many of those days during the week I’ll be in the battle ground state[s]. And so I say to my people in the sixth congressional district, the best thing I can do for them at this time is get a new President of the United States.”