MONTPELIER, Vt. – Filing the paperwork to get a candidate on a state's ballot doesn't usually raise eyebrows, but it did Wednesday when the national chairman of President Bush's re-election campaign arrived in the capital of Vermont to do just that.
The state is, after all, the home of Howard Dean (search), its former governor and leader of the pack of Democrats vying to challenge Bush in November.
"With the hundred million dollars that President Bush's campaign has to spend on staff, it's amazing that they couldn't find someone other than the chairman of the entire campaign to come to Vermont to file for the ballot," Trippi said, referring to Bush's multimillion-dollar campaign war chest.
Racicot denied the visit had anything to do with Dean, saying that prominent members of Bush's re-election staff have filed papers to get him on other state ballots. Republican National Committee Chairman Ed Gillespie (search) was filing similar paperwork in Arkansas — home state of Democrat Wes Clark, said Bush campaign spokesman Kevin Madden (search).
Nonetheless, Racicot could not avoid repeated references to Dean.
After filing the paperwork with the secretary of state's office, Racicot stopped and guffawed in front of a large oil painting of Dean that hangs prominently in the Statehouse. Vermont Gov. James Douglas (search) had told him the portrait is sometimes referred to as "L.L. Dean."
Some people say the painting looks as though it could have come from the catalogue of outdoor retailer L.L. Bean. Dean appears in relaxed clothing and hiking boots, sitting on the rocks along Lake Champlain with a canoe to one side and a paddle in his hand.