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Washington Wrap

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

Inside Out: Howard Dean may have started as an outsider, but he is now victim number two of a curse possibly more powerful than the Bambino's. In the first "Democratic Insiders Poll," released Friday in the National Journal, Dean is ranked first by a wide margin over the eight other presidential hopefuls.

The poll essentially shakes the field into four tiers, writes National Journal's Jim Barnes: Dean the leader; Richard Gephardt, John Kerry and Wesley Clark as "leading alternatives": John Edwards and Joe Lieberman as "long shots"; and finally those "with virtually no chance," Dennis Kucinich, Carol Moseley Braun and Al Sharpton.

The Insiders Poll, which will be conducted on a weekly basis until the Democratic nominee emerges, uses a process similar to the one that ranks teams in college football. In the pigskin version, college coaches rank the top 25 teams on who is most likely to win the national championship. In the Insiders Poll, 50 top Democratic strategists rank the nine contenders on a descending scale from nine to one. The 50 strategists' identities are known, but their votes are secret.

The poll taps the collective wisdom of some diverse professional pols: ex-Clinton staffers John Podesta and Doug Sosnick; pollsters Stan Greenberg and Mark Mellman; activists Deb Callahan of the League of Conservation Voters and Ellen Malcolm of EMILY's List; pols from key states like Rick Weiner, chief of staff to Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm; and some plugged-in members of Congress including DCCC chairman Bob Matsui of California; and former representatives like Vic Fazio, also of California. Some of the insiders are affiliated with presidential campaigns -- Mellman for Kerry, Bill Carrick for Gephardt and George Bruno for Clark -- but most of the 50 are armchair quarterbacks this time.

The pack mentality is rampant. Dean get 36 first place votes (or "nines"), representing well over half of the 50 insiders. And for all the talk of Democrats needing an alternative, the survey suggests that's unlikely at the moment. Dean's nearest rivals, Dick Gephardt and Wesley Clark, get only five first-place votes each. And John Kerry, once the putative frontrunner, receives a meager three.

Earlier incarnations of groups like these anointed Presidents Edmund Muskie, Birch Bayh, Mario Cuomo and Ted Kennedy, so we'll see if this generation does any better.

NH Hot Water (With Honey and Lemon): Wesley Clark may have some explaining to do over his connection to Tyco International, the New Hampshire company that moved its headquarters to Bermuda in 1995 to skirt paying millions in federal taxes.

The Nashua Telegraph reports that last fall, when Clark was managing director of merchant banking for the Stephens Group, his company bought more than 50,000 of Tyco stock. The Stephens Group also purchased another 25,000 shares during the first three months of this year. Clark left Stephens at the end of February 2003.

This revelation comes two days after the Clark campaign announced its economic plan in which it says: "He'll also close loopholes in the tax code, like the ones that allow companies to avoid taxes by shifting income to Bermuda."

New Hampshire GOP spokeswoman Julie Teer responded quickly to the Clark news. "He has not done his homework and we've seen time and again over the last month that General Clark is just not ready for this assignment."

But Clark's folks, trying to diffuse an issue that was huge in the 2002 New Hampshire Senate race between former Democratic Gov. Jeanne Shaheen and Republican Sen. John Sununu, say he had nothing to do with the stock purchases. Campaign consultants say that polls show that voters despise "off-shore companies which take advantage of tax loopholes" and "Washington lobbyists," so expect these charges to be hurled early and often at Clark.

"He had nothing to do with the Tyco investments," Clark spokeswoman Kym Spell told CBS News. "They're grasping at straws here. They're trying to link him to anything they can find."

Coincidentally, John Kerry is holding a campaign event outside of Tyco in Exeter, N.H. on Friday where, originally, he was supposed to talk about corporate greed.

Speaking of campaigning, the New York Times reports that Clark has been having a lot of trouble doing that lately because of a string of bad health – a cold, a viral infection and laryngitis.

His campaign schedule has been a series of cancellations and changed plans because, most recently, his voice has been too weak to hold full-scale events.

On Wednesday, he had enough of his voice to give an economic speech in Manchester, N.H., telling his audience to "bear with him." Later that day, he wound up losing his voice entirely and by Thursday, he was whispering, using pad and pen to communicate, and nursing his throat with hot water, honey and lemon.

Campaign 2003: Two surprising endorsements were announced in the Kentucky and Mississippi gubernatorial races on Thursday and a surprising admission from the FBI in Philadelphia regarding the mayor's race.

In Kentucky, Democrat Ben Chandler picked up the Teamsters endorsement, despite the fact that he indicted two of the union's officials after the 1995 gubernatorial race, the AP reports. The AP reports that Chandler's investigation into illegal campaign spending by the Teamsters officials after the 1995 race was one of the highest-profile of his tenure as state attorney general. (Gov. Paul Patton, whose own chief of staff was indicted in the scandal, earlier this year pardoned all four people indicted in the probe.)

Teamsters Joint Council 94 President Jerry Vincent told the AP that was water under the bridge. "He did what he had to do as attorney general, it was his job," Vincent said.

Chandler said of the endorsement, which could rally the 40,000 Teamsters in Kentucky, "I think that you would say it's a little bit ironic. But I think that the Teamsters realize, like so many other people, that there's so much more at stake here."

Meanwhile, down in Mississippi, the National Rifle Association announced that its endorsement of Democratic Gov. Ronnie Musgrove in his re-election fight against uber-lobbyist and former Republican National Committee Chairman Haley Barbour. The NRA (not typically a Democratic-leaning organization) says that both Musgrove and Barbour received the group's "superior" rating and when that happens, its nod generally goes to the incumbent.

Barbour's spokesman, Quinton Dickerson, told the Jackson Clarion-Ledger: "I think we all know Haley is pro-Second Amendment, he always has been. When he was (RNC) chairman, he was very supportive of Second Amendment rights."

In other Nov. 4 election news, the Philadelphia Inquirer reports that former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani went to Philadelphia on Thursday to raise a last-minute $300,000 for GOP mayoral nominee Sam Katz. On the same day, Mayor John Street campaigned with DNC Chairman Terry McAuliffe and Democratic strategist/talking head James Carville.

The Inquirer also reports that the FBI did not record any "incriminating words" on the device it planted in the mayor's office. Federal prosecutors have said the bug was part of an investigation into possible corruption at City Hall. FBI special agent Jeffery Lampinski said "No one regrets more so than the investigators on this case that this device was uncovered in the midst of the election."

Run Hillary Run: She keeps saying no, no, no … but Bob Kunst, president of Hillarynow.com, just won't take that for an answer. Armed with signs, flyers, bumper stickers and buttons, Kunst showed up at the Jefferson-Jackson dinner in New Hampshire on Thursday to spread his message. And he's not stopping there.

On Friday, Kunst is taking his "Run, Hillary Run" table to the Big Apple and plans to park himself in Times Square to spread the word. He's convinced his message is working and so, with or without Hillary, he plans to soldier on.

They've got volunteers, he claims, and the fourth Wednesday of every month is set aside to spread her message, so now all they need is the candidate. And, members of the various "Draft Hillary for President" movements are hoping that what worked for the Wesley Clark supporters will prove lucky for them.

"We're hot, hot hot, I mean sizzling" Kunst wrote in an e-mail to potential supporters. He warned them not to expect any help from DNC Chair Terry McAuliffe "She ain't running" McAuliffe told Knust on Thursday night. Kunst brushed him off as just someone who doesn't want the New York senator to run until 2012.

Quote of the Day: "If Mayor Bloomberg spent as much time on the economy as he spends making lists, New York City would be much better off." --Colorado Rep. Tom Tancredo's spokesman on the New York mayor's alleged "enemies list" of fellow Republicans. Bloomberg's blacklist, supplied by his aides to the New York Post, says New Yorkers shouldn't donate campaign cash to Tancredo or House Majority Leader Tom DeLay of Texas, Mark Kennedy of Minnesota or Charlie Norwood of Georgia.