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Washington Wrap

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


Thursday's Headlines

* Poll Watch: Feb. 3 Looms Ahead

* Where Are Your Ads Running?

* Wesley Clark: From Lobbyist to Politician
* RNC Chair Gillespie Takes a Swipe at Kerry, Again

* Bush Visits N.H. After Months of Pummeling by Potential Rivals

* Lieberman Gets Arizona Republic's Nod, But Home-State Paper Says 'Get Out Now'

* Dean Campaign Regroups

Poll Watch: Look Ahead to Feb. 3 and Beyond: Now that all eyes are firmly focused on Feb. 3 and Feb. 7, polls from the states voting on those dates take on new meaning. Although these polls were conducted before the New Hampshire primary, they show what terrain the candidates need to deal with as they move ahead. For example, a poll from the Arizona Republic (conducted Jan. 21-22; margin of error 4.3 percent) shows Kerry leading the pack, but with 34 percent of voters undecided. The American Research Group poll (conducted Jan. 23-25; margin of error 4 percent) also shows Kerry up by 3 points and Edwards besting Dean for third.

As pollster Dick Bennett writes, since December "Kerry has gained 18 percentage points in ballot preference … Edwards has gained 14 … Clark has gained 6 … Dean has lost 16 percentage points."

A similar trend is evident in Oklahoma: the American Research Group (conducted Jan. 23-25; margin of error 4 percent) shows Clark leading, but Edwards and Kerry both gaining 15 points since December. In South Carolina, ARG shows Edwards leading Kerry by four, with Dean dropping into fifth.

In Missouri, suddenly in play for all the campaigns, a Kansas City Star/KMBC poll (conducted Jan. 20-25; margin of error 6 percent) shows that the largest group of voters in the Show Me State are undecided, 35 percent. The only candidate out of double digits is Kerry with 25 percent; Edwards takes 9 percent and Dean just 6. And in Michigan, a state that Dean's team believes he should do well in, a new EPIC/MCA poll (conducted Jan. 20-25; margin of error 5 percent) also has bad news for Dean. Although Dean led there in December, Kerry now has a 23-point lead, with 37 percent to Dean's 14. Clark and Edwards are tied for third with 10 points.

A Kerry adviser told CBS News that their polling showed Kerry is in particularly strong shape in states, like Missouri, where no one had campaigned or advertised before this week, and competitive in places, like South Carolina and Arizona, where others had run TV ads. "We got for free what the others paid for," he said.

Arizona Republic 1/21-22 (528 interviews)
Kerry 19
Clark 17
Dean 14
Edwards 9
Lieberman 6
Undecided 34

ARG – Arizona 1/23-25 (600 interviews)
Kerry 24
Clark 21
Edwards 15
Dean 10
Lieberman 7
Undecided 23

ARG – Oklahoma 1/23-25 (600 interviews)
Clark 23
Edwards 18
Kerry 17
Lieberman 10
Undecided 22

ARG – South Carolina 1/23-25 (600 interviews)
Edwards 21
Kerry 17
Sharpton 15
Clark 14
Lieberman 5
Undecided 18

Kansas City Star/KMBC 1/20-25 (600 interviews)
Undecided 35
Kerry 25
Edwards 9
Dean 6
Clark 3

EPIC/MCA 1/20-25 (400 interviews)
Kerry 37
Dean 14
Clark 10
Edwards 10
Lieberman 5
Undecided 16

Let the Ads Begin: Leaving behind the retail politics of the Granite State, the Democratic presidential hopefuls must now compete in a more wholesale way, with a heavy emphasis on television advertising. The Kerry campaign, flush from its two wins and an infusion of momentum-driven cash, has announced that it will run ads in all seven of the Feb. 3 states, the Boston Globe reports. At least two of his ads will feature Kerry's Vietnam crewmates. Telegraphing how pleased it is at the front-runner status, Kerry campaign manager Mary Beth Cahill said confidently, "We'll compete in every state."

Other campaigns, trying to conserve their campaign coffers, are picking and choosing where to go on the air. In South Carolina, New Mexico and Oklahoma, John Edwards and Wesley Clark will join Kerry on the air. According to the Washington Post, the campaigns have each purchased between $400,000 and $500,000 worth of ads in those states. Edwards will battle Kerry on the air in Missouri to the tune of $120,000. That's $40,000 more than the $80,000 Kerry has already committed to the delegate-rich (and television-expensive) state. Among others, the Edwards camp will be running "Two Americas," his signature ad touting his ability to bridge the gap between the haves and the have-nots.

In Arizona, Kerry ads will go up against Clark, who will pour $203,000 into the state; in addition, Joe Lieberman has purchased $31,000 worth of ads there. Lieberman will have smaller buys in Oklahoma and South Carolina, the Post reports, including "Bold," an ad about middle-class tax cuts. Other campaigns have not disclosed what ads they will be running.

Howard Dean had been advertising in several Feb.3 states but pulled back his on-air presence right before New Hampshire voted. Hoping to save money, Dean's campaign announced Wednesday that it would no longer advertise in those states, "focusing instead on the Feb. 7 caucuses in Michigan and Washington state," which vote on Feb. 7, the Washington Post reports. The decision to target certain states and not other is a major shift for the Dean camp, which before his poor showing in Iowa and New Hampshire had "pointedly contrasted his 'national' campaign with the more targeted bids of his opponents," the Post concludes.

That's more good news for the senator from Massachusetts; as Kerry's momentum builds, his ads won't even have to compete with Dean's through Feb. 3.

From K Street With Love: During a 34-year military career, Wesley Clark moved 31 times, but in the 42 months between his resignation from the Army and the start of his presidential campaign in September, he was able to make money in a "time-honored" way in Washington – by trading on his name, reports The Washington Post.

By his own accounts, Clark's lobbying efforts were one of many business activities that increased his income nearly 20-fold in 3½ years. The most lucrative of these arrangements were with the politically connected investment banking firms Goldman Sachs in New York and Stephens Inc. in Little Rock.

However, one of Clark's biggest successes in his brief lobbying career came when the Department of Homeland Security subcontracted Acxicom, a Little Rock firm, to help create CAPPS II, a passenger-screening database considered one of the largest surveillance programs ever devised. The government has since delayed implementing the program, in part because of privacy concerns.

In 2002, Clark's military retirement pay was $85,909. But thanks to his lobbying work and more than $1 million he eared in speaking fees, not to mention his stint as a military commentator on CNN, his post-retirement income totals at least $2.4 million. But even with a figure like that, and declared assets of $2.6 to $6 million, according to financial disclosure forms, he still doesn't top the list of presidential hopefuls.

With the Center for Public Integrity citing John Edwards and John Kerry's assets of $8.7 million to $36.5 million, and $198.7 million to $839 million, respectively, Clark's money is child's play. Howard Dean has declared assets of $2.1 million to $5 million.

Gillespie Hits Kerry, Again: Republican National Committee Chairman Ed Gillespie takes another swipe at Democratic frontrunner John Kerry on Thursday in a speech at the RNC Winter Meeting in Washington. In remarks prepared for delivery, Gillespie says of Kerry: "Sen. Kerry's record of service in our military is honorable. But his long record in the Senate is one of advocating policies that would weaken our national security."

Gillespie's latest comments come on the heels of ones he made last week labeling Kerry as more liberal than his Senate counterpart, Ted Kennedy.

Gillespie, benefiting from research done by the crack RNC oppo team into practically every vote he's made in the Senate or on national security issues, says in his speech that Kerry's "long Senate record belies his assertion that his approach to national security will make us safer as a nation."

Of Kerry's calls in the 1980s for limiting the testing, production and deployment, Gillespie says: "John Kerry opposed the philosophy that led to victory in the Cold War."

The AP reports that the latest Bush-Cheney salvo is part of a coordinated effort to prepare "for the possibility it will confront a war hero" in November. Bush-Cheney spokesman Terry Holt tells the AP: "This week's frontrunner is very much like the frontrunner of two weeks ago: A Northeast liberal who motivates his support based on anger and negativity."

There is some concern, however, that attacking Kerry could backfire. The GOP's hits on Dean might have worked a bit too well, the AP reports. "Some of Bush's political advisers take credit for successfully tarring Dean as an angry liberal, and now they are suffering a kind of buyer's remorse. They wonder whether their criticism fueled the rise of Kerry – a more formidable candidate, in the estimation of some campaign officials."

If the criticism somehow works well enough to slow Kerry's march to the nomination, the alternative could be John Edwards, "a candidate some Bush campaign officials fear even more." The officials say Edwards' campaign theme – ending the "two Americas," one for the rich and one for everyone else – "could have broad appeal."

In addition to the GOP and the Bush campaign on Kerry, one conservative website also attacks Edwards on Thursday for his past job as a plaintiffs' lawyer. The story, on www.cnsnews.com, alleges that Edwards won cases using questionable science. Should he remain in the hunt for the nomination, you can bet there will be plenty of digging into Edwards' trial lawyer past. (You might recall even the White House dubbed a tort reform event in 2002 as "Whack John Edwards Day.")

All of this could lead one to wonder if a really worrisome prospect for the GOP is a Kerry-Edwards ticket.

Bush Does Damage Control in Granite State: Two days after the Democratic hopefuls faced off in New Hampshire, President Bush visited the state Thursday to talk about the economy and to polish his image after months of pummeling by the Democrats, the AP reports.

In Merrimack, the president stopped off at an investment consulting firm to press an economic agenda that would make his tax cuts permanent. The president argues that eliminating uncertainty would contribute to job growth, while Democrats vying to replace him say the tax cuts have done little to boost employment and have led to record deficits.

Not surprisingly, Mr. Bush was the victor in New Hampshire's Republican primary Tuesday, garnering 85 percent of votes against a combination of local candidates and write-in Democrats. But he suffered through six months of negative ads and fiery anti-Bush speeches from his prospective rivals. Bush won New Hampshire in 2000 by less than 1 percent and the state could be a swing state again in 2004.

Mr. Bush made a second stop in New England Thursday - attending a re-election fund-raiser in Greenwich, Ct. He has more than $130 million, a sizable a war chest that will allow him to hammer the Democrats between now and August.

A Tale of Two Papers: At a time when Joe Lieberman's campaign has lost all momentum, if not all chance at success, the Arizona Republic has endorsed Lieberman for president declaring, "A vote for Joe Lieberman would be a fresh message, not an echo."

Meanwhile, in Joe's own backyard, the Hartford Courant has discouraged Lieberman's campaign, asserting "Mr. Lieberman should return to his job as U.S. senator from Connecticut."

Such criticism has not deterred Lieberman, who is focusing all his energy and resources in Delaware and Oklahoma for the Feb. 3 primaries and caucuses. Commenting on television Tuesday night, Bob Dole said, "When the party's over, you ought to leave. It looks as if the party may be over for my good friend Joe."

Dean Campaign Regroups: The outsider candidate Howard Dean, who once compared members of Congress to cockroaches, has given over the day-to-day running of this campaign to a former telecommunications lobbyist and former White House deputy chief of staff, Roy Neel. One Dean adviser told CBS News that a fear inside the campaign is that Dean is doing this to placate big money folks "who are no longer giving us money" at the risk of hurting the grassroots, internet supporters who have continues to be loyal throughout this bad patch."

Quote of the Day: "Absolutely. I've never even heard of it ... I've never even heard of it." – John Kerry on denying having Botox injections to smooth his wrinkles. Kerry's wife, Theresa Heinz Kerry, enthusiastically - and publicly - touted the benefits of Botox in Elle Magazine last year. (WRKO, New York Post)

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