Democrats on Capitol Hill rail against a Bush Administration that is attempting to pry away privacy rights from the citizenry, but it isn't the Republicans who are paying big bucks to mine information about Americans. It's the Democrats.
In fact, by election day 2004, the Democratic National Committee may have the following information about, well, you: Name, date of birth, marital status, income, number of children and some of their names, whether you own a home, your voting record and party affiliation (if the state you are registered in allows such information to be tracked).
"We're going to know a lot more about millions of people than we did two or three years ago," says a DNC fundraiser. "This has been Terry [McAuliffe]'s big project. We've spent millions to get this kind of database up and running. What we do with it, who knows?"
Some privacy advocates, particularly those who have railed for years about FBI and health care databases that track U.S. citizenry, have been silent on the DNC database front, in part, because the DNC may be willing to sell its database to generally friendly organizations. Such sales might make up some of the cost of putting the lists together.
The GOP certainly collects information about voters, but not to the degree that the DNC is taking its research. "We have people around the country who certainly on a local level know which people to talk to about higher-end donations," says a GOP staffer. "But we aren't about knowing or filing away who makes what, or who owns a home. Anyone who wants to help the Republican cause, at what ever financial level they can afford, is welcome. And their privacy will be respected."
Lost in the strategic decisions by retired Gen. Wesley Clark and Sen. Joe Lieberman to bow out of the Iowa Caucus was the very necessary reason for Lieberman: it saves him money he can better spend in New Hampshire and in South Carolina.
As it stands, Lieberman would have wasted perhaps a couple of million dollars over the next three months climbing a steep slope of competition in Iowa. "There was no way he was going to finish in the top three or four," says a DNC political analyst. "For Lieberman, this was about keeping his resources to fight another day."
As it stands, the Iowa event is now just a four-man race, with Dean, Edwards, Gephardt and Kerry standing tall. Neither Carol Moseley Braun, Rev. Al Sharpton nor Rep. Dennis Kucinich has Iowa operations of note up and running.
In fact, it may be that one other candidate may drop out of Iowa before everything is said and done. It is true what one Lieberman adviser said on Monday, "There is no victory in running fourth in Iowa." With that in mind, does Sen. John Edwards, who is desperately attempting to shore up his flagging standing in the polls, really want to be the big loser on caucus night in Iowa? If not, then Edwards might jump out of the race as well.
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