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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.



Monday's Headlines

* New Batch of Iowa Polls Show Dean Clinging to Slim Lead

* Clark Spending More Time in New Hampshire

* Kerry Campaign Attacks Clark

* Edwards Picks Up Register's Nod

* McCain To Return to New Hampshire to Help Bush, Not Beat Him

* Rowland Support Shrinks

* Cyberpolitics: Amazon.com and MoveOn.org Get Involved

* Dean Goes Inside the Beltway

Iowa Poll Watching: There's new news for pols watching the polls this week. A series of new surveys are out, showing mixed signals just one week before the Iowa caucuses. Several polls show a very close race between Howard Dean and Dick Gephardt. The newest Zogby poll (conducted Jan. 9 through 11; margin of error of 4.5%) shows Dean with 26 percent to and Gephardt's 23. A Research 2000 Iowa Poll/KCCI poll (conducted Jan. 5 through 7; margin of error 5%) also shows a statistical dead heat, with Dean at 29 percent to Gephardt's 25. An L.A. Times poll (conducted Jan. 5-8; margin of error 4%) shows Dean up 30 points to Gephardt's 23. And the Quad-City Times/KWQC-TV6 poll (conducted Jan. 4-8; margin of error 4.8%), shows Dean with 23 to Gephardt's 18.

In all four of the polls, John Kerry is in third and John Edwards in fourth, with a large number of undecided voters.

Iowa polls:

  • Reuters/MSNBC/Zogby Poll /1/9-11 (500 interviews)
    Dean 26
    Gephardt 23
    Kerry 16
    Edwards 12
    Undecided 14
  • Los Angeles Times 1/5-8 (640 interviews)
    Dean 30
    Gephardt 23
    Kerry 18
    Edwards 11
    Undecided 9
  • Quad-City Times/KWQC-TV6 1/ 4-8 (400 interviews)
    Dean 23
    Gephardt 18
    Kerry 15
    Edwards 9
    Undecided 25
  • Research 2000 Iowa Poll/KCCI 1/5-7 (404 interviews)
    Dean 29
    Gephardt 25
    Kerry 18
    Edwards 8
    Undecided 13

    Clark Spending More Time In New Hampshire: The Clark campaign has decided to cancel a five-day swing that would have taken him to California and New York so he can spend more time campaigning in New Hampshire. Clark was supposed to leave this past Saturday to raise money and campaign in the crucial Feb. 3 primary states. Now that he's staying in New Hampshire for the most part, his wife Gertrude and other surrogates will campaign in his place, the Washington Post reports.

    "Something is happening here," said Chris Lehane, a senior adviser to Clark. "We're going to stay here and grow the support."

    Recent polls have shown that this could in fact be a key moment for the Clark campaign. By skipping the Iowa caucuses, Clark has been able to dedicate most of his time this year to the country's first primary state, New Hampshire. Since the beginning of the year, Clark has enjoyed a steady rise in the polls in the Granite State, although the latest American Research Group poll showed his numbers leveling off. Howard Dean still enjoys the top slot with 36 percent, while Clark is at 19 percent (down a tick from 20). Kerry and Lieberman are the only other candidates to come in with double digits, each with 10 percent. The poll was conducted Jan. 9 through Jan. 11.

    For months, Bill and Hillary Clinton have denied rumors that they are backing Clark for the Democratic nomination, but now the New York Post reports they are jumping into the fray. "Bill is said to be personally involved and it's believed he's been making money calls on Clark's behalf," said one of New York's "best-connected" Democrats.

    "Word out of the Clinton camp is that Bill and Hillary think this is a key moment for the Clark campaign," the activist continued. Clark spokesman Matt Bennett denies that the former president is involved with the race. "He's not going to get involved until there's a clear nominee," said Bennett. Other campaigns say that Clark's leadership, which includes a number of FOBs, throws the Clintons' names around without their blessing.

    Kerry Campaign Blasts Clark: Kerry campaign chair Jeanne Shaheen and two former New Hampshire Democratic Party chairs, Ned Helms and Joe Keefe, held a press conference in New Hampshire on Monday to attack Wesley Clark for his praise of President Bush and his past votes for Republican Presidents Reagan and Nixon. They also questioned his commitment to appointing pro-choice justices. Columnist Walter Shapiro gives some background on this in USA Today.

    In a "prebuttal," CBS News Clark campaign reporter Bonney Kapp says the Clark campaign cites a comment by Kerry on Sept. 4 calling Clark qualified, distinguished and a friend. "I will never say anything critical about Wes Clark," Kerry said. Of course, he didn't make any promises about his campaign.

    Edwards Registers: Sen. John Edwards, who's been flying (not by choice, of course) a little bit under the political/media radar for the last few weeks, got a major boost over the weekend when Iowa's largest and most influential newspaper, the Des Moines Register, endorsed him.

    In its endorsement, the Register wrote that despite Edwards' relatively short public service career (he is near the end of his first and only term in the U.S. Senate), the paper's editorial board saw in him the future of the Democratic Party. "The more we watched him, the more we read his speeches and studied his positions, the more we saw him comport himself in debate, the more we learned about his life story, the more our editorial board came to conclude he's a cut above the others," the paper wrote. "John Edwards is one of those rare, naturally gifted politicians who doesn't need a long record of public service to inspire confidence in his abilities. His life has been one of accomplishing the unexpected, amid flashes of brilliance."

    While the Register certainly takes its endorsement seriously, the paper does not have a great track record picking Democrats in competitive caucus fields, including giving its nod to Bill Bradley in 2000, who lost to Al Gore, and to the late Sen. Paul Simon in 1988, who lost to Dick Gephardt (who's certainly hoping history repeats itself in '04).

    The Washington Post takes a look at Edwards' (and his rivals') reactions to the Register endorsement.

    But it hasn't been all smiles for Edwards in the media in the last few days. The Boston Globe reports on his struggle to break out of the pack and The Washington Post writes a decidedly mixed editorial about him in Monday's paper. The Post notes Edwards' inexperience, particularly in foreign affairs, as a trouble spot but says, "It's not clear that he'll get the chance to go the distance in 2004. But it would be too bad if this year were his only shot."

    The New York Times, meanwhile, has its full-page take on Edwards and his campaign.

    McCain To Return To New Hampshire: PoliticsNH.com, a Web site devoted to all things political in the Granite State, takes a look at some of the Bush-Cheney surrogates who'll be in New Hampshire in the days leading up to the Jan. 27 presidential primaries there. (Yes, the GOP also has to select a nominee.) John McCain, who wasn't very chummy with the Bushies last time around, will be in New Hampshire in the days leading up to the primary.

    As the site's James Pindell writes: "Everybody ready for a change of tune? Here comes the GOP."

    Rowland On The Ropes: The words "embattled" and "John Rowland" appear inextricably linked these days, and it only seems to be getting worse for the Connecticut governor. A new UConn poll finds 63 percent of the state's residents now back Rowland's resignation, up five points from last week. Meanwhile, Rowland's fellow Republicans appear to have heard the drumbeat and voted unanimously to start impeachment proceedings, the Hartford Courant reports.

    And now in cyberpolitics...
    Amazon.cash: Online retailer Amazon.com plans to become the first U.S. business to unveil a way for the public to donate cash to presidential candidates, Roll Call reports. Amazon plans to create a link on it its Web site sometime this week that will allow customers to donate directly to presidential campaigns when buying books written by or about the candidates in their online bookstore.

    Since the customers – not the company – would make the contributions, the donations will not violate the new campaign finance law, according to election lawyers.

    Aides from several of the campaigns said Amazon worked on the deal with them over the past few weeks. All costs associated with the plan, will be covered by the individual campaigns.

    MoveOn.org: Meanwhile, in another part of the cyberpolitics universe, Moveon.org will announce Monday in New York the winner of its "Bush in 30 Seconds" ad contest. The ad contest, which drew 1,503 submissions, was sponsored by MoveOn.org Voter Fund, the liberal 527 organization that will put several million dollars towards running the winning ad during the week of President Bush's State of the Union address.

    The ad contest is MoveOn.org's attempt to tap the "vast talent pool of creative people beyond the Beltway" and "find the right messages and ads to expose the failure of President Bush's policies," says the contest's Web site.

    The ad contest finalists were chosen by MoveOn.org members voting over the Internet, selecting 14 ads out of the many submissions. The overall winner and top ads in three other categories (like Best Animated), were chosen by a panel of celebrity musicians, politicians and actors, including comic/writer Michael Moore, Democratic adviser James Carville, Clinton pollster Stan Greenberg, singer Moby, hip-hop mogul Russell Simmons, film-maker Gus Van Sant and many others. Monday's gala announcement will feature performances by Moby, comic Margaret Cho, rapper Chuck D and others.

    Let the Cockroaches In: The Dean campaign is planning to open a Washington office headed by former Gore aide Roy Neel, Roll Call reports.

    "We want to show that [Dean] can work with folks inside the Beltway and that he is going to have the people in place who can do that," said Neel, who was a major telecommunications lobbyist after leaving the White House. Roll Call says the office, which is still in the planning stages, will help Dean tap into the "political machinery that Dean's Congressional supporters already have on the ground in their districts."

    Dean, who in October said that members of Congress were, "going to be scurrying for shelter, just like a giant flashlight on a bunch of cockroaches" seems to be debugging his operation.

    Quote of the Day: "Nobody listened to him when he was in office. Why should anybody now?" -- A "senior administration official," responding to charges made by former Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neill about the Bush administration (Washington Post)

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