|George Bush||Dick Cheney|||||Wesley Clark||Howard Dean||John Edwards||John Kerry||Joe Lieberman||Ralph Nader|||||Make This Your Home Page!|
A decade after California sought greater clout by moving its presidential primaries earlier on the political calendar, voters in the nation's largest state could finally play the pivotal role in deciding who wins a major party nomination.
The March 2 California Democratic primary looms as a potentially decisive contest between a field of two or three contenders left standing from the current crop of nine candidates, according to campaign strategists and political experts.
|Kerry: Death penalty for Osama bin Laden : Dec. 28,2003|
Speaking to reporters after his speech, Kerry said of Dean's bin Laden remark: "The question asked [to Dean] was, do you believe Osama bin Laden should be tried in the United States and given the death penalty? The answer to both questions is a simple yes. Yes and Yes."
A Dean aide cited another recent interview in which Dean said: "As a president, I would have to defend the process of the rule of law. But as an American, I want to make sure he gets the death penalty he deserves."
Dean recently issued a statement clarifying his position on bin Laden, after a newspaper account suggested he thought the Al Qaeda leader could be innocent. All he meant, Dean said, was that everyone, including terrorists, deserves a fair trial.
|John Edwards on southern values : Dec. 26,2003|
But Edwards began attacking Dean earlier this month for seeking to “duck the values debate,” which Edwards said is important to Southern voters. “Some in my party want to duck the values debate,” Edwards said in a recent speech. “They want to say to America, ‘We’re not interested in your values; we want to change the subject to anything else.’ That’s wrong,” he said. “You can’t tell voters what to believe or what to vote on. Where I come from, voters are looking for answers, not attitude.”
Although Edwards has expressed strong support for gay civil rights issues, his latest comments on “values” could be seen as a coded message, distancing himself from gay rights as the campaign approaches the Southern primaries. Most political observers say Edwards is scrambling to gain momentum in the South Carolina primary, where polls show Dean leading the pack by a close margin. A loss in the Southern primaries would likely force Edwards to drop out of the race, political observers have said.
Edwards, Dean and four other Democratic presidential candidates have said they do not support gay civil marriage but also oppose a constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage. The only Democratic candidates to come out in favor of same-sex marriage are three candidates barely registering in the polls: U.S. Rep. Dennis Kucinich of Ohio, former Sen. Carol Moseley Braun of Illinois and New York’s Rev. Al Sharpton.
|Dean touts a 'Jesus strategy' : Dec. 25,2003|
Howard B. Dean, the front-runner for the Democratic presidential nomination who had said little about the role of religion in politics, yesterday said he is a committed follower of Jesus Christ and suggested that this would be a winning campaign issue. Dean said he will start mentioning God and Christ as the campaign moves into the South.
The 55-year-old physician, who is a member of the Congregationalist Church, said he does not attend church often, but prays daily. His wife is Jewish, and their two children adopted the Jewish faith. Jesus is an important influence in his life, he said, and he probably will talk to voters about how Jesus has served as a "model" for him. "Christ was someone who sought out people who were disenfranchised, people who were left behind," he said. "He fought against self-righteousness of people who had everything. ... He was a person who set an extraordinary example that has lasted 2,000 years."
The Boston Globe reported that Dean has talked of his religious beliefs to one black congregation in South Carolina, where about half of the expected primary votes will be cast by blacks. "In a rhythmic tone notably different from his usual stampede through policy points," the newspaper reported, the former Vermont governor said: "In this house of the Lord, we know that the power rests in God's hands and in Jesus' hands for helping us. But the power also is on this, God's earth. Remember Jesus said, 'Render unto God those things that are God's but unto Caesar those things that are Caesar's.' In this political season, there is also other power. Not as important or as strong as the power of Jesus, but it's important power in the world of politics and the world of Caesar."
Dean's mother is a Roman Catholic, and he was raised in the Episcopal faith like his father, a warden in the Episcopal church that the family attended near their weekend home in East Hampton, N.Y. The son attended St. George's, a boarding school in Newport, R.I., where he went to church "literally every day and twice on Sunday."
"My father used to tell us how much strength he got from religion," he told the Globe, "but we didn't have Bible readings. There are traditions where people do that. We didn't. People in the Northeast don't talk about their religion. It's a very personal, private matter, and that's the tradition I was brought up in."
Other Democratic candidates have talked of their religious faith on the stump. Rep. Richard A. Gephardt, a Southern Baptist, has described the recovery of his son from a serious illness as "a gift of God." Sen. Joe Lieberman, an Orthodox Jew who will not campaign on Saturday, the Jewish Sabbath, scolded his rivals for forgetting "that faith was central to our founding and remains central to our national purposes." The Rev. Al Sharpton, who has pulled into a tie for second place in one South Carolina public-opinion poll, is an ordained Pentecostal minister and often campaigns in pulpits.
|Ralph Nader won’t run as a Green : Dec. 24,2003|
Nader, who garnered nearly 3 percent of the national vote in the last presidential election, has not ruled out running for president as an independent. He plans to decide by January.
Nader, a consumer activist, appeared on many Democrats’ hate list after the 2000 election. Gore, the former vice president and 2000 Democratic nominee, lost decisive Florida by fewer than 600 votes, while Nader received nearly 100,000 there. Many Democrats are convinced enough of those voters would have swung the election to Gore if Nader had not been on the ballot.
Nader said running as an independent would not hurt his campaign. “As an independent, you can do more innovative things because you don’t have to check with all the bases,” he said.
|Bush, Cheney, & Gov. Kean on secrecy : Dec. 23,2003|
In the meantime, however, the chairman of the federal Sept. 11, 2001, commission, in remarks released last week, criticized needless government secrecy. "I've been reading these highly, highly classified documents. In most cases, I finish with them, I look up and say, 'Why is this classified?' " said the chairman, former New Jersey governor Tom Kean, a Republican. "And so one of the things that I hope is that maybe out of our work and maybe others, a lot of these documents that are classified, will be unclassified."
Well, governor, the Bush administration seems to be going in the other direction. The administration has been unusually successful keeping its policy deliberations out of public view, and millions of government documents -- including many historical records previously available -- have been removed from the public domain.
Last week showed the full range of government secrecy efforts, from the universally accepted to the hotly disputed. At one extreme was the Libya announcement -- even the strongest proponents of open government say it is useful to handle such sensitive negotiations in secret, because a premature exposure of the talks could have scuttled an agreement. At the other end was the Cheney energy task force -- the vice president, sued by liberal and conservative groups, has fought the release of the information even though he has not invoked executive privilege or cited national security concerns.
The administration called the energy case "critical to the effective functioning of the presidency and the vice presidency." The Libya case shows why "it's perfectly acceptable to keep certain things secret," said a former Clinton State Department official. "The government should be able to presumptively keep secret diplomatic negotiations, war plans and weapons systems."
Just as the White House was preparing to reveal the secret Libya negotiations, Defense Week published a Dec. 5 memo from the Pentagon's Office of the Inspector General. "Pending a more thorough review," it said, "the following classes of information will not be available to the general public via the OIG DoD Web site." The list included not just the usual exemptions for classified, national security or "official use only" information but also two new, and potentially broad, restrictions: "Information not specifically approved for public release," and "information of questionable value to the general public."
|Clark: "Dean asked me to be V.P." : Dec. 22,2003|
Howard Dean, who has been vigorously defending himself against charges that he lacks the foreign policy experience needed to be president, said he would want a vice president with such a background."I need to plug that hole on the resume, and I'm going to do that with my running mate," Dean said.
Dean's comments came on the same day that a rival in the Democratic race, retired Gen. Wesley K. Clark, said that Dean had asked him to be his running mate earlier this year. Clark said Dean "did offer me the vice presidency. And what I told him was, that's not the issue." The two met in early September, shortly before Clark decided to seek the presidential nomination.
Dean campaign manager Joe Trippi disputed Clark's comments. "That never came up" in the meeting, Trippi said.
Many Democratic leaders have speculated that Clark, if his quest for the presidential nomination falls short, would be an attractive vice presidential possibility, particularly if Dean wins the nod. But publicly and privately, Clark has discouraged talk that he would be interested in the No. 2 position. Also, his relations with Dean have cooled; Clark, for instance, has been among those disparaging the depth of Dean's knowledge of foreign policy. As the conflicts between the two increase, the odds of them sharing a ticket decline. Clark said this week of serving as Dean's running mate: "I don't see that in the cards."
|John Kerry "Ready to Lead America" : Dec. 22,2003|
Wearing a leather bomber jacket bearing the shoulder patches of the units he served with in Vietnam, he made the case he nearly always makes: "I have the experience," Mr. Kerry said. "I'm ready to lead America."
Earlier in the day, he spelled it out more fully, telling students about the laws he had written: flood insurance laws, crucial environmental protection laws. "I was in Rio, in Buenos Aires, in Kyoto, in The Hague," he said, fighting the good fight against global warming. The night before, the senator embarked on a similar recital. "I led the fight on health care," Mr. Kerry said. "I led the fight for early childhood education and for clean air."
What he meant, but never quite said, was that his rival Howard Dean had written none of those laws, attended none of those conferences, led none of those fights. The closest Mr. Kerry came was when he asked his audience at Peterborough: "Would you hire a contractor who had never built a house to build one for you?"
One recent New Hampshire survey has him 25 percentage points behind Dr. Dean. The potentially good news for the Kerry camp has been a suggestion that Dr. Dean is starting to turn off some voters. Mr. Kerry feels obliged to assure those listening to him that he is in the contest to stay. "I am a fighter," he said repeatedly. "I've been behind before. This race is by no means over. As the last weeks close, people begin to focus. Who can be elected? Who can beat George Bush?"
Trying to demonstrate that he means what he says, and to finance a forthcoming advertising push, the senator borrowed $850,000 to lend his campaign on Thursday, and began seeking another loan, using his house on Beacon Hill in Boston as collateral. Mr. Kerry's aides envision his finishing no worse than second in Iowa, ahead of either Representative Richard A. Gephardt of Missouri or Dr. Dean, besting Dr. Dean in NH and going on to win the nomination. Starting on Monday, Mr. Kerry will spend 24 consecutive hours on his bus, the Real Deal Express, crisscrossing Iowa to symbolize his commitment to that state, where voters have traditionally rewarded close attention.
|George Bush on Libya's renunciation of WMDs : Dec. 20,2003|
These inspectors will render an accounting of all nuclear, chemical and biological weapons programs and will help oversee their elimination. Colonel Kadhafi's commitment, once it is fulfilled, will make our country more safe and the world more peaceful.
...Opposing proliferation is one of the highest priorities of the war against terror. The attacks of September the 11th, 2001 brought tragedy to the United States and revealed a future threat of even greater magnitude. Terrorists who killed thousands of innocent people would, if they ever gained weapons of mass destruction, kill hundreds of thousands -- without hesitation and without mercy. And this danger is dramatically increased when regimes build or acquire weapons of mass destruction and maintain ties to terrorist groups.
...[We] have sent an unmistakable message to regimes that seek or possess weapons of mass destruction. Those weapons do not bring influence or prestige. They bring isolation and otherwise unwelcome consequences. And another message should be equally clear: leaders who abandon the pursuit of chemical, biological and nuclear weapons, and the means to deliver them, will find an open path to better relations with the United States and other free nations.
|Howard Dean calls for "new social contract" : Dec. 19,2003|
Dean not only slapped his Democratic opponents as Washington insiders who’ve merely tried to appease Republicans, but he also distanced himself from Bill Clinton and the centrist Democratic Leadership Council that spawned the former President.
“While Bill Clinton has said that the era of big government is over,” Dean said in a speech at the city library, “I believe we must enter a new era for the Democratic Party — not one where we join Republicans and aim simply to limit the damage they inflict on working families.”
He told reporters afterwards he was not criticizing Clinton.
He called Clinton “a skillful President” who moved the nation “toward the middle,” but that under President George W. Bush, “we’ve moved towards the far right.” He said his approach is necessary to move the country “back toward the middle.”
Dean said he is not promoting bigger government, but “fairer government.”
Dean called for “a new vision for the Democratic Party” and “a new social contract” for the nation’s families.
He said the Democratic Party should establish “four new rights” in its social contract — affordable health care, affordable child care, affordable college tuition and guaranteed Social Security.
Dean wants to repeal the tax cuts of the last few years and insisted yesterday that even with higher federal taxes, the middle class will see its overall tax burden shrink.
Dean dubbed the Bush tax cuts the “Bush Tax.”
Since the tax cut, he said, “Your property taxes probably went up. In New Hampshire, property taxes went up an average of $270 per family last year.” He said most state budgets are also in crisis due to less federal funding of programs such as special education.
“The ‘Bush Tax’ is huge,” Dean said “many times greater than most people’s refunds.” He said the typical American family will “take on $52,000 more in its share of the national debt” in the next six years.
He called for “real tax reform” to make the tax code fairer and simpler, eliminating “abusive” tax shelters and cracking down on corporate tax evaders.
Dean also called for “stricter accountability for corporate behavior and a return to a stronger role for government in protecting the public interest.” He said, “The regulatory must be free to work as designed.”
|Wesley Clark supports School of the Americas : Dec. 18,2003|
Clark fought for years to keep the school at Fort Benning, Ga., open, even testifying on its behalf in Congress, despite graduates like imprisoned Panamanian ex-strongman Manuel Noriega.
Clark's backing of the school - whose curriculum once included teaching torture, execution, kidnapping and blackmail - puts him at odds with many Democratic officials and groups like Amnesty International, who want the school closed.
Rep. Jim McGovern (D-Mass.) calls the school a "stain on our reputation" and leads the effort to close it. "With all due respect to the general, the school is an insult to our troops," he said. Nearly all Democrats in New York's congressional delegation oppose the school and Reps. Dick Gephardt (D-Mo.) and Dennis Kucinich (D-Ohio) voted to shut it.
Clark isn't embarrassed about ties to the military installation - his campaign Web site features a commencement speech he delivered there a few years ago. "There is nothing going on in these institutions that you in the United States Congress wouldn't be extraordinarily proud of," Clark once testified to Congress.
The school has served as a training ground for thousands of Latin American officers, whose instruction had reportedly including how to torture and assassinate.
Aside from Noriega, the school is known for alums like Leopoldo Galtieri of Argentina, Haitian coup leader Raoul Cedras, Salvadoran death-squad organizer Roberto D'Aubuisson and former Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet.
One of the most controversial school incidents occurred in November 1989, when a Salvadoran army patrol executed six Jesuit priests, their cook and her daughter. The United Nations found that 19 of the 26 soldiers graduated from the school.
In response to complaints, the Pentagon "closed" the school in 2000, but reopened it in 2001 under a new name.
|Sen. Bob Smith (R, NH) running for Senate in FL : Dec. 18,2003|
Smith, 62, served two terms in the Senate before he was defeated by New Hampshire Sen. John Sununu in last year's primary. Smith said he would base his candidacy on issues that have long marked his political career: military and veterans affairs, the space industry, and environmental protection such as the Florida Everglades.
A social conservative, Smith was frequently at odds with the GOP establishment. He quit the party and ran for president in 1999, saying the Republican platform was "not worth the paper it's written on." He rejoined the party a few months later, saying he'd made a mistake.
A vocal opponent of Cuban President Fidel Castro, Smith backed Elian Gonzalez's Miami relatives in the 2000 custody dispute despite opposition from many of his New Hampshire constituents. He told reporters it was "the right thing to do."
Long considered a maverick, Smith was one of only five senators who voted against the 1991 Civil Rights Act, one of three who voted against the National Energy Policy Act in 1992 and one of three to vote against confirming the nomination of Ruth Bader Ginsburg to the Supreme Court. He has voted against funding for Head Start, food stamps and emergency aid for hurricane victims.
"I was right, and the other 93 senators were wrong," he said about the civil rights vote.
If elected, Smith would become the first American in modern history to represent two states in the U.S. Senate. Two people have served more than one state - Sen. James Shields represented Illinois, Minnesota and Missouri from 1849 to 1879 and Sen. Thomas Waitman Willey served from Virginia and West Virginia from 1861 to 1871.
Smith enters a crowded primary field that includes former U.S. Rep. Bill McCollum of Longwood, state Sen. Dan Webster of the Orlando area, House Speaker Johnnie Byrd of Plant City and Miami lawyer Larry Klayman. Former U.S. Housing Secretary Mel Martinez is expected to enter the race soon and U.S. Rep. Katherine Harris of Sarasota, the former secretary of state during the 2000 recount, is still mulling her future.
|John Breaux announces retirement : Dec. 16,2003|
Considering how infrequently Senate seats come open -- Breaux will have served 18 years while J. Bennett Johnston held his seat for 24 years -- many will see the race as a now-or-never proposition.
Republican Congressman David Vitter of Metairie would not say Monday whether he would run for the Senate seat, but he has long been considered a likely contender and has $1.5 million in campaign money. Moreover, the state Republican Party virtually anointed him the GOP candidate Monday afternoon.
Democratic Congressman Chris John of Lafayette also would not declare his intentions Monday, but Breaux on national television has mentioned John as a good prospect, and he has about $1 million in campaign money.
State Democratic Party Chairman Mike Skinner said he expects a number of Democratic candidates to step into the race, although he would not predict who they might be and what their chances are against John.
Among Democrats who said Monday they are considering the Senate seat are state Treasurer John Kennedy, who stepped out of the governor's race in late spring; Attorney General Richard Ieyoub, who placed third in the gubernatorial primary and will be out of office in January; and former U.S. Congressman Claude "Buddy" Leach, who placed fourth in a heavily self-financed gubernatorial primary race.
The rumor mill Monday churned out several other names, including Jefferson Parish District Attorney Paul Connick; Public Service Commissioner Foster Campbell Jr. of Shreveport; and Jim Bernhard Jr., a close adviser to Gov.-elect Blanco and chairman of the Baton Rouge Fortune 500 company The Shaw Group Inc. None of those three returned calls Monday.
...The odds favor a Democrat taking Breaux's seat, Teddlie said. African-Americans, who make up 29 percent of the electorate, will vote overwhelmingly for the Democrat, he predicted. And they will turn out in large numbers, because "they're highly motivated against (President) Bush."
Louisiana has never elected a Republican senator.
All the same, Bush won Louisiana in 2000. Also, left-of-center Democratic candidate Howard Dean, if he gets the nomination, might encourage conservative white voters to the polls, which would hurt the Democrats' chances in the Senate race, Teddlie said.
|George Bush on Iraq war : Dec. 15,2003|
Despite the protests from the leaders of those nations, Bush told reporters at the start of his final cabinet meeting of the year last Thursday, "Let me make sure everybody understands that men and women from our country, who proudly wear our uniform, risked their life to free Iraq. Men and women from other countries, in a broad coalition, risked their lives to free Iraq. And the expenditure of U.S. dollars will reflect the fact that U.S. troops and other troops risked their life."
Bush further explained, "What I'm saying is, in the expenditure of taxpayer's money -- and that's what we're talking about now -- the U.S. people, the taxpayers understand why it makes sense for countries that risk lives to participate in the contracts in Iraq. It's very simple. Our people risk their lives. Coalition -- friendly coalition folks risk their lives, and, therefore, the contracting is going to reflect that. And that's what the U.S. taxpayers expect."
The president suggested that those countries might be able to change their status by joining the coalition, saying, "We want to work with all countries...we welcome contributions, we welcome people's willingness to participate in this difficult, yet important job of rebuilding Iraq."
Bush responded to a question of whether troop deployments or forgiveness of debt would be qualifications for participation by saying, "It would be a significant contribution, for which we would be very grateful."
The president asked President Jacques Chirac, Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder, and Russian President Vladimir Putin to receive a visit from former Secretary of State James Baker to talk about debt restructuring.
"If these countries want to participate in helping the world become more secure by enabling Iraq to emerge as a free and peaceful country, one way to contribute is through debt restructuring," Bush said.
Bush dismissed a reporter's question that quoted German Chancellor Schroeder as saying that his country shouldn't be excluded because international law must apply in this case.
"International law? I better call my lawyer; he didn't bring that up to me," Bush responded.
Democrats were quick to pounce on the controversy.
Sen. John Kerry (D-MA) said, "It borders on stupid. It is the exact opposite of what we should be doing."
Anti-war Democrat candidate Howard Dean said the policy was an example of the Bush administration's "confrontation" approach "all over the world."
The capture of Saddam Hussein on Saturday is expected to provide an opportunity for the reluctant nations to change their stance in regard to Iraq since it is clear a new chapter has begun.
|George Bush on the capture of Saddam : Dec. 14,2003|
...I have a message for the Iraqi people: You will not have to fear the rule of Saddam Hussein ever again. All Iraqis who take the side of freedom have taken the winning side. The goals of our coalition are the same as your goals -- sovereignty for your country, dignity for your great culture, and for every Iraqi citizen, the opportunity for a better life.
...I also have a message for all Americans: The capture of Saddam Hussein does not mean the end of violence in Iraq. We still face terrorists who would rather go on killing the innocent than accept the rise of liberty in the heart of the Middle East. Such men are a direct threat to the American people, and they will be defeated.
We've come to this moment through patience and resolve and focused action. And that is our strategy moving forward. The war on terror is a different kind of war, waged capture by capture, cell by cell, and victory by victory. Our security is assured by our perseverance and by our sure belief in the success of liberty. And the United States of America will not relent until this war is won.
|Al Gore endorses Dean for President : Dec. 8,2003|
Gore, who won the popular vote but lost the electoral vote in the disputed 2000 election, has agreed to endorse Dean in New York City's Harlem neighborhood on Tuesday and then travel with the former Vermont governor to Iowa, site of the Jan. 19 caucuses that kick off the nominating process, said a Democratic source close to Gore.
The former vice president is widely popular among key primary voters due in part to the widespread belief among Democratic activists that the 2000 election was taken from him. The Gore endorsement comes just weeks after two key unions backed Dean's candidacy. The approval of Bill Clinton's No. 2 bolsters Dean's case that he can carry the party's mantle next November and represents more than an Internet-driven outsider relying on the support of largely white, upscale voters.
It also helps Dean, who leads in state polls in New Hampshire and Iowa, as he tries to persuade Democrats wary of his lack of foreign policy experience and missteps on the campaign trail that his nomination is all but certain.
AFSCME President Gerald McEntee said Gore's endorsement is more significant than all of Dean's labor endorsements. ''It goes so far in dispelling this idea that swirls around that Dean would not be a good candidate in the general (election), that Dean in some way would be damaging to the Democratic Party,'' McEntee said. ''If there is anybody in this country who wants to beat George Bush again, I think it's Al Gore.''
In choosing Dean, Gore bypassed his own vice presidential pick in 2000, Sen. Joe Lieberman of Connecticut, who has been struggling in his bid to capture the Democratic nomination. Lieberman even waited until after Gore made his decision last December not to run before embarking on his candidacy.
The Lieberman campaign issued a terse statement Monday, saying, ''I was proud to have been chosen by Al Gore in 2000 to be a heartbeat away from the presidency,'' and added, ''I have a lot of respect for Al Gore - that is why I kept my promise not to run if he did. Ultimately, the voters will make the determination and I will continue to make my case about taking our party and nation forward.''
Lieberman spokesman Jano Cabrera said Gore did not tell the Connecticut senator about the endorsement.
Another Dean rival, Rep. Dick Gephardt of Iowa, issued a statement citing his work with Gore to ''pass the Clinton economic plan, pass the assault weapons ban and defend against Republican attacks on Medicare and affirmative action. On each of these issues, Howard Dean was on the wrong side.''
In an unusual response, Democratic candidate Wesley Clark issued a statement touting the number of former Gore staffers working on his campaign.
|Newt and Hillary agree : Dec. 8,2003|
In a blunt critique by a leading Republican, Gingrich said the administration has failed "to put the Iraqis at the center of this equation. . . . The key to defeating the bad guys is having enough good guys who are Iraqis," he said on NBC's "Meet the Press."
The administration did not send enough Iraqi Americans there after the war, Gingrich said. On the main online site of the U.S. occupying authority, he added, "up until last week you didn't see a single Iraqi on that Web page," and now there is only one.
White House Chief of Staff Andrew H. Card Jr. defended the administration's policy. "I think things are going very well in a very tough situation in Iraq. . . . Newt Gingrich is not all-knowing," he said on CBS's "Face the Nation."
Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.), who recently returned from Iraq and Afghanistan, hit three Sunday talk shows and said she agreed with Gingrich. She blamed the administration for "miscalculation" and "inept planning" in Iraq, as she put it on ABC's "This Week."
"I do think we need more troops" in Iraq, Clinton said. She said she believes in giving the chief executive the authority to wage war, as her husband did in Bosnia and Kosovo. "But I regret the way the president has used the authority."
Clinton dismissed complaints that she should not have criticized President Bush while in Iraq and blamed a "right-wing apparatus." Clinton said she was merely responding to questions from U.S. troops. "I'm not going to lie to an American soldier," she said on CBS.
|Sharpton hosts Saturday Night Live : Dec. 7,2003|
Several NBC affiliates refused to carry "Saturday Night Live" with Sharpton as host for fear it would activate federal "equal time provisions" and compel them to offer air time to the eight other Democrats running for president.
Sharpton, a former tour manager for the soul star, sang a few verses of Brown's "I Got You (I Feel Good)" and even imitated some of his fancy footwork.
"For me, it's a wonderful opportunity," Sharpton said in his opening monologue. "Maybe tonight, people can finally get to know the real Al Sharpton. President Al Sharpton."
...NBC said 23 of its 230 affiliated stations had said they were considering not running "SNL" because of equal time rules. The network did not have a final count Sunday on how many stations did not air it.
All four NBC affiliates in Iowa, where the Jan. 19 caucus represents the first major test of the Democratic nomination battle, said last week they wouldn't air the show. NBC's Boston station seen in much of New Hampshire, site of the first presidential primary also didn't show it.
"Saturday Night Live" frequently has political content and occasional guest appearances by politicians, but this is the first time in memory stations bailed out for this reason.
Given that the job of an "SNL" host requires a week's worth of rehearsal time, it's unlikely any of the other Democrats would take the same opportunity as Sharpton, even if offered.
"SNL" alluded to the missing stations in two separate skits on Saturday. In the show's opening, Jimmy Fallon portrayed NBC Entertainment president Jeff Zucker, announcing other opportunities for Democrats to allay equal time concerns.
For instance, Gen. Wesley Clark will be made over on "Queer Eye for the Straight Guy" and Howard Dean will eat camel rectum on "Fear Factor," Fallon said.
Later, he and Tina Fey held up a map showing NBC affiliates they said weren't airing the show. They mocked many of the cities, calling Des Moines, Iowa, "snoozeville, USA."
Sharpton, meanwhile, kept busy changing costumes for a variety of roles. He portrayed lawyer Johnnie Cochran, Michael Jackson's father and one of the three wise men searching for Jesus [in which he was pulled over by a traffic cop].
In one skit, Sharpton pretended he was opening a sushi restaurant to fund his presidential campaign, even though he was repelled by the food.
"I hope tonight America laughed together," Sharpton said at the night's conclusion. "Maybe we can learn how to live together."
|Ralph Nader running? : Dec. 3,2003|
|Howard Dean's Vermont records : Dec. 8,2003|
Dean-who has blasted the Bush administration for excessive secrecy—candidly acknowledged that politics was a major reason for locking up his own files when he left office last January. He told Vermont Public Radio he was putting a 10-year seal on many of his official papers—four years longer than previous Vermont governors—because of “future political considerations... We didn’t want anything embarrassing appearing in the papers at a critical time.” “Most of the records are open,” said Dean spokeswoman Tricia Enright, adding there is “absolutely not” a “smoking gun” in those for which Dean has claimed “executive privilege.” Still, Dean’s efforts to keep official papers secret appear unusually extensive. Late last year, NEWSWEEK has learned, Dean’s chief counsel sent a directive to all state agencies ordering them to cull their files and remove all correspondence that bore Dean’s name—and ship them to the governor’s office to be reviewed for “privilege” claims. This removed a “significant number of records” from state files, said Michael McShane, an assistant Vermont attorney general.
The battle over Dean’s records began last year when three Vermont newspapers took him to court after being denied access to his official schedule. Reporters were trying to track Dean’s out-of-state political trips. State lawyers argued that release of the schedule could jeopardize his safety and that the governor’s office was not a public “agency” covered by state open-records law—two notions rejected by the Vermont Supreme Court. (The court ultimately ruled that those portions of the schedule related to his political trips had to be released, but those relating to state policy could be redacted.) Then last January, Dean’s chief counsel David Rocchio negotiated a sweeping agreement that resulted in about 140 boxes of Dean records containing several hundred thousand pages of documents being locked up for 10 years at a state archive in Middlesex, said Greg Sanford, the state archivist. The sealed papers include Dean’s correspondence with advisers on, among other matters, Vermont’s “civil unions” law and a state agency that critics charged was used to grant tax credits to Dean’s favored firms. Rocchio said the sealing agreement was driven by “legitimate” policy concerns, but also by, he later acknowledged, political factors. “All you have to do is look at what [Dean’s opponents] are doing with the existing records,” he said. “They’re distorting his record.”
|George Bush on Free Trade : Dec. 1,2003|
The officials would not say when President Bush will announce the decision but said it is likely to be this week. The officials said they had to allow for the possibility that he would make some change in the plan, but a source close to the White House said it was "all but set in stone."
European countries had vowed to respond to the tariffs, which were ruled illegal by the World Trade Organization, by imposing sanctions on up to $2.2 billion in exports from the United States, beginning as soon as Dec. 15. Japan issued a similar threat Wednesday. The sources said Bush's aides concluded they could not run the risk that the European Union would carry out its threat to impose sanctions on orange juice and other citrus products from Florida, motorcycles, farm machinery, textiles, shoes, and other products.
Bush advisers said they were aware the reversal could produce a backlash against him in several steel-producing states of the Rust Belt -- including Pennsylvania, West Virginia and Ohio. That arc of states has been hit severely by losses in manufacturing jobs and will be among the most closely contested in his reelection race.
The sources said that Bush's aides agonized over the options to present to the president and that they considered it one of the diciest political calculations of this term. A source involved in the negotiations said White House aides looked for some step short of a full repeal that would satisfy the European Union but concluded that it was "technically possible but practically impossible."
Bush decided in March 2002 to impose tariffs of 8 to 30 percent on most steel imports from Europe, Asia and South America for three years. Officials acknowledged at the time that the decision was heavily influenced by the desire to help the Rust Belt states, but the departure from Bush's free-trade principles drew fierce criticism from his conservative supporters. After a blast of international opposition, the administration began approving exemptions.
The WTO's ruling against the tariffs was finalized three weeks ago, clearing the way for the retaliatory levies, and Bush's economic team concluded unanimously that the tariffs should be scrapped. The source involved in the negotiations said the consensus in the White House was that "keeping the tariffs in place would cause more economic disruption and pain for the broader economy than repealing them would for the steel industry."
Officials said the repeal could help Bush in Michigan, where automakers and parts factories are heavy consumers of steel and were hurt by the tariffs, but they said that was not the reason for the decision. In 2000, Bush won Ohio and West Virginia, a traditionally Democratic state. He lost Pennsylvania and Michigan, and they are among his top targets in 2004.
|Supreme Court to hear Dick Cheney : Dec. 1,2003|
The justices appear ready to decide whether they will hear an appeal by Vice President Dick Cheney, who is defending his refusal to disclose files of the task force that he headed in developing the administration's energy policy, which is now stalled in Congress.
If the court grants a review, a final decision would be months away. The administration has raised the stakes on the preliminary decision by arguing that the case threatens "fundamental principles of the separation of powers" between the branches of government.
Because of the sweeping constitutional arguments being made, the case has the potential to sharply curtail the power of the courts and, by implication, Congress to oversee the workings of the executive branch.
The key argument is that the Constitution's separation of powers among the three branches means that the other two branches are without authority to second-guess the president when he and his staff are deciding how to use executive powers.
The position of the administration in the case parallels arguments against judicial interference in the president's handling of the war on terrorism, arguments being made with increasing frequency in court cases involving terrorist suspects or "enemy combatants."
Cheney is not only the leading figure in the task-force dispute that is now ready for the Supreme Court's reaction. He also is the central officer of the administration waging the public campaign for greater presidential authority.
In the energy task force case, those arguments have been losing for the past two years, as a federal judge and then a federal appeals court have ruled that courts may order at least limited inquiry into the decision-making process that the agency used.
Two private groups, Judicial Watch, a conservative legal advocacy organization, and the Sierra Club, an environmental protection group, have sued Cheney, Cabinet officers, and other government officers, seeking to force into the open the role that energy industry executives might have played in influencing administration policy.
So far, the case is nowhere near going to trial, because Cheney has steadfastly refused to acknowledge that the courts may order such an intrusion into the decision-making process. Although given a chance by the federal judge to cite specific documents that the White House could claim were shielded by "executive privilege," the administration has refused to assert that claim as to any document, standing on its view that it need not do so in order to maintain confidentiality.
In the past, challenges over the confidentiality of presidential documents have often been ended, or settled, after presidential assertions of executive privilege -- a broad confidentiality doctrine first outlined by the Supreme Court in 1974 in the White House tape recordings case during the Watergate scandal.
But Cheney and President Bush have refused to invoke that privilege in the energy policy case, saying the independence of the executive branch does not require it. Besides, Cheney has argued, the president should not be bothered with the task of going over each document sought and deciding whether to claim a privilege to withhold it.
Cheney's appeal insists that the task force's work involved only government officials giving advice to the president. But the case against him by Judicial Watch and the Sierra Club argues that industry executives served as influential advisers, too, and their lawsuit seeks documents to show who attended meetings and what role advisers played. US District Judge Emmet G. Sullivan has allowed the case to go forward, at least to the point of requiring the disclosure of some task force papers -- unless the government claims they are privileged.
|Kucinich campaign's fundraising idea : Nov. 27,2003|
Supporters of the Democratic hopeful can "Adopt an Intern" by pledging monthly donations to specific interns featured on the campaign Web site. Donors will receive e-mails, audio postcards and even phone calls from their adopted interns, depending on their level of support.
Money raised through the program will help fund the $400 monthly stipend each intern receives, with extra funds going for new participants. There are 13 interns so far in Ohio, Iowa and New Hampshire. Most live in group houses paid for by the campaign.
Kucinich's Web site features three Cleveland-based interns. Visitors select an intern and decide their level of contribution. "Best friends" donate between $10 and $24 a month, "parents" give between $50 and $99 monthly. Anything over $100 earns a "guardian angel" title.
The Kucinich campaign has tried a variety of fund-raising tactics, including asking donors to help fund lawn signs in New Hampshire and Iowa, a spokesperson said. "I think that people have their own particular priorities that they see for campaigns and they enjoy knowing what exactly their money is going to."
The most recent fund-raising figures show Kucinich has raised $3.35 million, placing him above former Ambassador Carol Moseley Braun and Rev. Al Sharpton. Former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean leads the Democratic presidential candidates with $25.4 million, followed by Sen. John Kerry of Massachusetts with $20 million.
|Kerry & Gephardt debate Dean on Health Care : Nov. 25,2003|
Gephardt painted Dean as a callous budget hawk given to cutting social services in Vermont in the mid-1990s. Gephardt said he was working at the time with President Clinton to stimulate the sluggish economy with tax increases and less painful cuts. "And we did it in a different way than Governor Dean did it in Vermont," Gephardt said. "We didn't cut the most vulnerable."
Dean defended cuts to social programs he has said were forced by an unbalanced budget he inherited.
Kerry doggedly challenged Dean to exempt Medicare from a plan to balance the federal budget. The issue is key to Democratic caucus activists, a third of whom are 65 or older and therefore eligible for Medicare.
"I've asked the governor several times at several debates: Will he still try to reduce the rate of growth in Medicare?" Kerry said.
Dean has said he would balance the federal budget by repealing tax cuts enacted under President Bush and limiting the growth of entitlement programs. But he has not said which programs he would consider. He has also not ruled out slowing Medicare's growth rate, a position he held in the mid-1990s as a way of preserving the program's solvency.
Dean repeated his pledge not to cut Medicare, but Kerry repeatedly interrupted, saying "reducing the growth rate" is another term for "cut."
"But you still haven't answered my question," Kerry said.
"Medicare is off the table," Dean said emphatically. "We are not going to cut Medicare in order to balance the budget. I've made that very clear."
|Sharpton on Massachusetts gay marriage : Nov. 25,2003|
|Joe Lieberman on Tax Reform : Nov. 14,2003|
"I don't think it's right to have raised a divisive symbol like the confederate flag. Or to give up on principles like limiting the amount of money in campaigns," Lieberman says in the commercial.
He doesn't name Dean, but the subject is clear. The former Vermont governor recently came under fire for saying he wanted to be the candidate of Southern whites who drive pickup trucks with the Confederate flag. Dean also rejected public financing and the accompanying spending limits during the primary.
It is the first ad of the presidential campaign that singles out a Democratic rival albeit without naming names. Mandy Grunwald, Lieberman's media adviser, said that was not necessarily the case. "It's not a spot about him. It's a spot about what the campaign should focus on," Grunwald said.
Tricia Enright, a Dean spokeswoman, said, "If we had a nickel for every time one of these Washington insiders attacked us, we certainly wouldn't need public financing."
In the 30-second ad, Lieberman says that the campaign should be about "expanded access to health care, tax cuts for 98 percent of taxpayers and deficit reduction to protect Social Security."
"That would be a fresh start," the Connecticut senator says.
The ad is the third of his campaign. As he did in the others, Lieberman talks directly into the camera while sitting in a diner - this time on a bar stool instead of in a booth.
The campaign would not disclose the cost of the ad, but said airtime was bought in Manchester, N.H., and in Vermont, which broadcasts into New Hampshire.
Lieberman first hit the airwaves three weeks ago in New Hampshire, forgoing the traditional biographic ads in favor of two spots that touted his reputation for moral certitude, criticized Republicans' tax proposals and assailed President Bush's postwar policies in Iraq.
The tax ad will continue to run with the new spot but the Iraq commercial will leave the airwaves shortly, Grunwald said.
Lieberman is focusing his efforts - and his money - on New Hampshire and other early voting states in place of Iowa, which he abandoned last month.
A recent poll showed Dean with a 14-point lead over John Kerry, while Lieberman was bunched with John Edwards and Wesley Clark, who each had 4 percent in the survey of likely primary voters. Dick Gephardt had 3 percent.
|Wesley Clark on Civil Rights : Nov. 12,2003|
The general expressed his view in response to a question from a World War II veteran at a Veterans Day visit to an American Legion post. "I'm absolutely in favor of anything that strengthens the American flag," General Clark said. "I'm in favor of the American flag amendment."
The remarks drew applause from a crowd of about 100 veterans and spouses who gathered at the American Legion Sweeney Post No. 2 here. But the comments were also a cause for some surprise because General Clark has been strongly critical of the Bush administration, saying it has tried to squelch dissent about its policies in Iraq. A majority of Democrats in Congress have opposed the amendment in recent years, in part because the most recent versions have been vaguely worded. Opponents also say such an amendment violates free speech rights.
General Clark repeated those concerns on Tuesday, even as he expressed support for the amendment.
"The respect that the flag is due is not because of a constitutional amendment," he said. "It's really because of what we believe in our hearts and the way we act as Americans."
"As I travel around the country what I've seen is a new spirit of patriotism, and it goes a long way beyond the American flag," he added. "If you're really patriotic it's not just the American flag, it's the idea that even in a time of war the right thing to do is give your ideas and present your ideas. No administration should ever say that if you disagree with it that you're not being patriotic."
While the House has approved a flag amendment bill in most sessions in recent years, the Senate has not taken up the issue since 2000, when the proposal fell four votes short of the necessary two-thirds required for a constitutional amendment to be sent to the voters.
|John Kerry fires campaign manager : Nov. 12 ,2003|
Robert Gibbs, chief spokesman for the senator from Massachusetts, quit to protest the firing of campaign manager Jim Jordan, let go by Kerry on Sunday night. Carl Schidlow, the deputy finance director, also quit, although the reason was not immediately available.
The departures threaten to erode the morale of a campaign that had been viewed just months ago as a front-running team. Kerry, who has been trailing former Vermont governor Howard Dean in polls, gave in to pressure from donors and supporters to shake up his campaign by firing Jordan.
|Howard Dean opts out of campaign finance system : Nov. 9 ,2003|
These two unions have 3 million members combined and tens of millions of dollars to spend on the presidential election.
Together these developments provide Dean an opening for a quick-kill strategy: winning Iowa and New Hampshire, developing substantial momentum, and unleashing superior money and manpower to prevent anyone from becoming a serious challenger.
But not without a fight -- and probably starting with the Iowa caucuses on Jan. 19, the first major contest on the calendar. The path to victory may look brighter inside the Dean campaign because of what happened in the past seven days, but he still faces a serious obstacle course. His opponents will both gang up on him in attacks and attempt to isolate him into a series of one-on-one battles in various states. With his profile as high as it is today, the other question is whether Dean has the temperament and candidate skills to go with the grass-roots energy his campaign has aroused. The former governor's penchant for making comments he later has to clean up could cause him further problems.
Dean's sudden move is sending shocks through the Democratic race, which polls show few voters outside of Iowa and New Hampshire have even tuned into. It is forcing several candidates to rethink or rework their strategies with the Iowa caucuses less than three months away, and is turning the contest into Dean vs. the rest of the field.
Many Democrats, including key figures in Congress and at the Democratic National Committee, say they worry Dean may be too liberal or too abrasive to defeat President Bush. They are scrambling to stop the former governor before it is too late. Yet with so many candidates from which to choose, it is unlikely that the Democratic establishment, which Dean spends much of his time bashing at campaign events, could coalesce around an alternative. Several Democrats said they hope former President Bill Clinton, his wife, Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (N.Y.) and former Vice President Al Gore will intervene to help thwart Dean, but that appears unlikely, too.
|Democratic candidates on marijuana : Nov. 9 ,2003|
"Which of you are ready to admit to having used marijuana in the past?" Anderson Cooper, the moderator of last Tuesday's "Rock the Vote" debate on CNN, asked eight of the nine Democratic presidential candidates (Representative Richard A. Gephardt, was not there).
None of these three baby-boomer candidates said anything beyond their short, declarative affirmations. None followed with a hurried explanation that it was just a few times, that it was some kind of "youthful indiscretion," or that he didn't inhale. The implication of their answers seemed to be, "Yeah, so what?"
In fact, the defensive answers tended to come from those replying in the negative.
"No," said Representative Dennis J. Kucinich. "But I think it ought to be decriminalized."
"I grew up in the church," said the Rev. Al Sharpton. "We didn't believe in that."
"Well, you know, I have a reputation for giving unpopular answers at Democratic debates," said Senator Joseph I. Lieberman. "I never used marijuana. Sorry!"
The next day's news coverage of the debate focused on the attacks on Dr. Dean for his references to appealing to people who fly the Confederate flag. The admissions of marijuana smoking by three of the Democratic candidates for president were largely ignored.
Many Democrats, including key figures in Congress and at the Democratic National Committee, say they worry Dean may be too liberal or too abrasive to defeat President Bush. They are scrambling to stop the former governor before it is too late. Yet with so many candidates from which to choose, it is unlikely that the Democratic establishment, which Dean spends much of his time bashing at campaign events, could coalesce around an alternative. Several Democrats said they hope former President Bill Clinton, his wife, Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (N.Y.) and former Vice President Al Gore will intervene to help thwart Dean, but that appears unlikely, too.
|John Edwards on Civil Rights : Nov. 9, 2003|
"I like him personally," Edwards said of his front-running rival on NBC's "Meet the Press," but added "He and I have had some run-ins over the last couple of weeks."
Dean, who has since apologized for the remark, said he was trying to state his intention to make the party more inclusive and bring poor Southern whites back from the Republican Party to the Democratic Party.
But Democratic rivals, like Edwards, seized on the comment as condescending and even accepting of people who are racists. He said he has talked personally to Dean about his concerns.
On "Meet the Press," Edwards said the flag is a "very divisive symbol" and it is wrong to stereotype Southerners.
"It's like saying to any group of voters ... you don't know what's best for you. We know what's best for you," Edwards said. "There's an elitism and condescension associated with that attitude that's enormously dangerous to us" and that voters want to be "treated with respect."
Edwards also said Dean's financing decision is sending the "wrong signal" to voters. Edwards said Dean said that earlier this year, he felt strongly about all candidates staying within the system, but now that it's "advantageous" to him, he's opting out. (Full story)
"If it's a matter of principle to operate within the campaign finance system, then we should stay within the campaign finance system and not deviate from that because a particular candidate, in this case Governor Dean, thinks it's to his advantage."
Edwards plans to stay within the campaign finance system.
President Bush has also said he would opt out of public campaign financing, and this is the first time candidates from both major parties have done so since the campaign financing law was enacted in 1976.
|Democrats on Gun Control : Oct. 26, 2003|
Most Democratic White House hopefuls rarely highlight gun control in their campaigns, and none of the candidates who routinely poll near the top is calling for the licensing of new handgun owners, a central theme of then-Vice President Al Gore's winning primary campaign in 2000.
Howard Dean, the early front-runner this year, proudly tells audiences that the National Rifle Association endorsed him as governor of Vermont. As president, Dean said he would leave most gun laws to the states. The federal government, Dean said in an interview here, should not "inflict regulations" on states such as Montana and Vermont, where gun crime is not a big problem. New York and California "can have as much gun control as they want," but those states -- and not the federal government -- should make that determination, he said.
Rep. Richard A. Gephardt, a longtime gun control advocate, is careful to highlight his support for law-abiding gun owners. The Missouri Democrat said he is not interested in giving the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives more authority to investigate gun crimes, a top priority for the gun control activist. "They have enough," he said in an interview.
As a result, Democratic strategists and several of the candidates themselves predict the debate over gun laws in this campaign will be less divisive. Democrats might fight for narrow proposals to make guns safer and more difficult for children and criminals to obtain, they said, yet voters are likely to hear as much about enforcing existing gun laws as creating new ones -- a position Republicans and the NRA have pushed for years.
"What you are seeing . . . is a sea change" from the 1990s, when President Bill Clinton and Gore championed several major gun laws -- and paid a big political price for it, said Wayne LaPierre, executive vice president of the NRA.
"It's very important for us as Democrats to understand that where I come from guns are about a lot more than guns themselves," said Sen. John Edwards (N.C.), one of nine Democrats seeking the presidency. "They are about independence. For a lot of people who work hard for a living, one of the few things they feel they have any control over is whether they can buy a gun and hunt. They don't want people messing with that, which I understand."
The change holds true in Congress, too. Many Democrats are playing down gun issues there, and several, including Senate Minority Leader Thomas A. Daschle (S.D.), are co-sponsoring a bill to shield gun manufacturers from lawsuits, a top NRA priority for the 108th Congress. In the 2002 congressional races, 94 percent of NRA-endorsed candidates won.
In the presidential race, several candidates said the gun issue contributed to Gore's defeat in 2000 and could backfire on the party again next year if Democrats do not quickly lose their anti-gun image .
Indeed, the Democrats' shift away from gun control is rooted more in politics than in a belief that gun laws do not help prevent crime and death, several Democrats said privately. It started after the 1994 elections, when Democrats lost control of the House and watched such veterans as then-Speaker Thomas S. Foley (Wash.) get ousted after the Democratic-controlled House passed legislation making it illegal to "manufacture, transfer or possess" 19 semiautomatic firearms. The bill, which Clinton signed into law, does not apply to the sale or possession of weapons legally held before the ban took effect.
Surveys showed that the gun issue played a huge if not decisive role in ending the Democrats' decades-long rule of the House that year. Still, many Democrats continued to target guns as a key contributor to violence and death, a belief reinforced for many by the 1999 Columbine shootings. Gore was among those leading the charge for new restrictions.
In the 2000 presidential primaries, Gore and former senator Bill Bradley (N.J.) engaged in what sounded to some like a bidding war for who would clamp down the hardest on handguns. Gore tried to distance himself from the gun issue in the waning months of his campaign against George W. Bush, but it was too late.
A key turning point in the debate over federal laws regulating guns came on election night, when Gore lost West Virginia, Arkansas and even his home state of Tennessee. Many of today's candidates blame the gun issue, in part, for Gore's defeat in those states and others. Gephardt said there's "no doubt" it "hurt" Gore.
|Dick Cheney on Campaign Finance : Oct. 25, 2003|
In a memo dated October 17, company President Dave Lesar lambasted what he called "unfounded" criticism against the company and asked its 100,000 employees to get out Halliburton's message "in a thoughtful, non-confrontational manner.
"We should avoid stooping to our critics' level of dialogue, no matter how tempting that may be," wrote Lesar, who is also chairman and chief executive officer.
The memo, obtained by the Web site misleader.org, which opposes the Bush administration, carried the subject line "Defending our Company."
Halliburton's contract to repair Iraq's oil fields has been a subject of much dispute this year. Most recently, Rep. Henry Waxman, a California Democrat, accused the company of overbilling the government for fuel it imports into Iraq.
In past months, Waxman and other Democrats have criticized the government for giving Halliburton the contract without a competitive bidding process.
So far under the contract, Halliburton, one of the world's largest oil field services companies, has been paid about $1.4 billion of a possible $7 billion total, Reuters reported Thursday.
Halliburton also has generated about $1.6 billion in revenue from a separate contract for logistical support, Reuters said.
Cheney, Halliburton and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, which issued Halliburton's contract, have denied that the company enjoyed any favoritism in winning the government job.
Lesar, in an editorial published October 17 in The Wall Street Journal, said the Iraq contract was an extension of a previous, competitively bid contract and that Halliburton negotiates "fair and competitive prices to provide fuel to the Iraqi people."
In the memo, Lesar said the attacks "are less about us and more about external issues."
The criticism is "inaccurate and unwarranted, and not based on the realities we face in Iraq," he wrote. "We must react in a way that is not challenging, but that presents facts."
The accusation of favoritism centers around Cheney's ties to the company he headed from 1995 to 2000.
Cheney still receives about $150,000 a year in deferred payments for work he performed as chairman before resigning to run for vice president in 2000.
He also holds more than 433,000 stock options, all above Halliburton's most recently traded price, according to a report by the Congressional Research Office requested by Sen. Frank Lautenberg, a New Jersey Democrat.
Cheney has insisted in the past that the deferred compensation was set up two years before he became a vice presidential candidate in 2000 and that he assigned all his stock options to a charitable trust just before being sworn in.
"Since I left Halliburton to become George Bush's vice president, I've severed all my ties with the company, gotten rid of all my financial interest," Cheney said on NBC's "Meet the Press" on September 14.
"I have no financial interest in Halliburton of any kind and haven't had, now, for over three years."
Halliburton has said only that Cheney has no involvement with the company and "no financial interest in the future success of Halliburton."
Lesar's memo lists things to praise about Halliburton letters to the media and lawmakers, and provides suggestions on making the letters "effective."
Halliburton did not immediately return calls seeking comment on the release of the memo.
|Arnold Schwarzenegger wins recall race : Oct. 8,2003|
For two months, I've been speaking out about the needs of bringing back fiscal responsibility to this state, bringing back the positive business atmosphere, bringing back businesses, bringing back jobs and bringing back our education. It's very important that we need to bring back the trust in the government itself.
For two months, I went up and down the state and listened to the people. I met good, honest and hard-working people. People that wanted to raise their families here. People who want to do business here, who want to have jobs here, who want to educate their kids here. People that want to enjoy the clean air and the clean water. And I have heard your voices loud and clear.
We have tough choices ahead. The first choice that we must make is the one that will determine our success. Shall we rebuild our state together? Or shall we fight amongst ourselves, to create even deeper division and fail the people of California? Well, let me tell you something, the answer is clear, for the people to win, politics as usual must lose.
I will reach out to Republicans, to Democrats and independents, to those who supported the recall and those who did not, those who supported me today and those who did not. I want to reach out to everybody, to young and old, rich and poor, people of all religions, all colors and all nationalities. I want to be the governor for the people. I want to represent everybody.
I will call tomorrow the leaders of the legislatures, both Democrats and Republicans, and I will let them know that my door will always be open, that I want to work with them together for the good of California. And the same goes for the members of the legislatures. It doesn't matter if they're to the left or to the right or to the center. I extend my hands to them. I want to work with you. I need your help.
I want to be the people's governor. I want to represent everybody. I believe in the people of California, and I know that together we can do great things.
|Florida Sen. Bob Graham withdraws from Presidential race : Oct. 7, 2003|
His decision ends a campaign that, despite Graham's accomplished résumé spanning 35 years in Tallahassee and Washington, was beset by lackluster fundraising, questionable decision-making, and the candidate's own quirky, low-key style that played well over three decades in politics but made him an oddity on the national stage.
Graham cited his late start in the campaign due to heart surgery, the war in Iraq and his duties overseeing the investigation into the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks as chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee.
''All of those things combined to make it difficult for us to have the time and to close the gap in organization and fundraising,'' he said.
While Graham's pronouncement brings a bit more clarity to a presidential primary field that now includes nine candidates, the state's senior senator still refused to say whether he would seek reelection next year. His indecision on that point leaves in limbo five Democrats and a growing list of Republicans vying to replace him. National Democratic strategists, the party's Senate leadership and Florida Democratic Party officials are pressuring him to keep what would be considered a safe seat.
Sen. Joseph Lieberman of Connecticut said he was ''grateful'' that Graham would remain in the Senate, while retired Army Gen. Wesley Clark, a war critic whose late entry last month took further steam from Graham's campaign engine, predicted his former rival would ``play a vital role in helping Democrats recapture both Florida and other essential southern states.''
Graham was the chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee during and after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, emerging as one of President Bush's earliest and most credible critics for his handling of the war on terrorism.
But former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean, a vocal critic of the war, used sharper language than the wonky, professorial Graham, and won far more credit for his stance among party activists hungry for a charismatic figure to take on Bush.
Graham never emerged from the low single digits in opinion polls, and failed to raise enough money to air the TV ads he had been promising in Iowa for weeks.
''He will continue to speak out,'' said Gwen Logan, his oldest daughter. ``I expect he will make a decision on the Senate in a few days. Give him a little time.''
Click for more headlines by Bob Graham
|Democratic Presidential debate : Sept. 25, 2003|
|California gubernatorial recall debate : Sept. 24, 2003|
|Wesley Clark enters Presidential race : Sept. 17, 2003|
Click for more headlines by Wesley Clark
|John Edwards on NC Senate race : Sept. 8, 2003|
The decision appears to end an issue that had become an albatross on Edwards's presidential bid at a time when his campaign is looking to break away from the middle of the pack of nine candidates. Edwards's refusal to state his plans for the seat had fed an impression among some party leaders and voters that he was not in the race for the long haul.
Some national Democratic leaders have said they believe that Edwards, 50, a political novice who was elected in 1998, should sit out this presidential race because of the importance of keeping his Senate seat in Democratic hands. Democrats in North Carolina had complained that Edwards's delay in bowing out of the Senate race was hampering their ability to organize a strong campaign for a successor. Under state law, Edwards could have made his decision as late as Feb. 27, the filing deadline for the primary — after the results are in from many early presidential contests.
Among the Democrats considering a run are Erskine Bowles, a chief of staff to President Bill Clinton. [Bowles was defeated in 2002 by Elizabeth Dole.] The probable Republican nominee [is] Representative Richard M. Burr of Winston-Salem.
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|President Bush on Iraq : Sept. 7, 2003|
In a nationally televised prime-time address, his first from the White House since he announced the bombing of Baghdad on March 19, Mr. Bush said defeating terrorists in Iraq "will take time, and require sacrifice," but he left open-ended how long US troops would remain in Iraq and how much the conflict and occupation would ultimately cost. "We will do what is necessary, we will spend what is necessary, to achieve this essential victory in the war on terror, to promote freedom, and to make our own nation more secure," Bush said.
The president also said he would ask the United Nations for additional international troops for Iraq. The $87 billion request for the next fiscal year would add to the amount that Congress approved in a $79 billion bill last spring to pay the war costs for the current fiscal year, which ends Sept. 30.
In his 18-minute speech, Mr. Bush did not mention Osama bin Laden, who has so far eluded American capture in Afghanistan. He also did not mention the failure so far to find any unconventional weapons in Iraq, the major stated reason that the US went to war. Nor did Mr. Bush dwell on the conflict between the Israelis and Palestinians, which he once predicted would abate if Saddam Hussein was ousted from power in Iraq. That conflict has worsened.
"Our strategy in Iraq has three objectives: destroying the terrorists, enlisting the support of other nations for a free Iraq and helping Iraqis assume responsibility for their own defense and their own future," Bush said.
Bush's appeal for help from other countries was a recognition that the administration cannot unilaterally maintain its current level of 181,000 American troops in both Iraq and neighboring Kuwait. He said the United States would introduce a resolution in the Security Council encouraging Iraq's Governing Council to submit a plan and a timetable for drafting a new constitution, and for free elections
The speech was Mr. Bush's first extended address about Iraq since he declared an end to major combat operations in a May 1 speech. He was more triumphal then, asserting that "the United States and our allies have prevailed."
But 149 Americans have died in Iraq since then, compared with the 138 in the invasion itself. The United Nations headquarters in Baghdad was bombed last month, a low point in the United States' now five-month-old occupation. Tonight, Mr. Bush sought to wrest back control of the debate as the White House seeks money and support for the war from Congress and the United Nations, and as he enters the first phase of his re-election campaign.
Click for more headlines by George W. Bush
|Peter Ueberroth withdraws from California gubernatorial race : Sept. 9, 2003|
During his announcement, Ueberroth did not endorse any of the other 135 candidates. He said he needs to go "eyeball-to-eyeball" with them over the next few days to hear their ideas for creating new jobs. "I'm going to ask them my single-note question: 'How will you keep jobs in this state?'" he said. "Then I'll endorse a candidate."
Those meetings won't be limited to just other Republican candidates, but even though Ueberroth is willing to talk with Democrats, he drew the line at talking to Gov. Gray Davis. "I'm going to meet with candidates -- he's not a candidate right now. We'll see what happens," said Ueberroth.
He withdrew after trailing in the most recent polls in fourth place with just 5% voter support, despite reaching out for the support of Independent voters. "Frankly, we cannot see how the numbers work for this candidacy to get across the goal line," he said. "We're not going to be able to climb the mountain fast enough."
The decision by Ueberroth, the former commissioner of Major League Baseball and head of the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics, is likely to help the two other major Republican candidates in the race, film star Arnold Schwarzenegger and state Sen. Tom McClintock of Ventura County.
After Ueberroth's announcement, Schwarzenegger issued a statement calling him a "force for good" and saying he was looking forward to a meeting to "seek his input and involvement" in the campaign.
McClintock issued a statement, saying, he was saddened by Ueberroth's decision but added, "His withdrawal intensifies my resolve to stay the course." He also said he would welcome Ueberroth supporters to join his campaign.
Click for more headlines by Peter Ueberroth
|Bill Simon exits California recall race : Aug. 24,2003|
"I strongly believe that the desire of Californians must come before the aspirations of any single candidate," Simon said in a statement. Polls have found that Schwarzenegger was leading the Republicans, but was still running neck-and-neck with the leading Democrat among the replacement candidates, Lieutenant Governor Cruz Bustamante.
|Cruz Bustamante campaign strategy : Aug. 24,2003|
|Arnold Schwarzenegger's campaign theme : Aug. 24,2003|
|Ralph Nader considering 2004 run : July 13,2003|
Mr. Nader has run three times for president, faring best in 2000, when he won 2.7 percent of the overall vote and 1.6 percent in Florida, where George W. Bush's official 537-vote margin over Mr. Gore decided the election.
Speaking to reporters at a morning breakfast, Mr. Nader said his decision would depend, in some measure, on the fortunes of two of the nine current Democratic contenders whose politics would appear to resemble most closely his own — Dennis Kucinich, a House member from Ohio, and Howard Dean, the former governor of Vermont.
Mr. Nader said growing support for Mr. Kucinich, one of the most liberal members of Congress, would give him "less reason to go into the election," adding: "Not, no. Just less."
As for Dr. Dean, Mr. Nader says he likes what the former governor says in speeches but fears that he will ultimately move toward the center to broaden his appeal. Mr. Nader also had a kind word for Senator John Edwards of North Carolina for opposing caps on damages in liability cases, but he did not indicate whether Mr. Edwards would influence his decision.
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