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Washington Wrap

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

McCain On The Warpath: As the Senate continues wrangling over President Bush's $87 billion request for post-war Iraq, Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., praised a couple of Democratic presidential candidates and criticizing a few others for their stances on the issue.

McCain, in an interview with the Manchester (N.H.) Union Leader, said he was "impressed with and grateful to" Sen. Joe Lieberman, D-Conn., and Rep. Dick Gephardt, D-Mo., for their support of the funding. "I'm sure this will cost them with the far left," said McCain, "but I also believe they are acting correctly in placing America's national security interests first."

Meanwhile, McCain ripped into Howard Dean and fellow Sens. John Kerry, D-Mass., and John Edwards, D-N.C., for indicating their opposition to the bill.

"I'm not surprised that Governor Dean would oppose this," McCain said. "I've lost confidence that he has any understanding of the national security responsibilities of a president."

He also accused Kerry and Edwards of "pandering" to Dean and the Democrats' liberal base, adding, "I'm very disappointed in my friends John Kerry and John Edwards because they know better than that."

On retired Gen. Wesley Clark, who hasn't taken a position, McCain said: "It's very unfortunate, and I'm disappointed in General Clark." He added that "anyone who wants to be considered a serious candidate is obliged to express an opinion."

Don't Put The Coppertone Away Quite Yet: With Florida Sen. Bob Graham's departure from the presidential race, the Sunshine State is back in play for the Democrats. And CBS Early Show contributor Craig Crawford says that state party officials have pretty much decided to go ahead with a straw poll at their Dec. 5 state convention in Orlando.

Aides to DNC Chair Terry McAuliffe have reportedly asked each campaign to sign a letter to agree to boycott the "divisive" straw poll. "Obviously it is important that we keep this letter INTERNAL and CONFIDENTIAL until the campaigns have signed on," said the letter from a DNC operative quoted in the Miami Herald.

The Florida Democratic party was scheduled to vote on Nov. 16 (though they may push that datee up) on whether to go forward with the straw poll, but some campaigns are ready to play. Jennifer Palmieri, spokeswoman for North Carolina's John Edwards, told the Orlando Sentinel that the campaign doesn't "have any intention of signing the letter. Florida is an important state for us . . . If they hold one, we'll participate in it."

The Sentinel says the Kerry campaign is the only one that has publicly signed the letter agreeing to a boycott. The Gephardt campaign says it's inclined to skip it but has not signed the letter.

The Clark campaign says it's planning to make a big show at the Florida meeting whether or not they participate in the straw poll. Joe Lieberman, who has been fundraising up a storm in Florida, said "it's kind of late" to be planning a straw poll, but he would defer a decision on whether to participate. "I do think we have plans to be in Florida around the time of the convention," he said.

So far, the Dean campaign is "uncharacteristically silent" on the issue, says the Sentinel.

DNC communications director Debra DeShong tells CBS News that "a large majority of candidates have expressed agreement with the sentiments expressed in the letter," and adds that all of them signed a similar letter regarding the Wisconsin straw poll last June.

The Florida straw poll was a big launching pad for Bill Clinton in 1991 and has been a major political event in presidential politics for years. With Florida's big chunk of delegates, its symbolic value to a candidate wanting to show general election strength and its large number of Democratic donors, state party officials have a lot of leverage over the campaigns.

Time To Pony Up: As Boston Red Sox fans wallow in their Thursday night/Friday morning loss of the American League pennant to the New York Yankees, it's time for those elected officials who wagered on the Sox to pay up.

The most amusing wager: Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., will get Sen. Ted Kennedy, D-Mass., to stand on the steps of the U.S. Capitol and sing "Take Me Out to the Ball Game," while donning a Yankees cap. It could happen as early as today although votes may interfere; Schumer's office vows they will not let Kennedy off the hook.

Food wagers: Gov. Mitt Romney, R-Mass., will be sending some lobsters to Gov. George Pataki, R-N.Y.; Rep. Ed Markey, D-Mass., owes Rep. Charlie Rangel, D-N.Y, some clam chowder and lobsters from Legal Sea Foods; and Boston Mayor Tom Menino – on a bet that was doubled on Tuesday – will be sending New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg a New England clambake for eight people, which includes lobsters, clam chowder and corn on the cob.

Finally, the wager that never happened: Howard Dean could have slurped up some free clam chowder if he had accepted John Kerry's bet last week. Kerry, needling Dean about his New York roots and his Howard-come-lately support for the Red Sox, offered up a bet. But Dean, who said he's been a Sox fan since 2000 (although he admits to growing up a Yankees fan) never acceptedt. "They're both rooting for the same team," a Dean spokeswoman told the Albany Times Union on Tuesday.

Jerry Might Be BAAAACK: TV personality Jerry Springer spoke to a student audience at the University of Akron on Thursday. According to the Akron Beacon Journal he urged the collegians to become more politically active and voiced his thoughts on the political disconnectedness that characterized the decades of the 1960s and 1980s.

Springer who dropped plans to run for the Senate in Ohio in 2006 said he might run for governor in 2006. If he does, he said he'd quit his syndicated TV show which he called the "silliest show ever."

Weekend Ahead:
The place to be over the next couple of days if you are interested in winning the White House, is Dearborn, Mich. A suburb of Detroit and home to the nation's largest concentration of Arab-Americans, Dearborn will host seven presidential candidates, Bush/Cheney chair Marc Racicot and DNC chair Terry McAuliffe, who are all scheduled to speak at the Arab American Institute's "Vote 2004: An Agenda for Peace and Justice" conference. Of the presidential candidates, Lieberman, Kucinich, Kerry, Edwards and Gephardt are scheduled to speak on Friday. Clark was also scheduled to speak, but due to laryngitis, he's resting in Little Rock and is sending Ambassador to Morocco Ed Gabriel to speak on his behalf. Dean and Moseley Braun will address the conference on Sunday. The institute expects more than 300 Arab-American leaders from around the country at the conference.

Friday 10/17:
President Bush
met with Prime Minister Koizumi in Tokyo and then heads for Manila. Joe Lieberman, Dennis Kucinich, John Kerry, John Edwards and Dick Gephardt address the AAI conference. Kerry and Edwards participate via satellite.) Howard Dean campaigns in Iowa, makes a TV appearance on Iowa Public TV, attends a fundraiser and the Polk Country Fall Harvest and Auction in Des Moines. After the AAII, Gephardt attends the Michigan State AFL-CIO COPE Dinner in Detroit. Depending on Senate votes, Kerry will campaign in Iowa and plans to attend the World Food Prize in Des Moines and the Polk County Democrats Fall Harvest and Auction. Moseley Braun speaks to the National Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty's annual conference and then addresses the Pan-African conference in Nashville, Tenn. Al Sharpton participates in the Cleveland City Club forum lunch. No public events scheduled for Wesley Clark.

Saturday 10/18:
President Bush is in Manila, where he will address the House and Senate before attending a State dinner. Dean starts his day with an event with nurses in Iowa, then heads to Michigan where he will address the AAI conference and then goes to Pittsburgh for a fundraiser. Edwards attends the "Battle of the Bay" at Norfolk State University and holds a town hall meeting in Orlando, Fla. Gephardt addresses parents, families and friends of lesbians and gays (PFLAG) in Pontiac and attends meet and greet in Hamtramck, Mich. He then heads to Milwaukee for a press availability at IAM District 10 Hall before traveling to Cedar Rapids, Iowa for a speech on the economy at Teamsters Local 238. Kerry makes remarks on work development in Waterloo, Iowa, campaigns with Hardin and Webster County Democrats and attends a Boone County Democratic Dinner. Kucinich campaigns in Hawaii, attends a concert in Maui to support Montessori education and attends the United Filipino Community Council Meeting to install new president and Board. Moseley Braun gives keynote speech at the West Virginia Federation of Democratic Women in Snowshoe and then travels to Michigan to address the AAI. Sharpton campaigns at UVA in Charlottesville, with the University Democrats and then travels to Petersburg, where he'll give the keynote speech at the Virginia State University political rally.

Sunday 10/19:
President Bush
will be in Bangkok for APC meetings. Dean campaigns in New Hampshire, making stops in Dover, Portsmouth, Plaistow and Manchester. Edwards is in New Hampshire to launch his "National Check-Up Tour," where he vows to diagnose Bush's health care record and offer an alternative. Gephardt campaigns in Iowa, meets with Fayette, Winneshiek, Chickasaw, Floyd and Cerro Gordo County Democrats. Kucinich gives a presentation at Maui Community College before heading to a lunch/meet and greet in Maui and then travels to Oahu where he will give a presentation at Church of the Crossroads. Sharpton campaigns at the First Baptist Church men's day in Petersburg, Va. No public events scheduled for Kerry.

Quote Of The Day: "We did have a good visit, and during that visit I was able to reflect upon how much we have in common. We both married well. Some accuse us both of not being able to speak the language. We both have big biceps. Well, two out of three isn't bad." -President Bush, after meeting with California Gov.-elect Arnold Schwarzenegger