- The Washington Times - Friday, May 5, 2000

DeLay: No cave-in

Asked if Republicans in Congress are caving in to public opinion polls by postponing indefinitely hearings on the armed seizure of Elian Gonzalez, House Majority Whip Tom DeLay Thursday said: "Not at all."

"I have to admit, I probably spoke too soon by saying we need hearings and we need them right now," Mr. DeLay told an audience Thursday at the National Press Club. "We need regular order, and that's what we're doing right now. We're not trying to interject ourselves into whether Elian ought to be with his father or with relatives in Miami or go back to Cuba."

Attorney General Janet Reno "ended up raiding the private home of American citizens. We want to look at the process of the last five months. Particularly, we want to look at the fact that, in my opinion, Janet Reno and the INS completely threw out traditional family and child-custody case law and decided by decree to create their own rule of law. It is the constitutional responsibility of Congress to look into it."

Wounded feelings

The Religious Freedom Coalition hopes Democrats will reconsider their racketeering and extortion lawsuit filed Wednesday against House Majority Whip Tom DeLay.

Chairman William Murray wants his group to be added to the list of defendants.

In a letter to Rep. Patrick J. Kennedy, chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, Mr. Murray said that his group's omission "will cause our supporters to believe that we do not have as good as a relationship with the majority whip as we claim."

The lawsuit accused Mr. DeLay of laundering political donations through three nonprofit groups, the U.S. Family Network, the Republican Majority Issues Committee and Americans for Economic Growth.

"I don't think it would cost a lot to add us, but it would greatly enhance our fund-raising abilities if we had been mentioned," Mr. Murray told The Washington Times Thursday. "Those three groups mentioned are going to make a financial killing."

He added, "I feel like our organization would fit in there. Mr. DeLay has been to a number of our functions."

Bush leads Gore

Texas Gov. George W. Bush has moved ahead of Vice President Al Gore in a new Wall Street Journal/ NBC News poll released Thursday.

Mr. Bush was preferred by 46 percent of respondents, while Mr. Gore was favored by 41 percent. In a similar poll released in March, Mr. Bush trailed Mr. Gore by 3 percentage points.

The survey had a 3.2 percent margin of error.

The Texas governor leads the vice president among several categories of "middle-ground voters," according to the Journal: 50 percent to 35 percent among registered voters living in suburbs; 43 percent to 32 percent among independents; and 43 percent to 37 percent among so-called "ticket-splitters," voters with a history of casting their ballots across party lines.

Mr. Gore leads Mr. Bush among female voters, but only by 2 percentage points, mostly because of overwhelming support of blacks.

Mr. Bush tops Mr. Gore among white women by 10 percentage points and among white men by a 2-to-1 margin, the Journal said.

Nethercutt's attack

A Republican congressman targeted by ads from a term limits group after reneging on his pledge to leave office after three terms is lashing back with an attack ad of his own.

Washington Rep. George Nethercutt's radio ad says U.S. Term Limits Executive Director Paul Jacob "is a convicted felon who served a long prison sentence… . So when you see the next U.S. Term Limits ad, recognize it for what it is lies from convicted felons."

U.S. Term Limits responded Wednesday with a new radio ad charging "Nethercutt will say or do anything just to stay in power."

Mr. Jacob served 5 and 1/2 months in prison in 1980 after refusing to register for the draft. President Carter reinstated the draft for 18- to 25-year-olds after Soviet troops entered Afghanistan.

The draft refusal, Mr. Jacob said, was "a matter of principle" because he doesn't believe in forced military service. He said Mr. Nethercutt's ad is "a fairly meanspirited, cheap-shot attack that only shows he's desperate to change the subject as to why he won't take a stand on principle."

Spend that surplus

CapitolWatch, a group that keeps a close eye on proposals involving Social Security and Medicare, charged Thursday that Vice President Al Gore has broken his pledge "to devote the entire Social Security surplus over the next 10 years to making sure the Social Security Trust Fund is financially secure for at least the next half-century."

Mr. Gore on Wednesday proposed an expansion of Social Security to include benefits for widows and parents who take time off from work to care for families. Aides told the New York Times that it would be financed by the Social Security surplus.

Forbes backs Garrett

Former presidential candidate Steve Forbes has joined other conservatives who are backing New Jersey state Assemblyman Scott Garrett over incumbent Republican Rep. Marge Roukema, Roll Call reports.

Mrs. Roukema is one of a number of Republican members of Congress targeted for defeat by the Club for Growth, which has riled the liberal wing of the GOP.

Mr. Forbes endorsed Mr. Garrett this week, saying he had "followed Scott Garrett's accomplishments in the state Assembly and found that he is not afraid to stand up for the important conservative principles at the heart of the Republican Party."

Mr. Forbes will be the guest of honor at a May 17 fund-raiser for Mr. Garrett, reporter Rachel Van Dongen said.

Mr. Garrett won 47 percent of the vote against Mrs. Roukema in the 1998 primary.

Buchanan's vow

Reform Party presidential candidate Pat Buchanan ruled out picking a homosexual or gay-rights advocate as a running mate or Cabinet officer, saying Thursday that such sexual orientation is "a disorder."

"If someone is an out-of-the-closet homosexual, he's not going to be my running mate, and if someone advocates the homosexual-rights agenda publicly, they're not going to be in my Cabinet," Mr. Buchanan said during a lunch with reporters in Washington. "I believe that homosexuality is a disorder. It's a wrong orientation."

Mr. Buchanan's comments drew criticism from at least one national Reform leader, the Associated Press reports.

"I think what these comments expose is that Pat Buchanan's hateful and intolerant views are in direct violation of the principles of the Reform Party," said Jim Mangia, the party's national secretary, who is a homosexual. "The Reform Party stands for political, economic and trade reform, and we don't believe in dividing the American people based on social issues."

Lantos' accident

California Rep. Tom Lantos was ticketed after his car struck and slightly injured a 10-year-old boy in front of the Capitol.

Mr. Lantos was driving on the East Front Plaza Wednesday morning as a large group walked across the pavement. As he inched through the crowd, his car hit the boy's ankle, police said.

An officer from the Capitol Police waved Mr. Lantos through the area to clear the scene and the congressman drove to his office in the Rayburn House Office Building across the street, the Associated Press reports.

Police later went to Mr. Lantos' office and gave him a $25 ticket.

The boy, whose name was not disclosed, was treated at the scene, police said.

Mr. Lantos said he would not dispute the ticket even though he does not believe he was at fault. He also said he called the boy's family and invited them to lunch.

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