- The Washington Times - Wednesday, December 15, 1999

Whispering campaign

Sen. John McCain’s presidential campaign has launched a whispering campaign meant to reassure liberals, according to Washington Post columnist Richard Cohen.
“McCain’s people whisper, Don’t worry. He’s not really so anti-abortion. He’ll come around on gay rights, gun control and almost anything else you can name… .” Mr. Cohen writes.

McCain and Bradley

In advance of his bipartisan campaign appearance with Democrat Bill Bradley in Claremont, N.H., tomorrow, Republican Sen. John McCain sought to assure conservatives that he and Mr. Bradley do not otherwise see eye to eye, the Associated Press reports.
The two presidential candidates plan to recreate the 1995 handshake there between President Clinton and then-House Speaker Newt Gingrich, Georgia Republican, promising a commission on campaign finance reform that never materialized.
“I believe I can make the argument that this is a conservative issue, that if you want smaller government, if you want lower taxes you have to get rid of the abuses in the system. I can make the case with or without Bradley, but I gain a lot of visibility with Bradley,” Mr. McCain said yesterday.
At the same time, Mr. McCain cast doubt on Mr. Bradley’s motives in agreeing to the meeting, reporter Sandra Sobieraj said.
The Arizona senator said his own interest in the joint New Hampshire appearance was “made up of long-standing convictions.” But Mr. Bradley’s, Mr. McCain added, “may be based partly on attacking Al Gore.”

Partial truth-teller

Bill Bradley shrunk from using the word “lying” and instead said of his Democratic rival, Vice President Al Gore, “People are fed up with politicians who know the truth but only tell a part of it,” the Associated Press reports.
Mr. Bradley, the Democratic presidential challenger, was asked on ABC’s “Good Morning America” yesterday about a pamphlet in which his New Hampshire campaign flatly accused Mr. Gore of lying about Mr. Bradley’s health care plan. Campaign officials apologized for the flier last week.
“I’m saying he’s misrepresenting the plan itself,” Mr. Bradley said in a town-hall style meeting on the morning show’s New York set.

No friend of Al’s

ABC White House correspondent John Cochran, who was criticized for having Vice President Al Gore as a dinner guest at his home, wants to make it clear that Mr. Gore is not his friend.
Appearing Monday night on Fox News’ “Special Report” with Brit Hume, Mr. Cochran said he was peeved when, on Dec. 2, Mr. Gore said he and Mr. Cochran were “old friends.”
“I called his press secretary, and I said, Listen, I don’t mean to be ungracious, but Al Gore’s not a friend of mine, never has been a friend. I’ve known him for a number of years, he’s an acquaintance. I’ve covered him, but we are not friends. I’m sure he meant to be complimentary in some bizarre way.’
“But, I said, He’s not doing me any favors. He knows I’m not his friend. And I don’t mean to be hostile and nasty, but would you tell your boss to stop calling me his friend, OK? Can we just settle that right now? … I don’t know what he was thinking. I can’t be responsible for what he was thinking.”

Late-night line

“Late Show” host David Letterman has been named “the newest member of the Chattering Pundit Class of 1999” by the on-line newsletter Hotline, after the gap-toothed Hoosier comic ventured into political handicapping on his show Monday.
“So, now, here’s the early breakdown in the campaign,” Mr. Letterman said. “We know now that George W. Bush is a bonehead. We know that. We know that Al Gore, there’s a good chance Al Gore is asleep somewhere this very minute or appears to be asleep. We know that Hillary Clinton is part Jewish, part Puerto Rican, and is a lifelong Yankee fan. We know that about her.
“We know that John McCain, they’re saying John McCain has a bit of a temper. Has a bit of a temper, that’s what they’re saying now, and we’re not sure if we want a president with a bit of a temper. And I’m tellin’ you, oh, I do. I think that’d be great… . You spend five and a half years in a North Vietnamese prison, you might develop just a little bit of a temper. Just a little bit of a temper, you know what I’m saying?”
Mr. Letterman said he’d like to get some of the leading presidential candidates on his show. But he said, “I don’t think there’s a chance in hell [Texas Gov. George W. Bush would] be on the show.” Mr. Letterman also said Hillary Clinton should be on his show if she seeks a Senate seat in New York: “She ought to be on our show, don’t you think? Because we are the kingmakers.”

Gore jumps ahead

Vice President Al Gore has pulled ahead of his rival for the Democratic presidential nomination, former New Jersey Sen. Bill Bradley, in a poll of New York state primary voters released yesterday.
The Quinnipiac poll of 1,211 registered New York state voters, taken between Dec. 7 and 12, also showed Texas Gov. George W. Bush beating Arizona Sen. John McCain for the Republican nomination, though Mr. Bush’s lead over Mr. McCain has narrowed.
“Bradley’s fast break has stalled and Bush is slipping a little. So the big movement lately is by Gore and McCain,” said Maurice Carroll, director of the Quinnipiac College Polling Institute.
In the poll, which has a margin of error of plus or minus 2.8 percent, Mr. Gore leads Mr. Bradley 42 percent to 39 percent, a statistical dead heat. Mr. Bradley was ahead of Mr. Gore 47 percent to 38 percent in a similar poll taken in November.
Mr. Bush’s lead over Mr. McCain, which was 56 percent to 17 percent in the November poll, fell to 49 percent to 24 percent in the latest survey, Reuters reports.

End of the line

William F. Buckley yesterday taped the final episodes of his PBS series, “Firing Line,” which started at conservatism’s ebb and provided a forum for Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher. The last show will air during the last week of December.
“You’ve got to end sometime and I’d just as soon not die onstage,” said Mr. Buckley, 74. “That it ends at the millennium gives it a poetic touch.”
The National Review magazine founder started “Firing Line” in 1966, in the midst of President Johnson’s Great Society and two years after Arizona Sen. Barry Goldwater’s humiliating defeat. His ideas advanced with the conservative movement, through the glory years of Mr. Reagan and Mrs. Thatcher.
Mr. Buckley and “Firing Line” were saluted this week in of all places the liberal magazine the Nation, notes Associated Press television writer David Bauder. Commentator Christopher Hitchens said “Firing Line” was one of the best places for people of all political stripes to explain themselves.
“I did my first Firing Line’ in 1983 and swiftly learned that if I left the studio cursing at what I hadn’t said, it was my own fault,” Mr. Hitchens wrote.

Contributor arrested

One of the nation’s biggest political donors has been arrested on charges of shredding documents to obstruct an investigation into campaign financing, the Associated Press reports.
David Chang was accused of conspiring with a former aide, Audrey Yu, to destroy records sought by federal grand juries investigating an $11,000 check from one of his companies, Bright & Bright Corp.
A lawyer who pleaded guilty to campaign finance charges in May said he helped Mr. Chang illegally funnel $11,000 to New Jersey Democratic Sen. Robert G. Torricelli’s 1996 campaign.
Mr. Chang, arrested Friday, was not charged with making illegal contributions. He was jailed for arraignment yesterday afternoon. He denied the charges.

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