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Gephardt Seeks Face Time With House Supporters

Presidential hopeful Rep. Richard Gephardt (D-Mo.) will meet in Washington on Wednesday with key House Democratic supporters to try to cash in on their endorsements and put them to work on his campaign.

Democratic House aides say Gephardt has invited Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (Calif.), Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (Md.) and the other lawmakers who have endorsed him to an 8 a.m. meeting at the Dutko Group’s headquarters on Capitol Hill. Sources said Gephardt will update Members on his campaign, discuss strategy and solicit their participation on the trail.

“He’s going to bring people up to speed and ask Members what they want to do for him,” said one senior Democratic aide.

Already Pelosi has agreed to host a fundraiser for Gephardt in San Francisco on Oct. 3. Hoyer, meanwhile, has agreed to hit the road for the former House Minority Leader, who led House Democrats for eight years. Hoyer will travel to Detroit on Friday to participate in fundraising and issue events for Gephardt.

“I will be at at least two events at Dick’s request,” Hoyer said Monday. “Certainly I will do other things. I’ve indicated to Dick and the press that if Dick wants me to do them, I will.”

Gephardt campaign aide Steve Elmendorf said the Wednesday meeting is the second of what the Missouri lawmaker plans to be a routine session with his House supporters. He said the meeting is timely given that the campaign heats up after Labor Day and Members have just returned from the August recess.

He said Gephardt will once again seek to enlist Members to help out on the campaign by raising money, traveling and talking to other Members about his bid.

“If someone wants to do something for us, we have a lot for them to do,” Elmendorf said.

So far, more than 30 House Members have endorsed Gephardt, including Pelosi and Hoyer. Gephardt held a conference call in July with the majority of those backers just as the second quarter financial reports revealed he had fallen more than $1 million short of his fundraising goal.

Gephardt has been working to hold his top-tier status among the nine Democratic presidential candidates, especially as former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean surges in the polls. As part of that, the Gephardt campaign recently sent a letter to Members laying out his strategy for winning the nomination.

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