Dotty Lynch, Douglas Kiker, Steve Chaggaris and Joanna Schubert of The CBS News Political Unit have the latest from the nation's capital.
Graham Makes It Official: Florida Sen. Bob Graham, who filed papers for president in March when he was recuperating from heart surgery, made his "official" announcement today in his hometown of Miami Lakes. Graham, who was a popular governor of Florida from 1978 to 1986, is serving his third term in the Senate. His seat is up in 2004 and there is speculation that he will not run again, although the final decision has not been made.
In his speech, after which "canons of confetti" were fired over the crowd, Graham attacked the Bush administration's record on the economy, education and foreign policy. He referred to the military victory in Iraq as the administration's "singular success," but said it chose to settle old scores rather than "pursuing the most imminent and threats to our future —terrorism." Graham is the only senator running for president who opposed giving the president authority to use military force in Iraq.
Graham talked about his experience as governor and gave a litany of some of the 365-plus workdays he's performed over the past 25 years, which have included stints as a short-order cook, school teacher, dock worker and security guard. Later this week, Graham travels to New Hampshire, where he'll do a workday as a schoolteacher in the key early voting state.
Appeals Get Rolling: The major opponent to the McCain-Feingold campaign finance law has filed an appeal of last week's ruling to the Supreme Court.
Sen. Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., in his 25-page brief delivered late Friday night and signed by his attorney Ken Starr, said even after a district court threw out some parts of the new law, it still "constitutes a frontal assault on First Amendment values, the likes of which have not been seen since the Republic's infancy."
The district court struck down an outright ban on so-called "soft" money - unlimited and unregulated donations - saying the parties could continue to raise those kinds of funds but cannot use them on television advertising. McConnell argues that's a violation of free speech.
Meantime, the National Rifle Association has told the Supreme Court it plans on filing an appeal seeking to overturn McCain-Feingold. While striking down restrictions on when TV ads funded by interest groups can air during an election cycle, the lower court did uphold other rules regarding certain interest groups, making it unclear how far they can go with their ads.
The NRA wants these rules overturned. "It failed to protect the very essence of the Constitution, which is the fundamental freedom of Americans to speak," NRA executive vice president Wayne LaPierre told the Associated Press.
McCain-Feingold supporters are still weighing whether to seek a stay of the decision or portions of the decision. If they seek it and are successful, the lower court's decision would be, in essence, ignored until the Supreme Court makes its final decision.
It's still unclear when the Supreme Court will hear this case, which complicates fund-raising efforts for the 2004 election. The Hill newspaper reports that the party committees responsible for House and Senate elections will continue to hold off on raising soft money until the high court sorts the issue out. "I know a lot of people are not going to give soft money until this is determined by the courts," GOP fundraiser Matt Keelen told The Hill, referring to trade associations and corporations.
Because of all this uncertainty, the trade groups are encouraging their members to pick up the slack and write legal, regulated "hard" money checks to the parties. The Washington Post reports that the idea, hatched by National Republican Congressional Committee chair Rep. Tom Reynolds of New York, is to get hundreds of trade association members to write $1,000 to $2,000 checks, instead of the groups' executives writing one large check from their associations' funds, as they did in the past.
Whether the idea will fly with members remains to be seen, but some executives are willing to give it a try. John Motley, head of the Food Marketing Institute's Washington office, told the Post he plans on hitting up his politically active GOP members. "I don't think that's beyond expectations," he said.
Terry Kerry Strikes Again: One of them has a sore throat and had to cut back on speaking. The other, well, not so much.
In what is becoming a staple for political junkies, Teresa Heinz Kerry, the wife of presidential candidate Sen. John Kerry of Massachusetts, has given another interview replete with a slew of jaw-dropping quotes sure to leave campaign aides scrambling.
Among the topics discussed were marital fidelity, finances, her decision to add Kerry to her name, Botox treatments and the annoyances of being a politician's wife.
On the other side of the Kerry team, the senator's hoarse throat, which was apparent in the South Carolina debate, has caused him to reschedule a policy speech slated for Wednesday in Washington. He says spring allergies and a cold have made his voice raspy. A Senate Finance Committee meeting on tax cuts is also scheduled for Wednesday, and a spokesman tells the AP that Kerry plans to attend.
Heinz Kerry, widow of ketchup heir Sen. John Heinz of Pennsylvania, tells Elle that she and Kerry, who she married in 1995, have a prenuptial agreement. "Everybody has a prenup," she said, forgetting, we suspect, that "everyone" is not worth upwards of $550 million. "You have to have a prenup. You've got to have a prenup. You could be as generous or as sensitive as you want. But you have to have a prenup."
Heinz Kerry - who added Kerry to her last name earlier this year in a campaign strategy move – said of her new moniker: "Now, politically, it's going to be Teresa Heinz Kerry, but I don't give a [expletive], you know?" On the trail, she says, people were calling her Mrs. Kerry anyway. "They call Mrs. Kerry because that is what's natural to them. And I don't tell them to shut up."
One particularly irritating thing about campaigning with Sen. Kerry is the unspoken rule that politicians' wives must have a loving look plastered on their faces whenever their husband is in the same room. "They think I should always be looking adoringly at him," she said with a sigh.
She says Botox treatments are part of her beauty regimen. "I need another one, soon …" No cosmetic surgery for her, although she won't rule it out eventually.
On marital infidelity, Heinz Kerry says she would not have been able to tolerate behavior like Bill Clinton's from either of her husbands. "I don't think I could have coped so well," she said of Sen. Hillary Clinton. "I used to say to my husband, my late husband, 'If you ever get something, I'll maim you. Not kill you, just maim you.' And we'd laugh, laugh, laugh."
Infidelity by either husband is not something Heinz Kerry says she's had to worry about. "I never have. Not for one day. Because what I expect of them, they have a right to expect of me. Maybe I'm into 18-year-olds."
At which point, Elle says, Heinz Kerry's media manager Chris Black jumped in: "That was a joke."
[We assume the Elle reporter, Lisa De Paulo, was kind enough to leave out the part where Black fainted.]
There's also some not-so-good news out of New Hampshire for Kerry, where a new Franklin Pierce poll shows him tied again at 23 percent with former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean. An earlier poll by Mason-Dixon, released over the weekend, of likely primary voters showed Kerry leading by seven points, 28 percent to 21 percent.
In the Franklin Pierce poll, Dean and Kerry were way out front, with Sen. Joe Lieberman of Connecticut pulling in nine percent and Rep. Dick Gephardt of Missouri at eight percent. All the other Democrats registered two percent or less in both polls.
Thirty-one percent remain undecided in the Franklin Pierce survey, down from 38 percent in early April.
The Bachelor On The Bayou: Mississippi has been without a first lady since 2001, but now voters are noticing that Gov. Ronnie Musgrove is running for re-election as a divorced man. The AP reports that Musgrove and his wife Melanie split up after 24 years of marriage, making him the first Mississippi governor to get a divorce while in office; although his predecessor, Kirk Fordice, had some very public marital discord when he was in office.
Fordice divorced his wife and married his sweetheart shortly after he left office. Pat Fordice even sued for divorce on official Mississippi stationary. Also, former Democratic Govs. Bill Allain and Ray Mabus are both divorced.
Even though divorce rates are high, Musgrove's single status could hurt his public image in the upcoming election. In 2000, Mississippi voters saw a nice happy family, but now he might have a tougher time selling his family values campaign. Musgrove's Republican opponents, Haley Barbour and Mitch Tyner, are featuring pictures of their wives in their campaign brochures.
For the past two years Musgrove has been hosting teas and Christmas parties on his own. The AP reports that he has been dating a "woman from Cleveland" but they have no plans to get married.
Quote Of The Day: "He would be formidable in this state but I believe my brother can beat him - can whip them all." – Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, talking about Sen. Bob Graham, D-Fla., who announced his candidacy for the White House today. (AP)