- The Washington Times - Tuesday, July 4, 2000

Bush, advisers huddle

Likely Republican presidential nominee George W. Bush met the head of his vice-presidential search team yesterday and said he still had a long and varied list of potential running mates to consider.

Meeting former Defense Secretary Dick Cheney at his ranch north of Waco, the Texas governor said he has yet to decide when to announce his choice.

"I haven't made up my mind if I will announce it at the convention or prior to it," Mr. Bush said. Both he and his vice-presidential choice will be formally nominated at the convention.

Mr. Bush, who leads his likely Democratic opponent, Vice President Al Gore, in the polls by up to 13 percentage points, is in a confident mood but knows his vice presidential choice will be possibly the most important decision he makes in the campaign, Reuters reports.

He said once again that he was not ruling out pro-choice supporters, and that women were also being considered.

Incredible mistake

"The Democratic minority in the U.S. House of Representatives walked off a cliff last week stalking out of the chamber to protest a GOP-backed plan to expand Medicare to cover prescription drugs," Dick Morris writes.

"Marching to the beat of their myopic political leaders, these Democrats squandered a key opportunity to make political hay in the 2000 election," Mr. Morris said in a column in the New York Post.

Mr. Morris noted that Republicans responded to a prescription-drug plan proposed by President Clinton by coming up with a similar plan of their own devising. Mr. Clinton then "hastily trotted out a new plan that doubled the price tag" and denounced the Republican proposal.

The GOP then pushed through its plan on a party-line vote.

"To highlight the difference between their proposal and the GOP plan, the House Democrats staged a dramatic walkout to hold a press conference on the Capitol steps to denounce the Republican plan that was passing inside the chamber.

"In voting no and walking out, the Democrats made an incredible mistake. They left their best issue behind. Now they are on record as voting against the only plan to aid the elderly and assist with their drug costs that came to the floor.

"Democrats will try to complain that the GOP plan is inadequate and will harp on its shortcomings, but an issue that was to have been their staple in the fall campaign is suddenly turned against them."

Out of luck

"Illinois Sen. Dick Durbin's modest chances of being Al Gore's running mate have been killed by the veep's pick of Commerce Secretary and Chicago native Bill Daley to run his campaign," Paul Bedard writes in U.S. News & World Report.

"The thinking: Gore needs an Illinois victory, and Durbin friends promised to deliver the state to the Democrats if their guy was made Gore's No. 2. But things changed when Daley, brother of Chicago boss Mayor Richard Daley, was brought on board. Now the Daley machine is promising to give Gore Illinois, and Durbin isn't needed."

Nelson retains lead

"The first independent poll conducted since Republican Tom Gallagher quit the Florida Senate race June 15 shows Democrat Bill Nelson's lead over [Republican] Rep. Bill McCollum remains virtually unchanged since a similar survey was conducted in March," Roll Call reports.

"Nelson, the state insurance commissioner and a former representative, leads McCollum 42 to 33 percent, according to a poll of 811 regular voters conducted June 23 to 26 by Mason-Dixon Political/ Media Research Inc.

"The poll shows that Nelson leads among women, whites, African Americans, Democrats and independents. McCollum holds the edge among Hispanics and Republicans. Their support is evenly split among male voters.

"Nelson leads in every part of Florida except in the Orlando-area base he shares with McCollum and the state's southwest reaches."

Happy birthday

What does George W. Bush want for his 54th birthday? How about a signed card from a loyal Republican. A check to the Republican National Committee $1 to $10 for each year of Bush's life would be even more welcome.

Such is the message in a letter written and signed by Mr. Bush's wife, Laura, in her first fund-raising pitch for the national party, the Associated Press reports. She earlier penned a letter to raise money for her husband's presidential effort.

"It's an innovative, fun way to encourage people to participate in the political process and help build support for the entire ticket," Bush campaign spokesman Scott McClellan said.

The direct-mail piece was written for the RNC's Victory 2000, the party's coordinated effort with the Bush campaign.

"A Bush birthday celebration always includes dear friends," Laura Bush wrote in the two-page letter. "Because of your tremendous loyalty and support of my husband, you are certainly in that category… .

"If you can, I hope you will consider commemorating George's 54th birthday with a special gift, one that we can all share."

The letter includes a birthday card for supporters to sign and return, along with a check for anywhere from $54 to $540. The governor's birthday is Thursday.

Call a shrink

"Bryant Gumbel, meet John Rocker. When the Braves reliever unburdened himself of his views on, ahem, the diversity of New York's #7 train to a Sports Illustrated reporter last December, the baseball commissioner dispatched him to a psychiatrist, sports reporters went into a feeding frenzy and there were impassioned call to have him banned forever," the Wall Street Journal notes in an editorial.

"So we'll be interested to see how CBS and the rest of the media respond to Mr. Gumbel's declaring 'what a f****** idiot' after interviewing the Family Research Council's Bob Knight Thursday on the 'Early Morning Show.' Mr. Knight, on camera from Washington, had appeared to defend the Supreme Court decision upholding the Boy Scouts' right not to permit homosexuals to serve as scoutmasters. When the interview was over the camera cut to the weatherman, but suddenly came back to Mr. Gumbel just in time to catch him on air making the remark as he was getting up from his chair," the newspaper observed.

"Though the audio tapered off at the end, there was no mistaking the words. Maybe CBS should think of sending Mr. Gumbel to the same anger-control shrink baseball had treat Mr. Rocker."

Honesty first

American voters are focusing ever more on honesty as the most important trait for a presidential candidate, according to an Associated Press poll. The voters are about evenly split on whether Al Gore or George W. Bush is more honest.

Four in 10 voters now pick honesty ahead of such traits as caring about people like them, showing strong leadership, standing up for beliefs and having a vision. In a November AP poll, one-third picked honesty, which ranked first at that time as well.

In the new poll, conducted for the AP by ICR of Media, Pa., about a third picked Mr. Bush as most honest and a third picked Mr. Gore. Another third said neither candidate or they didn't know.

The earlier poll, taken before the primaries, did not ask people to compare the honesty of Mr. Bush and Mr. Gore.

The Monica Lewinsky affair and the long Clinton impeachment process sent the message to voters that "you can't believe what politicians are saying," said political scientist Merle Black of Emory University in Atlanta. "Now they want someone to tell it like it is."

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