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Washington Wrap

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

Gephardt's Daughter: Democratic presidential hopeful Rep. Richard Gephardt says his 30-year-old gay daughter, Chrissy, will play an active role in his campaign, including touting his candidacy to gay and lesbian groups across the country.

"She's going to be active in the campaign, and she'll go talk to gay and lesbian groups and all kinds of groups," Gephardt said Thursday on CNBC's Capital Report. "I'm very proud of what she's done with her life, and she'll be a great representative of this campaign."

Gephardt says Chrissy – a social worker who lives with her partner, Amy, in Washington – will focus on health care and welfare issues. She focuses on working with female victims of trauma and abuse. Her prominent role in Gephardt's campaign was first reported by Roll Call.

Gephardt says his daughter, who has made no secret of her sexual orientation, "is going to be a big and important part of the campaign, along with my other children and my wife, Jane."

Chrissy Gephardt won't be breaking new ground, however. Vice President Dick Cheney's gay daughter, Mary, advised her father in 2000, although she played more of a behind-the-scenes role than it appears Gephardt's daughter will.

Gephardt won't have a stranglehold on gay issues among the Democratic wannabes. Former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean signed the state's civil union law, which granted gays and lesbians many of the same legal rights as heterosexual couples. Dean also has spoken to gay rights groups frequently during the campaign. Sen. John Edwards of North Carolina speaks to the gay rights group, Human Rights Campaign, in Atlanta on Saturday.

Some Republicans – though perhaps not Sen. Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania – hope Democrats are not able to corner the gay vote in 2004, as they've done in previous presidential elections. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution says exit polls in 2000 showed that about 4 million gays and lesbians voted for president. George W. Bush got just 30 percent of those votes.

With the Log Cabin Republicans, a gay GOP group, meeting this week in Washington, even ultra-conservative House Majority Leader Tom Delay of Texas told a reporter this week that, "We are an open and inclusive party to anyone who believes in the same things we believe in," the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports.

Anti-Filibuster Frist: Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, R-Tenn., who will be the subject of a New York Times Sunday Magazine profile this weekend, hit the floor Thursday proposing rule changes in order to prevent future filibusters of judicial nominees.

Frist, who currently faces Democratic filibusters on two of President Bush's nominees, Miguel Estrada and Priscilla Owen, said yesterday: "The need for reform is obvious and it's urgent."

President Bush agreed this morning: "The obstructionist tactics of a small group of senators are setting a pattern that threatens judicial independence. … The judicial confirmation process is broken, and it must be fixed for the good of the country."

Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle, D-S.D., responded on the Senate floor saying, "If it ain't broke, don't fix it." With giant posters, he pointed out that the Senate has confirmed 124 Bush nominees and only blocked 2.

Sen. Edward Kennedy, D-Mass., blamed the president, not the filibuster rule. "The process isn't working now because President Bush is trying to stack the courts with right-wing nominees," Kennedy said. "In my 40 years in the Senate, I have never seen a more extreme and controversial group of nominations."

The way the rules are set up, it takes 60 votes to end a filibuster. Frist suggested that the first filibuster vote should continue to be set at 60 with subsequent votes going down by 3 votes with the fourth vote being a simple majority of 51.

Frist said he modeled his proposal after one suggested by Sens. Joseph Lieberman, D-Conn., and Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, in 1995. At the time, Lieberman complained that "the filibuster rule . . . there is no constitutional basis for it."

Meantime, Frist's office has announced that he will be delivering the commencement address at the Morehouse College School of Medicine in Atlanta. In addition to the address, Frist, a doctor, will tour the medical school and hold a news conference with former Surgeon General David Satcher outlining his health care legislation.

It's worth noting that Morehouse is one of the college's Historically Black Colleges and Universities, especially in the wake of Frist's predecessor, former Republican Leader Trent Lott, who wound up resigning last year over racially insensitive comments he made about former Sen. Strom Thurmond's 1948 presidential campaign.

Political Weekend: Sen. Bob Graham, D-Fla., continues his first week of "official campaigning" over the weekend in Iowa. Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., also hits Iowa on Friday and Saturday morning and then keynotes the Michigan Jefferson-Jackson dinner. Sen. Joe Lieberman, D-Ct., will campaign in Iowa on Sunday … with his Mom … on Mother's Day … Get it?

Howard Dean hosts two receptions in Iowa on Friday, one with Hamilton County Democrats, the other with Webster County Democrats. On Saturday, after having breakfast with Greene County Democrats, Dean is planning to attend the International Union of Painters and Allied Trades District Council Meeting and the Polk County Democrats Fundraiser.

Sen. John Edwards will visit Atlanta's Henry Grady High School, which was one of the first all-white high schools to desegregate in 1961, on Friday. On Saturday night, Edwards speaks to the Human Rights Campaign's annual dinner in Atlanta. On Monday, he campaigns in Oklahoma.

Quote of the Day: "I want people to see that if I'll go to Robert E. Lee's tomb, I'll go anywhere." – Rev. Al Sharpton, campaigning at Washington and Lee University's "mock convention" kick-off in Lexington, Va. (The Virginian-Pilot)

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