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Washington Wrap

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



Dean, Dean, Dean: CBS News has learned that Howard Dean will pick up the endorsement of former senator and unsuccessful 2000 Democratic presidential candidate Bill Bradley.

Bradley joins his 2000 rival, former Vice President Al Gore, on the Howard Dean bandwagon. The endorsement is likely to take place in Manchester on Tuesday morning at a previously unscheduled Dean event. Campaign sources will only say that "someone of Bradley's stature" will be there. Bradley narrowly lost the New Hampshire primary to Gore in 2000 and remains popular in the state.

In other potentially huge endorsement news, the Los Angeles Times reports that Iowa Democratic Sen. Tom Harkin, perhaps the most influential politician in the state, will make an announcement this week about whether or not he's going to endorse a candidate. Harkin has been making positive noises about Dean for months, but a former aide to Harkin tells CBS News that as of Sunday night Harkin had not made a decision and was concerned that if he jumped into the fray he could jeopardize Iowa's "first in the nation" status in the future.

Meanwhile, as if he needed the attention, Dean made the covers of both Newsweek and Time this week, although the words under his face aren't exactly the glowing kind.

"DOUBTS ABOUT DEAN. Behind the Democrats' battle to stop him," says Newsweek, below an extreme close-up of Dean's glowering face.

"WHO IS THE REAL HOWARD DEAN? The Democratic frontrunner is still a mystery to most voters. A look at what they'll see when they fill in the blanks," says Time, under a very early-'80s-looking drawing of Dean on its Jan. 12 cover.

In Sunday's Des Moines Register debate, Dean's rivals continued slamming the former Vermont governor on his continued refusal to unseal a large portion of his gubernatorial papers and his call for repealing President Bush's tax cuts, even those for middle-class Americans. (Joe Lieberman, always Mr. Helpful, even offered Dean a pen with which to sign a letter he'd written for him authorizing the unsealing of the papers.)

Behind the scenes, the campaigns were pushing an AP story that says between 1991, when Dean took office, and 2002, when he left to run for president, Dean "was warned repeatedly ... about security lapses at his state's nuclear power plant and was told the state was ill-prepared for a disaster at its most attractive terrorist target."

The issue could be a thorny one for Dean, who has made criticism of President Bush's homeland security policies a centerpiece of his campaign.

Also over the weekend, the AP reported that, "At a time when his state's banking system was having problems, then-Gov. Howard Dean sold $15,000 in stock in five Vermont banks after getting what he says was an 'inside report' from the state banking regulator in 1991." Dean said in a Sunday statement that he sold the stock because "it became clear to me that information I might receive in the future as governor could present a possible conflict of interest."

Clark Won't Play Second Fiddle: Although Wesley Clark is not competing in the Jan. 19 Iowa caucuses and didn't participate in Sunday's debate, he still managed to make news on two fronts.

In an appearance on "Meet the Press" on Sunday, Clark vigorously denied that he was interested in the vice-presidential nomination. Responding to questions, Clark said, "I'm running to be president of the United States. I am not running to be vice president, and I do not intend to accept that nomination, and I will not."

During the week prior, Clark had fueled VP rumors when he told a voter on a cruise that he hadn't "ruled ... out" the number-two spot. Sunday's comments appear to put that possibility out of reach, echoing previous Clark denials and suggesting that the cruise slip may have been the product of seasickness rather than calculated political tactics.

(Of course, political observers remember that Dick Cheney made a very similar announcement when he was heading the team to find a running mate for President Bush. In May 2000, he said, "I have absolutely no desire to go back to government ... I've done that. I am set in my ways at my stage. I'm 59, and I didn't leave anything in Washington. I have no plan, intention, desire, under any circumstances to return to government." Just one month later, Cheney was tapped as Mr. Bush's running mate.)

CBS News Clark reporter Bonney Kapp reports that Clark fueled a little more VP talk last week when he told reporters that he'd "be looking for a woman to be my running mate." He listed Carol Mosley Braun, Dianne Feinstein, Nancy Pelosi, Hillary Clinton and Barbara Boxer as examples of great women in politics, and then threw in the "new faces" – the female governors of Arizona and Michigan. (Note to Clark: Michigan's Jennifer Granholm was born in Canada, but we digress.)

Hoping to stay in the news cycle despite being outside of Iowa, Clark also made a major domestic policy speech Monday in Nashua, N.H. Clark unveiled what his campaign dubbed a "sweeping tax simplification plan" called "Families First Tax Reform." Clark's plan will end federal income taxes for families of four earning less than $50,000 and "all taxpaying families" that earn less than $100,000 will get a tax break. Clark says he will pay for his plan by closing corporate loopholes and raising taxes by five percentage points on those who make over $1 million.

Thune's In: Former U.S. Rep. John Thune, R-S.D., will announce a challenge to Democratic Sen. Tom Daschle on Monday evening. A senior Republican source tells CBS News that veteran South Dakota political adviser Dick Wadhams will "play a large role" in a Thune Senate campaign.

Last month, Thune said he would not be a candidate for his old job – the U.S. House seat soon to be vacated by Republican Bill Janklow, who is set to resign Jan. 20 after being convicted of second-degree manslaughter and three lesser charges for an Aug. 16 traffic crash that killed a Minnesota motorcyclist.

Thune, who served in the House from 1998-2002, was lobbied by President Bush and Karl Rove to run for the Senate in 2002. He jumped into the race and eventually lost by a mere 524 votes to Democrat Tim Johnson, South Dakota's junior senator. Republican strategists believe Thune is the one candidate who could give Daschle a real race. Beating the Democratic leader would be huge for Republicans; not only would it mean unseating a popular, third-term Democrat, but it would also give Republicans firmer control of the Senate, where they have a 51-48 edge, with one Democratic-leaning independent.

Week Ahead: Look for even more Dean-bashing as the candidates gather not once, not twice, but thrice for debates – or, rather, look-at-me-I'm-not-Howard D – events in Iowa this week. Following Sunday's debate, NPR hosts a radio-only forum on Tuesday and MSNBC hosts the "Brown and Black" forum Sunday, which will focus on minority issues. Six of the nine candidates – minus Wesley Clark, John Edwards and Al Sharpton – will attend the NPR event.

On Monday, the always-entertaining Theresa Heinz Kerry joins her hubby on CNN's "Paula Zahn Now."

On Tuesday, Clark campaigns in New Hampshire, while Dean (in addition to his quick New Hampshire trip for the Bradley endorsement), Edwards, Kerry, Kucinich, Lieberman and Moseley Braun all campaign in Iowa. No public events for Sharpton.

For a complete look at the candidate schedules, please visit CBSNews.com.

Quote of the Day: "French ... I can curse like a bandit in Italian ... enough German to order food ... and now I'm listening to Spanish tapes." – Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry, on what languages he speaks. (CBS News Reporter Steve Chaggaris on the trail with the Kerry campaign)

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