- The Washington Times - Monday, May 22, 2000

Gore defector

"To fully appreciate the erosion of Al Gore's fortunes during his season of discontent, consider the case of Brian Lunde," the Philadelphia Inquirer's Dick Polman writes.

"One might assume that Lunde a former executive director of the Democratic National Committee, a strategist who helped Bill Clinton during his gubernatorial career in Arkansas, a man who remains loyal to a number of Democratic congressional candidates would support the next presidential nominee of his party," Mr. Polman said.

"But that assumption would be wrong. Lunde has decided to dump Gore and embrace George W. Bush, and he is already busy trying to convert other Democrats.

"This is not great news for Gore. Nor is it helpful that former Clinton Labor Secretary Robert Reich is teeing off on him, or that he has failed to nail down his Democratic base, or that he is striking out with the constituencies that made Bill Clinton a winner."

Mr. Lunde told the reporter: "I'm going for my heart over my history. I think Bush really means it when he says he wants to stop the usual political games that get played in Washington. And Gore's whole style, the way he keeps attacking, suggests that if he wins, nothing is going to change. Voters sense that, and that's not what they want."

DeLay's new stature

House Majority Whip Tom DeLay insists his political influence has increased dramatically as a result of the racketeering suit Rhode Island Rep. Patrick Kennedy and the campaign win of House Democrats have filed against him.

Interviewed yesterday on "Fox News Sunday," the Texas Republican dismissed the Democrats' action as a "pathetic approach to politics" that "just shows how desperate" they are.

"They have no way to lead their members back to a majority. And they're trying to demonize people and win this by filing a racketeering suit on just doing what we all do in raising money and advocating issues and trying to get people elected," Mr. DeLay said.

The Democrats accuse Mr. DeLay of extorting money from contributors and passing it along to advocacy groups linked to the Republican.

Mr. DeLay says he's gained eminence as a result of the notoriety. "It has made me pretty strong on the floor of the House. Members are coming around kissing my ring and telling a lot of jokes about Tom DeLay," he said.

Funding Lazio

Rich Bond, the former Republican National Committee chairman, says a recent court decision means Rep. Rick Lazio can get money directly from the party in his Senate race against Hillary Rodham Clinton.

A decision by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit "tossed out Federal Election Commission restrictions on party contributions to congressional candidates," Mr. Bond writes in the New York Times.

"Although this court has jurisdiction only over six Western states, both parties have indicated that they will apply it nationally. Thus, fund-raising will not be an issue for the New York Senate candidate. The party could legally write out a multimillion-dollar check tomorrow to provide financial parity."

Don't tell anyone

"President Clinton's bid to dress up his legacy with a little bit of Teddy Roosevelt-style parkland creation has a new target: the oil-and-gas-rich Alaska National Wildlife Refuge," Paul Bedard writes in U.S. News & World Report.

"Sources involved say Clinton is considering a controversial plan to lock millions of acres away from development as a 'national monument.' The sources say he hopes to keep it secret till December so it doesn't upset the presidential campaign."

Motherhood and guns

"It may be the smartest thing the gun-control movement has ever done. By equating their cause not with liberalism or, indeed, with political beliefs of any kind but instead with mothers' concern for their children, gun-control advocates garnered adoring press and put the National Rifle Association squarely on the defensive," Sarah Wildman writes in the New Republic.

"There was only one problem: That equation is not valid. Whatever you think of gun control, it bears no necessary connection to motherhood. Even if you grant that mothers care more about child safety than the rest of the population does, concern for child safety does not necessarily equal support for limiting the sale of guns. To assume it does is to pretend the entire gun-control debate does not exist. On many issues, over many years, the American left has portrayed questions of ideology as questions of identity. But never more so than last week on the National Mall."

Friend of Florio

The Philadelphia Inquirer, which has a large circulation across the river in New Jersey, endorsed former Gov. Jim Florio in his fight with Jon S. Corzine for the Democratic nomination for an open U.S. Senate seat.

"An impressive array of Democratic power brokers has lined up behind a Wall Street mogul and his millions in an effort to stop Jim Florio from winning a seat in the U.S. Senate," the newspaper observed in an editorial yesterday.

"To this Democratic clique, led by U.S. Sen. Robert Torricelli, Mr. Florio is an albatross, a reminder of an unpopular, decade-old tax hike that lost their party the governor's mansion.

"He's also a stubborn truth-teller who won't shut up and go away even when opposed by an ocean of campaign money."

As for Mr. Corzine, his platform "is a throwback to the kind of ambitious liberal generosity that Republicans love to blast," the newspaper said. "He seems to advocate 'universal' everything: health care, long-term elderly care, prescription-drug access and college for graduates with a 'B' average."

31 and counting

Howard Phillips, presidential candidate of the Constitution Party, announced Friday that the party has now qualified for ballot access in 31 states.

"It is time for the media to recognize the fact that the Constitution Party is well ahead of Pat Buchanan and Ralph Nader in securing ballot access for the November elections," Mr. Phillips said in a prepared statement. "We now know we will be on the ballot in at least 30 states, and have high hopes of securing access in more than a dozen others despite the fact that we accept neither federal matching funds nor federal subsidies."

Kissinger chosen

Former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger will succeed Margaret Thatcher as the chancellor of the College of William and Mary, the Virginia institution announced Friday.

As chancellor, Mr. Kissinger will provide counsel and advice, and serve as public advocate for the college. Mrs. Thatcher's seven-year term ends on June 30.

Kiss from the left

Lots of candidates kiss babies, but Texas Gov. George W. Bush had the tables turned Friday by a 77-year-old man. And a Democrat at that.

Paducah, Ky., resident Howard Koen surprised the Republican presidential candidate by pecking him on the cheek as Mr. Bush shook hands and posed for pictures after a short speech, the Associated Press reports.

Why? Mr. Koen said he did it just for the fun of it.

Mr. Bush was asked later if any other men had kissed him during his campaign.

"None as cute as that," he said.

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