Washington Wrap

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.

New New Hampshire Polls: A day after the Democrats' debate in Detroit, the candidates are analyzing two polls that continue to show Howard Dean with a huge lead in New Hampshire.

In a poll done for the Boston Globe and Boston CBS affiliate WBZ, Dean continues to lead in New Hampshire with 37 percent of Democrats and independents supporting him. Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., is 13 points back at 24 percent.

Trailing Dean and Kerry are Sen. John Edwards at 9 percent, retired Gen. Wesley Clark at 8 percent, Rep. Dick Gephardt at 7 percent, Sen. Joe Lieberman at 5 percent, Rep. Dennis Kucinich at 3 percent and Rev. Al Sharpton and former Sen. Carol Moseley Braun, both at less than 1 percent. The survey was taken by KRC/Communications Research from Oct. 20 to Oct. 22 and has a margin of error of plus or minus five points.

This poll comes on the heels of a Zogby poll, taken from Oct. 21 to Oct. 23, that shows Dean even further ahead of Kerry, 40 to 17 percent.

Another trouble spot seems to be emerging for Kerry in the Globe/WBZ poll. Asked which Democrat had the best chance of beating President Bush, 35 percent said Dean and 20 percent said Kerry. Six weeks ago, Dean and Kerry were essentially tied on that question. As the Globe reports, that's good news for Dean, since New Hampshire "voters seem to be making their decision as much by gauging a candidate's ability to win a national race as by the policies they support."

The Globe also reports that Joe Lieberman's campaign isn't doing well in the Granite State. Support for the Connecticut senator and 2000 Democratic vice presidential candidate, "who was once touted as the national front-runner, has grown substantially worse in recent weeks, one of several signs that New Hampshire voters are turning against candidates who have not gained momentum so far." In the latest survey, 28 percent reported having a favorable opinion of Lieberman and 42 percent said they regarded him unfavorably. That's an almost complete reversal from six weeks ago when 46 percent viewed him favorably and 25 percent did not.

"Dean has a solid base of support; it's larger than Kerry's solid base of support -- and after that, it's wide open," said Gerry Chervinsky, president of the Newton-based polling firm that conducted the survey.

Get Into A Higher Tax Bracket: While Sunday night's debate included lots of talk about Democrats as the party of the middle class, some party activists are earning salaries that put them firmly in the upper-tax brackets. As the Boston Herald reports, top Democratic National Committee staffers are earning huge salaries, all at taxpayer expense. According to DNC documents, convention CEO Rod O'Connor is earning $190,000 for 15 months of work, convention Chair Alice Huffman will make $130,000 for 13 months of part-time work, director of operations Cameron Moody nets $115,000 for 14 months and communications director Stephanie Cutter is making $100,000. And many of these salaries will run for several months after the convention concludes.

To put the salaries in perspective, CEO O'Connor makes more than the average congressman (about $158,000), more than the average family practice doctor ($149,000) and way more than the average astronaut ($78,000). At $190,000, O'Connor's salary is about four times as much as the average teacher ($44,400) and almost five times as much as the average police officer ($39,000).

While Cutter told the Herald that the DNC feels "lucky to have hired the caliber of people we did at these salaries," some conventioneers might easily cry foul. To win the convention bid, Boston's host committee pledged to raise about $30 million to fund the nominating party. But instead of those monies paying for a great Democratic show, much of it is being used to pay for things like Huffman's $40,000-a-year scheduler. With these salaries, party activists might wonder how well their contributions – intended to augment the $14.88 million available to each national party in federal funding - are being spent. As Don Simon, counsel for Common Cause told the Herald, "The DNC is free to fritter away its federal funds on exorbitant salaries because they know the Boston 2004 host committee is lining up private donors to fund critical convention functions."

Probably not what Boston's host committee meant when Mayor Menino called the convention "an important economic development tool."

Wanted In Georgia: Democrats The daughter of former Sen. Sam Nunn, D-Ga., has decided against running for Senate in 2004, sending Democrats scrambling to find someone to hold onto Georgia's open seat.

Michelle Nunn announced Friday that she would not try to succeed retiring Sen. Zell Miller, D-Ga., citing personal reasons. "In the next few years, I believe that my primary focus is best directed toward my 11-month-old son and family," said the 36-year-old Nunn, who has never run for political office.

"We think Michelle Nunn would have been a good candidate, but we respect her decision," said state Democratic Party chairman Calvin Smyre. "We expect to run a strong campaign for the U.S. Senate and to retain Sen. Miller's seat for the Democratic party."

In addition to Nunn, former Atlanta Mayor Andrew Young, Lt. Gov. Mark Taylor and Secretary of State Cathy Cox have all declined to run. The only Democrat to throw a hat into the ring is state Sen. Mary Squires, who has $533 on hand as of Sept. 30, according to campaign finance records. On the other hand, Rep. Johnny Isakson, R-Ga., the leading GOP fund-raiser, has $3.03 million in the bank. The other Republicans in the race are Rep. Mac Collins and businessmen Herman Cain and Al Bartell.

Now the Democrats are turning their attention to former Sen. Max Cleland, D-Ga., who lost his re-election bid in 2002 and has indicated he was "not inclined" to run, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. The other name that has surfaced is state Rep. DuBose Porter, who had said he would wait to decide until Nunn made up her mind.

Meantime, the race to succeed retiring Sen. Ernest "Fritz" Hollings, D-S.C., may get another high-profile candidate: former GOP Gov. David Beasley.

"My wife and I and the children are going to have to give some great thought to it and listen to some of my friends and neighbors across South Carolina," Beasley told the Charleston Post and Courier. "I love my family, my state and my country. I've got to figure out how to best serve all three, with my family being the priority."

Beasley, who lost his 1998 re-election bid, would face former state Attorney General Charlie Condon, Rep. Jim DeMint, Myrtle Beach Mayor Mark McBride and real estate developer Thomas Ravenel. Democrats running include state Education Superintendent Inez Tenenbaum and political consultant Marcus Belk.

Beasley said he's encouraged and flattered by polls that show him winning a GOP primary, reports the AP. In a poll commissioned by consultant Richard Quinn, Beasley had 24 percent and Lt. Gov. Bob Peeler, who has said he's not running, received 14 percent; Condon and DeMint followed with 8 percent each. The poll also shows Beasley beating Tenenbaum by 10 points in the general election.

Hillary On The Mind: Three years before Sen. Hillary Clinton, D-N.Y., seeks re-election, Senate Republicans have already begun a recruiting battle to find a candidate to unseat her. According to Roll Call, the Republican strategy is spearheaded by her unrivaled fundraising powers and the chance that she may throw her hat into the presidential ring in 2008.

By starting early, Republicans are sure they can mount a viable challenge to Clinton in 2006 and avoid their current situation in the Empire State, where senior Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., is running virtually unchallenged in 2004.

Two of the strongest names that keep getting thrown around are Gov. George Pataki and former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani. According to a GOP source the "Dream Team" ticket would be both of the men running, with Pataki giving up the governor's mansion, so Giuliani could run, and Pataki running for Senate. Another possibility is a rematch of the Clinton-Giuliani race that never got a chance to play out because Guiliani had to drop out of the 2000 race after discovering he had prostate cancer.

None of this comes as much of a surprise to Clinton advisers or supporters who are used to GOP attacks. "It's obviously been no secret to us that she'll be huge target in '06, if not the No. 1 target," said Patti Solis Doyle, executive director of HillPac, Clinton's leadership political action committee.

In her first campaign in 2000, Clinton raised more than $30 million, despite the fact that individual contributions limits were 50 percent lower than they are now and she didn't start raising money until the spring of 1999. As for her 2006 war chest, she used her book tour to kick off her fundraising efforts and pulled in almost $1.3 million in the third quarter of this year, putting her total to more than $3.5 million since early 2001. Doyle wouldn't say what the campaign's fundraising goals are, but she said Clinton would continue to raise money for her re-election bid at the current pace and get more aggressive as the race gets closer.

Quote of the Day: "I'm glad somebody welcomed me back. I better call on you first next time." -President Bush, responding Monday to a reporter who welcomed him back from his Asia trip before asking a question.