Another part is to run a low-budget operation, concentrating on canvassing for grass-roots support in the early states. Babbitt campaign manager Fred Duval contends--and many rivals concede--that Babbitt's organization in Iowa is second only to Gephardt's, while in New Hampshire only Dukakis is ahead of him.
Duval's ideal scenario is for Babbitt to finish in the top two in Iowa, then in the top two in New Hampshire, then win the Feb. 23 primary in South Dakota and the March 5 caucus in Wyoming. "We want a couple of wins in our belt going into Super Tuesday," he explained.
On Super Tuesday itself, said Duval, the idea will be to live up to or exceed expectations. "What everybody is going to be looking for is a combination of accumulating a lot of delegates plus the ability to win or finish second in some states."
After Super Tuesday, Duval figures that Babbitt's political success will have solved his financial problems and he will have to contend against, at most, two other candidates, including Jesse Jackson.
Joseph R. Biden Jr.: No one entered the campaign with brighter prospects than the senior senator from Delaware. His oratorical prowess and ability to raise money, second only to Dukakis on that score so far, all seemed to bolster his chances of attaining the strong finish in Iowa and New Hampshire that his strategists are hoping for.
Moreover, Biden has the support of well-connected party leaders in both of those states. He also has influential backing in the South, enough that some aides talk of "blowing out " the opposition on Super Tuesday.
Despite all that, Biden has had surprising difficulty establishing the kind of clear message that is vital to the success of his strategy. He started off by dedicating his candidacy to the broad theme of "our children's future," but more recently has stressed his experience in foreign policy, presumably because of the Iran-\o7 contra\f7 affair and the tension in the Persian Gulf.
"The non-development of the Biden candidacy has been the biggest surprise of the campaign," said Floyd Fithian, Illinois Sen. Paul Simon's campaign manager, a judgment shared by a number of other Democrats.
But Biden still has the capacity to come on strong. His chairmanship of the Senate Judiciary Committee gives him a rare opportunity to capture public attention during next month's confirmation hearings for Supreme Court nominee Robert H. Bork. Says Joseph Trippi, former deputy political director of the Gary Hart campaign: "Bork is his first primary."
If Biden can show leadership qualities in the hearings, he can move to the forefront of the competition. But if he misplays his hand, he may not be able to overcome the negative reaction.
Michael S. Dukakis: In substantive terms, the foundation on which Dukakis' battle plan rests is Massachusetts' booming economy. He will rise or fall on his ability to convince Democrats outside New England that he deserves credit for the good times his state enjoys and can deliver the same prosperity to the other 49.
The governor's strategists know they must overcome the efforts of Gephardt and other rivals to depict him as a regional candidate, meaning too liberal for the South and too much of an elitist technocrat for everywhere else. "If we're seen as a category rather than as Michael Dukakis, then our job is very hard," said political director Paul Tully.
Tactically, campaign manager Sasso said Dukakis needs to "do well" in Iowa, which his rivals define as no worse than a strong third, and "do well" in New Hampshire, which, because it is next door to Dukakis' own Massachusetts, means nothing less than first place--or so the opposition claims.
To avoid being stigmatized as a regional candidate, knowledgeable sources say, Dukakis is throwing enormous resources into Minnesota, which intends to hold its delegate caucus the week after New Hampshire.
On Super Tuesday, those sources say, plans now call for focusing on five states: Florida, Texas, North Carolina, Georgia and Alabama.
Despite Sasso's prediction of a long campaign, some believe Dukakis could just about clinch the nomination if he follows an impressive victory in New Hampshire by winning the most delegates on Super Tuesday. On the other hand, a Dukakis flop in Dixie could come close to ending his candidacy.
Richard A. Gephardt: The trade issue is to the Gephardt campaign what the Massachusetts economy is to Dukakis' candidacy.
His stand in favor of safeguarding American producers against what he sees as unfair foreign competition is valuable in itself, winning Gephardt support from the United Auto Workers in Iowa.
More broadly, by pushing legislation that major newspapers and other opinion leaders have branded as protectionist, Gephardt comes close to fulfilling the promise made by his campaign manager, William Carrick, that his campaign will be "a classic insurgency." His advisers appear to believe such a motif is necessary to give color and flavor to a candidate who does not generate much emotional energy.