Dodd Joins the Crowd With an Eye on '08

By Chris Cillizza and Charles Babington
Wednesday, May 24, 2006

History has shown that the Senate is not the best launching pad for a presidential run, but no fewer than 11 members of the world's greatest deliberative body are weighing 2008 bids. The latest is Christopher J. Dodd (D-Conn.), who told the Hartford Courant on Monday that he had "decided to do all the things that are necessary to prepare to seek the presidency in 2008."

Elected to the Senate in 1980, Dodd, 61, has long harbored a desire to run for national office. He considered a bid in 2004 but backed off in deference to his fellow senator from the Constitution State, Joseph I. Lieberman, who ran unsuccessfully in the Democratic primaries. After the 2004 election, Dodd was mentioned as a potential gubernatorial candidate but decided not to run.

He enters a Democratic field crowded with Senate colleagues. Hillary Rodham Clinton (N.Y.) is the front-runner for the nomination, and Evan Bayh (Ind.), John F. Kerry (Mass.), Joseph R. Biden Jr. (Del.) and Russell Feingold (Wis.) are all testing the waters. On the Republican side, John McCain (Ariz.), George Allen (Va.), Chuck Hagel (Neb.), Sam Brownback (Kans.) and Majority Leader Bill Frist (Tenn.) are considering their options.

Dodd begins from a near-dead stop when it comes to fundraising and organization. He ended March with $2 million in his Senate campaign account. By contrast, Clinton had $20 million in her Senate account -- all of which can be transferred to a presidential committee.

Although widely regarded as a long shot, Dodd did receive kind words from Senate Minority Leader Harry M. Reid (Nev.) yesterday. Reid called Dodd "one of our premier senators," adding: "I just think he'd be a great president, as I think a number of other Democrats would be great presidents."

It's a Mud, Mud World

The U.S. Senate contest in Pennsylvania between incumbent Rick Santorum (R) and Democratic challenger Bob Casey Jr. has lurched angrily in recent days to include claims of trespassing, peeping Toms and threats to children.

It started last week when a Democratic activist challenged Santorum's residency. The senator, his wife and six children spend most of their time in their Leesburg home, and the activist said the family's small home in Penn Hills, Pa. -- where Santorum maintains his official residence -- appeared unoccupied.

Santorum responded by calling Casey "a thug," accusing him of sending an agent to peek through windows. The claim that the house is empty "is not only a lie, but alerts those who may want to enter the home illegally," Santorum and his wife said in a statement. "Your despicable actions have greatly endangered our children's safety."

Casey and his wife said no one peeked through windows, adding: "We are outraged that Senator Santorum is making false and malicious charges."

Any hope that the flap might fade away ended on Monday, when the Santorum campaign launched its first radio ad, referring to a "long history of slinging mud" on Casey's part. Casey's campaign called the ad "negative and dishonest."

Conventional Wisdom

Both major parties had deadlines in recent days for cities to submit bids to host the Democratic and Republican conventions in 2008. Six metropolitan areas are in the hunt, and of that group, only Minneapolis-St. Paul and New York have applied to host both conventions. The last city to do double duty was Miami, in 1972.

The other possibilities for Democrats are Denver and New Orleans; for Republicans, Cleveland and Tampa-St. Petersburg are in the running. Each side is expected to pick a site by the fall.

Staff writer Shailagh Murray contributed to this report.

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