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Campaign Notebook

Richardson says Clinton isn't the only women's candidate

CONCORD, N.H. -- Presidential hopeful Bill Richardson said yesterday that he will not concede the women's vote to rival candidate Hillary Clinton and opened his courtship of the crucial Democratic voting bloc by pledging to protect the right to abortion.

The New Mexico governor and former Clinton Cabinet member launched his Women for Richardson effort with pledges to support pay equity, back limited Social Security credit for family leave, and appoint judges who would uphold abortion rights.

"This is not a constituency issue. This is not an issue of women being a special interest. Women are the majority in this country," Richardson said. "What I'm doing here is addressing the interests of the majority."

In a speech to a mainly female audience, Richardson said his judicial nominees would have to support the precedent established in Roe v. Wade, the landmark Supreme Court decision that legalized abortion.

"When you talk about Supreme Court justices, you look at the enormous damage the Supreme Court has done over the last two months. It has not been a good summer," he said.

Richardson said he appointed women to top jobs as a member of Congress, Cabinet secretary, and governor.

"I've always appointed women to critical positions. You know why? Women are better workers than men. It's very simple," Richardson said to laughter. "I hope that doesn't lose the men's vote."

Wilson endorses Clinton
WASHINGTON -- Senator Clinton has won the endorsement of Joseph Wilson, the retired diplomat whose outspoken critique of the Bush administration's march to war in Iraq led administration officials to identify his wife, Valerie Plame Wilson, as a CIA operative.

The Clinton campaign took the unusual step of announcing the endorsement on a conference call with bloggers -- a reflection of Wilson's popularity among the antiwar left and bloggers' fascination with the Plame Wilson case.

Clinton "is the one candidate in my judgment who understands the need to get America out of harm's way," Wilson said in the call, which was moderated by Clinton Internet director Peter Daou.

In 2003, as the Bush team built its case to invade Iraq, Wilson visited the African nation of Niger to investigate administration contentions that Saddam Hussein had purchased uranium yellowcake, a component for building nuclear weapons. Finding no such evidence, Wilson wrote an op-ed in The New York Times charging that the administration had manipulated the intelligence information to suit its goals.

Shortly after the piece was published, Plame Wilson's identity was leaked to several journalists, including syndicated columnist Robert Novak, who disclosed her connection to the CIA in a July 2003 story. (AP)

Romney ad turns to youth
In his seventh campaign ad, Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney complains about the "cesspool" enveloping the nation's children. .

"I'd like to see us clean up the water in which our kids are swimming," Romney says in the ad, aired yesterday in Iowa, New Hampshire, and South Carolina.

"I'd like to keep pornography from coming up on their computers. I'd like to keep drugs off the streets. I'd like to see less violence and sex on TV and in video games and in movies."

By doing all that, the former Massachusetts governor said, "we can actually do a great deal to clean up the water in which our kids and our grandkids are swimming."

To date, Romney has spent $4.9 million on ads, the most of any presidential candidate, and focused primarily on the early voting states.

The latest ad is targeted to social conservatives who are the backbone of the GOP primary vote. Romney quotes former Reagan speechwriter Peggy Noonan, who has complained about "the ocean in which our children now swim."

Romney's "cesspool" reference, however, highlights an ongoing dispute between him and some social conservatives who say he should have done more to stop the distribution of sexually explicit movies by the Marriott hotel chain during the near-decade he was on the corporation's board.

Romney has said he is not trying to tamp down on such movies, but the inadvertent viewing of explicit material by children via the Internet or television. (AP)

Dodd is seeing green
CONCORD, N.H. -- Presidential hopeful Chris Dodd told environmental activists they could usurp the title of "the greatest generation" from World War II veterans by saving the planet.

"How about a future generation talking about us turning this planet into a paradise?" said Dodd, a Democratic US senator from Connecticut. "We've done so much damage in such a short time. . . . This is not irreversible. We can all make a difference."

Dodd earlier this year split from his Democratic presidential rivals and proposed to tax corporations for their carbon dioxide emissions.

He is seeking a steep increase in auto fuel economy standards to 50 miles per gallon by 2017 and wants to require the government to use clean-energy vehicles. Activists have hailed his plan as a model.

Most of Dodd's Democratic rivals back some form of a cap-and-trade system that sets limits on carbon emissions and makes companies pay for producing greenhouse gases. But no one else has called for a corporate carbon tax. Dodd backs both approaches. (AP)