Washington Wrap

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

Mo' Money, Mo' GOP Governors: Fresh off a one-day, $2.6 million fund-raising sweep in Ohio and Texas, President Bush will spend Saturday helping out a couple of fellow Republicans in tight off-year races.

Three days before the Nov. 4 Mississippi and Kentucky gubernatorial elections, Mr. Bush will head to DeSoto, Miss., for a rally with GOP candidate and former RNC chairman Haley Barbour, who's locked in a tight race with Democratic Gov. Ronnie Musgrove. The president will then fly to Paducah, Ky., for a rally with Rep. Ernie Fletcher, who's running against Democrat Ben Chandler to replace scandal-plagued Democratic Gov. Paul Patton. Mr. Bush and Fletcher will then travel to London, Ky., for another event before the president heads back to Gulfport, Miss., to campaign again with Barbour.

The GOP is salivating at expanding their hold on governorships with wins in Mississippi and Kentucky and the Nov. 15 Louisiana runoff. Before the California recall, the number of statehouses were split, 26 held by Republicans and 24 by Democrats. If the Republicans win on Tuesday, and polls show Barbour and Fletcher with shots at taking over those statehouses, they'll have a 29-21 edge over the Democrats. The GOP would hold onto that advantage if Bobby Jindal defeats Democratic Lt. Gov. Kathleen Blanco in Louisiana.

President Bush will recharge his batteries in Crawford on Saturday night and Sunday before heading back out to bring in more cash for the Bush-Cheney re-election campaign.

On Monday, he's in Birmingham, Ala., for a fund-raiser and then heads back to the White House for the week. Next Friday, he's back on the money trail in Winston-Salem, N.C. On Nov. 10, Mr. Bush will head to Bill Clinton and Wesley Clark territory – Little Rock, Ark. – and Greenville, S.C. Then on the 13th, he's off to brother Jeb's state to raise cash in Orlando and Fort Myers, Fla. He'll also head to Las Vegas and Scottsdale, Ariz., on the 25th.

By the way, it isn't just the president who's hitting the road to raise that $150-180 million for the Bush-Cheney re-election. Everyone's joining in on the fun!

Dick Cheney brought in $475,000 on Wednesday and will be in Austin and Houston, Tex., next Friday for more cash. Then it's to New York City on Nov. 14, Syracuse and Rochester on Nov. 17, and Cleveland on Nov. 24.

First lady Laura Bush pulled in $275,000 Thursday in Tyler, Tex., and will pull in more next Thursday in Norfolk, Va., and Charleston, W.V. She'll then attend fund-raisers in Wilmington, Del., and Portland, Me.

Even Lynne Cheney is getting in on the action with two fund-raisers next Thursday in Lehigh Valley and Philadelphia, Pa.

Dean's Still The Insiders' Pick: This week's Democratic Insiders Poll in the National Journal has more good news for former Gov. Howard Dean and Rep. Dick Gephardt. In the Insiders' second week, Dean picks up two more first-place votes, bringing his total to 38 number one nods out of 50. Gephardt also picked up votes, moving from five first-place votes to nine. Also gaining a little ground was Sen. John Edwards, who received two first-place votes in comparison to last week's lone ballot.

The old favorites of the chattering class, Sen. John Kerry and former Gen. Wesley Clark, have been spiraling down. Kerry, who had three top votes last week dropped to zero and Clark lost 4 votes to retain only one first place ranking. As Jim Barnes of the National Journal wrote of Clark, "The Army didn't prepare the general for the battle he's in now."

Beyond the rankings, this week's poll has some interesting movement on the sidelines. For the Kerry camp, it appears that even the Insiders on his payroll don't think he can win at least this week. Mark Mellman, Kerry's pollster who's done $275, 031 in polling for the campaign and Tad Devine, whose partners at are doing media for the campaign, seemed to have cast their votes for someone else since Kerry was blanked out.

Sen. Edwards, who moved up one vote, may be the beneficiary of a change in coaches. After week one of the Insiders poll, two top strategists dropped out. This week they were replaced by democratic political consultant Karl Struble and Rep. David Price, D-N.C. The catch? Price has endorsed Edwards and is affiliated with the campaign. Although, it hasn't worked out that way for Kerry.

Our hunch is that Clark New Hampshire chair George Bruno cast the one Clark vote, but it's hard to decipher the four dropouts. Bruno is the only National Journal insider affiliated with the Clark camp. No telling what news on Friday of a new poll in South Carolina from the American Research Group showing Clark now leading Edwards 17 percent to 10 percent will impact next weeks vote.

When An "A" Could Hurt: Howard Dean and Dick Gephardt are tied for the lead in a new poll released by KCCI-TV in Iowa. Both Dean and Gephardt came in with 26 percent of the vote, while John Kerry lagged behind with 15 percent. The remaining candidates didn't break single digits.

The 400 registered Iowa Democrats, who said they were likely to vote in the Jan. 19 caucuses, were interviewed by telephone Oct. 26-28 by Research 2000, a Maryland-based polling firm. The margin of error was plus or minus four percent. With 18 percent of voters still undecided, though, things are far from certain.

The poll also separated results by gender. Del Ali, Research 2000 President, found support for Dean and Gephardt was slightly stronger among men than women, while for Kerry support was slightly stronger among women, according to the AP. Of the women surveyed, 23 remain undecided.

Meanwhile, Dean is coming is under fire again for his stance on gun control, an issue that could affect his standing among women, reports the New York Times. As a candidate running for president, an "A" rating from the NRA is not generally something that a Democrat seeks. Back when he was running for governor in 1992, Dean told the NRA that he opposed any restrictions on private ownership of assault weapons in a signed questionnaire.

However, outside of rural Vermont, such comments don't always play well. These days, Dean assures audiences that he agreed with Bill Clinton's ban in 1994, but is against further federal legislation.

Andrew Arulanandam, an NRA spokesman, says the guns banned in the 1994 law "weren't that much different from firearms that are used in hunting and competition," or in other words, firearms used by rural Vermonters. He also accused Dean of "schizophrenia," saying he has switched his position because he is running for president.

Dean spokeswoman Tricia Enright said Dean's answers 11 years ago only refer to a state ban, although the New York Times, which received a copy of the questionnaire from "aides to a rival Democratic candidate," says the questionnaire does in fact refer to both federal and state law. Regardless, Dean maintains states like Vermont with low homicide rates don't need more federal control.

"Let New York and New Jersey and California have all the gun control they want," he has said. "But don't impose it on Montana or Vermont or Iowa, where we don't need it."

John Kerry is expected to give remarks on Dean's assault weapons position during while campaigning in Iowa on Friday.

A Good Night's Sleep: Priceless: New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson has recently been treating himself and his staff members to gifts, including a $960 mattress from the Sante Fe El Dorado Hotel, at the expense of taxpayers, according to the Santa Fe New Mexican.

After Richardson took office, the Democratic-controlled State Legislature quietly increased his unaudited expense account from $30,000 to $90,000, an amount equal to the governor's annual salary. Richardson has used the account to pay for cigars, Starbucks coffee, copies of the New York Times, meals in Switzerland, Mexico City, and Washington, and hotel rooms in Phoenix.

By law, the only restriction on Richardson regarding his "$90,000 "contingency fund" is that everything must be purchased "for purposes connected with obligations of the office."

To date, the tab also includes:

  • Meals: $3,242.
  • Hotel expenses: $1,060.
  • Coffee and newspapers: $203.
  • Cigars: $69.84.
  • Other expenses, ranging from rental cars on out-of-state trips to Altoid mints and bottled water: $1,750.

    Billy Sparks, Richardson's spokesperson, says the governor will provide an accounting of the fund by the end of the year, and will reimburse the state for some expenses such as coffee and newspapers. He said that the mattress was purchased by first lady Barbara Richardson for the governor's mansion and that the state has already been reimbursed for that.

    "The governor reimburses for incidental stuff," Sparks says. "It goes back to that philosophy he has where he does not want state money spent for his personal stuff. He has never liked that, never wanted that, never required that on anything."

    Quote of the Day: "I don't think anybody was trying to trick anybody. I think it was just an unusual set of Halloween circumstances that unfolded on us." –U.S. Capitol Police Chief Terrence Gainer on the toy gun brought in by staffers with their Halloween costumes that forced the lockdown of the Cannon House Office Building.