- The Washington Times - Friday, March 3, 2000

McCain boycotts Fox

"Feisty, accessible, funny, often generous and a war hero to boot, [John] McCain is the beneficiary of an overwhelmingly favorable press, but he also holds grudges when criticized," Morton Kondracke writes in Roll Call.
"McCain and his staff are boycotting the Fox News Channel [where I'm a contributor] and Fox News Sunday, aides say, because they don't like questions asked by hosts Tony Snow and Brit Hume," Mr. Kondracke writes.

Intemperate outburst

William J. Bennett, the former Education secretary and author of the "Book of Virtues," says John McCain went too far when he labeled the Revs. Pat Robertson and Jerry Falwell as "evil."
"These are highly irresponsible and intemperate comments," Mr. Bennett, who previously had kind words for Mr. McCain, said in an opinion piece in the Wall Street Journal.
"The blast against Messrs. Robertson and Falwell is the worst manifestation of an emerging pattern with Mr. McCain. He often portrays those with whom he disagrees as not just wrong but wicked.
"Those who oppose his campaign finance reforms are 'corrupt'; the leaders of the pro-life movement are 'turning a cause into a business'; and now, two visible Christian conservative leaders are 'evil.' He is attempting, quite literally in the most recent case, to demonize his opponents. That has no place in American political discourse."
Mr. Bennett added: "Mr. McCain's recent mistakes should not undo the good he has done. Almost all of us in public life have made mistakes, and Mr. McCain a shrewd and able politician may recover from even these. To mitigate the damage, he must admit immediately that what he said and did was wrong. Even if he does, he must surely know that his highly intemperate and wildly misdirected outburst is one that will stay with him for a very long time to come. Those who have been drawn to the McCain candidacy now have cause for worry."

Ugly development

"Religion has been injected into the Republican campaign in a particularly ugly way," writes Charles Colson, chairman of the Prison Fellowship and former special counsel to President Nixon.
"As one who helped engineer two presidential campaigns, I know partisan passion. But the efforts of some to bring long-banished sectarian strife back into American politics can do serious long-term damage," Mr. Colson said in an op-ed piece in the New York Times.
"Hopes of gaining partisan advantage may account for some of John McCain's motives in exploiting Mr. Bush's visit" to Bob Jones University, Mr. Colson said.
"But what accounts for the newfound defenders of the Roman Catholic Church on Capitol Hill?" he asked.
"Democratic members of Congress now posing as champions of the faithful include Anna Eshoo of California, who identifies herself as Catholic but voted against overriding the veto of the partial-birth abortion bill, and Henry Waxman, also of California, a vocal proponent of fetal-tissue research. Indeed, House and Senate Democrats, led by Senator Robert Torricelli, introduced a resolution this week condemning Bob Jones University.
"Since when do legislators issue official denunciations of anyone's theology?" said Mr. Colson, who is no defender of Bob Jones. There appears to be an effort to "drive a wedge into one of the most important religious movements in modern American history the fast-growing alliance between conservative Roman Catholics and evangelical Protestants," he said.

Like a progressive

"No doubt [John] McCain's speech on Monday, in which he attacked Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson as 'agents of intolerance,' was in part an honest reaction to the nasty tactics those two have used against his candidacy. No doubt, also, McCain knew that any attack on the icons of the religious right would play extremely well among the chattering classes," writes syndicated columnist James Pinkerton.
"To that extent, his rhetorical napalming worked. On Tuesday, the New York Times, the reliable barometer of liberal establishment thinking, editorialized glowingly that McCain was 'looking like a progressive.' Perhaps because he's now addicted to good press, McCain went further that same day, accusing Robertson and Falwell of being an 'evil influence' on the Republican Party," Mr. Pinkerton observed.
"No doubt the New York Times liked that, too. But Republicans didn't. Political partisans, both Democratic and Republican, may not always like their fellow party-mates, but they have, after all, chosen to be part of the same team. Party loyalists tend to regard an attack on one as an attack on all. No doubt the liberal elites were appalled that George W. Bush won the three Republican contests on Tuesday expected in Virginia and North Dakota, unexpected in Washington state but then they were never in the GOP camp, anyway."

Giuliani ups lead

New York Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani has widened his lead in his close Senate race against first lady Hillary Rodham Clinton, a poll showed Thursday, despite controversy over the acquittal of police officers who killed an unarmed African immigrant.
A Quinnipiac College poll of 1,842 registered New York State voters taken from Feb. 22 to 28 found Mr. Giuliani leads Mrs. Clinton by 48 percent to 41 percent. The poll had a margin of error of 2.3 percent.
This was Mr. Giuliani's largest lead so far in the race. In recent months he and Mrs. Clinton have been neck and neck.
A poll taken in early February showed the two contestants in a tight race, with 45 percent supporting Mr. Giuliani and 42 percent Mrs. Clinton.
Mr. Giuliani led Mrs. Clinton among white women 51 percent to 37 percent, and among Jewish voters, a key constituency, by 48 percent to 38 percent.

Strange twist

"A divided GOP should be an easy target, regardless of its nominee. That should make Vice President Al Gore the beneficiary of all this Republican fratricide, shouldn't it?" political analyst Stuart Rothenberg writes.
"But in another strange twist that ought to make Democrats very, very nervous, two major polls released earlier this week one conducted by CNN, USA Today and Gallup, and the other by AVC News and The Washington Post continue to show Gore trailing Bush, even though Bush has been on the defensive for weeks. Bush's favorability numbers are down, but much of the erosion probably has come from Democrats who now see him as a conservative Republican," Mr. Rothenberg said in Roll Call.
"And Bush's wins in Virginia and Washington state also suggest that efforts to demonize the Texas governor have so far fallen short."

Money harvesting

"While George W. Bush roamed Washington state Monday looking for votes, his leading money men rode into the other Washington on another, maybe rougher, mission: stroking fretful fund-raisers and Republican governors," National Journal reports.
"Donald Evans, the Bush political conglomerate's finance chairman, lunched at Akin, Gump, Strauss, Hauer & Feld with two dozen or so of K Street's top money harvesters for the up-and-down-and-up Bush drive. Evans' message: Despite all those reports that, two months into the election year, the campaign had already burned through nearly $60 million of the $70 million that had been squirreled away, Bush will be just fine financially through March 14. But then his machine will need a fresh hopper car full of greenbacks. Several fund-raisers have already been scheduled."

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