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CANDIDATES / DICK GEPHARDT
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UPDATE: Dick Gephardt dropped out of the race on January 20, 2004.

Name: Richard A. Gephardt
Birth date: January 31, 1941
Education: Bachelor's degree, Northwestern University, 1962; law degree, University of Michigan, 1965
Military Service: Air National Guard, 1965-1971
Career: Attorney, 1965-1977
Elected office: St. Louis Board aldermen, 1971-76; U.S. representative, elected 1976; candidate for 1988 Democratic presidential nomination; House Democratic leader, 1994-2002
Family: Wife, Jane; three children
Quote: "It is time for me personally to take a different direction, look at the country's challenge from a different perspective and take on this president and the Republican Party from a different vantage point."
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Second try, same result for Gephardt

(CNN) -- Rep. Dick Gephardt aimed for the White House once before, but dropped out. Sixteen years later, he tried again only to see history repeat itself.

Gephardt, a 14-term congressman from Missouri, was the only previous presidential candidate in a crowded Democratic field. But his experience did not help him on the campaign trail, as he exited the race on January 20, 2004 -- one day after a poor showing in the Iowa caucuses.

Months earlier, Stuart Rothenberg, editor and publisher of the Rothenberg Political Report, an independent political newsletter, placed Gephardt in the top tier of Democratic contenders.

The political calendar and Gephardt's likely support from unions and fellow congressmen boosted his chances, Rothenberg said.

But Gephardt's campaign ended in Iowa, where despite predictions of victory, he finished a distant fourth. (Full story)

"This didn't come out the way we wanted, but I've been through tougher fights in my life," he said after the caucuses closed, alluding to his son's battle with cancer.

"My campaign for working people may be ending tonight, but our fight will never end."

Gephardt made it official the next day, formally dropping his presidential bid. In doing so, he ended a 33-year political career, having previously announced that he would not seek re-election for his House seat. (Full story)

Worker's rights, health care key issues

Before dropping out, Gephardt won support from several key Democratic constituencies, including organized labor.

Early in his campaign, he told CNN's Judy Woodruff, "I think when everything is finally considered, I'll have a lot of support -- strong support -- not only from labor unions but from working people."

By mid-August, Gephardt had the backing of at least 10 unions including the Teamsters and the United Steel Workers of America, the two of which claim 2.6 million members.

Union support is important to Gephardt because his father, a milk truck driver, was a Teamsters member.

But Rothenberg said that Gephardt's stance on the war in Iraq -- he voted to authorize military force against Saddam Hussein -- might have hurt him among some Democratic activists.

Health care was another centerpiece of Gephardt's campaign, particularly his plan to provide coverage to the 41 million Americans without health insurance.

The proposal covered families and also offered businesses and state and local governments relief from health insurance costs. According to Gephardt's Web site, the plan would pump more than $280 billion into the economy over the first three years.

Gephardt, 62, a member of the U.S. House of Representatives for the last 27 years, resigned his post as House minority leader in November 2002 to begin this bid for the White House.

He has taken some heat for failing, as the top House Democrat, to regain Democratic control of the House in four national elections. But Gephardt dismissed the criticism.

"I see it a little differently," he told CNN's Judy Woodruff in 2003. "We won three out of those four elections, we picked up seats in the House. I'm proud of that. I'm proud of the leadership. ... I learned a lot from all of that experience."

An experienced politician

Fund raising may have contributed to Gephardt's downfall in 2004 -- much like it did during his 1988 presidential run.

During the first three months of 2003, his campaign raised $3.6 million -- about half of what the best-financed Democrats, John Kerry and John Edwards, collected.

In the second quarter, which ended June 30, Gephardt raised only $3.87 million, short of his goal of raising $5 million from April to June.

During his second presidential bid, some critics have called Gephardt an uninspiring candidate and "old news."

Rothenberg said some people look for new faces, noting that it is hard to be excited about someone who has been on the scene for three decades.

Americans are impatient and want the latest fad, Rothenberg said. "There's nothing faddish about Dick Gephardt," he said.

But Gephardt said during the campaign that he sees his experience as an advantage, not a disadvantage. "I think it helps to have done this before," he said.

Ron Faucheux, a professor at George Washington University in Washington, D.C., said that while some may consider ample time on Capital Hill a drawback, other voters might feel more comfortable with Gephardt, considering him safe and reliable.

The 1988 campaign

Gephardt made his first run for the White House in 1988, entering the race on February 23, 1987.

He won the Iowa caucuses, taking 31 percent of the state convention delegates, and was considered the front-runner after then-Colorado Sen. Gary Hart dropped out of the race.

But Gephardt won only the Missouri primary on Super Tuesday, and lost the follow-up Michigan primary to Jesse Jackson and Michael Dukakis. On March 25, 1988, he withdrew from the presidential race after running out of money.

In Congress, Gephardt has had a successful career. On his first try, he won his Missouri district in 1976 with 64 percent of the vote. He was assigned to the House Ways and Means Committee as a freshman, a rare honor.

In 1985, he co-founded the Democratic Leadership Council, the goal of which was to bring the party to a more centrist position. Gephardt later parted ways with the council over several issues, including trade.

In 1989, he was elected House majority leader. In 1994, when the GOP gained control of the House, he was elected House minority leader.

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