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Feingold in Vermont, New Hampshire

After his emergence in 2005 as a leading voice for the liberal wing of the Democratic party, Wisconsin Sen. Russ Feingold is working to cement that reputation with a campaign swing for Rep. Bernie Sanders (I) in Vermont.

Feingold will be in Brattleboro Saturday afternoon to attend a rally with Sanders, who is running for the state's open Senate seat, as well as state Sen. Peter Welch (D), who is seeking the House seat that Sanders is vacating. Feingold will do two fundraisers for Sanders during the trip as well. He will also plans to make a stop in neighboring New Hampshire later in the day, speaking to the Hanover Democratic Party at 8 pm.

Sanders -- a Socialist who has caucused with Democrats since being elected to the House in 1990 -- is considered the frontrunner for the seat of retiring Sen. Jim Jeffords (I).  No serious Democrat has emerged; wealthy software executive Richard Tarrant is the likely Republican nominee.

Jeff Weaver, a spokesman for Sanders, said his boss invited Feingold to Vermont because the two men have long been advocates for limits on the Patriot Act and leaders in the push for campaign finance reform. Given Feingold's high-profile fights on these two issues, Weaver said, "a lot of people have a familiarity with him."

"He is not as well known as someone like [Massachusetts Sen. John] Kerry or [New York Sen. Hillary Rodham] Clinton," Weaver added, "but among people who are more politically active he is certainly known."

In a statement released by his leadership political action committee -- the Progressive Patriots Fund -- Feingold said the decision to campaign in Vermont is part of his commitment "to help promote a progressive reform agenda in every state."

Feingold's trip to Vermont and New Hampshire may have several ancillary benefits for his 2008 ambitions. First and foremost, he continues to raise his profile in the Granite State, where media markets bleed across into Vermont and where the first-in-the-nation presidential primary will be held in early 2008. Also, by campaigning in the home state of Howard Dean, Feingold may draw a connection in liberals' minds as 2008's ideological incarnation of the former Vermont governor, whose grassroots movement jolted the 2004 presidential primary season.

By Chris Cillizza  |  January 5, 2006; 1:00 PM ET
Categories:  Eye on 2008  
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Many here are underestimated the potential level of Americans' disgust with the current shenanigans in Washington. B4 terrorism reared its ugly head, reform was the watchword in the'90s and it may very well be the same in 2008. If so, watch out - all bets are off, and the established "reformers" will be the ones to watch. McCain is going to be hard to beat for ANY D nominee, but McCain-Feingold could be more than just the answer to a campaign finance trivia question in 2 years time...

Posted by: activist kaza | January 7, 2006 4:43 AM | Report abuse

I respect Feingold's principles, and the fact he sticks by them more than most politicians. I disagree with most of what he stands for, but at least he stands.

His 2 biggest hurdles are his name
recognition, and his voting record.

He's on this tour to get his name known, but he's still a relative unknown.

While the right had to work to connect liberal dots in Kerry's record, that's all that is in Feingolds. There's no work at all in finding votes that many will find annoying at best.

The GOP money machine will eat him alive if he becomes the nominee.

Posted by: Crazy Politico | January 6, 2006 12:12 AM | Report abuse

Actually, we did have a bachelor president once-- President Buchanan (before Lincoln) who was actually widely rumored to have had a homosexual love affair with his vice president.

Here's the thing-- Feingold cannot be compared to John McCain as a "straight shooter"-- while he does have the principles and resolve that McCain does, he will never achieve McCain's maverick status because he almost always votes liberal. This is my prediction for 2008 (and the winning one, too): Feingold's entrance takes early votes away from Clinton, showing Bayh (and to a lesser extent Warner) as stronger leaders. I am predicting (and hoping for) a Bayh-Warner ticket. I am expecting Clinton to have the Dean experience-- be expected to walk away with the nomination, but come unexpectedly third in the first primary, setting her up for a respectable but unsuccessful run.

Posted by: Anonymous | January 5, 2006 9:52 PM | Report abuse

I'm going to try and go see Russ in VT after reading this. Anyone going down from Montreal? Email me:

Posted by: Sandwich Repairman | January 5, 2006 6:46 PM | Report abuse

I'm a liberal and I expect I will vote for Feingold. I think his principled positions are not the main thing that doom his candidacy, though. His biggest problem is that he is divorced and currently unmarried. There will no First Lady. We americans are much too shallow to allow that to happen.

Posted by: Sagacity | January 5, 2006 6:04 PM | Report abuse

Russ and Bernie getting together (and serving in the Senate together) will be a great thing for the country.

Posted by: FairAndBalanced? | January 5, 2006 5:22 PM | Report abuse

Get A Spine, VOTE RUSS!

Posted by: Baraboo | January 5, 2006 4:51 PM | Report abuse

Ep Sato, please explain the votes to which you are referring when you state that Russ Feingold has voted against increased veterans funding.

Were these votes actually on larger packages containing non-veteran provisions that in reality accounted for Sen. Feingold's no votes?

The fact is that Feingold has a well deserved reputation within the veterans community of supporting veterans and doing so for all the correct reasons. How else could one explain that in 2004 the Veterans of Foreign Wars PAC endorsed Feingold for reelection even though his opponent was a veteran and a member of the VFW?

For more on Feingold and veterans, see his 2004 Veterans position paper:

Posted by: WhyGuy | January 5, 2006 4:26 PM | Report abuse

As to Ep Sato's comment: I'm not sure that Feingold's vote for John Ashcroft was particularly popular on college campuses and with Unitarian churches either. However, I don't think these votes spell doom. Americans like a McCain or Feingold tough talker- straight shooter... it will be interesting to see!

Posted by: Wisco | January 5, 2006 4:20 PM | Report abuse

Russ Feingold does have principles, but they often get him in trouble. For example, when it was his principles or voting in favor of legislation that would have given much needed funding to Wisconsin Dairy Farmers? He voted against the farmers. When it was vote for his principals or increase veterans funding? He voted against the veterans.

This sort of politics wins votes in Unitarian churches and college campuses, but tends to lose everywhere else.

Posted by: Ep Sato | January 5, 2006 3:35 PM | Report abuse

Stock #9999, History is supposed to be supposed to be something we learn from. History does not cast any votes in the future. If we have learned our lessons from the past and present, we should and hopefully would cast our vote for Sen. Feingold. After all, based on history, the current President shouldn't have been elected and the Democrats would have kept their majority in 1994.

Posted by: Jason | January 5, 2006 2:47 PM | Report abuse

I like and respect Feingold but he's not going to win.

He's the latest inheritant in the McCarthy legacy line: McCarthy -> McGovern -> Udall -> Hart -> Simon ->Tsongas -> Bradley -> Dean -> Feingold.

McGovern's the only one who won the nomination, and we know what happened for him in the general.

There's a certain moral health value for the political process in Russ opting to be the liberal flag-bearer for '08, but the ending for his presidential campaign has already been written.

Posted by: Stock #9999 | January 5, 2006 2:25 PM | Report abuse

What is your comment supposed to mean, rjac? Are you implying that there is a Jewish conspiracy in the government? If that were the case, how would you explain the fact that Arlen Specter, Norm Coleman, Paul Wolfowitz, and the recently indicted Jack Abramoff-- all of them Jewish-- are Republicans? You won't see any of them rallying to Bernie Sanders's or Russ Feingold's cause . . . because it's a matter of political ideals, not religion, that binds Feingold and Sanders.

Posted by: The Caped Composer | January 5, 2006 2:20 PM | Report abuse

I agree with you jlmont, but let's not give up hope!

Posted by: Jason | January 5, 2006 1:40 PM | Report abuse

Anyone familiar with the political career of Russ Feingold knows that he is one of the few politicians at the national level who actually has principles and stands by them. Couple that with being smart and articulate and it is apparent that this man has no chance of being elected president.

Posted by: jlmont | January 5, 2006 1:34 PM | Report abuse

I submit the following: ALL politicions guilty of corruption be sent for community service to clean up the Gulf Coast along with the maximum prison term.

Posted by: getalife | January 5, 2006 1:22 PM | Report abuse

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