- The Washington Times - Wednesday, August 2, 2000

A different story

"There's furious spin in Philly that the Bush campaign was well aware of and well prepared to defend the decade-old voting record of conservative running mate, Dick Cheney. But we're told by none other than New Jersey Gov. Christie Todd Whitman that Bush wasn't really up on Cheney's more controversial votes," Paul Bedard writes in the daily Internet version of U.S. News & World Report's "Washington Whispers" column from the Republican convention.
"Campaign strategist Karl Rove, meanwhile, tells a different story. While munching Kellogg's Corn Flakes at the mission-style Inn at Penn, he tells us that the campaign had looked at some 2,000 Cheney votes and identified some that 'were worrisome.' But he says the Democratic attacks are 'much ado about nothing.' He also welcomed President Clinton's attacks on Cheney. Why? 'It puts [Mr. Clinton] on stage and therefore diminishes Al Gore.' "

A hit song

Country singer Hank Williams Jr. delighted Philadelphia convention-goers Sunday with a tune called "I'm a Pissed-Off Republican."
Elaine Donnelly of the Center for Military Readiness tells this column that Mr. Williams was at the Philadelphia Navy Yard Cruise Terminal doing a performance for Tennessee and several other state delegations when he introduced the tune (written in just four minutes, he said). The song was about a man named "Willy" and what he had done in the White House to mess up the nation.
"It was very nice of Williams to write and perform the song with a twinkle in his eye and a big smile expressing what the delegates were thinking but no one was saying," Mrs. Donnelly said.

Farewell to term limits

"Here are two words you won't hear this week in Philadelphia: Term limits," the New York Post reports in its "Off the Record" column.
"The crusade to send politicians home, which obsessed the GOP in the early 1990s, which was extensively discussed in both the '92 and '96 platforms and which, incidentally, has New York City in electoral turmoil was quietly dropped from the 2000 platform," the newspaper noted.
"While folks at the platform hearings last week argued over education and abortion and other matters, nobody raised a peep about the disappearance. 'It was amazing,' said one disgusted platform worker.
"Guess 'compassionate conservatism' now extends to the continuing employment of Republican elected officials."

Campbell's strategy

Rep. Tom Campbell of California is spending the Republican National Convention distinguishing himself from his party.
Mr. Campbell, who is campaigning to unseat Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein, is distancing himself from the rest of the GOP with speeches supporting abortion rights, the Associated Press reports.
And he released television and radio ads yesterday that don't mention that he's in the GOP, reporter Bart Jansen said.
A Zogby poll of Californians, sponsored by the Campbell campaign, has Mrs. Feinstein with 48 percent support, compared with 37 percent for him. Her advisers say her lead is bigger.
Because Mrs. Feinstein has held the seat since 1992, twice as many voters recognize her name, Mr. Campbell acknowledged.
"I've got every plan and every hope to win, but I don't dispute that it's hard," he said.
Mrs. Feinstein has collected almost $8 million in campaign funds, compared with Mr. Campbell's $3.5 million.
Mr. Campbell spoke Sunday at a "shadow convention" organized by political watchdogs and comics to promote issues that the major parties ignore. He received a standing ovation from several hundred in the audience after describing the international drug war as an expensive failure, like Vietnam.

Force of personality

George W. Bush, in his acceptance speech tomorrow night, plans "to spell out the issues he's been talking about for the past year," such as reforming Social Security and improving education, Fred Barnes reports in the Weekly Standard.
"Doesn't sound like a speech that will electrify the nation, does it? The Bush plan is to overcome this not with a few memorable lines the campaign is said to have trouble coming up with those and not by raising the stakes in the race, but with the force of Bush's personality," Mr. Barnes writes.
"Bush has repeatedly told his aides to make the speech more direct, simple and personal. One adviser says the speech is supposed to be 'from the heart.' Bush wants it to be 'passionately personal,' which means more personal than any presidential nominee's acceptance speech yet uttered and more personal than any speech he's ever given. He wants, according to a senior aide, 'to confirm in people's minds who Bush is and the best things about him.' He'll have succeeded if he creates the image of a candidate whose agenda is distinct from anyone else's and of a man who is personally different from the ordinary run of politicians."

How about Newt?

"The smoke-filled room may be extinct, but backroom political wheeling and dealing isn't," the Wall Street Journal notes.
"Congress' leaders just now are locked in a tense chess match over open seats and control of both houses. Tom Daschle fears that Al Gore will pick a sitting senator from a state with a GOP governor, who'd appoint a Republican replacement. Speaker Denny Hastert pleaded with the Georgia delegation not to create an open GOP House seat by running against Democrat Zell Miller for the late Sen. Paul Coverdell's seat," the newspaper observed in an editorial.
"How about Newt as Zell Miller's Georgia opponent? That'd even siphon off some of the Hillary-Lazio obsession. Sen. Newt Gingrich now that's a Democratic nightmare worth conjuring to life."

Pablum all day long

The New York Times' R.W. Apple Jr., in a front-page news analysis yesterday, lamented the new-style, no-news political convention.
The Republicans and the Democrats "have been reading the polls and reflecting on the past. Partisans all, they are confronted with the uncomfortable finding that Americans, a few of whom may actually be watching on television, hate partisanship and discord," Mr. Apple observed.
"Perhaps it is the times. Perhaps it is because most people are happy with their lot, with the economy and with the course of the ship of state. If that is the reason for voters' aversion to conflict, feel-good conventions could be a passing phase. Hard times pose hard questions and those questions get thrashed out not only in campaigns but also in the conventions preceding them.
"This year, though, it is pablum for breakfast, lunch and dinner."

Tied in New York

George W. Bush has pulled even with Al Gore in New York, according to a survey of 600 likely voters.
The poll, conducted by Mahoney, Strimple, Goncharenko LLC of New York City, found that if the presidential election were held now, Mr. Gore would receive 42.7 percent of the vote and Mr. Bush would get 42 percent. Another 15.3 percent were undecided.
The survey was conducted July 26 and 27 and had a 4 percent margin of error.

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