- The Washington Times - Thursday, October 16, 2003

Vietnamization

The Howard Dean campaign says it is tired of hearing rival presidential candidate John Kerry cite his service in Vietnam, especially considering that the Massachusetts senator criticized then-Sen. Bob Kerrey of Nebraska, a decorated Vietnam veteran, for trying to use the issue against Bill Clinton in the 1992 Democratic race for president.

“Before he became a political candidate for president, John Kerry clearly believed that military service should not be used for political gain,” Dean spokesman Jay Carson told the Hill newspaper.

“And he was right about that,” Mr. Carson added. “Unfortunately, now John Kerry and his campaign have a strategy to use that record to further his political career.”

On numerous occasions this year, Mr. Kerry cited his distinguished war record as a decisive factor in who should be the nominee, reporter Sam Dealey said. As a naval officer, Mr. Kerry earned the Silver Star, the Bronze Star with combat V, and three Purple Hearts for his service on a gunboat patrolling the Mekong River in Vietnam.

Kelley Benander, a spokeswoman for Mr. Kerry’s campaign, offered the following response:

“John Kerry has always said military experience is not a prerequisite for the presidency, but it informs the tough questions he asks and it certainly gives him the firsthand perspective you can’t learn in the situation room. He is the only person running for president who combines military experience, broad foreign-policy experience and a tested commitment to Democratic values — and yes, we will talk about that.”

Campaign cash

Three states that President Bush lost in 2000 — California, Illinois and Michigan — were among his biggest sources of campaign money in the last fund-raising quarter, a newly filed finance report shows.

Mr. Bush’s home state of Texas led in contributions where donor states were identified, providing about $5.3 million to its former governor, who has collected roughly $84 million so far this year.

Florida, where Mr. Bush’s brother, Jeb, is governor, followed with about $4.4 million. Next were California with $4.1 million, Illinois with about $3.4 million and Michigan with $2 million, a report filed with federal election officials shows.

California poll

Wesley Clark has joined presidential rivals Howard Dean and Sen. Joe Lieberman of Connecticut atop a poll of Democratic voters in California.

Mr. Clark, who entered the race last month, had 17 percent support to 14 percent for Mr. Dean, the former Vermont governor, and 14 percent for Mr. Lieberman — numbers all within the Field poll’s margin of error of five percentage points.

In early September, Mr. Dean led with 23 percent support to just 4 percent for Mr. Clark, who had not entered the race. The new poll found much of Mr. Clark’s support coming from men — 24 percent — and much of it at Mr. Dean’s expense.

“It could be the fact that he was a general,” said poll director Mark DiCamillo. “There’s a credibility factor there. Some might also think he’s more electable.”

Mr. Clark also was the only Democrat to poll better than President Bush in a head-to-head matchup — 45 percent to 42 percent, the Associated Press reports.

Massachusetts Sen. John Kerry was at 9 percent, Rep. Richard A. Gephardt of Missouri 5 percent and the Rev. Al Sharpton 4 percent. Former Sen. Carol Moseley Braun of Illinois had the support of 3 percent, and Sen. John Edwards of North Carolina and Rep. Dennis J. Kucinich of Ohio had 1 percent apiece.

Thirty-two percent said they were undecided.

The poll, drawn from interviews with 451 registered Democrats, was conducted between Sept. 25 and Oct. 1 — before Californians recalled Democratic Gov. Gray Davis and elected Republican newcomer Arnold Schwarzenegger.

Another lawsuit

A Mexican-American legal group has jumped into the fight over the newly enacted Texas Republican congressional map — claiming it does not create enough districts to represent Hispanic voters.

The Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund filed suit in federal court Tuesday, saying the number of Hispanic districts should increase on the new map, but instead stays the same.

“The newly enacted congressional redistricting plan for Texas does not accurately reflect Latino voting strength in the year 2003,” said Nina Perales, lead lawyer in the case.

At least two other legal challenges have been filed since the state Legislature gave final approval to the new map on Sunday.

Democrats have asked to block its use for the 2004 election, saying it may violate federal law and would be disruptive because it moves more than 8.1 million Texans into new districts. They say the map reduces the number of minority districts in Texas from 11 to 10.

Now that’s close

A ballot measure giving New Mexico schools more money was approved, but by just 195 votes, according to election results certified Tuesday.

The amendment increasing the schools’ yearly payout from the state’s Land Grant Permanent Fund was approved 92,198 votes, or 50.05 percent, to 92,003, or 49.95 percent, according to the official results of the Sept. 23 special election.

Voters approved by a wider margin another amendment that creates a Cabinet-level secretary of education.

Democratic Gov. Bill Richardson campaigned extensively for the amendments, which also had the backing of a broad coalition including education, business and labor groups.

The funding change is intended to help make up for a looming budget shortfall and to pay for newly enacted school improvements and raises for teachers.

Mark your calendar

New Hampshire has made it official — its presidential primary will take place Jan. 27, 2004.

For months, the date had been tentative as New Hampshire tried to ensure that its contest would come first. Under state law, the primary must come at least a week before any similar primary.

Secretary of State Bill Gardner set the date Tuesday. The candidates have from Nov. 3 through Nov. 21 to sign up to be on the ballot.

The District of Columbia holds a nonbinding primary on Jan. 13, but the Democratic National Committee does not count that contest because delegates will not be allocated that day. The District will hold caucuses in February to award delegates.

Hurrah for mobs

Filmmaker Michael Moore told students at Butler University in Indianapolis that last week’s California recall election offered hope for democracy — and for defeating President Bush next year.

“Anytime you have an angry mob of voters, that can’t be a bad thing,” the Oscar-winning maker of “Bowling for Columbine” told about 2,100 people during a speech Monday.

The rotund, scruffy-bearded leftist from Flint, Mich., who has repeatedly criticized the war in Iraq, said he hoped voters would be angry enough to deny Mr. Bush a second term, the Associated Press reports.

Greg Pierce can be reached at 202/636-3285 or gpierce@washingtontimes.com.

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