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Washington Wrap

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

Halliburton Hullabaloo: A congressional report is raising questions about Vice President Dick Cheney's assertion that he's cut all ties with Halliburton Co., the energy company he once headed.

The Congressional Research Service has determined that federal ethics laws consider Cheney's deferred compensation checks and unexercised stock options from Halliburton as continuing financial interests in the company, despite Cheney's claim earlier this month that he "severed all my ties with the company, gotten rid of al my interests."

The AP says that the report, which did not specifically mention Cheney or Halliburton and did not suggest any illegality, concluded that unexercised stock options and deferred salary "are among those benefits described by the Office of Government Ethics as 'retained ties' or 'linkages' to one's former employer."

Critics have said Cheney's 433,333 unexercised options of Halliburton stock and his deferred compensation checks for $147,579 in 2001 and $162,392 in 2002 are inappropriate. He will continue to receive deferred compensation from Halliburton for the next three years.

Cheney spokeswoman Catherine Martin told The Washington Post, "The vice president has no financial interest in Halliburton. He has no stake in the company. He will in not benefit from the rise or fall of Halliburton's stock price or the success or failure of the company."

The Post reports that Cheney's office says the deferred compensation stems from an insurance policy the vice president bought so he'd be paid regardless of whether Halliburton failed. Cheney's office also said the vice president has agreed to contribute any after-tax proceeds from the stock options to three different charities.

Cheney's connection to Halliburton has been highlighted in recent months, in part, because of the large role the company is taking in the re-building of Iraq. The Houston-based company has been awarded more than $2 billion in federal contracts, including $1.22 billion that was given to the company in a non-competitive bidding process.

Women Flooding The Davis Zone: Following on the heels of Bill Clinton, Al Gore and several of the Democratic presidential candidates, former Texas Gov. Ann Richards is in West Hollywood today at a women's event to rally against the recall of Gov. Gray Davis.

Richards will join other female California elected officials at the event where talk of Republican Arnold Schwarzenegger's zinger at Arianna Huffington is likely to be the main course.

Huffington accused Schwarzenegger of trying to cut her off and said, "This is the way you treat women, We know that." Schwarzenegger responded, "I realized I have the perfect part for you in Terminator 4."

Huffington later suggested that was a reference to a scene in Terminator 3 in which Schwarzenegger's character shoved a female robot's head into a toilet.

"Where this could hurt him is if the exchange becomes a catalyst for discussion about Arnold and women in general," Arnold Steinberg, a GOP consultant and pollster who is not working for a candidate in the race, told the AP.

Interestingly, according to recent campaign finance filings, a pro-Schwarzenegger political action committee called Women for Arnold had just eight donors – and only three of them were women, and none of the women were from California.

Overall, the candidates have spent $50 million on the recall, with Schwarzenegger blowing away his rivals in fund-raising, having collected $13.6 million so far. Democratic Lt. Gov. Cruz Bustamante trails Schwarzenegger, having raised $9.4 million. Schwarzenegger's Republican rival state Sen. Tom McClintock brought in $1.6 million and Huffington collected $728,736. The Los Angeles Times reports that Davis has raised $9 million this year as well.

Meantime, Schwarzenegger yesterday responded to a head-to-head debate challenge by Davis, who said he's "prepared to debate" Schwarzenegger "if he doesn't set the record straight" about Davis' administration and record.

Schwarzenegger spokesman Todd Harris laughed off the notion of a one-on-one debate between the two, telling the San Francisco Chronicle, "This is clearly a desperate 11th-hour attempt to shake things up. …My guess is that the governor watched the debate last night, realized he was in trouble and needed to do something to try to change the dynamic of this campaign."

What's In a Name? Retired Gen. Wesley Clark turned heads last week after entering the Democratic primary race and instantly zooming to the top of the national polls. But, according to the Wall Street Journal, two recent Iowa polls show that when the title of General is removed from his name, very few actually know who Clark is. An independent SurveyUSA poll and polls conducted by the Edwards and Gephardt campaigns show Clark in fifth place, trailing Gephardt, Dean, Kerry, and Edwards. The Wall Street Journal's "Washington Wire" says, "Pollsters note former Gen. Clark leads only in surveys where he is named by his military title."

However, a new poll sponsored by WisPolitics.com among "core Democratic primary voters" in Wisconsin has Clark at the top with 18 percent followed by Lieberman at 14 percent, Dean at 13 percent and Gephardt at 11 percent. University of Wisconsin associate professor and the poll's manager, Ken Goldstein, says he did not use Clark's title or anyone else's but notes that right now name recognition is driving all these numbers.

Weekend Ahead:

Friday 9/26:
President Bush hosts Vladimir Putin at Camp David. Wesley Clark campaigns for the first time in N.H, making stops at Merrimack Restaurant to meet with supporters and hosts an open forum at New England College. Howard Dean campaigns in Washington, receives endorsements from three D.C. Council Members at a local high school, meets with the AP editorial board and closes the day with a reception sponsored by the Congressional Black Caucus. John Edwards campaigns in Providence, R.I. and Washington. Dick Gephardt fundraises in Washington and Kansas City. Bob Graham attends one fundraiser in N.Y. and two fundraisers in Florida. John Kerry met with volunteers in N.Y. and with union workers at local CSEA 1000 at the AFSCME HQ, and then hosts a reception for members of the CBC in Washington. Dennis Kucinich meets with supporters in Denver and then campaigns at the Community College of Denver. Carol Moseley Braun attends CBC receptions. Al Sharpton attended a black caucus legislative meeting in DC. Joe Lieberman is in Connecticut, with no public events scheduled.

Saturday 9/27:
Clark in New Hampshire. Meets with members of the Manchester Fire Department and Rescue Squad; state Democratic Party staff members and supporters in Dover; then heads to Dover Police Station and discusses homeland security. He finishes up the day in Washington, where he will attend the CBC dinner. Dean campaigns in Iowa, is greeted by 80 "Rangers" in Iowa City, then speaks to the annual Johnson County Democrats barbeque, headlines a fundraiser for State Rep. Cindy Winckler in Davenport and holds a "September to Remember" rally at Union Station. Edwards campaigns in Columbia, S.C. Gephardt also in Columbia, S.C., where he attends a tailgate party with supporters before watching the South Carolina State University v. Benedict College Football game; then heads to Washington for the CBC dinner. Graham also attends the football game and then keynotes a Young Democrats Rally in Columbia. Kerry campaigns in Iowa with Sen. Ted Kennedy; makes health care speeches in Des Moines and Waterloo and then attends Johnson County Democratic BBQ in Iowa City. Kucinich campaigns in California, attends a brunch with supporters, a town-hall meeting and panel discussions in San Francisco and finishes the day up with a panel discussion in Oakland. Moseley Braun attends a prayer breakfast and reception in Washington before heading to the CBC awards dinner.

Sunday 9/28:
Dean continues to campaign in Iowa; starts off the day with appearance on CBS News' "Face The Nation"; delivers a health care speech in Dubuque; holds an activist event in Jackson County and then a fundraiser for State Rep. Polly Bukta in Clinton. Gephardt campaigns in N.H, addressing seniors and local voters in Manchester and attending house parties in Hampton and Rochester. Kucinich continues to campaign in California and attends a fundraiser in La Verne. Lieberman fundraises Sunday evening in Connecticut.

Quote of the Day: "I don't know why you'd ask a snake to come visit you." – Louisiana Gov. Mike Foster, when asked whether French President Jacques Chirac would attend ceremonies on Dec. 20 to celebrate the 1803 Louisiana Purchase. (Baton Rouge Advocate)