- The Washington Times - Monday, December 29, 2003

Funding lead

Aided by aggressive Internet campaigns, Howard Dean and Wesley Clark have raised the most money among Democratic candidates in the final quarter of 2003, according to preliminary estimates.

Mr. Dean, the Democratic front-runner, will have raised more than $14 million in the final three months, pushing his yearly total to almost $40 million, the Associated Press reports. Campaign manager Joe Trippi called on donors to push the quarterly total to $14.8 million, the amount the campaign raised from July through September.

Mr. Clark, the retired Army general who entered the race in September, will have raised between $10 million and $12 million in the fourth quarter, for a total of almost $15 million since becoming a candidate.

By raising almost as much money as Mr. Dean in the fourth quarter and accepting federal matching funds, Mr. Clark should be financially competitive with the former Vermont governor in the near term.

Clark and Clinton

Democratic presidential hopeful Wesley Clark’s new television commercial includes a clip of him and Bill Clinton.

It’s the first ad of the 2004 campaign to include an image of the former president, the Associated Press reports.

The clip lasts only a few seconds and shows Mr. Clinton walking from a podium at the White House to place the Presidential Medal of Freedom over Mr. Clark’s head, honoring his fellow Arkansan for his work in Kosovo as NATO supreme allied commander.

It is one of several scenes in the 30-second ad that was to begin airing last night in New Hampshire, where Mr. Clark is trailing Howard Dean and John Kerry in polls. The commercial includes footage of Mr. Clark with a short-order cook, a soldier and schoolchildren.

As the Clinton clip is shown, an announcer in the ad notes that Mr. Clark is a leader who has been “decorated for valor and for service in our country.”

“Mr. Clinton’s name is not mentioned, but it’s obvious that the footage is meant to align the retired Army general with the former president,” AP reporter Liz Sidotti writes.

Dozens of former Clinton staffers are working on Mr. Clark’s campaign.

Dean’s religiosity

“In an interview published Christmas Day in the Boston Globe, Howard Dean ‘described himself … as a committed believer in Jesus Christ and said he expects to increasingly include references to Jesus and God in his speeches as he stumps in the South,’” James Taranto notes in his Best of the Web Today column (www.OpinionJournal.com).

“Here is how Dean describes Jesus Christ: ‘Christ was someone who sought out people who were disenfranchised, people who were left behind. He fought against self-righteousness of people who had everything. … He was a person who set an extraordinary example that has lasted 2,000 years, which is pretty inspiring when you think about it.’

“Do you notice something missing from Dean’s description of Jesus?” Mr. Taranto asks. “Well, does he use the phrase ‘Son of God’? Nope. ‘Messiah’? Ixnay. ‘The Way, the Truth and the Light’? None of the above. To hear Howard Dean tell it, Jesus Christ was just a socially conscious celebrity, like Princess Diana only less glamorous.

“We hasten to add that if that’s what Dean believes, we have no problem with it. This column respects all religious beliefs except the most obnoxious ones; we doggedly support the American tradition of religious pluralism. It’s just that if the above quote is an accurate summation of how Dean sees Jesus, it seems unlikely he’ll convince anyone he’s a ‘committed believer.’”

Three senators

“For any parent, there are few more traumatic diagnoses than that a child suffers from autism. But the increasing political attention to that affliction is having the unintended and dangerous consequence of limiting vaccines for all children,” the Wall Street Journal says.

“This is a story of politics and lawyers trumping science and medicine. It concerns thimerosal, a preservative that was used in vaccines for 60 years and has never been credibly linked to any health problems. Nonetheless, a small but vocal group of parents have taken to claiming that thimerosal causes autism, a brain disorder that impairs normal social interaction. The result has been an ugly legal and political spat that has spilled into Congress and is frightening some parents from vaccinating their children against such deadly diseases as tetanus and whooping cough,” the newspaper said in an editorial.

“Like night follows day, the dispute has also brought in the trial lawyers. Vaccine makers are supposed to be protected from lawsuits by 1986 legislation, but the lawyers are exploiting loopholes to file billion-dollar suits that threaten to punish the few companies that still make vaccines.

“Congress tried to fix this by including a liability provision in homeland security legislation a year ago. But three Northeast Republican senators — Olympia Snowe, Susan Collins and Lincoln Chafee — demanded it be taken out until Congress could have a full airing of the thimerosal-autism issue. The senators haven’t yet honored their side of that deal.

“Perhaps that’s because if they did, their position would be exposed as scientifically untenable. The claim is that thimerosal, an organic mercury compound, can cause neurodevelopmental disorders. But study after study has shown that there is simply no such link.”

Sharpton piles on

The Rev. Al Sharpton yesterday lashed out at rival Democratic presidential candidate Howard Dean for suggesting that Mr. Dean’s followers might sit out the general election if the party chooses someone else.

Mr. Dean told reporters Sunday: “I don’t know where they’re going to go, but they’re certainly not going to vote for a conventional Washington politician.”

Although Mr. Dean said he would personally support the eventual nominee, Mr. Sharpton accused him of threatening to withdraw support “unless you are the one nominated.”

Mr. Sharpton called Mr. Dean’s attitude “arrogant and divisive — and frankly is one of the reasons so many are questioning Dean’s ability to unite the party should he win the nomination.”

Stevens’ pups

Sen. Ted Stevens has sent his pair of 6-month-old husky pups to Alaska for a little education.

The pups — named Taz and Keely — are learning about dog-sled racing from four-time Iditarod winner Susan Butcher and her husband, Dave Monson, a Yukon Quest champion, the Associated Press reports.

Mr. Stevens, Alaska Republican, grinned recently when reporters in his Washington office asked about the dogs.

“I understand that one of them has made the team,” the senator said.

Well, almost. At this age, the puppies’ muscles aren’t developed enough to run far, said Mr. Monson. Six miles has been the longest outing to date, Mr. Monson said.

“Actually, I’m getting kind of enthusiastic about their potential,” he said.

The senator said he didn’t want to keep the dogs at his home in the District full time. They needed some space to run, he said.

Mr. Stevens, 80, said he missed the pups — up to a point.

“I don’t miss being pulled off my feet by dogs that just want to run, run, run,” he said.

Greg Pierce can be reached at 202/636-3285 or [email protected]

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