- The Washington Times - Friday, March 17, 2000

McCain and Bush

Sen. John McCain's advisers expressed disappointment yesterday with Texas Gov. George W. Bush, who said in an interview he has no intention of making concessions to his former presidential rival. Mr. Bush's remarks make an alliance between the two less likely, the senator's advisers say.

Mr. Bush, who has clinched the Republican nomination, is said to be eager to mend fences with Mr. McCain and gain the backing of some of the Arizona senator's independent and Democratic supporters. But Mr. Bush declined in an interview Wednesday with the New York Times to reach out to Mr. McCain.

"No, he didn't change my views," Mr. Bush said in reply to a question about whether Mr. McCain had elevated his consciousness about reform or changed his views. "He made me a better candidate. He forced me to play to my strengths better."

"Is there anything McCain brought to light for you or changed your opinion on in any way?" Mr. Bush was asked.

"No, not really," the governor replied. "We agreed more than we disagreed."

The remarks were not received well by Mr. McCain's camp, the Associated Press reports. Senior advisers said the comments virtually ruled out the prospect for a quick reconciliation and made an endorsement less likely.

"We're obviously disappointed by the tone of the Bush campaign," spokesman Todd Harris said.

"I just don't know what Bush was thinking," said Rep. Peter T. King, New York Republican, a McCain backer. "He won the nomination, fine, but to win the White House he has to reach out to McCain and his voters, and he's not going to do that with macho talk about no concessions."

Trying to prevent an angry fallout, Mr. Bush's senior advisers reached out to McCain intermediaries yesterday and said the governor did not intend to offend the Arizona senator.

"The governor hopes that McCain supporters will read the entire interview, in which he says, 'We agree more than we disagree,' " said spokesman Ari Fleischer. He said Mr. Bush has made clear in other interviews that he wants to work with Mr. McCain on subjects on which they agree.

Modest suggestions

David Frum, writing in the upcoming issue of National Review, offers this advice for presidential candidate George W. Bush:

"1) Resurrect Rex Harrison for English-language-immersion lessons.

"2) Place a phone call to the Saudis and Kuwaitis to remind them of their debt to the Bush family and to gently hint that the time may have come for $45-a-barrel oil.

"3) Hope like hell that Alan Greenspan does his duty by his party and raises interest rates at least a couple of points before Memorial Day."

Moderates get clubbed

"The latest battle among House Republicans centers around a controversial PAC called the Club for Growth, which is trying to oust at least one GOP incumbent it believes is not conservative enough," Roll Call reports.

"High-profile moderate Republicans have rallied to the defense of that lawmaker, Rep. Marge Roukema, New Jersey Republican, since the Club for Growth endorsed her opponent, [Republican] state Assemblyman Scott Garrett, and promised to direct hundreds of thousands of dollars in donations his way," said reporters John Bresnahan and Susan Crabtree.

"The moderates are also furious that a current member, Rep. Tom Coburn, Oklahoma Republican, went to the Garden State on Garrett's behalf."

Several moderates blame House Republican leaders, and are threatening not to pay their dues to the National Republican Congressional Committee, the reporters said.

Cato Institute economist Stephen Moore, who founded the club with with National Review President Thomas "Dusty" Rhodes and Wall Street broker Richard Gilder, told the newspaper that they are not backing down.

"Our whole idea is to rankle and ruffle the feathers of the moderates. We feel like they've been the enemy of progress," Mr. Moore said.

Catholic-bashers

"A coalition of feminists, population controllers and abortion advocates are trying to turn the United Nations into the secular equivalent of Catholic-bashing Bob Jones University," Rod Dreher writes in the New York Post.

"Come to think of it, that's unfair to Bob Jones, which despite its opposition to the Catholic religion, welcomes Catholics to present their views on its campus. The 'See Change' movement, whose latest target is the U.N., is attempting to gag the church's voice almost entirely," Mr. Dreher said.

"Led by Frances Kissling, the professional dissident Catholic, the 350-strong See Change coalition is petitioning U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan to strip the Holy See of its diplomatic status at the United Nations."

Bush's message

Two minority appointees of Texas Gov. George W. Bush have won Republican primaries and will take office in November, bolstering Mr. Bush's effort to broaden his party's appeal, the Associated Press reports.

Texas Railroad Commission Chairman Michael Williams would be the first black elected in a statewide, nonjudicial race in Texas. State Supreme Court Justice Al Gonzales was Mr. Bush's general counsel and secretary of state before Mr. Bush appointed him to a Supreme Court vacancy last year.

Mr. Bush appeared in television commercials for both men before Tuesday's primary. Both often appeared on stage with Mr. Bush during speeches televised in Texas.

Recent national polls show Mr. Bush and Vice President Al Gore virtually even in the presidential race. Each is trying to expand his party's traditional base of support and win over independent voters. For Mr. Bush, that includes attracting blacks and Hispanics who traditionally vote for Democrats.

Mr. Williams is a longtime ally of the Bush family. The governor's wife, Laura, and his father, former President George Bush, were keynote speakers at Mr. Williams' fund-raisers.

Mr. Williams, who was appointed assistant U.S. education secretary for civil rights by President Bush in 1990, said he would enthusiastically work on the younger Mr. Bush's presidential campaign if asked.

Justice Gonzales said electing a Hispanic to the Texas Supreme Court was politically important to Mr. Bush.

"I think he understood that there would be a message sent by my election," Justice Gonzales said.

Running against Teddy

Sen. Edward M. Kennedy has lost one likely Republican opponent, but apparently gained another one: a 39-year-old business executive with no political experience, but $1 million of his own money to spend on the race.

Republican Jack E. Robinson III, a former Eastern Airlines executive now running a cellular-telephone firm, will run this fall for the seat that Mr. Kennedy has held for 37 years, said Plymouth County District Attorney Michael Sullivan, who is bowing out after a six-month exploratory campaign.

"I'm not going to be running for the United States Senate," Mr. Sullivan told the Associated Press yesterday, citing several reasons, including a distaste for fund raising, satisfaction with his current job and his desire to spend time with his four school-age children.

"I just wasn't ready to give up my season tickets to our four children," he said.

Mr. Sullivan said he understood that Mr. Robinson would run in his place, though he did not know when a formal announcement would be made. "It's my understanding he has plans to run for the United States Senate," Mr. Sullivan said.

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