- The Washington Times - Thursday, September 25, 2003

Clinton’s denial

Bill Clinton has phoned at least three Democratic presidential candidates to deny widespread reports that he is supporting retired Gen. Wesley Clark, the New York Times reports.

“Officials close to Mr. Clinton said he was upset at what they described as the false perception in Democratic political circles that he and his wife, Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, were seeking to anoint Gen. Clark as the 2004 presidential candidate,” reporters Adam Nagourney and Raymond Hernandez wrote.

Those same officials said Mr. Clinton called former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean, Massachusetts Sen. John Kerry and Connecticut Sen. Joe Lieberman in order to distance the Clintons from the Clark campaign “and establish them as above the presidential fray.”

An anonymous Democrat who had spoken to the Clintons said they felt their role in the Clark campaign had been exaggerated by Democrats close to the general, many of whom had served Mr. Clinton when he was president.

“In fact, [the Clintons] are neutral and they want everyone to know they are neutral,” the Democrat said.

Graham’s cash woes

Democratic presidential candidate Bob Graham is experiencing serious fund-raising problems that have put his campaign in peril, officials close to the Florida senator said yesterday.

Published reports had suggested Mr. Graham would raise $4 million to $5 million in the fund-raising quarter that ends Sept. 30, but he will raise less than that, said three officials close to the campaign who spoke on the condition of anonymity.

His fund-raising coordinators for cash-rich California and New York quit the campaign in the last week, officials said. One of them has signed on with retired Gen. Wesley Clark, who entered the race Sept. 17 as the 10th Democratic candidate, the Associated Press reports.

“We will have enough money to compete,” Graham spokesman Jamal Simmons said. “The people who left were contract employees whose contracts expired.”

Mr. Graham’s political team is more pessimistic than the candidate, who is still peppering aides with long-range ideas for an aggressive campaign, officials said. But Mr. Graham may soon have to decide whether to overhaul his campaign or even drop out, they said.

Bolsheviks vs. Bush

“It will take an extraordinary united all-people’s front with a movement on the ground to defeat the Bush right-wing agenda in 2004,” declares the online manifesto. “It can be done with the combination of the labor vote, the women’s vote, and African-American and Latino vote, combined with the youth vote, the peace vote, the environmental vote, the senior vote, the farm vote, etc., all of whom are pledged to work as they never have before.”

That’s the message from Joelle Fishman, political action committee chairwoman of the Communist Party USA.

In a message on the party’s Web site (www.cpusa.org), the Communist leader praises presidential candidates the Rev. Al Sharpton and Rep. Dennis J. Kucinich, Ohio Democrat, for “playing a radicalizing role” in the Democratic Party. And that’s the party for communists, according to Miss Fishman, noting efforts to prevent a left-wing, third-party bid like Ralph Nader’s Green Party candidacy in 2000.

“Many peace activists, who are cynical about the political process, have come to recognize that in order to stop the Bush Doctrine, it is necessary to defeat Bush. …

“CPUSA Executive Vice Chairman Jarvis Tyner recently appeared on a panel in New York about the elections, which afforded an opportunity to exchange with many activists who voted for Nader in 2000. On the basis of Bush administration actions, most of those in attendance indicated they were thinking differently now, and would not be prepared to vote for a Nader-like candidate in 2004.”

Miss Fishman advised her fellow communists: “We should remain flexible through the primary season. At the same time, we should do everything we can to build up support for the most advanced candidates, who are playing an important role in helping shape the national debate.”

Do not call

Even before the Senate voted yesterday to support a national “do-not-call” list to protect people from unwanted telephone solicitations, Sen. John Edwards, North Carolina Democrat, sent out a press release boasting his solution.

He was co-sponsoring a bill, the press release said, that would authorize the Federal Trade Commission to institute such a list.

“People trying to have a peaceful family dinner shouldn’t have to put up with pestering calls from telephone pitchmen,” Mr. Edwards said in his press release. “This is about giving people a choice and respecting their privacy.”

But when the Senate took up the bill up just two hours later, Mr. Edwards was nowhere around to urge passage of the bill or even to vote for it. He, along with the three other Democratic senators running for president, were in New York for a debate.

Earlier in the day, the House approved similar legislation, 412 to 8. Among those not voting were Reps. Richard A. Gephardt, Missouri Democrat, and Dennis J. Kucinich, Ohio Democrat, who were also in New York debating one another.

New Hampshire poll

Democratic presidential hopeful Howard Dean holds a double-digit lead over rival John Kerry in a poll of New Hampshire’s Democratic voters released yesterday.

The poll by Marist College’s Institute for Public Opinion had Mr. Dean, the former Vermont governor, at 36 percent; Mr. Kerry, the Massachusetts senator, at 24 percent; and retired Gen. Wesley Clark, who entered the race last week, at 8 percent.

When independents who have expressed an interest in voting in the Democratic primary — as is allowed in the Granite State — are included in the mix, Mr. Dean leads with 35 percent, followed by Mr. Kerry at 22 percent and Mr. Clark at 11 percent. None of the other contenders broke double digits.

“It’s clearly a two-person race at the moment in New Hampshire, but Clark has established a presence there and is a force to be reckoned with,” said Lee Miringoff, head of the Poughkeepsie, N.Y.-based institute.

What next?

Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle yesterday threw his support behind legislation to limit gun manufacturers’ legal liability when their products are used to commit crimes.

“The vast majority of gun owners, manufacturers and sellers are honest and law-abiding,” said the South Dakota Democrat, whose support for the legislation is seen as another effort to placate his home-state voters as he enters what is expected to be a tough re-election bid.

No one has declared to run against Mr. Daschle, but several candidates with statewide appeal are considering bids. Earlier this year, Mr. Daschle bucked his party to support banning partial-birth abortions, a move also seen as catering to the his state’s typically conservative voters.

Mr. Daschle’s support for the gun legislation was based on acceptance of an amendment that he, Republican Sen. Larry E. Craig of Idaho and Democratic Sen. Max Baucus of Montana co-authored. It ensures legitimate claims against the gun industry will be allowed to proceed.

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

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