- The Washington Times - Monday, March 27, 2000

Bracketville

Some of Al Gore's top allies in New Jersey "are urging him to link his presidential campaign to that of Senate candidate Jon S. Corzine in an attempt to enhance Corzine's chances for the Democratic nomination against former Gov. Jim Florio," the Philadelphia Inquirer reports.

"The plan, under which Gore would be bracketed with Corzine on the June 6 primary ballot, is designed to increase Corzine's credibility with Democratic voters, the great majority of whom had never heard of him before this year," according to reporter Tom Turcol.

"Such an alignment would carry the message to rank-and-file Democrats that Corzine, the former chairman and chief executive officer of Goldman Sachs & Co., is running with the support not only of the state party hierarchy but of the vice president as well. That could prove critical in a close, low-turnout primary."

Mr. Florio supported Bill Bradley, the former New Jersey senator, over Al Gore in this year's Democratic presidential race. Mr. Corzine supported Mr. Gore.

However, Mr. Gore and his team may not want to risk alienating Florio supporters in a key electoral college state.

Reno's cover-up

Speaker of the House J. Dennis Hastert has no doubt that Attorney General Janet Reno has been covering up wrongdoing by the Clinton administration "for years."

Tony Snow of "Fox News Sunday" asked the Illinois Republican about missing White House e-mail messages that Rep. Dan Burton, Indiana Republican, wants to investigate. "Are you going to set him loose?" Mr. Snow asked.

"Well, I think what the Government Reform and Oversight Committee needs to do is to do its work," Mr. Hastert replied. "There has been a pattern. I've sat on that committee with Dan Burton for a lot of years, and every time the attorney general wants to cover something up, she internalizes a investigation, so that evidence, that materials [are] not out there… ."

Mr. Snow responded, "Are you saying Janet Reno, by wanting to investigate the e-mails, is trying to cover it up?"

"I think she's done that for years," Mr. Hastert said. "That's a pattern. It's a modus operandi of this Justice Department, and, you know, the least we can do is to investigate with the whole e-mail situation."

More Reform infighting

The Reform Party of New Hampshire announced yesterday it will sue Pat Buchanan's presidential campaign for $10 million, claiming wrongful use of its name in a recent mailing to the group's members.

John Talbott, the group's acting state chairman, said he also will contact the U.S. Attorney's Office to seek federal mail fraud charges against Buchanan Reform, the name of Mr. Buchanan's national campaign.

Mr. Buchanan will not be named personally in the lawsuit, he said.

Mr. Talbott said a pamphlet mailed by Mr. Buchanan's campaign promoted an April 1 meeting in Manchester as the Reform Party's state convention. The mailing said participants would elect delegates to the party's national convention, he said.

Mr. Talbott said the state party has scheduled no such event, and the Buchanan campaign does not have the authority to use the party's name or elect state delegates for the Reform Party.

Shelly Uscinski, chairman of the New England office of Buchanan Reform, and Neil Bernstein, a spokesman for Mr. Buchanan's national campaign, did not immediately return telephone calls for comment yesterday, the Associated Press reports.

Gore's gags

With President Clinton a few thousand miles away being presidential overseas, even his ever-loyal vice president got in his digs Saturday night in the 115th renewal of journalism's Gridiron Club roast of Washington's high and mighty.

Mr. Gore, running hard to replace his boss in the White House next year, delivered the evening's final stand-up routine, in which he insisted it is possible to take credit for the administration's successes without being blamed for its shortcomings, the Associated Press reports.

The trick is in the explanations:

"A low unemployment rate and a sound economy? Clinton-Gore."

"Grand jury testimony? Clinton."

"The largest deficit in the nation's history turned into the largest surplus? Clinton-Gore."

"The impeachment? Not me."

A highlight of the night was the surprise appearance of five female Cabinet-level officials, wearing Superman outfits, to sing a parody: "Thank Heaven For Grown-Up Girls."

"Without us, what would Cabinet boys do," sang Health and Human Services Secretary Donna Shalala, Labor Secretary Alexis Herman, Attorney General Janet Reno, Trade Representative Charlene Barshefsky and Aida Alvarez, head of the Small Business Administration.

Ventura's opinion

Minnesota Gov. Jesse Ventura is convinced Sen. John C. McCain, Arizona Republican, could "win the whole thing" if he ran as an independent candidate in the November general election.

"He's indicated to me he's a Republican and will stay one," Mr. Ventura said in an interview yesterday on "Fox News Sunday."

"But I'll tell you what. The latest polling results I saw, he [Mr. McCain] was at about 30 to 32 percent. If he's that high with that centrist movement, he can win the whole thing. If McCain is legitimately polling 30 to 32 percent as an independent candidate, he would stand a great chance to win the whole thing."

Asked if he believes George W. Bush and Al Gore are "gettable," Mr. Ventura said: "Oh, easy. John McCain could get them … in a three-way race."

Show host Tony Snow said, "I'm guessing you'd endorse him."

"If he stays with the Republican Party, no, I will not," Mr. Ventura said.

Proud papa

Former President Bush says he gives his son George W. plenty of advice but not about politics.

"I don't do politics anymore," the elder Mr. Bush told a group of innkeepers Saturday in Tampa, Fla.

"I don't go to Washington. I don't do press conferences… . I had my shot. In our family the baton is passed to two sons who are giving it their very best in the political arena. My political days are over."

Speaking before 1,800 people at a conference of Days Inn general managers and owners, Mr. Bush said: "The advice [to George W.] would be more don't get down, get some rest, do your best, if you get hurt we'll be there to help you, put our arms around you. It's like a mother and father to a kid trying out for a team and might or might not make it.

"It's like you all would do. You'd be there with pride, or you'd be there to put your arm around him and get him back in the ballgame," Mr. Bush said in a brief question-and-answer session.

Mr. Bush asked his listeners to put politics and party affiliations aside and stand for a moment in his shoes, the Associated Press reports.

"Think how proud you'd feel as a dad," he said, "if you had two kids who were governors of two huge states, and one of them had a chance to be president of the United States."

A week of debates

The six Democratic candidates seeking to take on Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum in the fall will debate each other six times in six days, the Philadelphia Inquirer reports.

The first debate takes place today and presents "a golden chance for one of them to emerge as the favorite," said reporter Tom Infield.

"Nine days before the April 4 primary, polls suggest that only three candidates state Sen. Allyson Schwartz, U.S. Rep. Ron Klink and former Labor Secretary Tom Foley have a shot at winning," the reporter said.

Group fumes

"The National Smokers Alliance, a group in which some members back George W. Bush, wants the Democratic National Committee to stop linking it to the Texan's campaign," Paul Bedard writes in U.S. News & World Report.

"At issue: a DNC press release claiming an anti-McCain ad run by the puffers was for 'Bush's behalf.' Not so, threatens lawyer J. Curtis Herge. 'In the event you republish your wrongful allegation, you will risk the consequences of having done so maliciously.' "

Sharpton and Hillary

Bill de Blasio, campaign manager for Senate candidate Hillary Rodham Clinton, was pressed hard yesterday to state one thing on which Mrs. Clinton disagrees with racial demagogue Al Sharpton.

Mr. de Blasio could not, although he insisted that Mrs. Clinton really did have differences with Mr. Sharpton.

Mara Liasson, a panelist on "Fox News Sunday," commented: "Mr. de Blasio, with all due respect, I was at a press conference that Hillary gave this week where she was very reluctant to say where she disagreed with Mr. Sharpton."

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