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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.


Wednesday's Headlines

* New Polls in Iowa and New Hampshire Show Races Getting Tighter

* Ads Take a Nasty Turn as Races Tighten
* Dean Heads to Plains for a Semi-Endorsement from Jimmy Carter

* Edwards Stays Nice and Gets Good Reviews

* Dean Wins D.C.'s Non-Binding Primary

* Rowland, Under Fire, Will Skip Bush-Cheney Event

In the Polls, Dean Has a Bad Day on Two Fronts: With just five days before the Iowa caucuses, the race in Iowa seems to be tightening into a three-way race for first between Howard Dean, Dick Gephardt and John Kerry, with John Edwards coming up fast. The latest Reuters/MSNBC/Zogby poll (conducted Jan. 11 through 13, margin of error 4.5%) shows Dean leading with 24 points, Gephardt and Kerry tied with 21 apiece for second, but technically within the margin of error for first place, and Edwards following 15. The results inspired pollster John Zogby to proclaimed breathlessly, "This is officially a 3-way race. Kerry is surging. He actually led the pack on Monday with 25% for the day. Dean had his worst single day with only 18%."

  • Reuters/MSNBC/Zogby 1/11-1/13 (501 interviews)
    Dean 24
    Kerry 21
    Gephardt 21
    Edwards 15
    Undecided 13

    And in New Hampshire, the Dean lead appears to be slimming, as well. After months of double-digit leads over his various rivals in almost every poll, a poll today from the Boston Herald (conducted Jan. 11 –12; margin of error 4.9%) shows Dean's lead cut to 9 points, leading Wesley Clark 29 to 20. John Kerry stays in third place, with 15 points. The poll also finds that Clark is "now more popular than Dean - with just 12 percent viewing him unfavorably compared to 22 percent for" for Dean. And it is not just one poll: in the newest American Research Group poll (conducted Jan. 11 through 13, margin of error 4%), Dean slips to 32 points and Clark climbs to 22, with Kerry receiving 13. As American Research Group notes, "Wesley Clark closing in on Howard Dean." To put Dean's slide in perspective, just two weeks ago, Jan. 1 through 3, ARG found Dean with a 25-point lead over his nearest rival.

  • Boston Herald Poll 1/11-1/12 (408 interviews)
    Dean 29
    Clark 20
    Kerry 15
    Edwards 7
    Lieberman 7
    Undecided 19
  • American Research Group 1/11-1/13 (600 interviews)
    Dean 32
    Clark 22
    Kerry 13
    Lieberman 9
    Undecided 16

    Ad Wars Heat Up: The Wisconsin Advertising Project, which monitors political advertising, reports in a new study that the Democratic presidential candidates have spent over $21 million on 40,324 political campaign broadcast television advertising during the full 2004 cycle, and have aired $6.2 million dollars worth of ads during the first nine days of January alone, $3.2 million of that in Iowa. Professor Ken Goldstein of the University of Wisconsin ran the study and estimates that in Iowa TV ad spending by candidates and affiliated groups is $8.7 million, New Hampshire $6.4 million.

    Dean was the highest spender in the study, which tallied spending up until January 9 for the 2003-2004 cycle. He's spent $6.6 million overall, including $2.6 million on Iowa TV and $1 million in New Hampshire. John Kerry is next with $4.1 million, $2 million each in Iowa and New Hampshire, followed by Edwards ($3.2 million, $1.5 in Iowa and $1 million in New Hampshire) and Gephardt at $2.9 million overall, including $1.8 million in Iowa, but only $164,000 so far in New Hampshire.

    After a relatively benign presidential campaign ad season, things turned a bit ugly and a bit personal on Tuesday with new ads from the Dean and Gephardt campaigns lambasting some their rivals by name.

    The New York Times takes a look at the new ads, which include an Iowa spot from Howard Dean criticizing Dick Gephardt, John Kerry and John Edwards for their positions on the Iraqi war votes in Congress and a Gephardt spot running in New Hampshire criticizing Dean, Wesley Clark and John Kerry for their support of free trade agreements that Gephardt opposed and says have cost American jobs.

    The Times reports that, "several experts and rival campaign strategists said Dr. Dean could alienate voters with the new spot" and that "its tone surprised his rivals and experts in Iowa politics."

    By running his tough new ad only in New Hampshire, the Times notes, Gephardt's campaign reflects a belief that Granite State "voters are believed to be more accustomed to rough-and-tumble advertisements." (In Iowa, Gephardt is running a peaches-and-cream ad that includes Gephardt saying: "When I'm president, I'm going to try to figure out how every person in this country fulfills his God-given potential.")

    Kerry called the Dean ad "old style negative attack politics." Edwards, he of the always-positive message, took the Dean spot as a compliment. "There is a lot of movement going on. I'm sure he sees that, and that's the response," Edwards said. "Unfortunately, it's just typical of what people have come to expect."

    Dean Picks Up Carter's Semi-Endorsement: Howard Dean will travel to visit with Jimmy Carter in Plains, Ga., on Sunday for what The New York Times dubs "a precious photo opportunity for Dr. Dean on the eve of the Iowa caucuses, which propelled Mr. Carter's own presidential bid nearly 30 years ago."

    A former adviser to President Carter told CBS News that the former president "has liked Dean for a long time." In September, Mr. Carter said on Larry King that Dean reminded him a little of himself.

    "He claims, at least to me, to have had in part of his campaign technique about what worked for me in those ancient days in 1976," Mr. Carter said. "The only difference is that I didn't have any money and he's today used the Internet in a wonderful fashion." The adviser said that "it would be unseemly for Carter to actually endorse" but that the two would attend church and Sunday school together and that the former president would have some nice things to say about Dean.

    Dean has courted President Carter for months and gets advice from him on the phone. Dean has said he's modeled his outsider-style campaign on Mr. Carter's out-of-nowhere 1976 win.

    "Even if Mr. Carter simply says nice things about Dr. Dean, the image of the two men together could be a powerful one just before the caucuses, which became a prominent step in the nomination process after Mr. Carter's aggressive campaign there in 1976," the New York Times reports.

    Former President Carter won't be the first in his family to back Dean. His son, Chip, has been working for Dean. Tim Kraft, his 1976 Iowa campaign director, is in back in the state helping Dean. Dean's pollster Paul Maslin got his start in Mr. Carter's 1976 campaign and former Carter advisers Jerry Rafshoon and Pat Caddell have offered advice as well.

    Nice Guys Finish Nice: John Edwards's poll numbers are rising and he seems to have hit his stride as the countdown to Iowa continues and with five days left until the first in the nation caucuses, Edwards is packing halls across Iowa, reports the New York Times. And, what may not seem like a good thing to many, he was attacked by name in the new Dean advertisement, a move that Edwards' advisers celebrate as a sign that he had arrived.

    Edwards is also drawing attention for his decision to run a positive campaign as he all but refuses to engage in a smear campaign like many of his rivals. "This is about you and I making Americans proud to be Americans again," Edwards said on Tuesday. "My campaign is not built on the politics of putting people down. It's based on the politics of lifting people up."

    The Washington Post devotes a whole article to voters who have jumped on the Edwards bandwagon because of his sunny disposition. Does playing nice really matter that much? "Yes, it does," said Patsy Hoosensen who went to see him speak on Tuesday in West Des Moines. "We're just honest people here in the Midwest. We believe in following the rules."

    The Post is quick to point out however, that Edwards is not all "sweetness and light." Yes, he avoids criticizing fellow Democrats by name, but he does not afford President Bush the same courtesy. He repeatedly accuses Mr. Bush of helping the wealthy at the expense of working- and middle-class families, failing to fund No Child Left Behind adequately and of giving contracts to Bush contributors to rebuild Iraq.

    Dean Wins D.C. (Non-Binding) Primary: Howard Dean scored his first win in a primary Tuesday in Washington, defeating three rivals with 43 percent of the vote. Second in the race was Al Sharpton with 34 percent; Carol Moseley Braun was third with 11 percent and Dennis Kucinich with 8 percent.

    The D.C. primary is non-binding and Dean's win will therefore not translate into any delegates in the primary process. Five of the major candidates did not participate: Lieberman, Kerry, Edwards, Gephardt and Clark. Dean, who left his name on the ballot, refused to participate in the one D.C. debate held last Friday.

    Advocates hoped the primary's early date would encourage more voters to participate and highlight the lack of voting rights for D.C. citizens. The strategy sort of worked, as turnout increased by 4 percent over 2000, but that only brought total turnout to 12 percent; fewer than 41,000 D.C. Democrats voted.

    Despite this, Del. Eleanor Holmes-Norton, told the AP, "I've gotten to talk to more people nationally and internationally about voting rights than (in) any event or combination of events."

    On Second Thought: Gov. John Rowland, R-Ct., has decided not to attend a Bush/Cheney fundraiser in Greenwich on Jan. 29, the AP reports. According to Rowland's chief of staff, Dean Pagani, Rowland made the decision on his own and was not asked to stay away because of the ongoing federal investigation.

    "He decided that given the current circumstances, it would detract from the president's day," Pagani said.

    Rowland is state chairman of the Bush re-elect campaign and although he had not been invited to the reception, Pagani said his presence was probably assumed. Attending the event could have put the embattled governor on the same stage as Republicans who have called for his resignation. Speaking of calls to resign, Republican Rep. Chris Shays called for Rowland to step down on Tuesday as have a majority of the Republican state senators in Connecticut.

    On Wednesday, The New York Times added its name to the list claiming, "it is already clear that the governor has failed the state and is no longer capable of leading."

    The Washington Post writes about Rowland's fall from grace, citing how a man once mentioned as a candidate for the Bush Cabinet, faces grim days ahead.

    Quote of the Day: "They can't see past this fight. ... In the end, that could be damaging." -- Jesse Jackson, saying Howard Dean's rivals have "mad Dean disease." (AP)

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