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Contemplating a Run for Office Can Complicate Television Reruns

Democrats' Iowa Presence

The potential candidacy of Fred D. Thompson, shown on the set of the TV show
The potential candidacy of Fred D. Thompson, shown on the set of the TV show "Law & Order," poses a problem for NBC's summer schedule. (By Matt Moyer -- Associated Press)

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If January's Iowa presidential caucuses won't matter as much in the face of the Feb. 5 tsunami of voting, then someone forgot to tell the Democratic candidates.

Not only are the front-runners showering the state with visits but they are also establishing outposts throughout Iowa to ensure that activists have a home base in their own communities.

All told, the six leading candidates for the Democratic nomination have 79 field offices in Iowa, according to Carrie Giddins -- the indefatigable communications director of the state party.

Sen. Barack Obama (Ill.) leads the way with a whopping 28 offices -- a testament to the grass-roots organizational strategy associated with Iowa state director Paul Tewes. Former senator John Edwards (N.C.), who many people believe must win in Iowa to have a chance at the nomination, has 15 field offices. Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (N.Y.) checks in with 12, followed by New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson, with 11. Sen. Christopher J. Dodd (Conn.) has eight, while Sen. Joseph R. Biden Jr. (Del.) has five.

How Not to Handle a Scandal

When Sen. David Vitter was implicated in the "D.C. Madam" prostitution scandal Monday night, the initial reaction from political pundits was a collective shrug.

It's Lou-is-i-ana, the chorus drawled. Plus, Vitter isn't up for reelection until 2010.

But then the case took a peculiar turn. Violating every rule of scandal management, Vitter headed not to "Larry King Live" but into hiding. Into the vacuum rushed sensational new rumors about the senator's past. The Times-Picayune of New Orleans published yesterday an interview with a former New Orleans prostitute who said Vitter had once been a regular customer.

A personal crisis that might have passed with one tearful news conference has now become a full-blown political storm. The state is buzzing with speculation that Vitter may be preparing to resign. Should that occur, it would fall to Democratic Gov. Kathleen Babineaux Blanco to appoint a replacement and set a date for a special election, either in November 2008 or sooner.

The two top names circulating as possible Vitter successors: former senator John Breaux and Democratic Rep. Charlie Melancon.


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