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Sen. Kerrey Hiring N.H., Iowa State Directors

By Carin Dessauer/CNN

Bob Kerrey

WASHINGTON (June 18) -- Democratic Sen. Bob Kerrey is stepping up his 2000 presidential effort and taking a step that no other potential contender has taken, hiring state directors for his political action committee in New Hampshire and Iowa, sources close to Kerrey and Democratic Party operatives tell CNN.

CNN has learned the Nebraska senator, while in the first-in-the-nation presidential primary state Friday, will announce the hiring of a New Hampshire state director for his Building America's Conscience Political Action Committee [BACPAC].

"Friday Bob will announce that Steve Bouchard will be named his PAC state director," BACPAC National Political Director Steve Jarding said. "This is a sign that Bob is elevating the national stature of BACPAC."

Kerrey will also hire an Iowa state director "in the next couple weeks," a Kerrey aide told CNN. While Kerrey officials publicly downplay the hirings, privately some acknowledge it is clearly a sign that Kerrey is moving his 2000 presidential effort forward.

In terms of 2000 "that is a little putting the cart ahead of the horse," Jarding said. "The work that BACPAC does allows you to build an organization, put your message out and there is such a focal point on New Hampshire."

"The fact that this move continues to move us forward shows his interest," a Kerrey official said. "Kerrey sees a window out there that Democrats are asking someone to crawl through, that they are not certain about Gore."

Democratic Party officials in New Hampshire and Iowa told CNN it is the first hiring of a state staffer in the first-in-the-nation primary and caucus states. "No other campaigns, PACs have full-time, paid people," a New Hampshire Democratic Party official said. "This certainly indicates a stronger interest by Kerrey."

"There are no state paid staff with any of the presidential efforts," an Iowa Democratic Party official said.

Officials with some of the other 2000 potential contenders, Vice President Al Gore, House Minority Leader Dick Gephardt and Sen. Paul Wellstone, all confirmed to CNN that although they have volunteers all across the country, they do not have paid staff in any states.

Gore and Gephardt both have PACs that are dedicated to "electing Democrats in 1998, not 2000," officials with both told CNN. Wellstone was the first Democrat looking at 2000 to announce an exploratory committee.

In Other News

Thursday, June 18, 1998

Gingrich To Propose 'Slimmed Down' Tobacco Bill
Sen. Kerrey Hiring N.H., Iowa State Directors
Richardson And Holbrooke Nominated To New Posts
Tobacco Bill's Death Could Have A Budget Impact
Did Ken Starr Have A Plan To Wire Monica Lewinsky?
Susan McDougal's Early Release Depends On Medical Test
House Considers Campaign Finance Legislation

Streaming Video: Sen. John McCain Interview

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