- The Washington Times - Tuesday, July 1, 2003

Sixteen years ago, when Vice President George H.W. Bush was preparing to compete in the Republican primaries for the GOP presidential nomination to succeed Ronald Reagan, seven relatively unknown candidates were fighting for the Democratic nod. For obvious reasons, they came to be collectively known as “the Seven Dwarfs.” With the 2004 “money primary” rapidly approaching full speed, another George Bush now occupies the presidency, which is being sought by nine relatively unknown Democratic candidates. In fact, they are so unknown that, according to a recent New York Times poll, few Democratic voters could cite their names. Compared to the record-shattering pace in today’s “money primary” set by President Bush, the Democratic candidates are feverishly dialing for dollars, while accumulating dwarf-sized coffers.

Dick Gephardt, who won the 1988 Iowa caucuses while starring in his first national role as a Democratic dwarf, has virtually disappeared in recent months, reportedly to devote energy to raising campaign cash. For all his inexhaustible efforts over the past three months, Mr. Gephardt will likely report to the Federal Election Commission (FEC) later this month that his fund-raising total for the second quarter will approach $5 million. (He raised $3.5 million during the first three months of the year.)

North Carolina Sen. John Edwards will report to the FEC that his second-quarter take fell substantially below the $7.4 million he raised during the first quarter, when he outdistanced his Democratic competitors. Likewise, Massachusetts Sen. John Kerry failed to match his first-quarter numbers. A campaign aide of Ohio Rep. Dennis Kucinich told The Washington Post that his boss will report a quarterly fund-raising total “in seven figures,” which is Democratic-speak for a minuscule million bucks. Florida Sen. Bob Graham, a late entrant, raised less than $3 million, the vast majority of it from his own state, where he ought to be printing money. Former Democratic vice presidential candidate Joe Lieberman apparently had such a lackluster quarter that his campaign office won’t divulge any estimates. Meanwhile, the buzz in Democratic circles about their dwarfs is now focusing on former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean, who will report that his quarterly haul exceeded $7 million, or more than double what he raised in the January-March period.

Knowing that one of the Democratic Party’s most strident critics of the war to oust Saddam Hussein has just overwhelmingly won the Democrats’ second-quarter “money primary” will undoubtedly make White House political strategist Karl Rove very happy. Almost as happy as knowing that the Bush-Cheney ticket pocketed $30 million in campaign contributions during the last two weeks of June. That’s more than the nine dwarfs cumulatively raised during the first quarter. In fact, during a 10-hour foray into California, Mr. Bush raised more money — $5.1 million, or more than $500,000 per hour — than two-time Democratic dwarf Dick Gephardt raised during the entire quarter.



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