Missouri Congressman Richard Gephardt formally announced yesterday in St. Louis that he’s running for president. His next stop was Iowa, where the 2004 Democratic Party Caucuses are the kickoff event of the campaign. Gephardt says he’s going to be in Iowa a lot, working hard to win. Gephardt spoke yesterday afternoon to the Iowa Building and Construction Trades Council, and he faulted President Bush’s stewardship of the economy. Gephardt won Iowa’s 1988 Caucuses with strong support from unions that favored his views on international trade. This time around, Gephardt vows to negotiate trade deals that would create an international minimum wage. He says that’d stop the “race to the bottom” with American companies closing factories here to start operations in low-wage countries. Gephardt says it’ll level the playing field and create millions of new consumers in countries like China, Thailand and Mexico who’ll buy U.S. goods. Gephardt met later in the day with nurses to discuss his proposal to rescind the latest round of tax cuts — which he says benefited the wealthy — and use the money to ensure all Americans have health insurance. He says nobody should be sitting in a hospital terrified that a loved one will lose their life because they don’t have the health care coverage to get them well. Mark Myers of Bettendorf, a member of the Building and Construction Trade Council, supported Gephardt in 1988, heard him speak yesterday and plans to support Gephardt in 2004. Myers says he thinks Gephardt is intelligent and he relates to Gephardt because his dad, like Gephardt’s, was a Teamster. Gephardt often stresses his roots as the son of a milk truck driver who was a member of the Teamsters. Gephardt closed his Iowa trip with a reception in Des Moines before flying to New Hampshire.
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