Cabinet Campaigners

Agriculture Secretary Dan Glickman and Interior Secretary Bruce Babbitt have emerged as the most popular Cabinet officials stumping around the country this year for Democratic congressional candidates. Since Labor Day, Glickman has attended campaign rallies or fundraising events for 22 Democratic House and Senate candidates, while Babbitt has made the rounds for at least 16 candidates.

While Glickman, a former House member from Kansas, has made most of his appearances in states and House districts with large farming interests, Babbitt has made a surprisingly large number of stops in urban districts in states like Massachusetts, Michigan and New Jersey -- places where natural resource issues are not at the top of the political agenda.

Commerce Secretary Mickey Kantor has campaigned for at least 13 House and Senate candidates since Labor Day, while HHS Secretary Donna Shalala, Education Secretary Richard Riley and Treasury Secretary Robert Rubin have each helped out nine candidates. Riley, a former South Carolina governor, has yet to stump for any of his home state's candidates, but plans to attend state party fundraisers soon, an aide said.

Attorney General Janet Reno, Secretary of State Warren Christopher and Defense Secretary William Perry are the only Clinton Cabinet officials not campaigning with congressional candidates this year -- following a tradition that the heads of the Justice, State and Defense departments not get involved in campaign politics. White House Chief of Staff Leon Panetta, also a former House member from California, has campaigned with four congressional candidates since Labor Day.

Campaign officials and political observers say the main benefit of having Cabinet secretaries appear with House and Senate candidates is to draw potential donors. Only rarely do they participate in staged rallies open to the general public.

And while Cabinet secretaries travel to most of the candidates' states and districts for the fundraisers, sometimes the candidates travel to Washington. For example, Rubin did not travel to North Dakota -- not known as a large financial services center -- to do a fundraiser for Democratic Rep. Earl Pomeroy; the fundraiser was held in Washington.

Receiving the most help are three Senate candidates in tough races: Sens. John Kerry of Massachusetts and Paul Wellstone of Minnesota and Rep. Tim Johnson of South Dakota. All have had three Cabinet secretaries appear with them. Several Democratic House challengers have had two Cabinet secretaries campaign for them.

First Lady Hillary Rodham Clinton, while not a Cabinet member, has been the most prolific of all administration surrogate campaigners, appearing with at least 25 Democratic candidates since Labor Day.

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