April 1, 2002 - Roll Call: Dominican Republic RPCV Dodd Not Ready to Tip His Hand on 2004

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Dominican Republic RPCV Dodd Not Ready to Tip His Hand on 2004

Dominican Republic RPCV Dodd Not Ready to Tip His Hand on 2004

Dodd Not Ready to Tip His Hand on 2004

By Mark Preston

The answer to the already confused question of whether or not Sen. Chris Dodd (D-Conn.) intends to seek the presidency in 2004 got even blurrier last week.

Asked if he was running for president by the Norwich (Conn.) Bulletin, Dodd responded, "No. I was thinking about it, but I wouldn't go any further than just that. I'm just giving it some thought. Part of the difficulty is that I like what I do too much."

That answer raised eyebrows in Washington as insiders sought to divine what exactly the Connecticut Democrat meant, but his spokesman said Friday that Dodd is simply keeping an open mind about the possibility.

"He has ruled nothing in nor nothing out," said spokesman Marvin Fast. "He has done nothing other than really keep his options open at this point."

Even though Dodd has not undertaken the kind of exploratory efforts his colleagues Sens. John Edwards (N.C.) and John Kerry (Mass.) have embraced, the Connecticut Democrat has at least taken steps to test the political waters.

Last month Dodd traveled to South Carolina, which is seen as a key primary state, to visit with Gov. Jim Hodges and Rep. Jim Clyburn (D-S.C.), a former chairman of the Congressional Black Caucus. And he is scheduled to attend the Florida Democratic convention this month, where Edwards, Kerry, former Vice President Al Gore and fellow Connecticut Democratic Sen. Joe Lieberman are all expected to appear.

Dodd would have to weigh any White House ambitions against a potential primary battle with Lieberman for the Democratic nomination. Lieberman, the Democratic vice presidential nominee in 2000, openly acknowledges that he is eyeing a presidential campaign and made a similar visit to the Palmetto State a week after Dodd's stopover.

Today Lieberman is delivering what is being billed by his office as a "major speech" on the "ethical dimension of the Enron scandal" at New York University.

Unlike the strained relationships that exist between some Senators representing the same state, Dodd and Lieberman are viewed as sharing a genuine friendship. And talk of the White House has not broken that bond, aides for both lawmakers claim.

"The way we figure it is, if they both run, it will double the chances that at least someone from Connecticut will win," said Dan Gerstein, Lieberman's spokesman.

"They have always been the dynamic duo of Connecticut politics, and you never know what the future may hold," Fast added.

Dodd, though, might not have to worry about facing off against his Connecticut colleague. Lieberman continues to say that he will not run for the White House if Gore, the Democratic nominee in 2000, seeks a rematch with Bush.

Still, Democratic insiders have mixed feelings about a Dodd candidacy, with some suggesting that it is clear his calling remains the Senate. In fact, Dodd is the chairman of the Rules and Administration Committee, which is charged, among other things, with overseeing the internal activities of the Senate.

"I think his skills are more suited to the Senate," said a veteran Senate Democratic aide. "I think he is a great Senator, but I don't think he is presidential material."

But a seasoned Democratic campaign strategist noted that Dodd would be a "nice, articulate, liberal spokesman for our party."

The strategist pointed to the lawmaker's service as chairman of the Democratic National Committee in the mid-1990s as one of the things that might influence his decision for 2004.

"I think he actually does want to run for president," the strategist said. "He got a taste for it when he was chairman of the party."

"I don't think there is any question Chris has ambitions beyond being a Senator from Connecticut," added a lobbyist close to the Democratic leadership.

Still, Dodd said he is not sure what his political future holds.

"People ask, but I don't know," he said in a brief interview during the election reform negotiations. "I guess I should be more introspective about it. I enjoy what I am doing ... Ienjoy representing Connecticut in the Senate. The idea of coming back to the Senate for another term is a very real possibility to me."

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Story Source: Roll Call

This story has been posted in the following forums: : Headlines; COS - Dominican Repulbic; Congress; Politics



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