- The Washington Times - Wednesday, March 22, 2000

McCain's first day

After weeks of buildup, Sen. John McCain's first full day of work after his failed presidential bid was something of an anticlimax.
In his first, long-awaited speech on the Senate floor, Mr. McCain merely picked up where he left off last fall criticizing the Clinton administration policy on Kosovo. He paused long enough only to note his return and say that he "will never forget" his experience.
His first meeting with his colleagues whom Mr. McCain criticized as "corrupt" during his campaign was equally uneventful. He received a standing ovation and warm tributes in a closed-door lunch meeting with Republican senators.
"He got the longest standing ovation he probably ever will get," said Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison, Texas Republican.
In his upstart bid for the presidency, Mr. McCain made a habit of attacking elements of his own party particularly religious conservative leaders, whom he called "agents of intolerance." But that seems to have been largely forgiven and forgotten in the Senate.
"I really think it's over," said Sen. Robert C. Smith, New Hampshire Republican, who himself briefly broke with his colleagues last year to run for president as an independent. "People are adult enough to know that was a campaign. I don't think it's personal."
Mr. McCain told reporters he preferred his return to be low key.
"There will be plenty of time to examine, analyze the campaign that I conducted and all the many mistakes that we made in both the high and low points," he said. "And I didn't think that that was the way I would want to start back."

Mystery candidate

In a move that could shake up New York's Senate race, the leader of the state Conservative Party said yesterday he is on the verge of backing a candidate other than New York City Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani.
No Republican candidate has won statewide office in the state in more than a quarter-century without Conservative Party backing.
At the same time, a vice chairman of the Liberal Party, which in the past has backed Mr. Giuliani's mayoral bids, said many party leaders want to support Democrat Hillary Rodham Clinton in the Senate race, the Associated Press reports.
Unlike other states, New York allows major-party candidates to add votes from third-party lines to their totals. That can be the deciding factor in close contests, as in 1994 when Republican George E. Pataki won the governorship on the strength of the Conservative Party vote.
Conservative Party Chairman Michael Long refused to identify his possible alternative Senate candidate, other than to say "people will recognize the name." He said the person would probably come forward within three weeks.

Hillary on the attack

Retired Gen. Colin Powell said yesterday he would consider an offer to take a Cabinet position under the next president but again ruled out running for vice president.
In a broadcast to the Reserve Officers Association from the studios of Reuters Television in Washington, Gen. Powell, 62, said he had faced the issue of whether to seek elective office in 1995 after his best-selling autobiography was published.
"You have to have a certain feeling for it, a certain commitment, passion. But this old soldier didn't have it," Gen. Powell said. "That still remains the case. I have no desire for political office."

Lawmaker takes leave

Rep. Philip M. Crane, Illinois Republican, announced yesterday that he will immediately take a 30-day medical leave of absence to deal with his "dependence on alcohol."
In a letter to all Republicans and Democrats in the House, Mr. Crane said he has sensed an increased dependence on alcohol, and while it is a "particularly difficult time for me to take a leave from the House, I have reached a point where I feel I must address this problem."
Mr. Crane asked and received permission for the departure from House Speaker J. Dennis Hastert, Illinois Republican.
"This is a difficult but courageous decision," Mr. Hastert said in a written statement released by Mr. Crane's office. "Phil has my complete support as he embarks on this journey to a more healthy life."
Rep. Sander M. Levin, Michigan Democrat, who sits on the Ways and Means Committee, said he respects Mr. Crane's decision and "look[s] forward to his return."
Mr. Crane is the most senior Republican on the Ways and Means Committee under Chairman Bill Archer, Texas Republican. He hopes to beat back a challenge for the chairmanship from Rep. Bill Thomas, California Republican, when Mr. Archer retires this fall.
Mr. Crane's pastor, Dr. James A. Scudder of the Quentin Road Bible Baptist Church in Lake Zurich, Ill., noted the "loss of his daughter, which has had a profound effect on his life."

Traficant to 'fight'

Rep. James A. Traficant Jr. pledged on the House floor yesterday to "fight like a junkyard dog" against a Justice Department corruption investigation.
"I'm announcing formally today that I'm once again a target of the Justice Department," the Ohio Democrat said, putting into the Congressional Record what he told voters back home in eastern Ohio more than a month ago.
Federal authorities have not said whether Mr. Traficant is a target of a corruption investigation in Youngstown, Ohio, that has produced about 50 convictions, including a guilty plea from one of Mr. Traficant's longtime aides.

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