Former senator Carol Moseley Braun (D-Ill.), the only woman among her party's nine presidential candidates, picked up her first major endorsements yesterday -- from two prominent women's groups. That was enough support for her to announce that she officially will join the race on Sept. 22.
Braun has been campaigning for months and attending candidate debates. But her fundraising has lagged far behind that of all her rivals, and several members of her staff have quit -- leading to speculation that she might give up her race.
"Nothing was more significant than having the support of the National Organization for Women and the National Women's Political Caucus," Braun told the Associated Press, putting such talk to rest. "And I hope and I know, I feel confident, that other women's organizations will come on board based on the leadership of these two very important, significant national grass-roots organizations."
Both groups, which pledged to raise money for Braun, cited the candidate's continuing support for women's rights in announcing their decisions. It is the first time the NOW political action committee has endorsed a presidential candidate since 1984.
"We are proud to have this strong and accomplished woman running for the highest office in the land -- and serving as an inspiration to women and girls of all ages who believe that a women truly can become president of the United States," NOW/PAC Chairman Kim Gandy said.
Health Care Will Be Big Issue for Voters in 2004, Poll Finds
A growing number of New Hampshire voters -- especially women who are independents -- have health care on their minds and worry that the presidential candidates have not devised adequate plans to fix the problem, a poll released yesterday found.
More than one-third of people surveyed identified rising medical bills as their top economic concern, and 51 percent said health care will be an important factor in their candidate selections in 2004, according to the poll sponsored by the Service Employees International Union.
Nearly half the group reported hearing some discussion by the presidential candidates about health care, but "voters want to hear not only about the problems but they want to hear what their solutions are," said Celinda Lake, the Democratic pollster who teamed up with Republican Ed Goeas to conduct the survey.
Prescription drug costs still worry voters, the pollsters found, but overall medical bills have leaped ahead as a political issue. Goeas said that was particularly the case with mothers and women who work part time who may not have health insurance.
At this early juncture, the two said former Vermont governor Howard Dean, who is a physician, is most associated with trying to address health problems.
The union, which is waging a grass-roots campaign to spotlight health care issues, surveyed 500 likely general election voters and 300 likely Democratic primary voters.
Staff writer Ceci Connolly contributed to this report.
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