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Washington Wrap

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

Braun Gets In: Former ambassador Carol Moseley Braun officially entered the Democratic presidential race on Monday. Braun, who served a single term in the U.S. Senate before losing her re-election race in 1998, is the only woman among the ten candidates running for the Democratic nomination.

Braun, appearing before about 100 reporters and supporters at Howard University in Washington, said: "I am uniquely qualified to do the job of president and I offer the clearest alternative to this current administration … A woman can fix the mess they have crated, because we are practical, we are not afraid of partnerships and we are committed to making the world better for our children."

CBS News' Mary Hager reports that Braun, who raised just $217,109 by the end of the second quarter, would not discuss how her fund-raising is going. But, she told reporters, she'd raise enough "to keep the doors open" by Sept. 30, the end of the current quarter. Braun said that the crowded Democratic field would result in "more participation, not less" and is good for the party.

Braun left the Senate amid controversies like her visit to Nigerian dictator Sani Abacha and allegations that she misused campaign funds. A campaign finance investigation cleared her of wrongdoing and President Clinton named her ambassador to New Zealand for the tail end of his administration.

Although most political observers consider Braun's candidacy a long shot – she is at or near the bottom in every poll - she has picked up the endorsement of two prominent groups: the National Organization for Women and the National Women's Political Caucus, both of which have promised to help her with fund-raising.

Money Game: Wesley Clark's campaign tells The New York Times it has raised a quick $750,000 in unsolicited contributions since his announcement on Thursday, and aides said they had sent e-mails to supporters who pledged $1.9 million over various draft-Clark Web sites.

But Clark's first weekend in the campaign was filled with high and lows. On the high side, a Newsweek poll had him at the top of the heap of Democratic candidates with 14 percent of the vote, just ahead of Howard Dean and Joe Lieberman at 12 percent, and John Kerry at 10 percent. And in a head-to-head match-up with President Bush, Clark received 43 percent to Mr. Bush's 47 percent - better than any of the other Democratic candidates.

The low side came from confusion over his comments on how he would have voted on the Congressional resolution on Iraq. After telling reporters on Thursday that he probably would have voted for it, he said on Friday that he would have never have supported the war. These conflicting signals - and a lot of behind-the-scenes chortling by rival campaigns - are causing some of the big-money folks who've been curious about Clark to be a little cautious.

The Times says Clark has worked some of the big contributors in California and New York in recent days, lunching with Steven Spielberg and being feted by Rolling Stone's Jann Wenner, but so far neither has signed on. Many big donors are waiting for things to shake out and are putting a lot of stock in Clark's performance in this Thursday's Democratic debate.

Meanwhile, in Vermont, the Bat is back. Howard Dean has resurrected his successful fund-raising visual, a bat which monitors how much the campaign has raised. The goal is to bring in $5 million in the final ten days of this fund-raising period. Dean's surge came during this quarter and he's expected to lead the pack when the Sept. 30 returns are in. In fact, the Boston Globe reports that Dean's aides are predicting that they will "shatter" the Democratic record of $10.3 million in a single quarter raised by Bill Clinton in 1995.

The other campaigns are working like crazy to raise money in the final stretch using celebs, emails and gimmicks galore. On Monday, Rep. Dennis Kucinich's campaign is trying to raise money at 1000 house parties to mark the International Day of Peace, designated by the United Nations. "Some may raise $50, while others might raise $50,000 or more," said campaign spokesman Jeff Cohen.

Janklow Speaks: Rep. Bill Janklow spoke to reporters today for the first time since he was involved in a fatal Aug. 16 accident in which he allegedly ran a stop sign and killed a motorcyclist in rural Moody County, S.D. An emotional Janklow said he plans to return to Washington later in the day to get back to work, but has "no idea" if he'll run for re-election next year.

Janklow divulged very little to the press, refusing to address the details of the accident. He stated that he "couldn't be sorrier" for the August incident.

A low-key and slightly confused Janklow spoke mainly of the injuries he sustained to his head and right hand and of the support he has received from constituents and fellow congressmen. Janklow faces a felony second-degree manslaughter charge and must appear in court on Thursday in what may be the beginning of a long legal process that could effect the outcome of the state's 2004 election.

The former governor, a first-term congressman, made his first public appearance since a Sept. 2 court date. There is concern that the scandal will be tied to the state GOP, which is trying to unseat Senate Democratic Leader Tom Daschle in the 2004 election. Recent polling shows that 50 percent of voters want Janklow to resign if convicted, while 25 percent want him to retire after finishing his term.

In response to the question of public support, Janklow stated, "South Dakota is a jury, all of them. They're a jury. They want to hear the facts. I don't think they'll make up their mind on anything until the facts are laid out before them."

Michelman Steps Down: Kate Michelman announced Sunday that she plans to resign as head of NARAL, one of the nation's largest and most politically active pro-choice groups, after 18 years as head of the organization. Michelman said she's leaving to care for two ill family members.

Michelman will step down after the group's April 25 march in Washington in support of abortion rights.

"My family needs more of my attention than my current responsibilities enable me to give them, and after nearly two decades of pouring my heart and soul into this organization, I must now put them first," Michelman said.

Under Michelman's watch, the National Abortion and Reproductive Rights Action League has become an extremely influential pro-choice advocate, with broad reach in grassroots campaigning, television advertising, and fund-raising. But, in an interview with the New York Times, Michelman delivered one of those messages that has made NARAL's coffers so full. She said that despite NARAL's influence and work, abortion rights are in jeopardy in America.

"Women face today as grave a threat as ever to their Constitutional right to personal privacy and to a choice," she said. "Americans have become complacent in the belief that this right will never be taken away, and they are wrong."

Conservative activist Sandy Rios, president of Concerned Women for America, said of Michelman's claim that abortion rights are at risk: "While she mourns this, we consider this to be a new beginning where life and the preciousness of life can be restored in this country."

Political Week Ahead:

Monday 9/22:
President Bush met with Chinese Foreign Minister Li Zhaoxing; then tours the Virginia State police Academy in Richmond, where he participates in a damage briefing and tours the emergency operations center. Vice President Cheney headlines a Bush/Cheney fundraiser in Hartford, Conn. Retired Gen. Wesley Clark attended an event at Manny's restaurant in Charleston, S.C., then addresses students at The Citadel before traveling to NYC for a fundraiser. Rep. Dick Gephardt gave an agricultural policy speech in Prole, Iowa. Sen. Bob Graham attends three fundraisers in Florida. Sen. John Kerry speaks to the Detroit Economic Club. Rep. Dennis Kucinich keynotes a town hall meeting in Annapolis. Sen. Joe Lieberman and California Lt. Gov. Cruz Bustamante visit an English as a Second Language Printing and Manufacturing Class and meet with the press in San Francisco. Former Sen. Carol Moseley Braun formally entered the presidential race, and gives announcement speeches at Howard University in Washington, Benedict College in S.C., and the University of Illinois in Chicago. No public events scheduled for Dean, Edwards or Sharpton. Other: An 11-judge panel from the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals will hear arguments on whether to uphold a ruling by a smaller panel to postpone the recall election until March.

Tuesday 9/23:
President Bush is in New York for the UN General Assembly meeting; addresses the General Assembly in the morning and then meets with various world leaders including President Chirac of France. Vice President Cheney and headlines a Bush/Cheney fundraiser in Manchester. Clark gives brief remarks and takes questions from students at DePauw University in Greencastle, Ind. Ex-Vermont Gov. Howard Dean holds a rally and gives a speech in Boston. Sen. John Edwards attends a reception with supporters in McAlester, Okla. Gephardt attends a Democratic Reception in Davenport and then a national agricultural summit in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. Graham is in Washington, where he attends an LCV lunch, young professionals fundraiser and two additional fundraisers. Kerry holds a press conference in Manchester. Kucinich participates in a panel discussion entitled the "Ethical Revolution and the World Crisis" in New York. Lieberman and Gov. Gray Davis discuss homeland security in a press conference in Santa Ana, Calif. Rev. Al Sharpton participates in a forum with the Dalai Lama at Town Hall in New York.

Wednesday 9/24:
President Bush meets with world leaders and business CEOs before heading back to Washington. Dean attends the National Magazine Editor's Lunch at the Princeton Club in N.Y. Graham attends a young professionals reception and fundraising dinner in N.Y. Sharpton meets with Robert Johnson, the CEO of BET in N.Y.

Thursday 9/25:
All 10 Democratic candidates will attend the DNC-facilitated presidential debate at Pace University in New York City, sponsored by CNBC/Wall Street Journal. After the debate the DNC will hold a tribute dinner to the 2004 presidential candidates.

Friday 9/26:
President Bush hosts Vladimir Putin at Camp David. Graham attends fundraisers in N.Y. and Florida. No public events scheduled for Dean or Kerry.

Quote of the Day: "I'm disappointed the Gephardt has resorted to the politics of distortion and dishonesty." - Newt Gingrich, defending Howard Dean from attacks by Dick Gephardt linking Dean to Gingrich's attempts to reduce Medicare. (New York Times)