- The Washington Times - Wednesday, July 26, 2000

Keyes drops out

Alan Keyes expressed his support for George W. Bush's choice of a running mate yesterday and said he had dropped his own campaign against Mr. Bush for the Republican nomination, the Associated Press reports.

Mr. Keyes won no primaries last winter and spring, but he remained on the campaign trail, spreading his conservative message.

Mr. Keyes said he supports the Texas governor's choice of former Defense Secretary Dick Cheney as his running mate, adding that Mr. Cheney's anti-abortion views mirrored his own. He said he would join other Republicans to unite behind Mr. Bush at the party's convention in Philadelphia next week.

A spokeswoman had said Mr. Keyes would consider leaving the Republican Party if Mr. Bush chose a running mate who favored abortion rights.

Mr. Keyes said yesterday, "It won't come to that."

Tweaking the veep

Nine days after Al Gore stumbled over the question of whether pregnant women on death row should be executed, the Republican-controlled House tweaked the vice president by pushing an "innocent child protection" bill to prohibit states from putting to death mothers-to-be, the Associated Press reports.

"This bill is to ensure that a convicted killer doesn't kill again, namely the unborn child in her womb," said Rep. Joseph R. Pitts, Pennsylvania Republican.

However, the bill introduced two days after the vice president's hesitation clearly had a presidential campaign slant as representatives criticized him personally: Gore's position is "breathtakingly insensitive," said Rep. Christopher H. Smith, New Jersey Republican.

The bill passed unanimously yesterday.

The GOP jumped on the issue July 16 when the likely Democratic presidential nominee awkwardly declined to say on NBC's "Meet the Press" whether he supported a federal law that would bar the execution of pregnant women.

Likely Republican presidential nominee George W. Bush who has presided over more than 130 executions as Texas governor immediately said the choice to exempt pregnant women from executions was easy for him to make.

The next day, Mr. Gore said he does support the law, and he noted that such a woman also would have the right to choose whether to have an abortion. "I support the statute to spare that hypothetical person," Mr. Gore said. "It should be her right to choose."

Victory into defeat

The NAACP appears demoralized by victory in the Confederate flag controversy in South Carolina.

Rather than celebrate the decision of the state legislature to remove the flag from atop the Statehouse, placing it at the site of a nearby Confederate monument, National Association for the Advancement of Colored People President Kweisi Mfume insulted the black legislators who had voted for the compromise, calling them "weak-kneed, shifty-eyed, backbending legislators who scratched when they didn't itch and who bent over when they were not engaged in prayer."

Mr. Mfume's remarks enraged black legislator Kay Patterson, who had spent 25 years trying to remove the Confederate flag. Mr. Patterson, who voted for the compromise, hurled an epithet of his own at Mr. Mfume, and suggested the NAACP leader was a Johnnie-come-lately on the issue.

"Before this feud escalates, someone needs to call a truce," wrote USA Today columnist DeWayne Wickham. "Instead of lashing out at each other, Mfume and Patterson should be celebrating the victory they both had a hand in winning. Rather than hurl brickbats at one another, they should be heaping praise."

Mr. Wickham added: "The war of words could turn victory into defeat. Although the NAACP vows to continue its economic boycott until the flag is no longer 'displayed in positions of sovereignty,' Patterson says his quarter-century battle is over. This split decision will taint the victory Patterson proclaims and undermine Mfume's effort to ban the flag from being flown anywhere on the South Carolina capitol's grounds."

HUD's campaign team

Andrew M. Cuomo poses "a third force" in the New York Senate campaign, using his federal post to help President Clinton's wife and harass her Republican opponent, the Wall Street Journal reports.

"While Hillary Rodham Clinton and Rep. Rick Lazio run neck and neck in the polls, sprinting alongside them is the first lady's ally Andrew Cuomo, the administration's secretary of housing and urban development. Although Mr. Cuomo isn't actually seeking office himself, the son of former Gov. Mario Cuomo has emerged as a third force in the campaign," reporter Shailagh Murray writes.

"Notwithstanding his responsibilities in Washington, Mr. Cuomo lately has been a conspicuous presence in his home state, which receives more HUD aid than any other. He has sparred with Mr. Lazio over housing policy, linking the lawmaker to the 'extremist' record of congressional Republicans on the issue. HUD has also launched an investigation into whether Rep. Lazio pressured the agency on behalf of campaign contributors. Meanwhile, a former state HUD official, Bill de Blasio, is managing Mrs. Clinton's campaign.

"Cuomo aides say the secretary has played no role in the investigation, but its target smells of election-year maneuvering. Asked about the inquiry recently, Mr. Lazio replied with sarcasm: 'I can't imagine there's politics at HUD.' "

The reporter added: "The Senate race isn't the only New York Senate campaign Mr. Cuomo has injected himself into lately. At a New York City event organized by the Democratic National Committee, Mr. Cuomo accused Republican presidential candidate George W. Bush of denying school-lunch money to one million children, and showed footage of the colonias in south Texas, where an estimated 400,000 people live in squalor."

Avoiding a 'reunion'

George W. Bush's telegenic nephew George P. will have a featured role at the Republican National Convention, and brother Jeb will be doing the rounds of TV interview shows. But Dad and Mom, the former president and first lady, will be more in the background.

"We want to be careful it doesn't turn into a Bush family reunion," convention co-chairman Andrew Card said yesterday outside the First Union Center in Philadelphia, site of the four-day convention that begins Monday.

The former president and his wife, Barbara, probably won't have speaking roles at the convention, Mr. Card said. The same goes for Florida Gov. Jeb Bush.

That doesn't mean the family will be ignored. The candidate's wife, Laura Bush, will speak Monday night. Former President Bush will be saluted Tuesday night as part of a tribute to former Republican presidents. And it seems likely that 24-year-old George P. Bush will have a featured role.

The nephew, son of Jeb Bush and his Mexican-born wife, has been on a nationwide tour promoting his uncle's candidacy. He is seen as a valuable campaigner in pursuit of Hispanic and youth votes, the Associated Press notes.

Also, Jeb Bush will be a "very important surrogate" for his brother during convention week and is likely to make television appearances on George W. Bush's behalf, Mr. Card said.

"Every Bush family member is an asset," Mr. Card said.

Ohio poll

In Ohio, George W. Bush leads Al Gore by 11 percentage points, 47 percent to 36 percent, according to a new poll.

The Fox News/Opinion Dynamics survey released yesterday also showed Mr. Bush to be ahead in the state, 43 percent to 34 percent, when Ralph Nader (6 percent) and Pat Buchanan (5 percent) are added to the presidential mix.

The survey of 501 registered voters, taken last week, had a 4.3 percent margin of error.

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