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This Week | The Top 5 news stories as measured by coverage in The Washington Post, USA Today, and NBC Nightly News from Sept. 25 to Oct. 1

Issue: "Who is Tom Daschle?," Oct. 12, 2002

Scoring system: 5 points for news stories appearing on the front page of The Washington Post, 3 for stories on the next two pages of the "A" section, and 1 thereafter. Same formula for USA Today, except the values are doubled to account for its national circulation. Stories carried on NBC Nightly News receive 10 points if they run before the first ad break, 6 between the first and second break, and 2 thereafter. Anchor-read stories earn 2 points early, 1 point late.

1

turning up roses

252 | House Democratic leader Richard Gephardt (D-Mo.) and Sen. Joseph Lieberman (D-Conn.) gathered with President Bush at the White House Rose Garden to offer bipartisan support for a war resolution acceptable to the White House, leaving Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle with the thorns. "Conspicuous by his absence," as a Washington Post report would put it, Sen. Daschle found himself seriously undercut politically by the bipartisan accord. It also appeared to pull the rug from beneath Senate Foreign Relations Committee leaders Joseph Biden (D-Del.) and Richard Lugar (R-Ind.), who were crafting a resolution to limit the president's military options in confronting Iraq's Saddam Hussein. As it was becoming apparent the president had the support he needed, Sen. Biden canceled a scheduled committee hearing on his alternative resolution. Al Gore didn't cancel his plans. For the second time in as many weeks, the 2000 Democratic candidate for president blasted President Bush in a public speech. At the White House, Mr. Gore's running mate, Sen. Lieberman, was at the president's side announcing that "the moment of truth has arrived" on the war debate and predicted that a "very large, bipartisan majority" would give Mr. Bush authority to attack Iraq. That same day, Mr. Gore scolded the president for his priorities: "Even more urgent" than the decision whether to go to war, he said, is congressional action to "deal with the economy."

2

ethically challenged

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117 | His campaign spinning out of control and poll numbers plummeting amid a swirling ethics controversy, Sen. Robert Torricelli (R-N.J.) tearfully and angrily quit his reelection bid. He demanded that the New Jersey Supreme Court waive state law and print new ballots with someone else's name on them. Democrats, fearing an easy Republican pickup by political novice Doug Forrester over the defenseless Torricelli, cut him loose and quickly won the first round of the legal battle. They coaxed former Sen. Frank Lautenberg out of retirement and rallied around him, as Republicans filed appeals and Mr. Forrester complained his opponents were trying to "rig the system to their advantage." Hawaii Democrats insisted their faithful turn out and vote for Rep. Patsy Mink, who recently won a primary election, but died on Sept. 28 after a three-week illness.

3

homeland (job) security

77 | Hope faded that the Senate could reach compromise on a bill to create a Department of Homeland Security before the Senate adjourned for the fall campaign. Democrats insisted that the White House and Republicans were responsible for the delay-because they would not agree to provisions that would grant new powers to federal employees' unions. President Bush cast the choice as between common sense and Washington business as usual. Both sides claim "bipartisan support" for their ideas. Sen. Zell Miller (D-Ga.) has endorsed "management flexibility" for the president. Sen. Lincoln Chafee (R-R.I.) joined with Democrats in proposing a compromise that would give the president limited powers to overrule federal employee unions. TeamBush quickly called the Chafee plan, which mirrors a House bill by fellow liberal Republican Connie Morella, a "nonstarter." Sen. Rick Santorum, who heads the Senate Republican Conference, said President Bush has been steadfast, telling him to take the message to colleagues: "If you can't pass a good bill, don't send me any bill because it will be vetoed."

4

hard times

70 | In its annual report on income and poverty, the U.S. Census Bureau reported that 1.3 million more Americans slipped below the government's official poverty line last year, the first increase since 1993. Unlike most recessions, the increase was larger in white households and rural and suburban areas, especially in the South. The median household income fell 2.2 percent last year to $42,228, after adjusting for inflation, the first drop since 1991. The stock market had its worst month since 1987. Average mortgage interest rates for a 30-year loan dipped to a low of 6.34 percent, a number not seen in 31 years of record keeping, before tilting upward again. A year ago, the rate averaged 7 percent. But the Mortgage Bankers of America added that foreclosures are at a record high.

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