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Inside Politics

Skeletons in the closet

By Bill Schneider
CNN Political Unit


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WASHINGTON (CNN) -- You find out lots of scary stuff about the candidates in a campaign.

Especially on Halloween, when we ask each candidate, what skeletons do you have in YOUR closet?

How's this for a skeleton in the closet? In 1983 and 1984, John Kerry was Michael Dukakis' lieutenant governor. Ooh ... pretty scary, huh boys and girls?

The skeleton in Carol Moseley Braun's closet is a man named Kgosie Matthews. He was her one-time campaign manager and fiance who was accused of campaign finance improprieties and setting up the senator's ill-advised trip to Nigeria to visit that country's dictator, for whom Matthews had once lobbied.

A lot of Democrats don't want to be reminded of Al Gore's 2000 campaign. One of them may be Joe Lieberman. Lieberman went on CNN's "Inside Politics" in July and said, "Rhetoric which suggests class conflict and anti-business kept away from our side some number of middle-class people who don't see America as 'the people versus the powerful.'"

Open Dennis Kucinich's closet and you'll find out that back when he was mayor of Cleveland in the 1970s, the city went bankrupt.

John Edwards is actually 50 years old. But he looks 30. Maybe it's the hair. Edwards' youthful appearance has been a handicap to his campaign. Not enough experience, some Democrats say.

Al Sharpton once spread the story that, when Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated, Jesse Jackson smeared King's blood on his clothes. "Did I take the blood of the guy I loved and put it on my shirt?" Sharpton asked. He later apologized to Jackson. But whom did Congressman Jesse Jackson, Jr. endorse for president? Howard Dean.

Some remarks Howard Dean once made about Medicare have been haunting his campaign. In the debate on October 9, Dick Gephardt said Dean "was in agreement with the Republican stand to have a deep, devastating cut in Medicare."

OK, Mr. Gephardt. What skeletons do you have in your closet? How about the moment last year in the Rose Garden, when President Bush signed the Iraq war resolution? Bush said, "I want to thank in particular Speaker Hastert and Leader Gephardt."

President Bush praising a Democrat is one thing. But a Democrat praising President Bush?

Wesley Clark said in May, "I'm very glad we have the great team in office. Men like Colin Powell, Don Rumsfeld, Dick Cheney, Condoleeza Rice, Paul O'Neill -- people I know every well -- our president, George W. Bush."

President Bush has a missing persons bureau in his closet. Whatever happened to Osama bin Laden and Saddam Hussein and that "senior administration official'' who leaked the name of a CIA operative.

There are a lot of skeletons rattling around this campaign. It's almost as if the devil himself is running the show.


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