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Washington Wrap

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



Tuesday's Headlines

* For Today at Least, Polls Are Steady in Iowa and N.H.

* Dean Defends Record on Minorities

* Kerry Surrogates Fight the General in N.H.

* Republican RNC Reformers Want Results from the FEC

* D.C. Voters Go to the Polls in Non-Binding Primary

* MoveOn.org Selects Anti-Bush Ad Winner

Iowa and N.H. Polls -- Ticking More Than Surging: With less than one week to go, the Iowa poll watch shows no signs of any breakouts. In the latest Reuters/MSNBC/Zogby Poll (conducted Jan. 10-12; margin of error, 4.5%), Howard Dean picks up a little support, moving to 28 percent over Dick Gephardt's 23. Yesterday's Zogby poll had a 26 to 23 Dean-Gephardt split. The up-tick in Dean's fortunes appears to be from movement in western Iowa, where he now leads Gephardt by 11 points, according to a Zogby press release. The number of undecided voters is also down slightly, with 12 percent today as compared to yesterday's 14.

  • Reuters/MSNBC/Zogby 1/10-12 (502 interviews)
    Dean 28 %
    Gephardt 23
    Kerry 17
    Edwards 14
    Undecided 12

    But in New Hampshire, the poll numbers for Dean are on the down-tick once again. The most recent tracking poll from American Research Group (conducted Jan.10-12' margin of error 4%) shows Dean leading the pack at 34 percent, but with his margin cut to 14. Clark picks up a tick, moving back up to 20 percent, as does Kerry who moves up to 11 percent.

    According to ARG, Dean's favorability has slipped 7 points in the last two days and Clark now leads the pack with a 72 percent favorability rating.

  • American Research Group 1/10-12 (600 interviews)
    Dean 34 %
    Clark 20
    Kerry 11
    Lieberman 9
    Undecided 18

    Dean's Minority Report: Trying to bounce back from a tough week that forced him to defend his stance on race once again, Howard Dean has produced his diverse list of supporters to show that although "blacks and browns" weren't in his cabinet in Vermont, they're with him in his quest to be president.

    In a minority stat sheet distributed by the campaign, they explain that over half of their 31 endorsements from the U.S. House are from people of color, including six African Americans (more than any other candidate), nine Hispanics (more than any other candidate), two Asian Americans and one Arab American.

    Dean's exchange on Sunday at the Des Moines Register debate about his minority hiring as governor in Vermont isn't the first time he has been forced to defend his record on race. There have been, of course, the many observations about how few people of color are at his rallies; his statement about being the only candidate to discuss race among white audiences (a statement that fellow candidates, namely John Edwards, took offense to); and, most notoriously, his statement about wanting to be the candidate for Southerners with Confederate flags on their pickup trucks.

    Despite his record as governor, Dean says that if elected president, his cabinet will include all Americans, reports the New York Post. Dean also insists that if elected, he'll appoint blacks and Hispanics, telling American Urban Radio, "We are going to have a cabinet like Bill Clinton's and a government that looks like the rest of America."

    Dean's Vermont is in step with the two "first-in-the-nation" states in its low proportion of minorities, as the L.A. Times reports. The five states with the largest percentage of white residents are Maine (96.5%), Vermont (96.2%), New Hampshire (95.1%), West Virginia (94.6%) and Iowa (92.6%).

    South Carolina's Feb. 3 primary will be the first contest in a state with a significant black population and some estimates say black voters could make up as much as 40 to 50 percent of the turnout. Two other Feb. 3 states, Arizona and New Mexico, have large proportions of Hispanics.

    African American voters in South Carolina will be crucial to Dean's chances. The State reports that they may give Dean the benefit of the doubt. Gilda Cobb-Hunter, D-Orangeburg, a member of the Democratic National Committee who has not endorsed a presidential candidate said, "People of color here realize that Vermont is a state that is about 98 percent Anglo." Nonetheless, Dean is playing heavy defense to make sure.

    The Cavalry Is Coming: John Kerry has dispatched a covey of national security/military surrogates to New Hampshire to stump for his campaign in a state that has been left almost exclusively to retired Gen. Wesley Clark (no military credential problems there) and Sen. Joe Lieberman, both of whom are skipping Iowa.

    The Kerry surrogates include retired Gens. Claudia Kennedy and Stephen Cheney, former Assistant Secretary of State Rand Beers, former Ambassador Joe Wilson, former New Hampshire Gov. Jeanne Shaheen (who we're not quite sure qualifies as a foreign policy expert, but we'll let it slide) and foreign policy expert Nancy Stetson. The campaign also says "dozens" of veterans will stump for Kerry in the Granite State.

    Clark, who (as we reported on Monday) was attacked by Shaheen for everything from voting for Ronald Reagan to his brief career as a lobbyist, also came under fire for saying that "a statement he made in 2002 about connections between Iraq and al Qaeda was consistent with his belief that Saddam Hussein was not linked to the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks," the AP reports.

    Campaigning in New Hampshire, Clark claimed the statement is not inconsistent with views he expressed in his new book. "It would be naive to think the Iraqi intelligence agency never tracked anyone from al Qaeda, but that's a far cry from saying there's any relationship between Saddam Hussein and 9/11," Clark told the AP. "I've always said there's no relationship. I was doing nothing but explaining a New York Times front-page story of that day and discounting it."

    What Does Mitch McConnell Think About This? The Washington Post takes a look at the RNC's request to the FEC to ban the raising of "soft money" by pro-Democratic groups seeking to pay for voter mobilization and TV ads in this year's elections.

    Republicans, in part as a fundraising pitch to potential donors who wonder why an unchallenged President Bush might need a $200 million campaign kitty, have estimated the left-leaning groups could raise as much as $300 million or more in their effort to defeat the president.

    The Post's Tom Edsall reports, "The request marks a reversal of traditional Republican opposition to regulating political money. Democrats say the shift is motivated by the GOP's recognition that tougher regulation might work to Democrats' disadvantage.

    "The Republican request would restrict most political spending to 'hard money' contributions, which are limited to $2,000 per individual to a federal candidate. The Republican Party and President Bush hold a substantial advantage over Democrats in raising such money."

    Meanwhile, Vice President Dick Cheney is out West this week for a four-day campaign/official event combo trip, which includes a pair of Bush-Cheney fundraisers (in Denver on Monday and Los Angeles on Wednesday); two state party fundraisers (one in Portland and one in Seattle, both on Tuesday) and a pair of non-fundraising events.

    As CBS News Correspondent Wyatt Andrews reported Monday, Cheney has spoken at 59 campaign or fund-raising stops, a number that represents 76 percent of all his appearances outside the White House.

    The L.A. Times takes a look at Cheney's schedule and reports that, "From now on, aides say, the vice president intends to intensify his work on the campaign."

    The Seattle Times reports Cheney will raise more than $200,000 for the state party's coffers, and the AP reports on the reception Cheney might receive in Oregon, a state that continues to struggle with high unemployment.

    It's D.C. Primary Election Day: The 2004 presidential campaign kicks off Tuesday in the District of Columbia in what organizers call an "advisory" primary. The contest was moved up from May to bring attention to D.C.'s request for full voting rights in Congress. The ballot includes only four of the nine Democrats competing for the party's nomination. (Although it should be noted that quadrennial candidate and Democratic gadfly Lyndon LaRouche also is running – and running ads on D.C. airwaves.)

    But while making their voices heard in the presidential campaign, many D.C. also will be voting in symbolic support of statehood for the District, where "taxation without representation" has become an official motto.

    Dennis Kucinich, Carol Moseley Braun and Al Sharpton are the three candidates who have spent time campaigning in D.C., while the fourth candidate, Howard Dean, has dedicated the bulk of his time to campaigning in Iowa and New Hampshire. D.C.'s contest is nonbinding, with delegates to be chosen Feb. 14.

    MoveOn.org Picks Its Winner: Charlie Fischer's "Child's Pay" ad was chosen as the winner of the "Bush in 30 Seconds" ad contest Monday night. The ad features young children doing various jobs – fixing tires, checking groceries, cleaning offices – followed by the tag line, "Guess who's going to pay off President Bush's $1 trillion deficit?"

    According to a statement released about the winner, the ad will run nationwide from Jan. 17-21, "coinciding with the President's State of the Union."

    The online contest, sponsored by MoveOn.org Voter Fund, a liberal 527 organization, attracted over 1,500 submissions. The winning ad "was the judges' favorite by far, but also our members' favorite," Eli Pariser, MoveOn's campaigns director, tells the AP.

    Fischer, a former Republican who created the winning ad, told the AP, "I wanted to point out how the Republican administration are big spenders, and it's my children and your children who are going to be footing the bill."

    The ad contest also chose winners in three other categories: Best Animation, Funniest, and Best Youth Market. All of the ads can be viewed at BushIn30Seconds.org.

    Quote of the Day: "If I get elected you'll meet her in the White House." -- Howard Dean, telling Iowans when they'd get to see his non-campaigning physician wife who has never been to Iowa. (New York Tines)

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