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Washington Wrap

March Shadow: Washington begins March talking about a shadow longer than Punxsutawney Phil's. The Washington Post broke a story today that the Bush administration has sent dozens of government officials to secret locations outside Washington to ensure the continuity of the government if a terrorist operation hit the nation's capital. These officials live and work underground 24 hours a day away from their families for 90-day intervals. Unlike Vice President Cheney, they don't get out of the bunker to hunt, fund-raise or do television interviews.

Meanwhile, everyone above ground seems to be fighting. The partisan truce on the war seems to have broken with Democratic leader Tom Daschle and others raising questions about its future success and cost. Trent Lott blasted Daschle for being divisive. Another squabble broke out over Ari Fleischer's suggestion that President Clinton's policies led to violence in the Middle East. Sandy Berger called Condi Rice to complain and Fleischer backed down and issued a written apology. Kit Bond has started a filibuster over Chris Dodd’s election reform bill and that old sparring team, John McCain and Mitch McConnell, are going a few more rounds over campaign finance reform. They plan to go back to the table on Monday. Finally, that pesky Enron story keeps coming back to bite the administration with new documents showing the clout of the energy industry, and there's much hoopla over the resignation of an EPA official over the administration's lack of commitment to clean water.

President Bush goes to Camp David this afternoon after his fund-raiser in Iowa. And the White House is sending overtures to the new front-runner in the March 5 California gubernatorial primary, Bill Simon, that they want to work with him if he defeats their handpicked choice, former L.A. Mayor Dick Riordan.

Outside Washington, things are a little feisty too.

Texas Two-Step: If you've been eagerly awaiting today's all-Spanish debate between the Democratic gubernatorial candidates in Texas, there’s been a slight change in plans. Attorney General Dan Morales said Thursday that during the "Spanish-only" debate, he'll answer in Spanish, then English.

Originally, the two candidates, both Mexican-American, agreed to an English-only debate first, then one in all Spanish. But yesterday Morales changed his mind, accusing Sanchez of playing the race card. "Mr. Sanchez's insistence that we basically elevate Spanish, the Spanish language, to an equal status with the English language in this race for governor of Texas is ill-advised," Morales said. "The fact of the matter is that the vast majority of the citizens of our state speak English. That also applies to a significant number of Hispanic Texans."

Sanchez ripped Morales saying, "We have an opportunity to make history. For Mr. Morales to go back on his promise is an affront to Texans of every background."

The debate would have been the first gubernatorial debate to be conducted entirely in Spanish, according to the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials.

According to The New York Times, Morales grew up in Texas in an English-speaking household but spoke Spanish too. Sanchez was also raised in Texas but can easily switch between English and Spanish.

Asked whether he was getting cold feet about his Spanish skills, Morales said, "I think I’ll answer that tomorrow night."

Kerryland: Want to know the most expensive U.S. Senate race this year? No, not Texas or North Carolina or Missouri. According to the Center for Responsive Politics, it's Massachusetts. Odd, you say, because Democratic Sen. John Kerry has no Republican opponent. Well, Kerry has raised $9.7 million since 1997 and spent $5.1 million already. Unfortunately for Kerry, $3.1 of that went to pay the debt left over from his very expensive 1996 campaign. Also, the senator didn't have a PAC until recently so everyone who wanted to bolster his '04 effort had only one place to give. (They can now give to Citizen Soldier, a PAC he formed in 2001.) Kerry, who has raised 55 percent of his money outside Massachusetts, spent 12 days last year and four days so far this year in California and raised over $250,000 in one weekend in February. This weekend, Kerry is staying closer to home. He is the keynote speaker at the politically important New Hampshire 100 Club Democratic Dinner.

Swift Attack: Acting Massachusetts Gov. Jane Swift is responding to suggestions by some state Republicans that the White House give her a federal job to make room for Salt Lake City Olympics chief Mitt Romney in this year's gubernatorial race.

"I guess I should be accustomed to powerful men trying to tell me that they know better than I do what it is I should be doing," Swift said. "My husband and I made that decision, and I appreciate everybody else's input, but the decision has already been made."

Currently, 1994 Senate candidate Romney's poll numbers are better than Swift's, and Republicans are desperate to hold on to the governor's seat, which they've held since 1991. Bay State Democrats hold every U.S. House seat, both U.S. Senate seats, 33 of 40 in the state Senate and 137 of 160 in the state House.

Quote of the Day: "This is a male and female. The problem, however, with pandas is that they don't know how to mate. The only way they learn how is to watch other pandas mate, you see, and so they're keeping them there a little while - these are younger ones - to sort of learn, you know, how it's done." -President Nixon in 1972, on the arrival of two pandas from China.


Sat. 3/2 – Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., keynote address at 100 Club Dinner held
by New Hampshire Democratic Party, Concord, N.H. Kerry also attends a health care forum with N.H. Executive Council candidate John Kacavas.

Mon. 3/4 – President Bush attends fund-raiser for Minn. Senate candidate Norm
Coleman, St. Paul.

Mon. 3/4 - Al Gore holds a fund-raiser for his PAC at his home in Arlington,

Tues. 3/5 – California primary (governor, House seats including Rep. Gary Condit)

Tues. 3/5 – NRCC holds "Salute to America's Heroes" fund-raiser in Washington, D.C.; Rudolph Giuliani is honoree. $5.5 million expected to be raised.

Wed. 3/6 - Al Gore holds a fund-raiser for his PAC in New York City.

Thurs. 3/7 – House Minority Leader Dick Gephardt and Democratic Whip Nancy Pelosi attend a DCCC fund-raiser in Boston.

Fri. 3/8 – Gephardt meets with New Hampshire House Democratic
Leader Peter Burling to make good on Super Bowl Bet. Gephardt also attends fund-raiser for N.H. Executive Council candidate John Kacavas.

Sat. 3/9 – Gephardt speaks at Arizona Jefferson-Jackson Dinner, Phoenix.