October 10, 2004: Headlines: COS - Dominican Republic: Congress: Politics: Election2004 - Dodd: Republic American: Senator Dodd taking nothing for granted

Peace Corps Online: Directory: Dominican Republic: RPCV Chris Dodd (Dominican Republic) : RPCV Chris Dodd: Archived Stories: October 10, 2004: Headlines: COS - Dominican Republic: Congress: Politics: Election2004 - Dodd: Republic American: Senator Dodd taking nothing for granted

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Senator Dodd taking nothing for granted

Senator Dodd taking nothing for granted

Senator Dodd taking nothing for granted

Senator taking nothing for granted

Sunday, October 10, 2004

By Nicolas Zimmerman

Copyright © 2004 Republican-American

WASHINGTON -- If incumbent Sen. Christopher Dodd thinks he has a fifth U.S. Senate term locked up, he isn't going to sit around and gloat about it.

Although a poll released last week by Quinnipiac University showed him leading challenger Jack Orchulli by 45 percentage points, the Connecticut Democrat fastidiously uses the conditional "If I am reelected" when discussing his future agenda.

"I think the best politics is doing your job," he said. "And doing it not just election year, but doing it the moment after you get elected until the moment before your election." Dodd probably wouldn't know a close senate race if he saw one, anyway. In 1998, he received 628,306 votes. His opponent, Gary Franks, received 312,177.

Dodd was born in Willimantic, in 1944, the fifth of Grace Murphy Dodd and the late Sen. Thomas J. Dodd's six children. The younger Dodd graduated from Providence College in 1966, then served in the Peace Corps in the Dominican Republic for two years. He earned his law degree from the University of Louisville School of Law in 1972, while serving in the Army reserves from 1969 until 1975.

After practicing law for two years in New London, Dodd was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 1974, where he served the state's old second district for six years. In 1980 he became the youngest senator ever to serve the state of Connecticut, at age 36. Although married briefly at the beginning of his senate career, Dodd was a bachelor for many years until he married Jackie Marie Clegg in 1999. She gave birth to their daughter, Grace, in 2001.

While there have been reports that the senator might seek a run at the White House in 2008, Dodd so far has declined to take reporters' bait. He insists instead that he is focused on winning Nov. 2.

Dodd missed becoming senate leader by just one vote in 1994. He seems almost embarrassed to talk about his political accomplishments, and declines to contrast himself with his competitor. "I let others make the comparisons," he said.

Sen. Joe Lieberman, also a Democrat, praised his colleague.

"I have been proud to serve with the senior senator from Connecticut for the past 16 years. During that tenure Senator Dodd has proven time and time again that he can consistently deliver for the state of Connecticut. From improving Connecticut's transportation infrastructure to nurturing the innovation that will bolster our state's economy, I have been proud to join Senator Dodd in fighting -- and winning -- for Connecticut," he said.

Although Dodd turned 60 in May, he doesn't talk like someone on the decline. He said America has problems and that he wants to work on putting the country back on track -- "patching this thing up, putting it together right."

He said Americans are currently feeling insecure over job losses, inadequate access to health care and the increasingly grim situation in Iraq. According to the same poll that showed Dodd with a commanding lead over his challenger, the issues most important to Connecticut voters right now are the situation in Iraq, the economy and terrorism and health care.

Although he voted to authorize the use of force in Iraq, Dodd said the revelation that Saddam Hussein did not possess weapons of mass destruction underscores the fact that the war has distracted from the real War on Terror. He wants to shift the focus back to Al Qaida. He calls the vote to use force one of the most difficult he's made, adding that if Congress had known then what it knows now "we would have never had a vote."

While the economy is stronger in Connecticut than in many other states, it has taken a hit in some of its core industries. Since 2000, the state has lost close to 50,000 of its 250,000 manufacturing jobs, according to Frank Johnson of the Manufacturing Alliance of Connecticut.

Johnson, executive director of the alliance, says Dodd has been one of the industry's strongest allies in Washington. "He generally cares about the fact that we're eroding our middle class by losing so many manufacturing jobs in this country," Johnson said. "A lot of people are willing to listen, but not a lot are willing to take it up on the Senate floor."

Dodd said he believes manufacturing is still the beating heart of Connecticut's economy. "I don't subscribe to the notion that manufacturing is no longer important to us either in Connecticut or the nation," he says. To that end he has sponsored legislation to keep companies with federal contracts from outsourcing jobs, and to keep state governments that outsource work from receiving federal funds.

In Connecticut, jobs and defense go hand-in-hand. During the last six years, Dodd has helped funnel about $30 billion worth of defense contracts into Connecticut. He said he wants to bring more, including a $2 billion contract to build the new presidential helicopter at Stamford-based Sikorsky.

Dodd also helped get funding for fire departments. In 2000 he authored a bill that ultimately brought $18.3 million to fire departments across Connecticut. In 2003 he helped introduce a bill that will help hire 75,000 firefighters nationwide.

Dodd said he is focused on Connecticut's future. As most of the nation's growth is concentrated in the southern and southwestern United States, Dodd sees the Northeast as a region in transition.

"There's a concern -- what are we doing with our cities, in our older cities?" he asked. While he recognizes the historical preeminence of manufacturing in Connecticut, Dodd said the state needs to adapt to the needs of a changing economy.

He's said cities throughout the state that have provided a century's worth of solid manufacturing jobs are now being confronted with the question of what to do now. He said Connecticut needs to attract new jobs in the high-tech and service industries in order to offset some of the losses in manufacturing. He points to the boon that biotech giant Pfizer has been in Groton, New London and New Haven as an example of the potential impact new industries could have in Connecticut.

Dodd said Connecticut has several factors that make it an attractive destination for high-tech companies, namely its proximity to the economic centers of Boston and New York, its world-class academic institutions and its highly skilled work force. "I think we can move aggressively into the 21st century with high-value jobs, well-paying jobs and quality of life. And that's very much what I see as part of my agenda for the next six years, if reelected."

Pat Ambrogio, CEO of the Main Street Development Corp., said Dodd has been instrumental in securing money for revitalization projects in the Naugatuck Valley.

Dodd secured $250,000 for downtown renovation projects in Beacon Falls, Naugatuck, Derby, Ansonia and Seymour, and $750,000 last year for projects in downtown Waterbury. Recently, Dodd helped get a $1 million appropriation for replacement of the Depot Street Bridge in Beacon Falls. The impact of these undertakings, said Ambrogio, is that new businesses are attracted to areas hit hard by the loss of manufacturing jobs.

Herb Shepardson, chairman of the Connecticut Republican Party, disagrees. "Although Chris Dodd is a very personable individual, we only see him six months before he is running for reelection," Shepard said. "It's time that we had a change in that position with someone who is more dedicated to Connecticut throughout the entire term, as opposed to someone who just looks to us for our vote every six years."

One of the prerequisites of nurturing an economy increasingly based on high-tech jobs, Dodd said, is to improve elementary and secondary education in Connecticut. "In the 21st century we're going to have to have the best-educated generation we've ever produced," he said. According to Dodd, No Child Left Behind has been under-funded by $26 billion. He would fight for enough money to implement the act effectively if elected to a fifth term, he said.

As the father of a 3-year-old, Dodd has more than just a political interest in working the kinks out of the system. "We have to be a source of optimism, of constructive ideas so that we can begin to build a future for the coming generation, so that they can enjoy at least some of the benefits that this country has offered every other generation since its founding," he said. And Dodd announced Friday his newest reason to strive to ensure the brightest possible future for America: In March, Dodd's wife Jackie will give birth to their second child.

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Story Source: Republic American

This story has been posted in the following forums: : Headlines; COS - Dominican Republic; Congress; Politics; Election2004 - Dodd



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