- The Washington Times - Monday, July 3, 2000

Amazing but true

Donna Brazile, campaign manager for Vice President Al Gore, last week sent a handwritten note to campaign finance scandal figure Johnny Chung asking Mr. Chung for a campaign contribution, www.Worldnetdaily.com reports.

The handwritten portion of the letter states, "Mr. Chung, your contribution of $250, $500 or more will help ensure victory in November."

In May 1999, while he was in the process of testifying before Congress during the investigation into campaign-finance law violations, Mr. Chung received similar solicitations from first lady Hillary Rodham Clinton and Vice President Al Gore. Mr. Chung's public answer "Been there, done that. No thanks" was widely reported, as was the Gore campaign's response.

The 1999 letter to Mr. Chung was an error, a Gore spokesman insisted last year. Donor lists are contained in vast computer files and are processed, for the most part, automatically. Mr. Chung would not receive another fund-raising letter, the spokesman promised. But computer errors cannot be blamed for the solicitation Mr. Chung received Tuesday. The letter, postmarked June 20, was enclosed in a handwritten envelope. The handwritten note was written over a three-paragraph form letter, which reads, "To win, Vice President Gore needs the immediate support of loyal Democrats like you… . Time is short and money is too."

Unnerved

James Dobson, president of Focus on the Family, says he was unnerved by George W. Bush's promise that, in choosing Supreme Court justices, he would have no litmus tests.

"A litmus test means that you have some issues that you consider to be critical, and I have heard George Bush say that he did not have such a test for his appointments, or would not have that kind of test for the Supreme Court. And I think that that unnerves us," Mr. Dobson said yesterday on ABC's "This Week."

"That makes us very uncomfortable, because when he then implies that he could easily appoint a pro-choice running mate, what are we to assume if the very first decision that he makes contradicts what he implies by that promise to appoint strict constructionists to the Supreme Court?

Mr. Dobson said he also was disturbed by Mr. Bush's comment that New Jersey Gov. Christine Todd Whitman was on his list of potential running mates.

"Yeah, that was very troubling to a lot of us, because, you know, Governor Whitman's a nice, bright lady, but she contradicts most of the things conservative Christians believe. Not only with regard to the pro-life issue, but on homosexual activism, on condom distribution in the schools, on a lot of things that are the antithesis of what conservative Christians or some of them, at least believe."

From darling to devil

Texas Rep. Dick Armey, the House majority leader, isn't sure it would be such a good idea for Rep. James A. Traficant Jr. to switch to the Republicans, even though the Ohio Democrat said last week he will back Republican House Speaker J. Dennis Hastert for another term beginning next year.

"Well, I love Jim Traficant," Mr. Armey said on "Fox News Sunday." "I do think that as a Democrat he gets a certain grace from the press that he would never get as a Republican. He would probably find himself in a situation [Colorado Sen.] Ben [Whitehorse] Campbell went when he went from darling to devil with the press just because he changed parties. So I think Jim would have to take a look at that. He enjoys his colorful, roguish role and gets a lot of slack as a Democrat he would never get as a Republican."

The latest tally

The Hotline, the popular Internet political tip sheet, keeps a running tab of presidential preference polls in various states as they become available. Last week, six new polls were added. Here is how things stood when everything had been totaled up:

Texas Gov. George W. Bush led in 24 states, worth 263 electoral votes. Vice President Al Gore led in nine states, worth 157 electoral votes.

Needed to win: 270 electoral votes.

A puzzling poll

A Newsweek poll released Saturday showed Texas Gov. George W. Bush and Vice President Al Gore in a virtual dead heat, unlike a series of recent surveys that showed Mr. Bush with a comfortable lead over his Democratic challenger in the presidential race.

The survey of 607 registered voters showed Mr. Gore with 46 percent to Mr. Bush's 45 percent, well within the survey's 4 percent margin of error. Nine percent of those surveyed were undecided.

In a four-way race, with Mr. Gore and Mr. Bush challenged by Green Party candidate Ralph Nader and Reform Party candidate Pat Buchanan, Mr. Gore received the support of 40 percent of voters surveyed; Mr. Bush, 41 percent; Mr. Nader, 6 percent; and Mr. Buchanan, 2 percent. Eleven percent indicated they were undecided.

Larry Hugick of Princeton Survey Research Associates, which conducted the June 29-30 survey for Newsweek, said the results differed from recent polls showing Mr. Bush with a double-digit lead over Mr. Gore because Newsweek polled registered voters.

Mr. Hugick said the other surveys screened "likely voters," which may have overestimated the Republican count at this phase of the campaign.

Republican bounced

Massachusetts Sen. Edward Kennedy's lone Republican challenger was knocked off the ballot late last week after state election officials said some of the qualifying signatures he submitted were forged.

The ruling by the state Ballot Law Commission looks likely to bring an end to the candidacy of Jack E. Robinson, a businessman and political neophyte whose short-lived run for U.S. Senate was swamped by scandal almost before it began, Reuters news agency reports.

It also means that for the first time in his 38-year career in the Senate, Mr. Kennedy, a Democrat, is likely to run unopposed by a Republican in the November election.

Mr. Robinson had five days to appeal the ruling to state superior court.

No deal

The chairman of the committee that is drafting the Republican Party's statement of principles said yesterday there is no deal with anti-abortion conservatives to keep the party's strong anti-abortion plank in exchange for softer language on other issues.

"I wish there was a deal. It would be much easier if we had a deal, but there is no deal," Wisconsin Gov. Tommy G. Thompson said on ABC's "This Week."

The Washington Post reported Saturday that backers of GOP presidential contender George W. Bush had cut a deal with conservatives to preserve existing anti-abortion language in return for a softer stance on such issues as education, women's health and immigration.

Wrong button

Some may have wondered why Rep. Helen Chenoweth-Hage broke with her party so decisively Tuesday and voted against a resolution supporting Ohio's embattled state motto, "With God all things are possible." Only two Republicans voted against the resolution, the other being the eccentric, left-leaning Rep. Tom Campbell of San Jose, Calif.

The explanation for her puzzling vote is simple: She made a huge mistake.

The Idaho Republican, one of the most conservative members of the House, pressed the wrong button an uncommon but hardly unheard of problem in the House. She rose late that night to apologize and say she intended to vote for the bill.

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