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Dodd: Dems Have Ceded Process To Cable TV

Sen. Christopher Dodd, who failed to draw support in a crowded field of presidential hopefuls, criticized the Democratic Party Monday for "ceding the process" to cable television news programs eager for a two-candidate contest.

"It was pretty much predetermined it would be a race between two people," the five-term senator told a Hartford economic development group. "That's where the ratings were."

Dodd's longshot presidential bid ended after his sixth-place finish in the Iowa caucus. Despite moving to Iowa months before the January caucus to campaign full-time, Dodd battled for attention and campaign contributions and earned less than 1 percent of the vote.

Dodd has endorsed Barack Obama, who holds a commanding lead in pledged delegates over Hillary Rodham Clinton.

Jerry Dunklee, a professor of journalism at Southern Connecticut State University in New Haven, said the media gave attention to candidates who were successful at the start of the campaign.

"I would argue that there were news judgments made early on that Clinton and Obama raised money early on and national polling showed they were favorite candidates," he said.

"It doesn't mean you'll be a good president, but it means the media will pay attention," Dunklee said. "To argue that these two particular candidates were chosen by the kingmakers in cable TV, I'm not buying it."

Nancy DiNardo, the Connecticut Democratic Party chairwoman, said she understands Dodd's point. During the early televised debates, the spotlight was not on Dodd, Sen. Joe Biden and others, she said.

"The people who got the play right from the beginning were Senator Clinton, Senator Obama and (former) Senator Edwards," DiNardo said.

Messages seeking comment were left with the Democratic National Committee.

Dodd raised $15 million before exiting the race in January, but his efforts were dwarfed by Clinton and Obama who spent more than $80 million in 2007. Obama has taken in an unprecedented $226 million, while Clinton has lagged behind, and lent her campaign more than $11 million.

Gary Rose, politics professor at Sacred Heart University in Fairfield, said Dodd's criticism of cable TV is "not a substantiated claim, but it's an understandable sentiment."

"He just was not an interesting story this year. He wasn't doing anything to attract attention from the public or the media," Rose said. "He's a consummate insider and his party is looking for someone new."