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Revote?

Months after his leadership bid, Rep. Ford gets a Pelosi endorsement of sorts.

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Alexandra Pelosi, who draws mention in this week's cover story as the video documentarian who, having done a celebrated portrait of presidential candidate George W. Bush from his 2000 campaign, is now at work for HBO on a fully fledged look at the 2004 presidential race, offered some thoughts last week on a subject closer to home. (Ours, not hers.)

Pelosi's mother, as it happens, is Nancy Pelosi, the congresswoman from San Francisco who was elected Democratric leader in the House of Representatives last year to succeed Dick Gephardt of Missouri.

It will also be remembered that Nancy Pelosi, a member of her party's liberal wing, was unsuccessfully opposed in her quest by U.S. Rep. Harold Ford Jr. of Memphis, an African American whose "blue dog" tendencies and membership in the Democatic Leadership Council provide him credentials as a Democratic moderate.

Alexandra Pelosi's own political profile is not what one might expect. Though she grants that Democratic presidential candidate Howard Dean, whom she was shadowing last week, is making a lot of fuss and could well end up as his party's nominee, she is dubious about the appeal to a larger national audience. The problem? He's "too liberal."

More surprisingly, Alexandra Pelosi's attitude toward Rep. Ford's erstwhile challenge to her mother's political orthodoxy goes beyond tolerant. "Good for him," she said. "The Democrats need all the help they can get."

Generation gap?

n Candidate Dean, like other presidential wannabes, is focusing his efforts on Iowa and New Hampshire, though, more than most, he is active elsewhere. Last week's "Sleepless Summer" tour, which took him cross-country to 10 cities, is a case in point.

One place he's looking at down the line is Tennessee, which holds its presidential preference primary on February 10th of next year, just after the Iowa caucuses and the New Hampshire primary and a week after a pivotal South Carolina primary, the first in the South.

"Tennessee's tough," Dean said frankly aboard his campaign plane last week. The candidate, who is establishing a headquarters in Nashville this week, quietly visited the state last year "to check it out." He'll be buttressing his forces in recognition that the Tennessee primary, which occurs the same day as one in Virginia, will further clarify any picture left opaque by the preceding week's South Carolina results.

A regular part of his stump speech had him promising to speak this line below the Mason/Dixon Line: "You've been voting Republican for 30 years, and what has it got you?"

Dean maintains that when he was governor of Vermont he was active in recruiting Democratic gubernatorial candidates in the South -- among them, Ronnie Musgrove of Mississippi, who is being challenged this year by Republican Haley Barbour.

Some of the others -- notably former Governor Jim Hunt -- have since fallen by the wayside. The mistake of Democratic candidates, says Dean, has been to play to an imagined "swing" vote, arguably Republican or independent in sympathy. "We've gone so far to the right that we've got to reactivate the base. We've really got to stick to core Democratic principles," he argues.

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