Dick Gephardt on the Campaign Trail

Stop #4 brought a few awkward moments when Al Sharpton, scheduled to speak after Gephardt, took the altar while Gephardt was still talking up his health care plan. While hundreds of parishioners at the Little Rock Baptist Church looked on clapping and chanting with enthusiasm, Sharpton sat motionless and staring straight forward. Gephardt was merely the warm-up act, right? Just as Gephardt finished his speech, he and Sharpton embraced and then held hands high above their heads. Gephardt's speech was a hit with the crowd, but he didn't stick around to see how this preaching thing is really done. By the time Sharpton took the podium, the campaign was well on their way to church number five.

At the Detroit debate, Congressman Gephardt stayed out of the limelight. Asked only four questions throughout the entire hour and a half, Gephardt stuck to his basic Bush-bashing on the war and the economy and spared his Democratic opponents. He continued to talk up his role in the Clinton economic plan and the prosperous 1990s. While neither an attacker or an attackee, Gephardt didn't seem to get as much air time as previous debates when he stirred the pot. And an uneventful debate meant uneventful closing remarks. Veteran Gephardt observers could lip synch along, since he played it safe and stuck to his stump speech, word for word.

Gephardt's labors rewarded with more laborers

Oct. 24 — Congressman Gephardt picked up another union endorsement Thursday, getting the nod from the New Mexico Building Trades Council, AFL-CIO, a local building trades union. This makes three early-state building trades under his tool belt; Missouri and New Hampshire building trade unions endorsed earlier this year.

ABC News also has a sneak peek at another Gephardt endorsement to be announced later today. The International Longshoreman's Association AFL-CIO, is set to be Gephardt's 20th international union endorsement today.

According to its Web site, the ILA is the largest union of maritime workers in North America, representing upwards of 65,000 longshoremen on the Atlantic and Gulf Coasts, Great Lakes, major U.S. rivers, Puerto Rico and Eastern Canada.

Gephardt lets the barbs fly

Oct. 23 —What a difference six weeks makes. While attacks of all shapes and sizes are being thrown every which way in the race these days, Congressman Gephardt was the first to bring his pet skunk to the party. Gephardt launched his first attack on Dean back on September 12th criticizing him for supporting cuts to Medicare back in 1995. He has since expanded his offensive into NAFTA, and now prescription drug coverage is in the mix.

The mudslinging continued Wednesday as the Gephardt campaign fired back at Dean after an ad critical of Gephardt's prescription drug plan began running all over Iowa. While the ad does not mention Gephardt by name, the campaign is confident the harsh words are aimed directly at him, since the two are neck and neck in the polls there — and some polls indicate Gephardt has a slight lead.

A campaign staffer told me today "there's a real fight going on here. Gephardt's message of economic opportunity and universal healthcare is gaining traction in Iowa. There's been a turnabout in the polls since Gephardt pointed out that Dean supported cuts in Medicare. Dean is struggling to regain his lead since he said Medicare is a bad program. The ad that Dean is running in Iowa shows that he's playing defense on retirement security."

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