Washington Wrap

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AP
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.

Graham Will Not Run: During a noontime break from a roofing project at Lincoln High School in Tallahassee, Sen. Bob Graham, D-Fla., announced Monday that he will not seek a fourth term as senator. Graham, who will be 67 this Sunday, had been weighing his options since he ended his bid for the Democratic presidential nomination on Oct. 6.

Graham's decision paves the way for his reported vice-presidential aspirations. Florida law, unlike many states, does not allow candidates to run for two offices simultaneously. Thus, unlike Sen. Joe Lieberman in 2000, Graham could not be tapped for vice president by the eventual Democratic nominee and continue to run for the Senate in Florida. His decision to stay out of the race makes it easier for him to be selected as a running mate or for a Cabinet post in any Democratic administration.

For those watching the balance of power in Washington, however, Graham's decision complicates matters. Graham was considered a safe bet to win re-election but that optimism does not hold true for other Florida Democrats. Graham's popularity is mostly personal and his decision not to run makes a for very competitive race.

Former Democratic state Chairman Charles Whitehead said in December 2002, "If Senator Graham decides to retire, the Democratic Party in the state of Florida is in a pitiful condition. I don't think we can get our act together in time to run for a statewide race if he doesn't stay." Given the Senate's current division, 51 to 48 with one independent, the loss of a once-safe seat makes Democratic efforts to regain control of the Senate much more difficult.

Now that Graham is out, the campaign to choose a replacement Democrat begins. Although no one has declared yet out of deference to Graham, potential candidates have been lining up. Former Education Commissioner Betty Castor of Tampa is said to be a favorite of Graham's. Miami-Dade Mayor Alex Penelas filed with the FEC to begin raising funds in April and Congressman Alcee Hastings announced previously that he would run if Graham stepped aside. Another possibility is Rep. Peter Deutsch from south Florida.

On the Republican side, possible candidates include former U.S. Rep. Bill McCollum (who lost to Sen. Bill Nelson in 2000), state House Speaker Johnnie Byrd, legal activist Larry Klayman and state Sen. Dan Webster. Rep. Mark Foley and HUD Secretary Mel Martinez decided not to run.

Campaign '03 Final Day: Voters in Mississippi and Kentucky will head to the polls Tuesday to choose governors and there's a concern in the Magnolia State that the election will be so close it could be decided by the state House of Representatives.

Democratic Gov. Ronnie Musgrove is trying to hold off former RNC chairman Haley Barbour in the big-money, high-profile fight for Mississippi's governor's mansion. Polls have shown the two candidates neck and neck, leading to speculation that neither may get 50 percent of the vote, since there are also three minor-party candidates on the ballot. If no candidate receives a majority of the votes cast, the election would be decided by state House of Representatives, according to state law.

In that scenario, Musgrove could have the same advantage he did in 1999, when neither he nor former Rep. Mike Parker received a majority and the Democratic-majority legislature handed Musgrove the victory.

Currently, Democrats hold an 81-38 edge in the state House. But the legislature, which is elected Tuesday, will be the one deciding the new governor. So, in addition to watching whether or not Barbour or Musgrove gets 50 percent, it'll bear watching who gets elected to the state House on Tuesday, as well.

In Kentucky, the election looks a bit more clear cut as Republican Rep. Ernie Fletcher has consistently led Attorney General Ben Chandler in the polls. Chandler has found himself in a situation where his campaign is suffering because of the scandals of the current Democratic governor, Paul Patton.

Patton admitted to an affair with a woman who later accused the governor of turning the government against her and her nursing home. Patton denies the abuse of government charge but the fallout of the scandal has been the focus of Fletcher and the GOP, who have been running ads talking about cleaning up the "corruption" in Frankfort.

The Pack Opens Up A New Front On Howard Dean: It's hard to imagine a day going by without Howard Dean coming under fire from his Democratic rivals, and it looks like Monday won't be any different. After fending off attacks from John Kerry about his stance on guns, Dean attempted to defend himself in an interview with the Des Moines Register, saying that in order to beat President Bush the Democrats need to appeal to a broad cross-section of voters. On its own the comment seems fair enough, but when he said, "I still want to be the candidate for guys with Confederate flags in their pickup trucks," his rivals let loose.

Dick Gephardt, who has arguably been the most critical of Dean's policies, was the first to leave the gate. Making sure that everyone was on the same page, the Gephardt campaign included Dean's quote at the top of their e-mail, before making it clear that Gephardt would win the nomination because he'll be the candidate "for the guys with American flags in their pickup trucks." The e-mail said that by going after the guys with the Confederate flag the party would be going after people who disagree with bedrock Democratic values.

Dean's other rivals were not going to be undone. The Lieberman camp tried to give Dean advice rather than a reprimand: "Governor Dean ought to be more careful about what he says." The rest cut right to the chase and attacked him for trying to embrace what Kerry described as "the most racially divisive symbol in America." Then Kerry circled back to guns: "I would rather be the candidate of the NAACP than the NRA."

And then there was Al Sharpton. Questioning Dean's comment, Sharpton told the New York Times that "he took Mr. Dean at his word when he said he was a Democrat from the Democratic wing of the party, not a Democrat from the Dixiecrat Wing of the Democratic Party." As if that wasn't enough, Sharpton went on to say, "If I were ever to say that I wanted to be the candidate for guys with "Swastikas," I would be asked to leave the race and one cannot take these associations lightly."

In an attempt to tamp down the firestorm, Dean's camp sent out a release hours later that referred to similar comments he made at the DNC meeting in February of 2003. "I intend to talk about race during this election in the South. The Republicans have been talking about it since 1968 in order to divide us, and I'm going to bring us together. Because you know what? White folks in the South who drive pick-up trucks with Confederate flag decals on the back ought to be voting with us because their kids don't have health insurance either, and their kids need better schools too."

CBS News can confirm that African Americans in the audience cheered that line and none of the other candidates responded but, of course, that was then, before Dean became a front-runner.

Gephardt Calls His Shot: Appearing on CBS News' "Face The Nation" on Sunday, Rep. Dick Gephardt flatly predicted that he'd win the Iowa caucuses. Gephardt, who won Iowa in the 1988 presidential race, is tied with former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean in polls of likely caucus-goers.

"I'm going to win Iowa. I really believe that," Gephardt said. "I'm going to win because I have a bold, realistic set of ideas."

Gephardt plans to file papers on Monday in one state he almost certainly will not win: New Hampshire. The state's two-week filing period begins Monday and lasts through Nov. 21. None of the other eight Democratic hopefuls have said when exactly they plan to file papers in the Granite State, although Sen. Joe Lieberman (or one of his family members at least) will be in the state every day for the next 17 days, so he should have plenty of time to file.

While Gephardt campaigns in Concord on Monday, he will eschew the New England fall foliage – and the CNN/Rock The Vote forum at Boston's historic Faneuil Hall - on Tuesday in favor of a day in the Iowa cornfields. Rock the Vote is a nonprofit, nonpartisan group that coordinates voter registration drives, and Tuesday's 90-minute forum likely will focus on youth issues. The forum, a town-hall style event, begins at 7 p.m.

Quote of the Day: "When I drank, I would drink a lot and do outrageous things, and then I wouldn't drink again for a while. I realized that what was very funny when you're 18 is not very funny when you're 30. I had a terrible hangover after my bachelor party, which didn't help. So I quit. Drinking served no useful purpose in my life, and I just got tired of it. I haven't had a drink in over 22 years." -- Howard Dean, in his new campaign book, "Winning Back America." (Courtesy of Lloyd Grove, New York Daily News)