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Washington Wrap

Dotty Lynch, Douglas Kiker, Beth Lester, Clothilde Ewing and Sean Sharifi of the CBS News Political Unit have the latest from the nation's capital.



Dean's Brother Comes Home: Howard Dean takes an emotional break from the presidential campaign trail on Wednesday to be in Hawaii when the presumed remains of his brother, Charlie, are brought back to U.S. soil 29 years after he disappeared in Laos during the Vietnam War.

What are believed to be the remains of Charlie Dean, as well as those of his friend, Australian journalist Neil Sharman, were handed over to U.S. authorities on Monday by the Laotian government, which has worked closely with the United States in recent years to find missing Americans in an effort to secure favorable trade relations.

In addition to Howard Dean, his mother and two surviving brothers will attend the ceremony at Hickman Air Force Base in Honolulu. Sharman's brother, who lives in Queensland, Australia, also will attend.

The remains include bones, a sock, a pair of shoes and a bracelet Charlie Dean had with him when he disappeared in September 1974, when the 24-year-old was traveling in Southeast Asia with Sharman. It's believed the pair was imprisoned and killed by communist insurgents, who eventually took over Laos in 1975. Dean has said that there is some speculation that his brother might have worked for the CIA

Although Howard Dean said last week that his family is "99.9 percent sure" the remains are those of his brother, the bones will be DNA-tested at a U.S. military facility, a process that could take several months.

The U.S. and Laotian governments began investigating the disappearance in 1991, and in August started excavating the site, about 25 miles from the Vietnamese border, where the remains were found last week.

Dean says in his new book, "Winning Back America," that "there was speculation that Charlie was in Laos because he was working for the CIA, and I think my parents believed that to be the case. Personally, I don't think he was employed by the U.S. government in any capacity, but we'll probably never know the answer to that question."

He told CBS News' Dan Rather in an interview on "60 Minutes II" last month that his brother's disappearance "gave me a sense that you ought to live for the moment with people. That you really need to tell people you love them if you love them … It was certainly the most awful thing that ever happened to our family. And it was terrible for my parents. It was even worse for them than it was for us."

Wednesday's repatriation surely will be difficult for candidate Dean, who was very close with his younger brother and to this day wears a 1960s-style belt that belonged to him. He has revealed that he went through grief counseling in the early '80s to deal with panic attacks he experienced in the aftermath of the disappearance, and in February 2002, he traveled to Laos to see the area where his brother disappeared.

Dems Spar Over Affirmative Action: There was one line about affirmative action in a speech that Rep. Dick Gephardt gave Tuesday that prompted an extremely detailed response from Sen. John Kerry.

CBS News' Steve Chaggaris, who's traveling with the Kerry campaign, filed this report:

In a 3,300-word speech on minority economic development, Gephardt said, "When others in this campaign for president were questioning race-based affirmative action, I was leading the effort in Congress against Republican attempts to eliminate affirmative action."

Within a few hours, and even though Gephardt didn't mention any of his competitors by name, Kerry's campaign sent out an impassioned response saying, "I have fought for civil rights and equal opportunity for every American my whole life. As a student, a prosecutor, and a Senator, I have worked to open the doors of opportunity for every citizen so that we all can fully participate in the American dream. Mr. Gephardt is a good man, but on this issue, I take a backseat to no one."

Kerry's campaign also offered 10 examples in his defense.

When a reporter asked whom he was referring to, Gephardt said, "Kerry, Dean and Lieberman," and his crack opposition research staff provided a lot of backup research. It included an interview Howard Dean did on CNN in 1995 when reporter Jean Meserve compared Dean to Newt Gingrich. Dean told her in an interview, "You know, I think we ought to look at affirmative action programs based not on race but on class and opportunity to participate."

CBS News confirmed that both Lieberman and Kerry have made comments questioning affirmative action. In fact, Lieberman supported California's Proposition 209 that ended affirmative action in state government. Kerry's comments during a 1992 speech at Yale University caused a major firestorm at the time, even though his campaign cites that speech as proof of his support for affirmative action.

Kerry did clearly state, "I support affirmative action," however he called it an "inherently limited and divisive program that has kept us thinking in racial terms," offending many minorities at the time – and for weeks after, Kerry had to perform damage control. In fact, the issue dogged him during his 1996 Senate re-election bid, as well, and it was the subject of a January 2003 Boston Globe article that had the senator once again defending himself and clarifying his position.

The Lieberman oppo-research department also went into high gear, telling The New York Times that Gephardt had also raised questions about affirmative action. Gephardt press secretary Erik Smith confirmed that Gephardt had said, "We need to reform affirmative action," but said he was referring to narrow limits on it set by the Supreme Court.

Holiday Shopping And Campaign Cash: Looking for the perfect holiday gift for the political junkie in your family? The John Edwards campaign has just the answer: Edwards' new book, "Four Trials." For a $35 contribution, you receive a copy of the book, and for just $250, yout get a copy signed by the senator himself. That's right, buy a gift and make a political contribution all at once.

While personal books have become a hallmark of political campaigns – you'll recall such tomes as Bill Clinton's "Man From Hope" and George W. Bush's "A Charge to Keep" – the Edwards campaign has taken the unusual step of using their new book as a fundraising tool. As press secretary Jennifer Palmieri tells The New York Times, "Our interest is in having as many people as possible read the book, and that's why financial supporters are given the book." The book, which chronicles Edwards' success in winning large jury settlements for average people, is meant to help voters "understand how his career translates to the presidency," Palmieri said.

The book-as-fundraiser tactic is not new to politics, although Edwards is the first to use it in a presidential campaign. In 2001, the FEC approved Sen. Arlen Specter's "gift" of his book, "Passion for Truth," to supporters who gave more than $1,000. The FEC ruling requires that politicians who use their books to raise money receive no personal gain. Edwards' campaign told the Times that it bought copies of the book from the publisher at bulk rate and that any proceeds will go to the Wade Edwards Foundation, which honors the senator's teenage son Wade, who died in a car accident in 1996.

The decision to give the book's proceeds to the foundation underscores the impact that Wade's death had on Edwards. While he rarely mentions him on the stump, he writes about him in the book. He told "Good Morning America" on Tuesday that "as I attempted to explain my life as a advocate, and as a man, I found it impossible not speak of him."

So as the gift-giving season descends, the Edwards campaign must be hoping that many of its supporters will heed an e-mail sent yesterday by Edwards' wife, Elizabeth. "If you have not read John's book yet, I urge you to do so. In fact, you can even get a copy and help John's presidential campaign at the same time."

Bye-Bye Bloomberg? A Quinnipiac University Poll released Tuesday finds that New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg faces low approval ratings. According to the AP, the poll shows that only 23 percent of New Yorkers want Bloomberg re-elected in November 2005, while 62 percent want an alternative to the Democrat-turned-Republican mayor.

Two likely contenders in the 2005 mayoral election are Democrats City Council Speaker Gifford Miller and former Bronx Borough President Fernando Ferrer. According to the poll, if the election were held now Bloomberg would lose to Ferrer, 51 percent to 33 percent, and to Miller, 41 to 33 percent.

Political consultant Mike Paul attributes the mayor's low ratings to the city's continuing economic slump, which Bloomberg inherited in 2001. Bloomberg increased property taxes by 18.5 percent and cut city services to help balance a $6.4 billion budget gap.

Adding insult to injury, the poll indicates that 61 percent of voters would not even want to share Thanksgiving dinner with the mayor. "Well that's good," responds Bloomberg, "because I have plans with my family on Thursday, and while we have a big table and we always have lots of people, I don't think we can have as many people as the other 40 percent that do (support me)."

Quote of the Day: "You cover the New Hampshire primary every day and you get some legitimate scoops ... and the only thing that gets the attention is fun stuff like this, so you learn about where people's minds are." – PoliticsNH.com's James Pindell, saying the "Pick a First Lady for Dennis Kucinich" contest had boosted his site's traffic from 10,000 hits a day to 160,000 at its peak. (AP)

Happy Thanksgiving. The Wrap will return on Monday.

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