Dick Gephardt on the Campaign Trail

Bill Carrick, a senior strategist for Gephardt, told ABC News that none of the recent Dean news will change their strategy. "There is no magic campaign rabbit that we're going to pull out of a hat." Another campaign source said they feel they are right on track and predicted wins in Iowa and February 3 states Missouri, North Dakota, and Oklahoma and "that's four of the seven states up until then." February 3, he said, is an "advantageous lineup" for Gephardt.

Sounds good, but beyond Iowa money will be a key factor and Dean will have lots more of it. Adding insult to injury, it was reported that some top Gephardt campaign staffers have been asked to take pay cuts.

All of the endorsement woes and financial stresses seemed far from Congressman Gephardt's mind Saturday night in St. Louis when he attended a black tie fundraiser with his wife, Jane, and daughter, Chrissy. The gala was a benefit for the Human Rights Campaign, an organization in which Chrissy, a lesbian activist, is very involved. The Gephardts beamed when Chrissy took the podium to introduce her father.

As I squatted on the floor in front with my video camera among the tuxedos and strapless dresses, I noticed the intense emotion on the faces of both Chrissy and her father as each of them spoke. Chrissy, who is the spitting image of her dad, teared up when he talked about her courage to come forward to tell him and Jane she is gay. Chrissy described the difficult decision to come out — made more difficult because of her father's career in politics. She feared her parents would tell their friends that she had moved to a desert island. She feared backlash from her father's supporters, and they have received some.

But, Chrissy said, to her relief, her parents reacted with love and acceptance. So much so that months later, she and her new girlfriend moved in with the Gephardts into their modest Washington, D.C. condo. Gephardt later said Chrissy's and Amy's two cats were the hardest part; he's a dog guy.

Two-horse race

Nov. 7 — With news of Dean's SEIU endorsement and the possible collaboration between the SEIU and fellow labor giant AFSCME to back Dean, phones were ringing off the hook at the Gephardt campaign headquarters in Washington, D.C., with reporters looking for statements and digging to gauge just how major a blow this is for Gephardt. The campaign had been enjoying a recent boost in positive media attention but with the SEIU news that all came to a screeching halt. As newspapers hit the stands today with big Dean headlines, you'll find Gephardt's name down in the fourth or fifth graph, where reporters assess how bad the news is for the other candidates.

Gephardt campaign manager Steve Murphy spun it for the positive. "This is a bigger blow to Wes Clark than it is for Dick Gephardt," he said. Clark has hoped for an SEIU endorsement since he announced his candidacy, Murphy said, and Kerry, who was reported to be the AFSCME favorite early on in the race, also hoped for their backing. Murphy said Gephardt wasn't expecting either and the campaign knew nothing of the unions working together on a joint announcement. He said they've long known that the SEIU was courting Dean and "AFSCME endorsed Dukakis in 1988, not Gephardt, and Gerald McEntee has been sending signals all year that he's not going with Dick Gephardt."

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