- The Washington Times - Monday, December 27, 1999

Finding a villain


With Newt Gingrich long gone, House Democrats pine for a Republican leader they can cast as a villain. The problem: House Speaker J. Dennis Hastert is too nice a guy. So they keep trying to substitute Texas Rep. Tom DeLay, the Republican whip.
A case in point: Rep. Charles Rangel's appearance yesterday on CNN's "Late Edition." When asked about Mr. Hastert, the New York Democrat called him "one of the nicest people we have in the Congress, but he is not the leader."
"The speaker has gone to the well and asked support for certain legislation, only to have Tom DeLay working against him on the floor. And so, while Hastert is a nice guy, a leader he has not been."

No heavy lifting


Breaking from its roots in the home state of Ross Perot and quaking with internal conflicts, the Reform Party will move its headquarters from Dallas to the Florida home of the incoming party chairman, who is aligned with Minnesota Gov. Jesse Ventura.
The move will come after Jan. 1, when Jack Gargan takes over as party chairman. Russell Verney, who is close to Mr. Perot, has been party chairman since 1996.
Mr. Gargan and other Perot opponents say the headquarters move signifies Mr. Perot's loss of control.
"The head of the party is where the chair of the party is," Rick McCluhan, the Minnesota state party chairman, said yesterday. "The Dallas office has always been known as the headquarters. Now it will be known as the Florida office.
"What it really signifies, though, is the end of the staunch control that Ross Perot and Russ Verney have exerted over the party," Mr. McCluhan told Associated Press reporter Laurie Kellman.
But Mr. Verney, who works for one of Mr. Perot's businesses and chairs the party through the end of the year, downplayed the significance of the move. He said the party's headquarters actually resides in cyberspace, on the Reform Party Web site.
"It's just moving a post office box," he said yesterday. "There's no heavy lifting in this move."

Hillary's bad Spanish


If Hillary Rodham Clinton is trying to lasso Hispanic voters by giving them a separate Spanish home page on her Web site (www.hillary2000.org), she is sending the voters a mixed message. The English home page for her New York Senate campaign is up-to-date, but her Spanish one was last updated two months ago.
The first lady's Spanish page features news items such as her Broadway birthday bash and her support of raising the minimum wage and ending U.S. bombing exercises on Vieques, Puerto Rico.
Her English page features tidbits such as hiring her first campaign manager, "celebrating the peace process" with Irish New Yorkers and her support of "better" homeless policies and for expanding the Family and Medical Leave Act.
She needs Spanish voters because about one-quarter of all New York City residents are Hispanic, independent pollster Maurice "Mickey" Carroll recently told The Washington Times. About half of them are Puerto Rican.
Mrs. Clinton's likely opponent, New York Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani (www.rudyyes.com), could tend to his Web site more frequently as well. The last real news tidbit is dated Oct. 21. An Oct. 15 item is headlined, "Rudy's Chasing Women for endorsements."

Happy days


"The Democratic campaign to take back the House kicks into high gear with the Speaker's Club Ski Trip, Jan. 5-9," Paul Bedard writes in U.S. News & World Report.
"The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee is offering lobbyists, CEOs and labor leaders a chance to hit the slopes with the likes of House Minority Leader Richard Gephardt and DCCC boss [Rep.] Patrick Kennedy. Who are the fat cats paying $3,000 a pop to chill on Vail? Mr. Kennedy's group won't say. A spokesman wouldn't even reveal the ski-a-thon's location, daring us to find out that it is the five-star Bavarian-style Sonnenalp Resort."

Meltdown


Presidential candidate Gary Bauer says the campaign of Republican front-runner George W. Bush is falling apart.
"Well, I think the story that really isn't being reported enough yet is that the Bush candidacy in some ways is in meltdown," Mr. Bauer said yesterday on "Fox News Sunday."
"He has collapsed in New Hampshire. I think the prospect now is that he will lose the New Hampshire primary. That happened rapidly… . Nobody rang a bell. One day he was in the lead by 20 points, and now it's a toss-up at best. I think he can melt down in Iowa. I think every time there is a debate and we get away from the question of how much money he has raised to what his ideas are, he loses ground."

Powell's view


Retired Gen. Colin Powell, former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, sees terrorism as a threat in the 21st century. But he doesn't think it can compare with the international political and military threats that were eradicated in this century.
"Terrorism is a threat. Rogue states are a threat, especially those that are trying to develop nuclear weapons," Mr. Powell said yesterday on NBC's "Meet the Press."
"But none of those threats can destroy our society and way of life like the threats we got rid of, such as Nazism, fascism and the Cold War," he added.
Asked what he would do to convince rogue states not to try anything rash, Mr. Powell said he'd "make it clear they would be committing suicide."
Pressed as to how he would deal with North Korea, he said, "I'd make it clear they would cease to exist as a country and a society the very next day" after the United States decided to take action.

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