- The Washington Times - Monday, June 5, 2000

Dead heat

The latest Reuters/Zogby poll shows Texas Gov. George W. Bush and Vice President Al Gore in "a statistical dead heat" in their race for the White House.

The survey of 1,002 likely voters conducted May 29-31 shows Mr. Bush with 42.4 percent and Mr. Gore with 41.1 percent in a head-to-head matchup well within the poll's 3.2 percent margin of error.

When likely presidential candidates from the Green, Reform, Libertarian and Natural Law parties are added to survey, the advantage is to Mr. Bush, the Republican. Green Party candidate Ralph Nader's support 4 percent of those polled "is all coming from Gore," said pollster John Zogby.

Mr. Gore's "support among union households is still anemic," Mr. Zogby said, adding that the presidential race "should continue to be close throughout the summer."

'Fire them'

Rep. Rick A. Lazio says George W. Bush's plan to reform Social Security is "perfectly fine" with him.

"I think the government-knows-best model, where Washington determines every dollar and every move that you can make, is wrong," Mr. Lazio, the New York Republican who is challenging Hillary Rodham Clinton for a Senate seat, said on "Evans, Novak, Hunt & Shield" on CNN. "I think most Americans reject that."

Mr. Lazio was responding to a question from the Wall Street Journal's Al Hunt, who cited Mrs. Clinton's claim that the Bush plan is "too risky."

"I do believe … that Americans ought to have an option: If they want to keep traditional Social Security, they should have the right to maintain traditional Social Security," Mr. Lazio said. "If they would like to take part of that money and invest it and get a higher yield I mean, our young people now, Al, are only going to receive a 1 [percent] or 2 percent return on their investment. What would you do to your broker if they told you for the next 20 years you can expect a 1 [percent] or 2 percent return on your investment? You would fire them."

You asked, Al

Al Hunt of the Wall Street Journal accused Rep. Rick A. Lazio of keeping his "political finger to the wind" and making "a mad dash to the center" in his New York Senate bid.

"Complete nonsense," Mr. Lazio responded yesterday on CNN's "Evans, Novak, Hunt and Shields."

"I mean, I'd like to see my opponent do what I have done," the Long Island Republican said, referring to Democratic Senate candidate Hillary Rodham Clinton. "And the first day after [declaring his candidacy] I was on six different national television shows. She's been campaigning for a year and hasn't appeared on one to answer hard questions.

"I did 20 different locations in the first 72 hours of the campaign. After every one of them we had press availability, and it wasn't scripted; we didn't ask for questions beforehand," Mr. Lazio added. "We took whatever questions were asked, and I answered them. And that's the way this campaign is going to be."

O'Democrats

The Democratic National Convention Committee has announced the hiring of a new chief operating officer and managing director.

Rod O'Connor succeeds Dan Foley, who resigned in late January, citing family and business demands. Mr. O'Connor, who had been chief of staff, will be in charge of communications, production, credentialing and media logistics for the convention committee.

Tom O'Donnell, a Washington lawyer specializing in general business and public policy law, is the new managing director, overseeing all administrative, external affairs and management functions.

Mr. O'Connor was formerly chief of staff at the Democratic National Committee and has served on Vice President Al Gore's staff, the Associated Press reports.

The DNCC is working with the local host committee, LA Convention 2000, to organize the Aug. 14-17 event at the Staples Center in Los Angeles.

O, Canada

A vote for Vice President Al Gore is a vote for … Canada?

So says Canadian Ambassador Raymond Chretien, who told the Ottawa Citizen on Thursday that a Gore victory "would be best for Canada."

Mr. Chretien added, "We know Vice President Gore. He knows us. He's a friend of Canada." And also, a Gore administration "probably would make life easier for us on broad environmental issues," the ambassador said.

A spokesman for Republican George W. Bush disavowed any anti-Canadian intent on the Texas governor's part: "We respectfully disagree with the ambassador. Governor Bush would be better for America and for this hemisphere on issues like free and fair trade, peace and national security, and international commerce."

The E-word

George W. Bush apparently doesn't like to describe himself as an environmentalist.

Even as a he prepared to deliver a major speech on the environment last week, the Texas governor "couldn't quite bring himself" to use the E-word, the San Francisco Chronicle reports.

Asked by reporters if he considered himself an environmentalist, the likely Republican presidential nominee answered: "I consider myself someone who cares deeply about clean air and clean water."

'The judgment of God'

President Clinton's proclamation of June as "Gay and Lesbian Pride Month" has not met with universal acclaim.

The proclamation "shames our nation," the Rev. Donald Spitz, director of Pro-Life Virginia declared in a news release yesterday, accusing the president of "promoting … perverted sodomy as being normal when God proclaims sodomites are reprobate sinners who deserve to be punished."

Citing Bible verses from Leviticus and Romans as authority, Mr. Spitz added, Mr. Clinton "in his misguided pandering to sodomites, is bringing down the judgment of God upon the United States of America."

No dummy?

George W. Bush is portraying himself as "the antithesis of an egghead," Frank Bruni reports in the New York Times.

The Texas governor and likely Republican presidential nominee "has frequently curled his lip at the mention of Ivy League types who tote mental suitcases jammed with facts and figures," Mr. Bruni writes.

Mr. Bush, who holds a bachelor's degree from Yale and a Harvard MBA, has taken to joking about his anti-intellectual reputation. On his campaign plane, he appeared among reporters carrying a book called "Spanish for Dummies," Mr. Bruni reports.

Ordinary Bill

Bill Clinton says he's a man of the people.

"I try to go out and shop … every few months, anyway, just so I keep in touch with people," the president said Saturday in an interview on Russian radio. "And I talk to people in book stores, or I go buy something for my wife or my daughter, just to see what things cost and see what people are doing. I think it's important that presidents not get too isolated."

Asked by an interviewer how he earned his first dollar, Mr. Clinton replied: "The first thing I did to earn money was cutting lawns and cutting hedges, and taking care of the yards of the people who lived in my neighborhood. And I was probably about 9 or 10 years old when I did that.

"In my lifetime, I probably had earned money doing 20 or 25 different things. I've built houses, I've cleared land, I've worked in a grocery store. I had a news comic book business. Obviously, I was a musician. I made money as a musician. I've been a teacher. I've done a lot of different things in my life."

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