Dick Gephardt on the Campaign Trail

Oct. 31 — Chrissy Gephardt began a three-day tour in Iowa Thursday meeting with students at Drake University and Simpson College in Des Moines. While her father's campaign schedule is filled with stops at senior centers and union halls, Chrissy works at drawing in what some might call "the Dean generation," stopping at college campuses and places like the Vibe Coffee House in Cedar Falls.

As Chrissy was busy on the ground trying to lower the median age of her father's supporters, the Gephardt campaign was at it too, announcing the launch of a Web site: Students for Gephardt. The site features a blog for students to "comment on campaign activities and communicate with each other" and acts as a "grassroots primer to help students coordinate events in their school community."

Gephardt campaign deals with alleged altercation

Oct. 30 —

Wednesday afternoon, as the Gephardt campaign toured rural parts of Iowa, word spread that yesterday's incident at a Des Moines press event was beginning to bubble over. Not only did they receive word of a letter of protest sent by the Dean camp but rumors were swirling that Des Moines radio stations were abuzz with the allegations that a Gephardt staff member shoved a young Dean tracker and called him an offensive name.

Tuesday afternoon, Hunter Allen, the Dean tracker, was asked by Gephardt's Iowa state director, John Lapp, to leave the speech where about 100 senior citizens were listening to Gephardt map out his health care plan. Allen, speaking loudly on his cell phone next to dozens of journalists, seemed to be reporting back to the Dean office immediately after Gephardt compared Dean to President Bush because of his willingness to cut Medicare in the mid-1990's. Allen left temporarily but returned for a presser held after the speech.

While circling the media scrum to find a good spot to record Gephardt's Q & A, Lapp and Gephardt's "body man" Mike Kelley asked him repeatedly to leave. Allen insisted that he was within his boundaries to stay and that he was simply doing his job. A heated argument ensued two feet behind Gephardt (as seen on the interview tape) as the Congressman continued to answer questions, apparently unaware that things were heating up behind him. In the end, the three walked into a back kitchen and that's the last anyone saw of the argument.

As ABC News' Dean campaign reporter Marc Ambinder pointed out, the Dean staffer has alleged that he was accosted physically and verbally by at least one of the Gephardt staffers.

Gephardt's Iowa press secretary, Bill Burton had this to say, "There were a hundred people in the room, at least 20 media members, 7 video cameras, and various recorders. He was even carrying a recorder. Show us the evidence. This comes on a day when Dean is hurting because of attacks on his Medicare and affirmative action positions so it seems like an act to divert attention."

In other news, on his two-day, nine-stop mini-tour du jour, Gephardt seemed upbeat and pleased with the larger than expected crowds. His enormous energy level was put to the ultimate test with upwards of 20 reporters vying for 10-minute windows of alone time with him. Most ended up switching in and out of the campaign's rented mini-van in between events, which made the campaign slightly behind schedule, a rarity.

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