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Kerry Pulls Out the Clinton Card

By John F. Harris and Paul Farhi
Thursday, October 21, 2004; Page A08

Former president Bill Clinton, on the injured reserve list for most of this political season since heart surgery last month, will make his first appearance with Democratic nominee John F. Kerry in Philadelphia on Monday.

The Kerry campaign's announcement of the noon-hour rally ends the suspense over whether Clinton would be sufficiently recuperated to hit the road on behalf of the Democratic nominee. Clinton plans what Kerry aides described as a handful of separate appearances for the Democratic ticket, including in Nevada and other battleground states still to be announced.



Kerry had once hoped for an intensive October schedule by Clinton, but the surprise quadruple-bypass surgery the former president underwent on Sept. 6 made that impossible. The procedure has left him fatigued, friends said, and until this week it was unclear whether any appearances would be possible.

Clinton issued recent e-mail appeals to Democrats asking them to make contributions and "to look in the mirror and ask: 'What more can I do to help?' "

Four years ago, Democratic nominee Al Gore kept the man who named him vice president at a distance, fearing public disgust with Clinton's scandals would prove a drag. This year, Clinton won raves from Democrats at the party's Boston convention, and again Tuesday night when Kerry mentioned his name at a rally in Dayton, Ohio.

"Bill Clinton and I were talking," Kerry said, "and he said, 'You know, when the other guy wants you to stop thinking and he's trying to scare you into not thinking, and you want Americans to think about their future, it's pretty clear who you ought to be voting for.' "

Rice Speechifying Targeted

Democrats charged yesterday that national security adviser Condoleezza Rice had politicized her traditionally nonpartisan job, after revelations that Rice has recently traveled widely to make speeches in battleground states.

Rep. John Conyers Jr. (Mich.), the ranking Democrat on the House Judiciary Committee, asked a special counsel to investigate whether Rice has violated the Hatch Act, which prohibits government employees from engaging in political activities while on the job. Conyers said in a letter to the U.S. Office of Special Counsel that "any political activity on the part of the National Security Adviser would undermine the trust bestowed on such a non-partisan post."

As detailed in The Washington Post yesterday, Rice has given or will give a total of nine speeches over the last eight weeks of the presidential campaign in states that are critical to President Bush's reelection hopes, including the big three: Florida, Ohio and Pennsylvania.

Democratic vice presidential candidate John Edwards said Rice's travel diverted her from her job and reflected "a greater commitment" by the Bush administration to "its political security than to our national security."

White House spokesman Scott McClellan defended Rice, saying she is being "accessible to the American people to talk about" national security issues. A White House source who is close to Rice, speaking on the condition of anonymity, added that Rice is not covered by the Hatch Act's provisions. "She could campaign overtly if she wanted to," the official said.

'Brain-Dead' on Middle Class

Sen. Joseph R. Biden Jr. (D-Del.) yesterday clarified a comment he had made Tuesday at an event in Delaware, during which he called the president "brain-dead."

"What I meant by brain dead is that he doesn't understand the plight of the middle class," Biden said in an interview with the Associated Press. "How can anybody say that a meager tax cut the middle class got even remotely compensates for the increased costs in heating oil, gasoline, health care, tuition?" he said. "He is just totally out of touch."

Biden's comment drew the ire of Delaware Republicans. "Senator Biden should be ashamed of his below-the-belt rhetoric and personal attacks on the president," said David A. Crossan, executive director of the state's Republican Party. "Challenging policies is one thing, but calling someone 'brain-dead' crosses the line."

Nader Offered Buyout

They've tried begging. Pleading. Harassment. And now, money.

A group of anti-Nader activists is offering to funnel donations to one of Ralph Nader's old outfits -- the watchdog group Public Citizen -- if he agrees to quit his independent presidential campaign.

"A vote to get him out is a vote in support of his ideals," said the co-founder of RalphPlease.org, Raymond Tekosky. Thus far, the organization said, it has collected $100,00 in pledges from about 3,500 donors. It is the latest in a series of efforts -- ranging from angry pleas to legal harassment -- to sideline Nader's campaign by Democrats and others who worry he could tip the election to Bush. The Nader camp, not surprisingly, scoffed at the group's offer. "Ralph Nader is not a big fan of bribery," spokesman Kevin Zeese said.

Nader's running mate from the 1996 and 2000 elections, Green activist Winona LaDuke, has announced that she is backing Kerry in next month's election.

Political researcher Brian Faler contributed to this report.


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