Hard Money, Harder Races

Like retired Gen. Wesley Clark and Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.), two-time presidential candidate and former Sen. Gary Hart (D-Colo.) is expected to make national security a centerpiece of any possible White House campaign. The 66-year-old Hart -- who predicted terrorist strikes against the United States before September 11 and has argued that waging war against Iraq could lead to further attacks -- is giving a number of speeches in Iowa, New York, Massachusetts and California on foreign policy and defense, as well as the economy, to see how much interest there is in him staging a campaign. He's said he'll decide by April whether to enter the race, and he already has a Web site up and running (www.garyhartnews.com).

In a recent speech before the Council on Foreign Relations in New York, Hart said the White House should focus less on national missile defense and more on human intelligence, and that it must address the circumstances that lead people to resort to terrorism rather than simply attack other nations. He also noted that the end of the Cold War left a vacuum that "has not been filled by any coherent and compelling new vision."

After bowing out of the 1988 campaign following revelations of an extramarital affair, Hart turned to writing books and articles, working for a Denver law firm and earning a doctorate from Oxford University. While Hart believes he would make a stronger president now than he did in 1988, he'll have to raise his public profile: A recent CNN/USA Today/Gallup Poll shows just 5 percent of Democrats supporting him. But a war with Iraq could give Hart just the platform he needs to articulate a strong national-security and defense message for the Democratic primaries, and for the country as a whole.

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