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POLITICS IN BRIEF

Poll suggests Bush has election edge

A new poll by Time magazine and CNN indicated that 47 percent were somewhat likely or very likely to vote to reelect President Bush and 48 percent were somewhat unlikely or very unlikely to do so. Even with rising disapproval ratings, Bush still would defeat any current Democratic opponent if the election were held this year, the poll suggested. The poll of 1,507 people, conducted Nov. 18-19, had a margin of error of 2.5 percentage points. The Democrat who would give Bush the toughest run for reelection would be Wesley K. Clark, the survey's results said. Even so, Bush would defeat Clark 49 percent to 42 percent, the poll said, and Bush would best Howard B. Dean 59 percent to 39 percent. (Reuters)

IOWA

Dean calls rival's criticism `claptrap'

CEDAR RAPIDS -- Howard B. Dean dismissed the latest criticism against him by a rival for the Democratic presidential nomination as "Washington claptrap" and said criticism has escalated as his campaign has built momentum. The latest assault came yesterday in a speech in Cedar Rapids in which Richard A. Gephardt, in a pitched battle for Iowa's labor vote in the January's caucuses, said Dean was too eager to cut social programs for disabled and poor Vermonters during 12 years as governor. (AP)

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