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Last Updated:  Thursday, 20 February, 2003, 00:31 GMT
Gephardt seeks US presidency
Dick Gephardt
Gephardt said Bush was alienating key US allies

US political veteran Dick Gephardt has announced his widely-expected intention to run for the American presidency.

A Democrat Missouri congressman and former House minority leader in the US senate, Mr Gephardt ran the party's house campaigns but resigned last year following its poor performance in the country's mid-term elections.

He told cheering supporters at a rally in St Louis, Missouri, on Wednesday that he had entered the race because he felt US President George W Bush was alienating key allies in the global community as war with Iraq looms.

Carol Moseley-Braun, the first black woman elected to the US senate, also declared on Wednesday that she would run for the White House, becoming the only woman in the field for the 2004 presidential campaign.

Latest contender

Mr Gephardt, 62-years-old and the son of a milk-truck driver, is the latest Democrat to declare.

"I'm running for president because I'm tired of leadership that's left us isolated in the world, and stranded here at home," he said at a political rally in his former school in St Louis, Missouri.

"We must lead the world instead of merely bullying it."

US Senator Joe Lieberman, Vermont Governor Howard Dean, Massachusetts Senator John Kerry and North Carolina Senator John Edwards have also entered the race.

Controversial black rights activist Al Sharpton is the only other African-American bidding for the presidency.

Healthcare pledge

Mr Gephardt caused controversy within the Democratic party last year when he worked closely with the Bush administration in drafting the congressional resolution authorising the use of force against Iraq.

However he has criticised Mr Bush's domestic policies, pledging to repeal Mr Bush's much-vaunted tax cut plan and use the subsequent savings to provide adequate healthcare for all Americans.

He also condemned the Bush administration for capitulating to big business instead of looking out for the American people.

"I'm running... because I've had enough of the oil barons, the status-quo apologists [and] the special interest lobbyists running amok in the White House," he said.



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