- The Washington Times - Monday, January 10, 2000

Bob and Elizabeth

Both Bob and Elizabeth Dole appeared on ABC's "This Week" yesterday, and co-host Sam Donaldson asked Mrs. Dole about rumors that she endorsed Texas Gov. George W. Bush because she would like to be on his ticket.
"Oh, Sam, please," said Mrs. Dole, who dropped out of the Republican presidential sweepstakes last year.
Asked whether she would accept the second spot on the Republican ticket if she were offered it, Mrs. Dole said: "It's just so premature, at this point, to even speculate on that. We don't have a nominee yet. But when George Bush becomes the nominee, the Republican Party has a wealth of really talented, outstanding people" to choose from to be his running mate.
While Mrs. Dole remained coy, her husband showed no such reticence.
"I would accept it if it's offered," Mr. Dole chimed in.

Dinner tab

"How many ways does President Clinton love China? How about 297,832? In a rare accounting, the State Department reveals that it stuck taxpayers for that amount to pay the check of the 1997 state dinner for Chinese President Jiang Zemin Clinton's most elaborate," Paul Bedard writes in the Washington Whispers column of U.S. News & World Report.
"The bills reviewed by Whispers show that the fare for the chow line steak, lobster and marzipan panda bears was chump change compared with the fairy tale post-dinner party on the South Lawn. Topping the list: $166,615 for a tent fitted with faux French windows. Nice touches: $5,281.62 for engraved invitations; $985 to rent a Steinway grand piano; $9,342.97 for flowers; and $1,440 to have little red trolley cars ferry guests to the party tent," Mr. Bedard wrote.
"Some other charges in the bills, obtained by Judicial Watch under the Freedom of Information Act: The Park Service spent $9,698 for 22 workers to replace … trashed sod. And Ridgewell's, the fancy caterer, billed $7,676 for help and equipment after a $32 discount negotiated by Clinton's butler."

Food for thought

Iowa Gov. Thomas Vilsack remains neutral in the Democratic presidential primary battle between Vice President Al Gore and former Sen. Bill Bradley.
But in Saturday's debate between Mr. Gore and his challenger, Mr. Bradley hinted he might like having Mr. Vilsack as his agriculture secretary.
Noting that Mr. Gore has continued to hammer him on some of his agriculture-related Senate votes, Mr. Bradley said Saturday in Des Moines: "When they said FDR wasn't going to be good for agriculture, you know what he did? He came to Iowa and he appointed Henry Wallace as his agriculture secretary.
"Now, I'm not saying Tom Vilsack's interested, but what I'm saying is under my administration, the agriculture secretary will think of the family farmer first, all across this country."
Mr. Vilsack was asked about Mr. Bradley's comments Saturday on CNN's "Evans, Novak, Hunt & Shields."
"I don't know if this was an offer of a federal job. But is Tom Vilsack interested [in being agriculture secretary?]" co-host Mark Shields asked the Iowa governor.
Mr. Vilsack responded this way: "Tom Vilsack would have to learn an awful lot more to be a legitimate candidate for secretary of agriculture. I appreciate the senator's comments, but I think it was more in jest than it was serious."
But pundit Robert Novak disagreed. "I thought he was serious. He sounded serious to me," the syndicated political columnist said.

Not interested

"A striking demonstration of the Democrats' lack of preparedness is that at the start of a crucial election year, the post of finance chairman of the Democratic National Committee has been vacant since Beth Dozoretz quit more than three months ago," the New York Times reports.
"Party officials said they had been unable to persuade big names in the fund-raising world to take the job full time and instead late this week settled on three people to share the job. They said they expected to announce the triumvirate [today]: Joel Hyatt, an unsuccessful Senate candidate from Ohio in 1994, who now runs a business in [California's] Silicon Valley; Joe Cari, a lawyer in Chicago; and Carol Pensky, a former national party treasurer, who will work out of Democratic headquarters in Washington.
"Those who resisted entreaties to head the finance effort, party officials said, were David Steiner, a New Jersey financier; Steven Ratner, deputy chief executive officer of Lazard Freres & Company; E. John Rosenwald Jr., vice chairman of Bear Stearns; and James E. Dimon, the former president of Citigroup. Party officials also said they had courted Orin S. Kramer, an investment banker, who worked in the Carter White House.
"The biggest disappointment for party officials was that Terence R. McAuliffe, the premier Democratic fund-raiser who has turned his attention to raising money for several of Mr. Clinton's projects, as well as [first lady] Hillary Rodham Clinton's [Senate] campaign, did not want a major role with the Democratic National Committee. Peter Knight, a major fund-raiser and confidant of Mr. Gore, was not interested, either."

Watts' invitation

Oklahoma Rep. J.C. Watts Jr., chairman of the House Republican Conference, on Saturday invited Al Gore's campaign manager to meet and talk about GOP efforts to help the urban poor, just days after Mr. Watts denounced Donna Brazile for criticizing black Republicans.
Chris Paulitz, a spokesman for the GOP conference, said the invitation to Miss Brazile wasn't exactly an attempt to "kiss and make up," however.
"Obviously, she does not know what J.C. and the Republican Party are doing for the African-American community," Mr. Paulitz said. "We're reaching out to show her."
Miss Brazile got into hot water last week by saying in an interview that Republicans such as Gen. Colin Powell, former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and Mr. Watts would rather have their pictures taken with poor black children than help feed them.
Mr. Powell responded with an angry letter to the Gore campaign, and Miss Brazile and Mr. Gore separately telephoned the retired general although they refused to say whether either apologized, the Associated Press reports.
Mr. Watts said he invited Miss Brazile to meet with him to discuss the American Community Renewal Act, a Republican program that aims to improve the economy and conditions in cities by offering tax benefits to businesses and home-buying help, for example.

Ducking the issue

"Where are they when they're needed, all of our allegedly pro-family politicians?" the Weekly Standard asks in an editorial written by David Frum.
"Two weeks ago, the Vermont Supreme Court handed down the incredible ruling that marriage violated the state's 1793 constitution. With that decision, the long-simmering theoretical argument over rights for homosexuals exploded into immediate practical urgency. Gary Bauer and Steve Forbes objected, but, so far as we can tell, all of the leading candidates for president promptly went silent."
The long-anticipated legal crisis of the American family has arrived, the magazine said, "and it has arrived as a nationwide crisis. And yet, the would-be leaders of the nation have shockingly little to say about it. Vice President Al Gore issued a brief statement on the day of the ruling applauding the result while clumsily attempting to reassure traditionalists. 'I am not for changing the institution of marriage as we have traditionally known it. But I am for legal protections for domestic partnerships.'
"Bill Bradley also claims to oppose (or as his campaign materials cautiously put it, 'not support') gay marriage. But he has chosen to duck the Vermont issue altogether. Ditto for John McCain: The otherwise voluble candidate has apparently said not one word about the decision in Vermont. George W. Bush contented himself with a brief answer to a journalist's question about the case: 'I believe a marriage is between a man and a woman.'
"This will not do," the magazine said.

Bush leads everyone

Texas Governor George W. Bush, the front-runner in the race for the Republican 2000 presidential nomination, leads his Republican rivals and Democratic candidates Al Gore and Bill Bradley, according to a Newsweek poll out today.
In a telephone poll of 753 registered voters, Mr. Bush garnered 63 percent against 13 percent obtained by his main Republican rival, Arizona Senator John McCain, according to the magazine survey.
No other Republican candidate made it above the 10 percent figure.
Mr. Bush was also enjoyed a 50 percent to 43 percent advantage over Vice President Al Gore, who leads former New Jersey Sen. Bill Bradley in the race for the Democratic nod to succeed President Clinton.
Mr. Bush was also ahead of Mr. Bradley by a margin of 54 percent to 38 percent.

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