Campaign Odds and Ends

As other candidates for the Democratic nomination for president swarmed Iowa on the Saturday before its leadoff caucuses, Dennis Kucinich was in New Mexico calling for greater protection of rights for American Indians.

Kucinich met with members of a Navajo coalition and other Indian leaders before heading to Iowa. He said the United States needs to keep its word when it comes to the treaties it signed with tribal governments generations ago.

"In order to be president of the United States one must remember who was on this land first," he said during the Dine Bidziil Navajo Strength Coalition conference. "Also, there is so much which the United States can learn from the beauty of Native American culture."

Kucinich's campaign said efforts were under way to encourage New Mexico's Indian voters to turn out for the state's first presidential caucus, scheduled Feb. 3. Indians make up about 9 percent of the state's population.

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When Howard Dean meets former President Carter on Sunday in tiny Plains, Ga., townspeople aren't likely to pay much attention to all the fuss.

They are accustomed to visits by dignitaries, said Bobby Salter, who owns the gas station once operated by Carter's brother, the late Billy Carter.

"It's still a small-town environment, even though we have a lot of visitors," Salter said. "Maybe he will come by and get some Southern candy."

Carter lives in a fenced compound on the main street of the town of 600. He is scheduled to speak at a press conference with Dean at Carter's old high school, now part of the Jimmy Carter National Historic Site.

Carter has said the meeting is an opportunity to talk with Dean, not to endorse his candidacy.

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Two veterans of American politics, Dale Bumpers and David Pryor, found themselves overshadowed by their traveling partner as they stumped Saturday in New Hampshire for fellow Arkansan Wesley Clark.

Bumpers and Pryor, both former governors and U.S. senators, were content to act on Clark's behalf in subtle ways.

Bumpers melted into the background as Clark held forth at a pancake breakfast in one town and at an elementary school in another.

Pryor, meanwhile, chatted with an older couple who told him about losing their jobs to cheaper overseas labor. He made a good impression: the couple invited him to stay at their home.

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Sure, Rob Mayers and his 13-year-old daughter wanted to see Dick Gephardt. Yet, they admit there was another draw to the Missouri congressman's rally in Davenport, Iowa, on Saturday: singer Michael Bolton.

Bolton, who called Gephardt "the best man for the job," sang at a ballroom for 300 Gephardt supporters as well as the congressman and his wife, Jane.

The real Bolton fan of the Mayers family, Rob's wife, Chris, was too sick to attend. She once spent all night waiting to buy tickets to see a Bolton concert.