End of the Year Review: 2004.
December 28th, 2004. Gephardt Announces he won't seek election to Speaker of the House. Says this will be his last term in Congress:On December 28th, at a Press Conference in his home state of Missouri, the 2004 Democratic Nominee for President and Former Speaker of the House Dick Gephardt, after weeks of speculation that he would run to retake the Speakership of the House, announced that he would not challenge Speaker Pelosi and endorsed her for the position. He also announced that this would be his last term in Congress. He said it was a honor of a lifetime to serve in Congress, but after much thought he concluded it was time to retire.
End of the Year Review for 2004:2004 was a year that was largely dominated by the Presidential Election cycle. The Democratic Party that narrowly lost in 2000, but came back strong in 2002, hoped it could land another victory in 2004 and had five candidates running for their party's nomination. Then Speaker of the House Dick Gephardt emerged as the nominee however, over runner up Former Vice President and 2000 Democratic nominee Al Gore, Minnesota Senator Paul Wellstone, Former Vermont Governor Howard Dean, and then North Carolina Senator John Edwards. President Bush, who had a mixed term in office, had a primary challenge in Libertarian leaning Republican Congressman Ron Paul, who challenged the President on the grounds that he wasn't a true conservative. Despite some strong support in the Iowa Caucus and New Hampshire primary, Bush was able to fight off Paul rather early in the process.
The economy, which began to show signs of improvement in 2003, was continuing to grow, and Iraq, after a year of increased sanctions, finally allowed Weapons Inspections to take place, and the Inspectors revealed that there were no Weapons of mass Destruction in the Country. Sanctions would remain in place until the International Community could be assured that Iraq could not obtain these Weapons. Despite this, and despite legislative success throughout 2003, thanks to a strong campaign by an emboldened Democratic Party, the economic recovery not being felt in parts of the country, mainly the midwest, and poor debate performances, President Bush struggled in his bid for re election. In the end, the President was able to narrowly win a second term. His Republican Party also made slight gains in Congress. Despite this, the Democrats still maintained control of the House and Senate. After the election, two key cabinet members, Secretary of State Colin Powell and Defense Secretary James Baker announced their retirement. Bush would appoint Indiana Senator Richard Lugar to replace Powell, and Senator Chuck Hagel of Nebraska to replace Baker.