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Washington Wrap

Dotty Lynch, Douglas Kiker, Steve Chaggaris and Clothilde Ewing of The CBS News Political Unit have the latest from the nation's capital.

Clark Gets In: Ret. Gen. Wesley Clark will make an official announcement of his plans to run for president in Little Rock, Ark., on Wednesday at 1 p.m.

Clark has already assembled an impressive team of advisers, including Clinton-Gore spokesman Mark Fabiani; Gore advisers Ron Klain and Peter Knight; FEC attorney Bill Oldaker; and Arkansas Clinton pals Vanessa Weaver, Skip Rutherford and Bruce Lindsey. Former New Hampshire Democratic Party Chairman George Bruno is also on board.

Edwards Makes It Official: Standing in front of the textile mill where his father worked in his boyhood town of Robbins, N.C., Sen. John Edwards announced his candidacy for president Tuesday. An ideal backdrop for a candidate who stresses his working class roots, the textile mill became a who's who of North Carolina politics past and present. Edwards' wife, Elizabeth, introduced Edwards, asking the crowd, "Do you think the son of a mill worker can beat the son of a president?"

Walking center stage to the tune of John Cougar Mellencamp's, "Small Town," Edwards told supporters that his goal as president would be to make "opportunity the birthright of every American."

"I believe in an America where the family you're born into never controls your destiny. I believe in that America because I've lived it. It's the reason I'm standing here today," Edwards said. "This is where I learned that the simple promise of America is the enduring greatness of America: a better life for all who work for it."

In a special section that seemed tailored for a certain former Vermont governor, Edwards addressed the segregation and civil rights movements that plagued the South when he was a child. Saying that race is not a Latino issue or an Asian issue but an American issue, Edwards told his mainly white audience that he talks about race all the time.

Edwards declared a week ago that he will not seek re-election to the Senate regardless of what happens in the presidential race, which has muzzled critics who have said he was trying to have his cake and eat it, too. Although Edwards has had early fundraising success, he is still lagging in polls in Iowa and New Hampshire.

However, a Zogby poll conducted Edwards' "must-win" state of South Carolina showed him doubling his support and going to the top of the heap with 10 percent after he started airing ads in August. Edwards has raised $11.7 million so far this year, which should buy him a lot more TV time in the next few months.

From Robbins, Edwards will travel to Columbia, S.C., where he will continue his announcement tour.

It's Kind Of Over In Texas: Texas Democrats threw in the towel and returned to Austin on Monday for a special session on redistricting. But while the legislative battle may be over, the political war rages on.

Democratic state Sen. John Whitmire, who left his protesting colleagues in New Mexico on Sept. 2, arrived in the Capitol yesterday to jeering Democratic supporters, with one sign spelling out "Quitmire," the Dallas Morning News reports. Republican Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst announced that they had a quorum and could proceed with business. The Republicans then gaveled out and left to a chorus of boos. The Houston Chronicle reports that some in the crowd yelled at the Republicans, "Nazis. You're acting like Nazis!"

"Boy, that's class," GOP state Sen. Florence Shapiro said, according to the Associated Press.

The remaining ten Democrats were showered with cheers when they entered the Senate chamber shortly thereafter. Whitmire stood off to the side as his fellow Democrats stood in the middle of the chamber and rallied the crowd.

After 25 minutes, the Senate microphone was cut off by Republican Sen. Chris Harris, according to the Morning News. "The mike may be off, but the voice of freedom will always stand true," said Democratic state Sen. Leticia Van de Putte.

Whitmire didn't support his colleagues' rallying. "This is just dividing it more," he said. "We need to be reaching out to each other. That is not being done today."

Dewhurst added, "The Senate floor is not a place to hold a political rally."

Lawmakers will now move to pass the Republican congressional redistricting plan as the House planned to debate their version today and a Senate committee will take it up tomorrow. The plan was first postponed by a Democratic House walkout and had been killed twice before in the Senate, most recently with the boycott that began July 28 and ended Monday. is planning a $400,000 Spanish TV and radio ad campaign attacking the "Bush/Republican power grab." The ads, narrated by actor Hector Elizondo, will run in 14 markets, including Albuquerque, Chicago, Miami, Denver, Austin and Washington. The ads claim that "in 2000 George Bush asked for our vote. He said Hispanics were important to him … but now George Bush and his friends in Texas want to take away the voting power of 1.4 million Hispanics."

Gephardt V. Dean: Democratic presidential candidate Dick Gephardt is turning up the heat on Howard Dean by unveiling a new campaign Web site:

Just days after Gephardt compared Dean to Newt Gingrich because of the former Vermont governor's past remarks about Medicare, Gephardt has set up the site to highlight the differences between the two on Medicare and Social Security.

The site – which includes the heading, "The governor in his own words" – basically publicizes the Gephardt camp's opposition research on Dean, featuring quotes from newspapers and Dean TV interviews where he says he wants to increase the Social Security age and supports cuts in Social Security and Medicare.

On Friday, Gephardt told a union audience that "Howard Dean actually agreed with the Gingrich Republicans" on Medicare. Dean campaign manager Joe Trippi responded: "On one hand, we're the (George) McGovern guy and now we're the Newt Gingrich guy? Will these guys decide."

Gephardt's site comes on the heels of other Democratic candidates who have begun unloading on Dean.

John Kerry's campaign issued multiple releases over the weekend accusing Dean of downplaying his support for NAFTA, flip-flopping on tax cuts and backpedaling on his statement about policy toward Israel. John Edwards and Joe Lieberman refuted Dean's claim to be the only candidate to talk about race to white audiences; and Al Sharpton called on Dean, as the former governor of "a state with virtually no people of color," to denounce Michigan's Internet-optional primary, saying it would disenfranchise minority voters.

Quote of the Day: "I don't know if you've seen the polls, but I think it will be news to some people that I will be running for president." - John Edwards on Comedy Central's "The Daily Show."