- The Washington Times - Monday, July 10, 2000

Every eight hours

Sen. Fred Thompson, chairman of the Senate committee that investigated fund-raising abuses in the 1996 Clinton-Gore re-election campaign, is not about to question Al Gore's honesty every time the vice president says he doesn't recall conversations or meetings involving possible illegalities.

On "Fox News Sunday," the Tennessee Republican said "it would not be appropriate for someone in the Senate to make judgments" on whether the vice president violated criminal law.

Brit Hume then asked Mr. Thompson why he could not, at least, say something when he believes Mr. Gore is not telling the truth.

"I could, but I'd be doing it every eight hours," the senator said.

A perfect example

Ed Rendell, the Democratic National Committee general chairman, knows he's not choosing Vice President Al Gore's running mate, but he believes the choice should be someone like former Senate Majority Leader George Mitchell.

Interviewed on CNN's "Evans, Novak, Hunt & Shields" Saturday, Mr. Rendell was asked if he thinks it is a "good strategy" to pick a vice-presidential candidate from a state that could be influential in terms of electoral votes. Illinois Sen. Richard J. Durbin and Florida Sen. Bob Graham were suggested as examples of that strategy.

"No, I agree with the vice president. He says that the only criteria and the most important criteria is going to be finding someone who can be president," said Mr. Rendell, the former mayor of Philadelphia.

"And what I'd like to see us pick is someone who clearly the American people look at and say, 'That person is ready to be president.' Someone like a George Mitchell, for example, has the breadth of experience, has the gravitas, has the ability … to step in."

Pundit Robert Novak asked Mr. Rendell if Mr. Mitchell, the former senator from Maine who has been the American peace envoy for Northern Ireland, is his choice for the No. 2 spot on the Democratic ticket.

"No, he would be one who would be a perfect example. I like George Mitchell, but I'm not making the decision, Bob," the party chairman replied.

McCain's other gig

Republican Sen. John McCain is planning to speak at an alternative political convention that will criticize Republicans for failing to act on campaign finance reform, Bloomberg News reports.

Mr. McCain plans to address the Shadow Convention 2000 to be held in tandem with the Republican National Convention in Philadelphia, which runs July 31 to Aug. 4.

The shadow convention will address Mr. McCain's issue of campaign finance reform as well as poverty and the war on drugs, the group said in a press release. The group also is holding a shadow convention at the Democratic National Convention in Los Angeles, Aug. 14-17.

"It's a forum, an educational forum to have debate on the real issues that have been left off the radar screen of the two major political parties," said Chuck Collins, co-director of United for a Fair Economy, coordinator of the shadow conventions.

Mr. McCain's July 30 appearance at an event that will be highly critical of his own party is unusual since the Arizona senator also will have a major prime-time address two days later, on Aug. 1, at the Republican convention.

Other Republican speakers at the Philadelphia shadow convention include Rep. Christopher Shays of Connecticut, who also favors tougher campaign finance laws, as well as New Mexico Gov. Gary E. Johnson, who has declared the nation's war on drugs to be an expensive failure and has called for drug legalization.

Wooing minorities

"President Clinton's 1992 'I feel your pain' motto is being recast into 'We care,' at least when it comes to wooing minority voters," Paul Bedard writes in U.S. News & World Report's Washington Whispers column.

"Sources tell Whispers that Clinton will try to wow blacks and secure their vote for Vice President Al Gore with a trip to Africa right after the August Democratic National Convention. A stop in Nigeria will be the centerpiece. He also plans a summit with nations moving toward democracy."

Michigan poll

Republicans George W. Bush and Sen. Spencer Abraham both have taken narrow leads in Michigan, according to a poll published late last week.

Mr. Bush was ahead of Vice President Al Gore, 45-40 percent, according to survey by EPIC/ MRA of Lansing, Mich., conducted June 28 to July 5.

Mr. Bush led Mr. Gore by a 45-40 margin when the field included Pat Buchanan of the Reform Party. When Ralph Nader of the Green Party also was included, Mr. Bush's margin grew to 46-34 percent over Mr. Gore, with Mr. Nader holding 8 percent.

In the Senate race, Mr. Abraham was ahead of Democratic Rep. Debbie Stabenow, 45 percent to 42 percent. However, that was within the poll's 4-point margin of error.

First-timers

Sixty-five percent of potential first-time voters intend to vote in the November presidential elections, though most admit to being less politically active than their baby boomer parents, according to a Newsweek poll.

While the vote was split fairly evenly, with 45 percent planning to cast their ballots for Texas Gov. George W. Bush, a Republican, and 44 percent saying they would choose Vice President Al Gore, a Democrat, some 64 percent said they would like to see a third major party in the running.

Seventy-one percent of the 18-to-21-year-olds surveyed admitted to being less politically active than the baby boom generation, who are now in their 40s and 50s, while 64 percent said they were less responsible generally.

Of the issues that concerned the first-time voters "a lot," 81 percent said education, and 70 percent cited poverty, homelessness and hunger.

Some 69 percent were worried about guns, 63 percent about employment, and 61 percent said they were concerned about health care.

Eighty percent of those polled said they were more open-minded than their parents' generation, and 71 percent saw themselves as having more technical savvy.

Only 33 percent said they admired President Clinton, while 36 percent of respondents said they admired Hillary Rodham Clinton.

Sloganeering

"I'm for people. He's for the powerful," Vice President Al Gore declared last week, referring to his Republican rival for president, George W. Bush.

That must have awakened memories over at the Republican Leadership Council, because the group put out a press release Friday accusing Mr. Gore of stealing from 1988 Democratic presidential nominee Michael Dukakis, who repeatedly told voters, "I'm on your side."

"Al Gore's new class warfare appeal is such a transparent expropriation of Mike Dukakis' campaign cue cards that I soon expect him to be driving around in a tank," said Mark Miller, executive director of the group.

Time for a change?

Former President Bush has an explanation for why he believes his son will win the White House in November and why he lost to Bill Clinton in 1992: Americans want an occasional change.

"I think I was the victim of people wanting change," the former president said in a New York Times interview.

"And I think the same thing is true now," he said. "I think people kind of like change, like the idea of change from time to time."

Mr. Bush said he thought that the past eight years in office for President Clinton and Vice President Al Gore might spell support for Texas Gov. George W. Bush. "I think that works for George's benefit," he said.

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