Union Tribune

September 23, 2003

Ex-Senator Moseley Braun formally joins 2004 field
2 women's groups endorse candidate


WASHINGTON – Former Illinois Sen. Carol Moseley Braun formally launched her bid for the Democratic presidential nomination yesterday, saying she offered "the clearest alternative" to President Bush and would be "an agent for change and progress."

Trailing in the polls and in fund raising, Moseley Braun's bid to take on Bush in 2004 is considered a long shot. Yesterday, she insisted she could gain momentum through a grass-roots campaign.

"We're going to do it the best way we can, one vote at a time, depending on small contributions, as we always have," she said after addressing a small group of supporters at Howard University, a historically black school.

Moseley Braun, 56, is the only woman in the Democratic field. She recently got the endorsement of the National Organization for Women and the National Women's Political Caucus.

"I am uniquely qualified to do the job of president and I offer the clearest alternative to this current administration, whose only new idea has been pre-emptive war and a huge new bureaucracy," she said. "I can fix the mess they have created because I am practical, I am not afraid of partnership and I am committed to making the world a better place for our children."

She followed up her low-key announcement here with appearances in South Carolina, an important early-primary state, and Chicago, her hometown.

Moseley Braun has a long political résumé, dating to her election to the Illinois Legislature in 1978. She made history in 1992 as the first African-American woman elected to the U.S. Senate.

But she was defeated six years later, amid a swirl of controversy over trips to Nigeria, then an internationally shunned dictatorship, and unproven allegations she had misused campaign funds. President Clinton appointed her ambassador to New Zealand.

Some political observers see Moseley Braun's candidacy as a quest to put her name back in the spotlight and regain some of the political luster she lost after her failure to win re-election to the Senate.

"Carol Moseley Braun is looking for redemption. And that's the key," said Paul Green, an expert on Illinois politics at Roosevelt University in Chicago.

But Moseley Braun said she was running "because I believe this party ought to stand for inclusion, hope and new ways to resolve old problems."

The Democratic field also includes former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean; U.S. Sens. John Kerry of Massachusetts, John Edwards of North Carolina, Joseph Lieberman of Connecticut and Bob Graham of Florida; Reps. Richard Gephardt of Missouri and Dennis Kucinich of Ohio; retired Army Gen. Wesley Clark; and civil rights activist the Rev. Al Sharpton.

Like the other candidates, Moseley Braun is a harsh critic of Bush's handling of Iraq and the economy, two issues that have defined the race.

"We can make our economy work for everybody, not just the already wealthy, and ensure families that they will be able to provide decent housing, health care, education, retirement and safety to those they love the most," she said. "We will turn away from the bluster and the bravado that has so soured our friendships and alliances around the world, and build on our global relationships."

While offering few specifics on the economy, she laid out a plan for Iraq that would involve handing over more political and military responsibilities there to the United Nations and NATO.