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News Briefs

Florida’s Graham Enters Democratic Presidential Race


Sen. Bob Graham, D-Fla., a proven vote-getter in one of America’s essential swing states, quietly entered the crowded field for the Democratic presidential nomination Thursday, filing papers in Florida and Washington to set up a campaign committee.

Graham brings to race one of the best-rounded resumes in politics: two successful terms as governor, five statewide victories in a populous, moderate state, and leadership of his party’s senatorial campaign committee. As chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, he spent last year warning the nation that the Bush administration is not doing enough to protect the homeland from terrorist attacks.

But Graham, the ninth Democrat to join the race, is widely viewed as getting a late start. Even more potentially damaging is his reason for delay: He is recuperating from major heart surgery performed Jan. 31.

In a telephone interview from his Washington townhouse, Graham, 66, said his recovery is going well. He said he is “following doctor’s orders in terms of taking it easy and getting some exercise,” and he is “very, very serious” about quickly filling his campaign bank account and hiring a staff.

Mister Rogers Dies Of Stomach Cancer at 74


Gentle children’s TV host Fred Rogers died in his Pittsburgh home of stomach cancer Thursday at the age of 74. But “Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood,” the longest-running show on public television -- all 900 episodes -- continues to run, more than two years after the last show was taped, on scores of public broadcasting stations.

New generations of preschoolers continue to be charmed by the kindly touch of the longtime host, who began his shows by changing into clothes as comfortable as his approach: sneakers and a cardigan sweater.

A smiling and guiding hand in front of the camera, Rogers was also busy behind the scenes, writing all of the songs on the show, providing the voices of many of the puppets, such as King Friday XIII and Curious X the Owl, who followed Rogers from the early days of his TV career, when he was puppeteer on a local show, “The Children’s Corner.” That ran for seven years on WQED in Pittsburgh starting in 1954.

A native of Latrobe, Pa., Rogers became an ordained Presbyterian minister. Through the years, Rogers won two Peabody Awards, four Emmys, a lifetime achievement award from the National Academy of Arts and Sciences, and, most recently, the nation’s highest civilian honor, the Presidential Medal of Freedom.