- The Washington Times - Monday, February 10, 2003

Crowded field
The Democratic presidential field looks like it could get pretty crowded.
Rep. Dennis J. Kucinich, Ohio Democrat, will go to Iowa this week "to lay the groundwork for a presidential campaign built around an anti-war message," ABC's George Stephanopoulos said yesterday in introducing the congressman on "This Week."
When asked about a presidential candidacy, Mr. Kucinich said: "Well, I haven't announced any intention, but I would say this, that I think we need to take a fresh look at foreign policy. … In fact, this [Bush administration] foreign policy could lead to our inability to meet the needs of people here at home for health care, for jobs, for retirement security. And I think that's something that needs to be discussed in the debate nationally."
The Democratic field already includes the Rev. Al Sharpton, former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean, Rep. Richard A. Gephardt of Missouri, Sen. Joseph I. Lieberman of Connecticut, Sen. John Edwards of North Carolina and Sen. John Kerry of Massachusetts. Sen. Bob Graham of Florida has indicated he will jump into the race just as soon as he recovers from heart surgery.
Sen. Joseph R. Biden Jr., Delaware Democrat, when asked yesterday on ABC whether he is still considering a bid for the White House, responded with a simple "Yes."
Meanwhile, Time magazine reports that Sen. Christopher J. Dodd, Connecticut Democrat, is expected to make an announcement within the next few weeks on whether he will seek the presidency. The magazine cited unidentified aides to the senator.
Role reversal
"A looming worry this year is how much economic damage will be done by state tax increases, perhaps enough to offset the stimulus in President Bush's tax cuts," the Wall Street Journal says.
"The news is that some of the worst offenders are Republican governors, while many Democrats, especially newly elected ones, are holding the line," the newspaper said in an editorial.
"One Democratic stalwart is Washington Gov. Gary Locke, who says tax increases 'will hurt, not help, our economic recovery.' …
"Among other Democrats, Wisconsin Gov. Jim Doyle is scaling back $2 billion in planned spending growth. Kathy Sebelius of Kansas formed a citizens' commission to rein in spending and has rejected new taxes (though that promise could collide with her goal to fence off education spending from cuts). Janet Napolitano of Arizona is talking about selling some state-owned assets. Jennifer Granholm of Michigan promises no delay of a scheduled income tax cut, which she says the economy needs.
"Bill Richardson, the new governor of New Mexico, has even become something of a Democratic supply-sider. He's lucky to have a balanced budget thanks to his skinflint GOP predecessor. But he's going further, proposing to cut the state's capital gains tax, eliminate a gross receipts tax on goods and chop the top income tax rate to 7.7 percent from 8.2 percent to make New Mexico more competitive with its neighbors."
Meanwhile, too many Republican governors "are listening to the siren songs of special interests and acting like, well, traditional liberals," the newspaper said, pointing an accusing finger at Mike Huckabee of Arkansas, John G. Rowland of Connecticut, Dirk Kempthorne of Idaho, Bob Taft of Ohio and, especially, Kenny Guinn of Nevada.
A blow to Gephardt
"Rep. Dick Gephardt's political campaign staff were in the midst of planning their big official coming out party for sometime in February when word came down that before they'd really begun running, their man had been hit with a huge setback," the anonymous Prowler writes at www.americanprowler.org.
"Word coming out on Wednesday that Gerald McEntee, head of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME), was backing Sen. John Kerry is a huge blow to Gephardt, who was counting on organized labor particularly the AFL-CIO (of which AFSCME is a part and where McEntee serves as political chairman) as part of his base. And while the AFL-CIO won't be making any decisions any time soon, the AFSCME move certainly gives Kerry an edge for future, bigger support from labor unions.
"'Our base just got a whole lot shakier,' said a Gephardt adviser on Thursday morning after taking stock of the situation. 'In Iowa' where the first caucus will be held, and where Gephardt was thought to have an edge 'this might not have hurt him, but this early, when the campaign hasn't really started, man, it can't be easy.'
"Some Gephardt people were downplaying the McEntee backing of Kerry, saying it was a pre-ordained deal when the Massachusetts Democrat brought one of the party's high-profile media advisers, Jim Margolis, on board. 'Margolis has made a lot of money off of labor. This shouldn't be that big a surprise,' says a Democratic National Committee staffer who has done work for Gephardt over the years.
"But for McEntee to back Kerry is a bigger deal, if only because there were more labor-friendly candidates in the mix. And because McEntee's comments come out so early in the process. Assuming McEntee continues to talk up Kerry, it gives Kerry's grass-roots operations across the country a pool of donors and volunteers should AFSCME steer its members toward a candidate the home office is backing. 'All of sudden, Kerry is looking even bigger than he already was,' says the DNC source. 'And you just know that everyone is going to be comparing Kerry to Clinton now.'
"That's because McEntee was one of the first national union bosses to back Bill Clinton's candidacy in 1992.
"As for Gephardt, it's fair to note he hadn't really begun working his organized labor connections. Yet even in Iowa, he hadn't received firm commitments from unions for his candidacy. If one thing was clear, it was that his past relationships weren't going to guarantee him anything."
Official hangs it up
The executive director of the New Hampshire Republican Party resigned Friday after being accused of lying about hiring a telemarketing firm to jam Democratic phone lines on Election Day.
Chuck McGee's departure was announced by party Chairman Jayne Millerick, who would not say what prompted the resignation, the Associated Press reports.
"It's very important for us to be moving forward in fulfilling our commitments to voters," she said. "Chuck feels very strongly about that, so he decided to resign so we can make sure we're focusing as a party on the important issues."
State Democratic Chairman Kathy Sullivan noted that some of the local races on Nov. 5 were close and that phone-jamming could have affected the outcome, but there was no way to know.
Salesman Evans
"Look for Commerce Secretary Don Evans to emerge as President Bush's top tax plan salesman in the heartland, especially in states Bush needs for his re-election bid," Paul Bedard writes in the Washington Whispers column of U.S. News & World Report.
"Insiders say Evans, Bush's best friend in government, has already hit six key states, including Michigan, Florida and Ohio. This week he makes the pitch in Atlanta and Houston."
Have a heart
Women in the U.S. House and Senate will strive to educate other women about the importance of being screened for heart disease by getting tested themselves to promote "Woman's Heart Day."
Female lawmakers, such as Sen. Barbara A. Mikulski, Maryland Democrat, and Rep. Julia Carson, Indiana Democrat, are among those who have agreed to undergo public screening tomorrow for heart disease, the nation's No. 1 killer of all Americans and women.
They will be checked for glucose, cholesterol, blood pressure levels and more. Results will be provided on-site at the Capitol.
"Woman's Heart Day," Feb. 21, is co-sponsored by the American Heart Association and the Sister to Sister Foundation.

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