- The Washington Times - Wednesday, April 12, 2000

Crane returns

Rep. Philip M. Crane, Illinois Republican, returned to the House nine days early from a 30-day medical leave of absence taken to deal with his "dependence on alcohol."

In a statement released by his office, Mr. Crane said yesterday he is "rejoining my family, friends, colleagues and supporters in good health. I feel better physically and mentally."

Mr. Crane announced March 21 that while it was a "particularly difficult time for me to take a leave from the House, I have reached a point where I feel I must address this problem."

In yesterday's statement, Mr. Crane called the experience "deeply humbling."

In the stock

The Republican National Committee, in an attempt to embarrass Democratic presidential-nominee-to-be Al Gore into holding a press conference, has been producing fliers depicting various prominent journalists with their heads and hands sticking out of wooden stocks.

For example, this morning's edition under a headline saying "Day 53, Reporters Held Hostage!" shows Chris Matthews and Helen Thomas in the stock, with this message below: "53 days (and counting) with no press conference. Mr. Gore, please let these reporters go!"

Reed and Microsoft

Ralph Reed, a top strategist to George W. Bush, has been working for more than a year for Microsoft Corp. to defend it against "lobbying attacks" in Washington, a company spokesman said yesterday.

However, Mr. Reed, former executive director of the Christian Coalition, has "never talked to the governor about Microsoft. There's been no personal lobbying," Bush spokesman Ari Fleischer told the Associated Press.

The New York Times reported that Microsoft hired Mr. Reed, founder of a political consulting group called Century Strategies, to get Mr. Bush to support Microsoft's position in the Justice Department's antitrust case if he wins the November presidential election.

Dan Leach, a Microsoft spokesman, told the AP that Century Strategies was hired about a year and a half ago.

"It's one of several companies that we hired to defend ourselves from our competitors' lobbying attacks," Mr. Leach said.

"We are not hoping or expecting that any different administration will pull back or withdraw this [antitrust] case," he added. "We believe and we fully expect that we will win this case on appeal."

Microsoft spokesman Mark Murray told the Times that the company hired Century Strategies to counter "a comprehensive lobbying campaign by our competitors" to promote the government's suit.

He said Microsoft has been trying to get its point across to all the presidential candidates, including Vice President Al Gore.

A spokeswoman for Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates, Ginny Terzano, formerly worked as a spokeswoman at the Clinton White House and at the Department of Housing and Urban Development.

Giuliani fatigue

"There is profound concern among Mayor [Rudolph W.] Giuliani's die-hard supporters that Hillary Clinton's surge in the polls this past week isn't just a momentary blip that it must be taken as an ominous indicator of trouble ahead in the Senate campaign," New York Post columnist John Podhoretz writes.

"Giuliani should take the concern seriously and begin addressing it as soon as possible. His fans have been counting on the national phenomenon dubbed 'Clinton fatigue' to harm Hillary, even in this Democrat state, but it's begun to dawn on them that 'Giuliani fatigue' might be a problem as well," Mr. Podhoretz said.

Bush's Internet ads

Presumptive Republican presidential nominee George W. Bush is running banner ads on the Internet, encouraging voters to figure out how much they personally would save under his $483 billion tax-cut proposal.

The Texas governor will be running the ads for the next week on Yahoo, one of the most heavily used Internet portals, his campaign said in a statement yesterday. The ad is timed to coincide with the approach of Monday's deadline for U.S. residents to file their federal income tax returns.

The banner reads: "How much will the Bush tax cut save you? Find out here. Check out our innovative tax calculator."

After clicking on the banner, viewers are transferred to a tax calculator that asks some questions and tells them how much money they would save if the Bush plan were to be enacted, Reuters reports.

Black eye

Accusations of abuse and neglect involving a Corpus Christi, Texas, ministry for troubled youth may have delivered a black eye to Texas faith-based programs that Gov. George W. Bush is trying to use as a springboard in his Republican bid for president, the Houston Chronicle reports.

State Democratic Chairwoman Molly Beth Malcolm on Monday said the incidents raised questions about whether there is enough accountability in Mr. Bush's faith-based programs.

"Even faith-based organizations must have accountability and sufficient state oversight to ensure the health, safety and well-being of the people who are receiving the services," Miss Malcolm said. "If Bush insists on having a faith-based network with little oversight and no accountability, we'll see more of these kinds of problems."

Bush leads

Texas Gov. George W. Bush has pulled ahead of Vice President Al Gore in a new poll on the presidential campaign.

Mr. Bush had 50 percent support in the CNN-USA Today-Gallup poll, compared with 41 percent for Mr. Gore.

Eight percent had no opinion and 1 percent chose the category "other."

The survey of 502 likely voters was taken April 7 to 9 and had a margin of error of plus or minus three percentage points.

An earlier poll taken March 30 to April 2 had Mr. Bush and Mr. Gore in a statistical tie, with 46 percent support for the Texas governor and 45 percent support for the vice president.

In a hypothetical race with commentator Pat Buchanan as the nominee of the Reform Party, Mr. Buchanan takes a tiny slice of voters from Mr. Bush, who drops to 48 percent with Mr. Gore at 42 percent and Mr. Buchanan with 4 percent support, according to the poll.

Falwell disagrees

In a rare split with religious broadcaster Pat Robertson, the Rev. Jerry Falwell said he cannot support his fellow conservative's call for a moratorium on the death penalty.

In fact, Mr. Falwell said, he believes the appeals process for prisoners should be speeded up.

"Pat and I do not disagree on many things, but on this one we do," Mr. Falwell said in Tuesday's Richmond Times-Dispatch.

"While courts do make mistakes, I do not believe the mistake level is at the point where we need to rethink our whole system, and I personally believe that we need to reduce the time between conviction and execution."

Mr. Robertson, speaking Friday at the College of William and Mary, said that while he believes the death penalty is morally justified, he sees it being administered in a way that discriminates against blacks and the poor and doesn't provide enough opportunities for mercy.

Responding to a question from the audience, Mr. Robertson, founder of the Christian Broadcasting Network and the Christian Coalition, said a short moratorium on executions would be appropriate.

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