- The Washington Times - Monday, February 7, 2000

Travel office scheme

"Al Gore's team is ducking costly upfront payments required to charter a jet for his press corps by tapping the White House travel office to handle the media's traveling needs the first-ever use of the presidential perk by a vice presidential campaign," Paul Bedard writes in U.S. News & World Report.
"While other campaigns have to pay up to $47,000 a day in advance to rent a charter, Gore's campaign pays nothing. The reason: The bill is paid out of a revolving account funded by the White House press corps for White House travel and managed by the travel office," Mr. Bedard said.
"While legal, it's a practice that was condemned by Clinton aides during the 1993 Travelgate affair. A Bill Bradley aide said it gives Gore an unfair financial advantage because it frees up money for other uses. Gore and White House aides say the arrangement is more convenient for reporters and the Secret Service. They also say that former Vice President George Bush did the same thing in his 1988 presidential bid.
'Not so,' says Bill R. Dale, the travel office boss at the time. In fact, reporters recall having their credit cards charged before each flight so that the Bush campaign wouldn't have to finance the jet."

The Bob Jones decision

Karl Rove, George W. Bush's chief campaign strategist, defends Mr. Bush's decision to speak at Bob Jones University in South Carolina the day after his stunning defeat in the New Hampshire Republican primary.
Some pundits and supporters of Sen. John McCain of Arizona the two are not necessarily the same have said it was a mistake for Mr. Bush to appear at the conservative religious school that bans interracial dating by students.
But Mr. Rove, interviewed on CNN's "Evans, Novak, Hunt & Shields" on Saturday, disagreed. "Look, President Reagan went there. Vice President Bush went there. President Bush went there. Vice President Quayle went there. The Democratic governor of South Carolina visited there recently. African-American members of the legislature have visited there," he said.
Mr. Rove added: "Look, times change, and Bob Jones University is changing. The president of Bob Jones University, for example, has come out in favor of withdrawing the Confederate flag from the [South Carolina] state Capitol. That's his opinion. He's entitled to it."
Mr. Rove went on to say that the same day Mr. Bush received a "standing ovation" from the "social conservatives at Bob Jones," he also appeared "at a huge rally in Spartanburg with a mainstream Republican activist."
The rousing receptions he received at both stops demonstrates Mr. Bush's "ability to bring the party together," Mr. Rove said.

Behind the pancake

It wasn't bad enough that Gary Bauer received only a sliver of the vote in last week's Republican presidential primary in New Hampshire. Yesterday, he had to answer questions from John McLaughlin about why he fell off the stage during a pancake-flipping contest in the Granite State the day before the election.
But Mr. Bauer showed no sign of embarrassment when asked about the episode on "John McLauglin's One on One" on WRC-TV. He insisted he was not klutzy and that his dignity remained intact.
In fact, he contended his collapse was intentional, not accidental.
Mr. McLaughlin asked Mr. Bauer if he fell because he had reached a point in the campaign where he was "feeling loopy and zany."
Mr. Bauer laughed. "I fell off the back of that stage because I wasn't going to let that pancake hit the floor. I caught that pancake in my skillet, John. I'm the Ken Griffey of American politics. I went into the dugout and emerged with the ball."
Television viewers who saw the contest on the network news probably assumed Texas Gov. George W. Bush won, because of his skillful tossing and catching of flapjacks. But Mr. Bauer believes he actually won.
"I did, for style alone. Did you see me hop back up there on that stage?" Mr. Bauer asked Mr. McLaughlin.
"Style and hazard," the host observed.
"Absolutely," said Mr. Bauer, "And you know, most of the commentators looked at that and said, 'You know what the guy is? A fighter.' And it was actually part of my long-term strategy to dominate the news the day before the vote."
It was about as much long-term strategy as Mr. Bauer needed. He withdrew from the Republican presidential race Friday.

More like Mondale

If George W. Bush is going to recover from his New Hampshire defeat, "he must turn to the Walter Mondale model," Fred Barnes writes in the Weekly Standard.
"No, I'm not kidding. After losing the New Hampshire primary to Gary Hart in 1984, Mondale recognized that he must redefine not only Hart ('Where's the beef?') but also himself," Mr. Barnes said.
"He declared himself no longer the front-runner, said the Democratic presidential nomination was up for grabs, and vowed to fight furiously, state by state, to win. Mondale was appropriately humble, conceding he'd made mistakes and hadn't approached the campaign the right way. He then created a new, no longer arrogant, and far more appealing Mondale and wound up winning the nomination before losing the general election to the incumbent, Ronald Reagan."
Mr. Barnes added: "What Mondale changed was the style of his campaign. On substance, he remained an unswerving liberal. Bush is fine on substance, too, and probably closer to the thinking average Republicans than McCain is. But ideology doesn't matter as much in this race. Personal traits, chiefly character, and how a candidate presents himself to voters have trumped substance."

Wine steward

Vice President Al Gore poured the wine aboard his aircraft Friday to emphasize the contrast with the whining coming from the the campaign plane of Democratic rival Bill Bradley.
Wearing a black apron and with a napkin folded under his arm, French waiter style, Mr. Gore served a 1997 Washington state Chardonnay to reporters and photographers traveling with him aboard Air Force Two, Reuters reports.
"As a former journalist, I was truly distressed to read of the suffering on the Bradley plane," Mr. Gore said of reports of complaints of cold food and lack of heat on the aircraft chartered by his lone competitor for the Democratic presidential nomination.
"Here on the Gore 2000 plane, we want to make certain that everyone is well taken care of, and if there is anything we can do to make your travel more enjoyable, please speak to me personally," Mr. Gore said.
"How about daily news conferences?" a reporter asked the vice president, who has not held one in weeks.
"Daily wine tasting?" Mr. Gore replied.

Reagan turns 89

Former President Ronald Reagan turned 89 yesterday, spending the day quietly at home with his family, a spokeswoman said.
Mr. Reagan, who suffers from Alzheimer's disease, is doing as "well as can be expected," spokeswoman Joanne Drake said in a statement last week.
Daughter Maureen Reagan said recently her father was losing his motor skills to the degenerative brain disease that was first diagnosed five years ago.
Mr. Reagan is the eldest of the four living former U.S. presidents.
Miss Drake said last week that "out of concern and respect for privacy" she would not discuss birthday activities other than to say he and former first lady Nancy Reagan planned a "very quiet celebration."

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