Washington Wrap

Dotty Lynch, Douglas Kiker and Steve Chaggaris of The CBS News Political Unit have the latest from the nation's capital.

Calm Down: Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Joe Lieberman confronted an issue that has dogged his campaign and put a crimp in his fundraising: Jewish angst that his candidacy is "not good for the Jews." In a telephone interview with The Forward newspaper, Lieberman says Jews who are worried that his campaign might stir latent anti-Semitism should "have faith in America. I do."

Lieberman says he understands Jewish anxieties "from a historical perspective," but says it's not a problem in the America in which he campaigned in 2000 and today.

"Americans are too fair and sensible" to be susceptible to prejudice, he said. In the South, in particular, he said his faith resonates with people who hold traditional values in high esteem.

Lieberman also refuted the idea that because he is Jewish he might have to "bend over backwards" to be evenhanded in the Middle East and hold Israel at arms length. He criticized President Bush for strong-arming Israel to accept his "road map" to peace, saying it should not be the role of an American president.

"The only thing that should pressure the Israeli government to take steps is definitive action by the Palestinians to stop terrorism", he said.

Ketchup Money: It's long been speculated that if push came to shove, Sen. John Kerry could tap his wife's massive fortune to help fund his campaign for the Democratic presidential nomination. But, in fact, under federal campaign finance law, Kerry is barred from accepting more than $2,000 from his wife, Teresa Heinz Kerry, the heiress to her late husband John Heinz' eponymous ketchup fortune that's been estimated to be worth at least $550 million.

The story re-emerged on Wednesday when the AP reported that Kerry's campaign had determined that they could not use "any" of Teresa Heinz Kerry's fortune. The campaign later disputed that story, saying all they were doing was following a law that they'd understood all along.

Federal law forbids Kerry from using any assets that are solely in his wife's name – and that is the lion's share of the couple's money. Kerry himself is worth a measly $700,000 to $2.4 million, according to the most recent Senate financial disclosure forms. (Kerry also owns a painting worth $250,000 to $500,000 and bank accounts worth between $50,000 and $100,000.)

Kerry spokesman Robert Gibbs tells CBS News that the campaign has never planned to tap into the Heinz fortune because of the restrictions. But, Gibbs said, Kerry plans to decide in the fall whether to self-finance using either his own funds or assets that the couple own together. Kerry would be allowed to use 50 percent of the value of any jointly held assets, the Globe reports.

The big question is what assets the Kerrys actually own jointly. The campaign has refused to say what assets the couple owns together, or how much those assets might be worth, the Boston Globe reports. But there are definitely some joint assets out there. The Globe reports that during the 1996 Senate race, Kerry used the joint assets as collateral for last-minute loans to pay for ads.

The AP did some digging and found that of the five houses (read: estates or mansions) where the couple spends time, four are owned solely by Mrs. Heinz Kerry. The one exception is the Louisburg Square manse on Beacon Hill that the couple bought together when they married in 1995. The Boston Globe estimates that the house is worth $7 million. The other four properties – Georgetown, Sun Valley, Nantucket and Pittsburgh – are worth tens of millions of dollars.

Under current federal law – and the pending U.S. Supreme Court case on McCain-Feingold could change this – Mrs. Kerry could spend as much money as she wants on so-called "issue ads" that do not explicitly mention her husband's name. She could also give as much money as she wants to groups running such ads.

Kerry and his wife have repeatedly said they would only tap her fortune if either was attacked personally during the campaign. "Teresa's money is Teresa's money," Kerry told the Washington Post earlier this year.

Elizabeth Speaks: Traditionally, freshmen senators try to keep a low profile during their first months in office as they learn the ropes. As a former presidential candidate, Cabinet secretary and wife of a Senate majority leader one could argue that Elizabeth Dole has a pretty good idea of the ropes. But on Thursday, five months after being sworn in, Sen. Elizabeth Dole, R-N.C. gave her maiden speech on the Senate floor.

She took to the floor to talk about National Hunger Awareness Day and ideas she has to combat hunger in the United States. Though this isn't her first appearance on the floor, this is her first speech dedicated to an issue she's promoting.

"Tradition has held that by waiting a respectful length of time, the senior colleagues would appreciate the humility shown by a new member of the Senate, who would use the occasion to address an issue of concern," Dole said.

She thanked Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, R-Tenn., for encouraging freshmen to hit the floor with their maiden speeches sooner rather than later. Another former GOP presidential candidate, Tennessee Sen. Lamar Alexander gave his first speech in April.

The fact that it took the high-profile Dole five months to give her maiden speech may shock some, but not those close to her.

In fact, because Dole is so well known, it seems she has tried to follow the same path as another famous senator who was a freshman in 2000, Hillary Rodham Clinton, by working hard behind the scenes to gain the respect of her colleagues instead of throwing her weight around from day one. The similarity between Dole and Clinton has been noted by several of those in the know, including Dole's husband, former Sen. Bob Dole, R-Kansas.

"I don't think Elizabeth is following anybody's model, but I think Hillary did it about right," Bob Dole told The New York Times last month. "You come in with a fairly high profile, the first thing you want to do is get the confidence of your colleagues and let them know you're one of 100."

McKinney's Back: Former Rep. Cynthia McKinney has filed papers with the FEC that would allow her to challenge Denise Majette, the woman who beat her in the 2002 Democratic primary and went on to win the general election in Georgia's 4th Congressional District.

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports that McKinney, who declined to be interviewed, is also considering running for president as the Green Party nominee, The AJ-C reports.

McKinney's loss to Majette has been the subject of a federal lawsuit by five DeKalb County residents who said their voting rights were violated by Republicans who voted in the August Democratic primary. Under Georgia law, all registered voters, regardless of their party, can vote in party primaries.

Hugh Esco, a Green Party rep in Georgia said McKinney seemed "intrigued and excited" about a possible presidential bid, but that much of her decision-making will be based on the outcome of the lawsuit.

"What I've gathered from other Greens who have spoken for her is that she feels an obligation to seek that congressional seat if the federal courts find in favor of the plaintiffs who have brought the malicious crossover suit," Esco said.

For her part, Majette says she's not worried about a possible primary rematch with McKinney.

"I had 20,000 more votes than she did in the primary and won the district with 77 percent in the general election, and of course, it wasn't a district that was drawn for me. It was, in fact, one that she had input in having it drawn," she told the paper.

Quote of the Day: "Too much goes into the electoral process for it just to be a lark." – Democratic presidential candidate Carol Moseley Braun, who also said she'll make a decision in September on whether or not to continue her long-shot campaign. (The AP)