Dick Gephardt

For the past 26 years, Dick Gephardt, 62, has served as a U.S. Representative from Missouri. Gephardt grew up in a working-class family -- his father a milk truck driver and Teamster, his mother a secretary -- on the south side of St. Louis. He graduated from Northwestern University and went on to attend law school at the University of Michigan. He practiced law from 1965-1977 and enlisted in the Air National Guard in 1965. He became officer as judge advocate for the 131st Combat Support Squadron, achieving the rank of captain before being honorably discharged.  

Gephardt's political career began when he was elected alderman in 1971. Eighteen years later, he was elected the U.S. House Democratic Leader. Gephardt helped pass President Clinton’s economic plan, raised the minimum wage, worked to pass environmental legislation, secured protection for family farms, and included labor and environmental standards in U.S. trade agreements. Gephardt ran for president in 1988. He came in first in the delegate count in the Iowa caucuses, but dropped out of the race two months later.

Gephardt campaign Web site: www.dickgephardt2004.com

Issues, Strategies and Key Quotes

Top three issues
Health Care:
Gephardt proposes to provide universal health coverage to the 41 million Americans currently without health insurance, according to his official Web site. He says he will pump more than $280 billion into the economy through a plan that will offer businesses, as well as state and local governments, relief from health insurance costs while offering a significant economic stimulus. Bill Burton, Gephardt's Iowa press secretary, says the congressman's health care plan will create 750,000 jobs, while providing aid to state and local governments.
Economic Issues: Gephardt proposes a universal pension program because "every American should be rewarded for a lifetime of hard work," according to his Web site. He also favors an international minimum wage that would ensure workers everywhere a livable wage and keep U.S. workers competitive in the global market. Burton describes Bush is a "miserable failure in jobs. More than 3 million people lost their jobs under this administration."
"Teacher Corps": Gephardt wants to create a Teacher Corps, based on the ROTC program, to pay the college loans of students who agree to teach for five years. He also seeks to reduce class size and provide every child with access to pre-school. He supports affirmative action in higher education and the expansion of federal grant and loan programs.

Campaign's assessment of its own strength: Gephardt is a strong candidate because of his ties to and support of union members, as well as his experience. Twenty unions, to which more than 95,000 Iowans belong, have pledged their support to the Gephardt campaign. "He is the candidate who has most experience in the highest level of government. He would require no on-the-job training as president. He has great energy and great momentum," said Iowa press secretary Burton.

Quotes from Gephardt: “First thing I’ll do as president is get rid of the Bush tax cuts. They have not worked. They haven’t helped stimulate the economy. They haven’t moved us in the right direction.” -- The Ogden Reporter, 8/27/03

"I don’t think the president is doing a good job at all. It’s almost as bad for jobs in this country right now as it was in the Herbert Hoover years. He’s losing jobs every day, and he’s only got one thing on his mind -- giving tax cuts to the rich." -- The Telegraph Online, 9/30/03

"If (Dean’s) fresh approach is cutting Medicare…then that’s not the approach we need. I think I’m gaining ground in New Hampshire and Iowa and the rest of the country because I am talking about the issues that people care about in this campaign.” -- PoliticsNH.com, 9/29/03

Potential Vulnerabilities

Our own assessment of Gephardt's vulnerability: While Gephardt's strong union backing can help him in the Iowa caucus, his campaign may be putting too many eggs in the organized labor basket. Gephardt has also been described as bland and unenergetic. He has been showing more passion during his campaign stumps but hasn't done much to stand out from the other candidates. His vote in support of the Iraq War resolution last fall may hurt his support from the anti-war constuency.

Iowa Campaign Information
Main Iowa campaign office:

105 Grand Avenue
Des Moines, IA 50265
(515) 255-0561

Iowa Campaign Manager:

John Lapp
Iowa Campaign Manager

(515) 225-0561

Iowa press secretary:

Bill Burton
(515) 255-0562
(515) 229-3933 Cell

Eastern Iowa Contact:
Nick Barnaby
[email protected]
Number of Iowa Offices:


Number of Paid Iowa Staffers:
More than 50
National Campaign Information
National campaign manager:
Steve Murphy
P.O. Box 34607
Washington, DC 20043
National press secretary:
John Feehery
National media consultant:
Bill Carrick
National pollster:
Westhill Partners
Campaign fundraising to date:
$13.7 million|
October quarterly report
Copyright © 2003 by Iowa Presidential Politics.com. This site produced by the "Presidential Politics" class in the School of Journalism and Mass Communication at the University of Iowa.