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Richard Andrew "Dick" Gephardt (born January 31, 1941) is a former prominent American politician of the Democratic Party. Gephardt served as a U.S. Representative from Missourimarker from January 3, 1977, until January 3, 2005, serving as House Majority Leader from 1989 to 1995, and as Minority Leader from 1995 to 2003. He also ran unsuccessfully for the Democratic nomination for President of the United States in 1988 and 2004. Gephardt was mentioned as a possible vice presidential nominee in 1988, 1992, 2000, 2004, and 2008.

Since his retirement from politics, he has been working as a senior counsel at the global law firm DLA Piper and is also an active consultant for Goldman Sachs.

Early life

Gephardt was born into a working-class family in St. Louis, Missourimarker, to Louis Andrew Gephardt, a Teamster milkman, and Loreen Estelle Cassell; part of his ancestry is German. He graduated from the former Southwest High School in 1958. Gephardt is an Eagle Scout and recipient of the Distinguished Eagle Scout Award from the Boy Scouts of America. He earned his B.S. at Northwestern Universitymarker in 1962 where he was president of Beta Theta Pi, the student senate, and his freshman class. He earned his J.D. at the University of Michigan Law Schoolmarker in 1965.

In 1965, he was admitted to the Missouri bar. He then entered the Missouri Air National Guard, where he served until 1971.

He and his wife Jane have three grown children, Matt, Katie, and Chrissy. His brother, Donald L. Gephardt, is the Dean of The College of Fine and Performing Arts at Rowan Universitymarker in Glassboro, New Jerseymarker.

Political career

He was Democratic committeeman for the 14th ward in St. Louis between 1968 and 1971, moving up to 14th ward alderman 1971–1976, as part of a group of young aldermen known informally as "The Young Turks." In 1976, he was elected to Congress from the St. Louis-based 3rd District, succeeding 24-year incumbent Leonor Sullivan. He was elected 13 more times, opting not to run for reelection in 2004.

Gephardt was an unsuccessful candidate for the Democratic nomination in the 1988 presidential election. Gephardt ran hard and early in 1987/88 and finally started moving ahead in Iowamarker after running the "Hyundai ad" that criticized what he thought were unfair trade barriers by Korea and Japan. Gephardt won the Iowa caucuses and South Dakotamarker primary in February, but ran out of money and dropped out after losing badly in the March "Super Tuesday" primaries, when he won only the Missouri primary. An ad aired by the campaign of Governor Michael Dukakis focused on Gephardt's "flip-flopping" voting record, and showed a Gephardt look-alike doing forward and backward flips for the camera. Many felt that the ad killed any chance Gephardt had of winning the nomination. He dropped out after winning only 13% in the Michigan caucus, despite support from the United Auto Workers. Dukakis did consider picking Gephardt to be his running mate, but he instead chose Texasmarker Senator Lloyd Bentsen.

Nonetheless, in part due to the visibility gained from his presidential bid, Gephardt was named House Majority Leader in 1989. He became the second-ranking Democrat in the House, behind then-Speaker Tom Foley. After Foley was unseated in the Republican landslide of 1994, Gephardt became the leader of the House Democrats as House Minority Leader (by tradition, the Speaker is usually reckoned as leader of his party in the House). He was the Democratic candidate for Speaker in 1994, 1996, 1998 and 2000.

Gephardt again found himself under consideration when Vice President Al Gore named Gephardt to his short list of possible vice presidential candidates in 2000. The other names listed on the short list were Indiana Senator Evan Bayh, then-North Carolina Senator John Edwards, Massachusetts Senator John Kerry, Connecticut Senator Joe Lieberman, and New Hampshire Governor Jeanne Shaheen. Gore eventually selected Lieberman.

Gephardt was Democratic leader in the House from 1989 to 2003, serving as majority leader from 1989 to 1995 (101st through 103rd Congresses) and minority leader from 1995 to 2003 (104th through 107th Congresses). He was considered a keen politician who worked hard at passing legislation as well as raising money for Democratic House candidates. Although Gephardt worked hard for many of President Bill Clinton's programs, he and his union supporters strongly opposed NAFTA and other "free trade" programs.

2004 campaign for President

After the Democrats lost seats in the 2002 midterm Congressional election, he did not run for re-election as House Minority Leader. He announced his second run for President on January 5, 2003. His successor as Minority Leader, Nancy Pelosi, endorsed his bid for president. Gephardt was seen by many as too old fashioned and unelectable, with his fundraising efforts behind that of former Vermont Governor Howard Dean and Senators John Kerry, John Edwards, and tied with Joe Lieberman. Furthermore, Gephardt's support of the Iraq War resolution hurt him among liberal activists. Gephardt promoted a form of universal health care, and was supported by a dozen labor unions, but did not have enough support to receive the endorsement of the AFL-CIO. His campaign was also notable for the high-profile coming out of his daughter Chrissy in People magazine, when she was helping him on the campaign trail, a subject they also discussed in interviews for the 2007 documentary film For the Bible Tells Me So; he has continued to be an outspoken advocate for gay rights since the campaign, though still opposes same-sex marriage.

Although Gephardt was ahead in the Iowa caucus throughout early 2003, Vermontmarker Governor Howard Dean pulled ahead in the polls by August, his campaign fueled by anti-war activists. The Gephardt campaign was embarrassed by an early August St Louis Post-Dispatch article that revealed that 11 of 33 "Gephardt team leaders" listed on his Iowa campaign's web site were actually supporting other candidates or neutral. The race between Gephardt and Dean became negative, and took an ugly turn in October when a Gephardt staffer reportedley pushed a Dean staffer out of a meeting while calling him a "faggot". Many press at the event claimed the Dean staffer was picking a fight and that the Gephardt staffer did not make the hurtful comment. Dean chairman Joe Trippi (who had previously worked for Gephardt in 1988) and Gephardt chairman Steve Murphy became involved in a war of words over that incident. In the final days of the campaign, both Dean and Gephardt faded and finished third and fourth, respectively.

Although he dropped out of the Presidential race, Gephardt was mentioned as a possible running mate for John Kerry. On March 7, 2004, New Mexicomarker Governor Bill Richardson, seen as a strong possibility for the position himself, endorsed Gephardt for the Vice Presidency. "I think he's the best candidate," Richardson said of Gephardt in an interview with the Associated Press. "There's a good regional balance with Kerry and Gephardt." Nevertheless, Kerry announced that he had chosen John Edwards as his running mate on July 6, 2004. Interestingly, on that same day, the New York Post published an incorrect headline stating that Gephardt had become Kerry's running mate. Shortly after this false story broke, the headline was compared to the 1948 "Dewey defeats Truman" front page of the Chicago Tribune, which incorrectly reported the presidential election results of that year. In 2007, it was revealed in the book No Excuses: Concessions of a Serial Campaigner by Bob Shrum, who served as Kerry's campaign adviser in the 2004 US presidential election, that Kerry wanted to choose Gephardt as his nominee for Vice President but was convinced by Shrum and others to choose Edwards.

Political views

Since his election to the U.S. House in 1976, Gephardt's political views gradually moved to the left. Originally, Gephardt was strongly anti-abortion and was viewed as a social conservative. He was initially extremely critical of the Supreme Court'smarker landmark Roe v. Wade ruling that legalized abortion. He wrote on the subject in 1984:
:"Life is the division of human cells, a process that begins with conception. The (Supreme Court'smarker abortion) ruling was unjust, and it is incumbent on the Congress to correct the injustice... I have always been supportive of pro-life legislation. I intend to remain steadfast on this issue.... I believe that the life of the unborn should be protected at all costs."

In 1987, when Gephardt decided to run for president, he announced that he had discontinued his support for pro-life legislation. He informed the National Right to Life Committee; "I now do not support any Constitutional amendment pertaining to the legality of abortion."

Gephardt's views on economic policy have also changed over the years. He voted for Ronald Reagan's tax cuts in 1981; in the 2000s, however, he became a staunch opponent of similar tax cuts by President George W. Bush, saying that the enormous surplus created during the administration of Bill Clinton should have been spent on health care instead. Gephardt is widely viewed as an economic populist. He supports universal health coverage, fair trade, and progressive taxation. Although he once chaired the centrist Democratic Leadership Council, Gephardt in his later years in Congress distanced himself from the organization, finding his pro-labor views at odds with the DLC's pro-business positions.

On October 10, 2002, Dick Gephardt was among the 81 House Democrats who voted in favor of authorizing the invasion of Iraq. However, three years later Gephardt would rebuke his previous support for the war, saying "It was a mistake ... I was wrong."


On January 3, 2005, Gephardt's three-decade political career ended with the expiration of his fourteenth term in the House of Representatives.

Dick Gephardt started Gephardt Group in January 2005 and is currently its President and CEO. Gephardt Group is a multi-disciplined consulting firm focused on helping clients improve Labor Relations, develop Political and Public Policy Strategies and enhance Business Results by gaining access to new markets or partners.

In his new capacity as Washington lobbyist, Gephardt, on behalf of the Republic of Turkey, has been actively lobbying against the House resolution condemning the Armenian genocide of 1915 in the Ottoman Empire. While supportive of the resolution while in Congress, he now contends that facts need to be better known before any position is taken over this historical controversy.

Gephardt joined the EMBARQ Corporation Board of Directors in June 2007.

On July 5, 2007, Gephardt endorsed Hillary Rodham Clinton's campaign for president, leading some to speculate that he was interested in running for vice president in 2008. DLA Piper has become a major donor to Clinton's campaign, donating about $190,000. Gephardt's name was mentioned by the media during the summer of 2008 as a possible vice presidential choice for eventual nominee Senator Barack Obama.

A collection of Gephardt's congressional documents, ranging from 1994 to 2004, was processed from 2006 to 2007 by the Missouri Historical Society for academic use, with a grant through the Institute of Museum and Library Services. From 2008 on, it should be made available to the public. In 2005, Washington University in St. Louis inaugurated the Richard A. Gephardt Institute of Public Service, which promotes volunteerism and community activism.

In March 2009, Mr. Gephardt was named to the Board of Directors at the Ford Motor Company.

Since 2007 Gephardt has served on the advisory board of Extend Health insurance company, graduating to the board of directors earlier this year. However, his biggest involvement has been with the pharmaceutical industry. In addition to a large lobbying contract with the Medicines Company, Gephardt serves as chair of the Council for American Medical Innovation (CAMI), formed by and affiliated with PhRMA. In this capacity he has hired his own firm to lobby for the organization, to push to extend patents and block cheaper generic drugs from the market.In 2009 began Gephardt advising UnitedHealth Group, one of America's largest private insurers, in waging a strong campaign against a public option for national health care.


"I never felt it was inevitable that we had to go to war." — on the invasion of Iraq.

"It’s a great day for our troops, for this administration, for the people of Iraq. My hope is that this will decrease the violence our troops will have to face." — on the capture of Saddam Hussein.

"I want to say a special thank you to every member of every labor union in this country who has stood by my side... throughout my career. Your fight is my fight, and it will always be that way." — conceding defeat after winning no delegates in the Iowa Democratic caucus of 2004.

"Politics is a substitute for violence." — at the 2004 Missourimarker Democratic Convention

"This president is a miserable failure on foreign policy and on the economy and he's got to be replaced." — in a presidential debate on September 4, 2003


  2. No Secrets, people, June 2, 2003
  3. Gay Daughter Joins Gephardt Campaign, ABC News, June 9, 2003
  4. Chrissy and Dick Gephardt appear on CNN to promote new film, For The Bible Tells Me So, PageOneQ, October 16, 2007
  5. Home State Record: Dick Gephardt, New Hampshire Public Radio, December 30, 2003
  6. Gephardt Group(2008).[1]

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