- The Washington Times - Monday, June 30, 2003

Dean’s surge

Democratic presidential contender Howard Dean yesterday surged near $6.7 million in second-quarter campaign donations, leaping into the top ranks of fund-raisers on the final day of the quarter.

The amount was certain to put Mr. Dean, a onetime long shot who built grass-roots momentum with a strong Internet operation and outspoken criticism of President Bush and the Iraq war, in the forefront of Democrats in fund-raising for the months of April, May and June, Reuters reports.

The Dean campaign said yesterday more than $3 million had been raised in the last eight days, encompassing Mr. Dean’s June 22 national appearance on NBC’s “Meet the Press,” his formal campaign launch and his win in the MoveOn.org online primary.

The front-runner

Democratic presidential candidate Howard Dean must be considered his party’s front-runner, in light of the more than $6 million he raised in the past three months, James Taranto writes at the Web site of the Wall Street Journal editorial page (www.OpinionJournal.com).

“Money isn’t everything, of course; just ask John Edwards, whoever he is. But Dean also has energy, a distinctive message and an enthusiastic cadre of supporters. Now that he’s proved his fund-raising prowess, there’s no excuse not to take his candidacy seriously,” Mr. Taranto said.

“The [New York] Times notes that Dean’s success ‘seems certain to cause a problem’ for [Richard] Gephardt and Joe Lieberman and reports that ‘several Democrats said that Dr. Dean’s success posed a particular problem’ to John Kerry. In other words, all the guys who thought they had a chance of winning the nomination are in trouble.

“Dean’s star could fade, but for now it would be hard to reckon him as anything other than the front-runner.”

Lieberman’s plea

Sen. Joe Lieberman, a Connecticut Democrat and presidential candidate, sent out a fund-raising appeal at noon yesterday, hoping to boost his second-quarter cash totals and avoid a spate of publicity about how he is losing the so-called “money primary.”

“There are only 12 hours left before the critical June 30 fund-raising deadline. Many of you have come through for my campaign in the last few days. But we still need your help to push us even further toward our goal,” Mr. Lieberman said.

“Before 12 midnight tonight (Central time), please visit my [Web site] and make a contribution to my campaign: https://www.joe2004.com/contribute.

“After you contribute, please make it your mission to find one other person to contribute to my campaign before midnight tonight. …

“Thousands of you have given already. But some of you haven’t, and I need your help at this critical moment. Please take a moment to contribute today, and together we’ll help make this country great again.”

Taking de(bait)

Bob Graham has struggled to win attention in the Democratic presidential sweepstakes, so the Florida senator seized on President Bush’s fund-raising visit to Mr. Graham’s home state yesterday. He challenged Mr. Bush to a debate.

In a letter to the White House dated Friday and released yesterday, Mr. Graham told the president: “It is my understanding that you will be in my home state on June 30 for fund-raisers in Tampa and Miami. …

“As senior U.S. senator of this state, past chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee and a candidate for the presidency in 2004, I invite you to a debate to discuss the future of this state and our nation. This debate will be with a neutral moderator, such as Michael Putney, of ABC affiliate WPLG in Miami, on the 30th of June, in either Miami or Tampa. WPLG can broadcast our debate on their station and surely ABC affiliates throughout the state and the nation would be willing to carry the debate as well.”

The senator said that in deference to the office of the president, “I will adjust my schedule to accommodate yours.”

We checked the wires yesterday and couldn’t find anything about a debate, so Mr. Bush must have turned down the offer to match wits with a candidate who so far has failed to make much of an impression on fellow Democrats. On the other hand, Mr. Graham may have won some free publicity from gullible political columnists.

A vast conspiracy

California Gov. Gray Davis and his supporters have settled on a simple message to counter the recall petition and possible vote this summer. They are calling it a right-wing coup attempt, the San Francisco Chronicle reports.

Meanwhile, four Democratic and Republican business leaders and a top labor official signed an opinion piece in the Los Angeles Times on Sunday asking President Bush to call for an end to the campaign to recall the Democratic governor.

“The president should demand an end to the recall effort because the nation cannot afford to have California’s economy remain stuck in reverse,” the article said.

White House spokeswoman Ashley Snee said Sunday the recall was a California matter.

“I would just reiterate that the White House is not involved, and it’s a matter for the people of California,” she said.

Drafting Clark

A group that seeks to draft retired Gen. Wesley Clark for president announced yesterday that has raised more than $70,000 in pledges.

The group, DraftWesleyClark.com, also announced further efforts to rally “ground troops,” with local Clark ‘04 “MeetUps” planned in more than 100 cities across the nation on July 7.

“We’ve asked people to put their money where their modem is, and to make a commitment to support a Clark candidacy if the general chooses to run,” said Josh Margulies, one of the leaders of DraftWesleyClark.com. “With just a simple link and an e-mail to some supporters, we have already generated over $70,000 in pledges. If anyone doubts the ability of Gen. Clark to raise funds, they need only look at what this grass-roots, volunteer effort has already done — and what it will do in the days and weeks to come.”

Kent leaves foundation

Phil Kent resigned yesterday as president of the Southeastern Legal Foundation in order to pursue his work as an author, media commentator and consultant, the organization said.

Mr. Kent is author of “The Dark Side of Liberalism: Unchaining the Truth,” and will begin a book promotion tour soon. He also plans to write a second book dealing with conservative issues.

“Since 2001 when I accepted the position as president of Southeastern Legal Foundation, our 27-year old organization has achieved victory against illegal government quota programs in Charlotte, N.C., has a current lawsuit challenging the state of North Carolina’s quota program for road contracting, and is headed toward a September 8 hearing before the U.S. Supreme Court in our challenge to the McCain-Feingold campaign-finance law,” Mr. Kent said.

“I am proud of this foundation and our work over the past 2 years, especially in the areas of immigration-reform efforts, protection of constitutional privacy rights against government encroachment, and challenging illegal impact fee programs in Atlanta and elsewhere.”

Springer’s pitch

Jerry Springer says his fame could help revitalize the Democratic Party if he’s elected to the U.S. Senate next year.

“I could be an incredible voice in the Senate,” Mr. Springer said Saturday at a meeting of the Ohio Young Democrats. “Why? Because the media will cover me every single day.”

Mr. Springer said he will make a decision by the end of July, the Associated Press reports.

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

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