- The Washington Times - Friday, October 20, 2000

Youth not tuned in

Young people are tuning out the presidential campaign in such numbers that they may be the most disconnected group of potential voters in the nation's history, MTV's top researcher told the Associated Press yesterday.
Surveyed a month before the election, one quarter of people ages 18 to 24 couldn't name both presidential candidates without prompting, and 70 percent couldn't identify the vice-presidential candidates.
"There seems to be a finite window of opportunity to engage young people and that window seems to be closing," said Betsy Frank, executive vice president of research for MTV Networks.
Only one-third of young people polled in July said they were certain to vote in November, MTV said. That compares with 57 percent in July 1992, when young people were energized by the campaigns of Bill Clinton and Ross Perot.
Subsequent polling as the campaign has heated up this year found more young people interested but still not up to levels of previous campaigns, Miss Frank said.
These people aren't necessarily apathetic; they just don't see the relevance of politics to their lives, she said.
Seventy percent of those polled identified issues they were concerned with, but only 30 percent said they were interested in politics and government, she said.
To explain a lack of participation, young people cited a confidence that the country is doing well already, a belief in local activism instead of voting and a feeling that politics represents "big money and gross exaggerations," she said.
Potential young voters also aren't interested in issues that have dominated the campaign, including Medicare, Social Security and prescription drugs, she said.

Not just charm

"The left will soon be saying, in a Gore loss, that it all came down to personality. It wasn't Mr. Gore's ideas that were wrong, it was the guy's charmlessness! This will be a replay of what they said when Ronald Reagan beat Jimmy Carter: It was charm," Peggy Noonan writes in the Wall Street Journal.
"But it is never charm. It is always philosophy as expressed through programs, plans and pronouncements. Still, when the speaker for a philosophy has a persona that enhances his ability to communicate his programs and plans, that means something. It makes a difference."
"Mr. Bush does. Mr. Gore doesn't," Miss Noonan said.
"The Republicans seem on an upswing 20 days out, and one senses for the first time that it just might not be as close as everyone's saying. Though of course elections can change on a dime (she said not at all self-protectively). Joe Lieberman the other night told Tim Russert there will be no October Surprise. One wonders if the surprise was supposed to be a Mideast peace, and that quite melted in the mists as the president for once seemed to get unlucky."

The cringe factor

"If the town hall meeting between Bush and Gore were a prizefight being scored on points, the judges would declare Al Gore the winner. He earned more debating points and gets credit for aggressiveness in carrying the fight to his opponent," New York Times columnist William Safire writes.
"George W. Bush won the first debate by not losing; Gore lost the second debate by not fighting. In the rubber match, like the sadly victorious King Pyrrhus, Gore won the third debate in a way that may cost him the election," Mr. Safire said.
"Did Gore succeed in showing sharp difference between policies, so necessary to getting out his vote? Yes; to arrest the seeming slide toward Bush, he returned to the populism of the Democratic convention, using 'fight' as his keyword, holding himself out as the class warrior out to soak the rich and to drive big oil and the big drug companies to the wall.
"But in doing so, Gore displayed the difference between candidates in personality. He came on strong; he knew it all; he slid around questions to touch all hot buttons (except, unaccountably, abortion and Supreme Court nominations). ABC's Cokie Roberts noted 'the cringe factor': the negative reaction of many women to the ferocity of the policy wonk."

Tancredo rallies

Rep. Tom Tancredo, the Colorado Republican identified as one of his party's 10 most vulnerable incumbents, is leading in his race for re-election by a margin of more than 20 points, according to a campaign poll released yesterday.
The survey, commissioned by the Tancredo camp and conducted by the Tarrance Group in Alexandria, Va., shows Mr. Tancredo dominating his Democratic challenger, businessman Ken Toltz, by 55 percent to 34 percent.
Mr. Toltz has accused the freshman Republican of being too conservative for his district, which includes Columbine High School, site of the nation's worst school shooting.
After the shooting, Mr. Tancredo wobbled on the firearms issue, voting both for and against gun-rights proposals, and later alienated gun-rights groups by refusing to accept their contributions.
The Tancredo campaign trumpeted the results as a signal that the attacks have failed to resonate with voters in the Republican-leaning district.
"It shows that voters in the 6th District are very comfortable with Tom's record and will vote to return him for a second term," said campaign manager Dave Pearson.

Buchanan's new ad

Pat Buchanan takes a stand for prayer in school and defends the Boy Scouts in the second national television ad of his Reform Party presidential campaign.
The multimillion-dollar ad campaign began airing yesterday in 24 states and 209 markets, including north Florida, although campaign officials would not specify which states, the Associated Press reports.
"The purpose of this ad is to raise legitimate issues which are great controversies in America today that have been utterly ignored by the other candidates in the other parties that is the assault on America's culture," Mr. Buchanan said at a news conference in Orlando, Fla.
The ad opens with a teacher forcing apart the hands of a schoolgirl who is praying at her desk. "They've taken God and the Bible out of our schools," a narrator says.
It cuts to a tablet of the Ten Commandments being torn from the wall and the narrator saying, "They've pulled the Ten Commandments off the classroom walls."
Pictures of Boy Scouts then flash on the screen. "Now they're after the Boy Scouts, calling them a hate group because they won't let homosexual men be scout leaders.
"It's time to take our country back from those who are tearing it down," the narrator says. "George W. Bush and Al Gore will do nothing. One candidate isn't afraid to fight back: Pat Buchanan."

Judicial Watch debate

The presidential debates aren't quite over. Judicial Watch is offering a fourth encounter tonight among a trio of third-party candidates at the Ronald Reagan International Center to a sold-out crowd of more than 600.
Along with five popular talk-radio hosts, Libertarian Harry Browne, the Constitution Party's Howard Phillips and Natural Law candidate John Hagelin will talk up ethics or the lack of them in Washington.
"All three are intelligent men who are not afraid to discuss the issues of restoring ethics to government," said Judicial Watch Chairman Larry Klayman.
However, George W. Bush, Al Gore, Pat Buchanan and Ralph Nader will not be in attendance.
"As for those candidates who do not appear and who have not accepted or reneged on their commitments, the American people can only draw one conclusion: that they either have no interest in ethics, or because of their own pasts, are afraid to open 'Pandora's Box,' to discuss this most important issue for the country's survival," Mr. Klayman said.

Carnahan ad embargo

Republican gubernatorial candidate Jim Talent was criticized yesterday for running TV and radio advertisements after the death of Gov. Mel Carnahan, who was running for U.S. Senate.

Many but not all Missouri candidates have suspended ads. Among those who haven't are House Minority Leader Richard A. Gephardt and his Republican opponent, Bill Federer.

Richard Martin, campaign manager for Democratic gubernatorial candidate Bob Holden, called it "incomprehensible" that Mr. Talent was running the ads as the state mourns Mr. Carnahan's death Monday in a plane crash.

Mr. Talent's decision prompted a tense confrontation yesterday as the candidate was entering a motel to speak to the Creve Coeur, Mo., Chamber of Commerce.

Members of the Service Employees International Union tried to force themselves into the event to protest. Vi Smith, executive director of the chamber, claimed she was pushed and filed a complaint with police, said Michelle Dimarob, a Talent spokeswoman.

"It's a matter of respect," said union Local 1001 director Grant Williams. "We want him to hold off with the negative politics for a couple of days so we can all show respect for our governor."

Mr. Talent's office issued a statement saying he has instructed that all television and radio ads be withdrawn today to observe a day of mourning for Mr. Carnahan. He also canceled campaign activity for the day.

Cantwell's cash woes

"The largely self-financed campaign of Democratic Senate nominee Maria Cantwell is facing a cash crunch as the costs of taking on GOP Sen. Slade Gorton [of Washington] rise while the price of RealNetworks stock has fallen," the Seattle Post-Intelligencer reported yesterday, referring to the software firm that is the source of Miss Cantwell's wealth.
"Cantwell acknowledged that she is 'struggling' to meet her target of $8 million for the campaign," the newspaper said.
After reaching a high of $96 a share in February, RealNetworks stock had tumbled to $14.88 per share at Wednesday's close. The company's stock has lost 70 percent of its value since Sept. 5.

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