Gephardt Pokes Fun at Image on 'Tonight Show'

Democratic presidential hopeful Dick Gephardt (searchappeared on NBC's "Tonight Show" Tuesday night and said he has a problem celebrities might envy sometimes -- he has a hard time getting recognized in public.

Gephardt, a Democratic congressman from Missouri, told host Jay Leno (searchhe was recently approached in a Texas airport by a man who thought he was his insurance agent and by women in St. Louis who thought he was either a television weatherman or Dan Quayle (search).

"Did you just quit the campaign right then?" Leno joked.

Gephardt also addressed serious topics ranging from gay marriage to the conflict in Iraq to universal health care.

Gephardt, 62, said he approved of President Bush's recent surprise visit to Iraq, but criticized the president's unilateral approach to military involvement there.

"I wish when he left Baghdad he'd gone to Paris, Berlin, and Moscow and gotten the help of European nations he should have gotten a long time ago," Gephardt said.

Gephardt said he has tried to work with Bush since the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, but found that "he's hard to help."

He said Bush was "not up to this job" and cited the president's policies on global warming and handling of unemployment and North Korea as examples.

Gephardt, who will join striking grocery workers on the picket lines in West Hollywood on Wednesday, said he would push for universal health care, if elected. He said his 33-year-old son, Matt, was diagnosed with cancer at the age of 18 months and without good health insurance his son would have died.

"I'm bound and determined to solve this problem because I've been there," he said in an interview following a taping of the show. "I know what it means not to have insurance and I know what it means to have insurance."

Polls indicate that Gephardt is in a tight race with former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean for the Jan 19 Iowa caucuses. Dean, the front-runner, holds a wide lead in the follow-up primary in New Hampshire.