- The Washington Times - Monday, February 14, 2000

Casting aspersions

Political analyst Stuart Rothenberg takes the McCain campaign to task for its charge that Texas Gov. George W. Bush was using "push polling" in South Carolina.
"From all that I now know, the complaint by Sen. John McCain's campaign about 'push polling' was a distortion and, worse, a smear of a highly respected pollster. I don't know whether McCain was aware of the error, even though he made a public statement about it. But given the senator's very understandable sensitivity to questions about his honor, he ought to be more careful when casting aspersions about others," Mr. Rothenberg writes in today's issue of Roll Call.
"Unfortunately, the problem isn't only the McCain campaign. It is also the way members of the national and South Carolina media have handled the matter. They have been sloppy for years when the subject of polls and 'push polls' comes up. You'd think they would know better by now. Too many, I'm afraid, are only interested in creating hype."
Mr. Rothenberg was referring to Voter/Consumer Research, Mr. Bush's polling firm, which Mr. McCain targeted by name. It turns out the firm contacted 300 people, using 33 questions. "Part of the poll involved a few questions testing reaction to potential Bush messages. That's standard practice in polling, and nobody ever complains about it," Mr. Rothenberg said.

Look who's talking

Senatorial candidate Hillary Rodham Clinton has been hammering New York Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani for soliciting campaign contributions from what she calls "the extreme right wing." But it turns out that Mrs. Clinton has been appealing for cash from what some might describe as "the extreme left wing."
The Associated Press reports that Clinton letters have gone out to the Democratic Socialists of America, the Nicaragua Cultural Alliance, U.S. Friends of Nicaragua, Colorado Model Liberals and Liberal Congressional Donors.

Bezos for veep

"Senator John McCain's 'Straight Talk Express' could take a Web detour if it captures the GOP nomination," Paul Bedard writes in the Washington Whispers column of U.S. News & World Report.
"McCain allies tell Whispers that their man would ignore Washington talent and surf though resumes of high-tech and even Internet superstars to pick a running mate. Possible candidates: Jeff Bezos, founder of Amazon.com; Jerry Yang, the kid-founder of Yahoo, and Intel Corp.'s Andy Grove," Mr. Bedard said.
"While staff-picking is in the parlor game stage, insiders say outsiders would rule the Cabinet, although McCain wants a retired flag officer at the Pentagon and [retired Gen.] Colin Powell at State.
"Nonetheless, insiders say there may be space for the few Beltway benchers who have joined the maverick's campaign instead of hopping on the Bush Bandwagon. Rep. Lindsey Graham, McCain's top South Carolina lieutenant, could head Education. New Hampshire organizer, former Sen. Warren Rudman, is liked for Justice or Treasury. Possible chiefs of staff: former Rep. Vin Weber and maybe Weekly Standard editor Bill Kristol. But it all could be a pipe dream. The hot whisper in Washington: Bush will win and make McCain his veep."

Ventura and McCain

Minnesota Gov. Jesse Ventura said yesterday he would consider running as vice president if invited to do so by Arizona Sen. John McCain.
"The senator hasn't called me yet, but you know if he did, I'd certainly give a little weight to it," Mr. Ventura said on ABC's "This Week."
The governor's comments came days after he severed his ties with the National Reform Party, calling it "dysfunctional" and branding its presidential-nomination candidate Pat Buchanan an extremist.
"Now that I've broken away from the National Reform Party, I'm now free to support and endorse any candidate of my choice," Mr. Ventura said.
The former professional wrestler and Navy Seal praised Mr. McCain for doing an "outstanding job" of gaining support from third-party voters. "Just as I shocked the world here in Minnesota, Senator McCain may shock the world nationally," he predicted.
"His candidacy very much is patterned after mine," Mr. Ventura said.

Gore's pals

Vice President Al Gore's ties to certain labor unions "is a subject that ought to be of more than passing interest," the Wall Street Journal says, pointing to a Gore visit to New York City last week.
"CNN reported that Mr. Gore got his biggest New York welcome at the offices of District Council 37 of AFSCME, the union for state, county and municipal workers. The widespread corruption at District Council 37 has been one of the biggest labor stories to hit New York in years. More than two dozen officials have been indicted on charges of corruption, including $2.2 million in member dues stolen by a single local president," the newspaper said in an editorial.
"On his visit, Mr. Gore was joined by AFSCME national President Gerald McEntee; the national office recently submitted $4.6 million in claims to its insurance company, part of the union's request that it be reimbursed for fraud by 35 AFSCME officials nationwide… ."
In addition, Mr. McEntee was involved in an "illegal swap scheme" between then-Teamsters President Ron Carey and the Clinton-Gore campaign in 1996, the Journal said, although Mr. McEntee appears in no danger of prosecution from the Clinton Justice Department.
Meanwhile, Richard Trumka, the No. 2 official of the AFL-CIO, who has campaigned with Mr. Gore, "has twice taken the Fifth Amendment over his role in personally turning over election funds to the Teamsters."
The Journal also noted that the Justice Department has refused to respond to questions about a sweetheart deal in which the Laborers Union's Arthur Coia a friend of President Clinton and his wife was allowed to resign as president with a slap on the wrist and $335,000 a year for life. Mr. Coia was given probation for failure to pay $100,000 in taxes to Rhode Island.

She's sorry now

First lady Hillary Rodham Clinton apologized yesterday for calling the police shooting of unarmed immigrant Amadou Diallo a "murder."
"I misspoke," she said on WNBC-TV's "News Forum," according to the Associated Press. "That was just a misstatement on my part."
Mrs. Clinton had used the word on Martin Luther King Day, calling Mr. Diallo's death a "tragic murder."
The four New York City cops on trial in Albany, N.Y., for the shooting of Mr. Diallo have pleaded innocent to charges of second-degree murder.
Police officers said the first lady had "prejudged the officers" and "poisoned the jury pool."

Hillary's tunes

The London Daily Telegraph notes that first lady Hillary Rodham Clinton's campaign launch "was marred by the unfortunate choice of background music, which included a Billy Joel song with an explicit reference to self-abuse that did little for her image as a champion of family values."
The newspaper added: "Four days later, in Albany, the managers appeared to have learned nothing from previous headlines. This time Mrs. Clinton's arrival was heralded by Rod Stewart's 'Maggie May' the story of an older woman who seduces a teen-age boy so effectively that he plays truant from school."

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