- The Washington Times - Monday, October 9, 2000

Voters' choice

In Johnston, R.I., a town of 27,000, it's quite a choice for mayor this year: The incumbent, William Macera, was pulled over by police with a campaign aide who was charged with driving while using marijuana.

The same day, write-in candidate Louis Vinagro was charged with threatening a state official trying to inspect his pig farm.

No scandal has tainted Republican candidate George Resnick, but he is considered a longshot in this heavily Democratic community.

Sigh on, aide says

Gore campaign senior adviser Tad Devine apparently is not going to advise the vice president to cut out the sighing in Wednesday night's presidential debate.

In last week's debate in Boston, Al Gore the Democratic presidential nominee repeatedly responded to statements made by his Republican rival, Texas Gov. George W. Bush, by sighing. The tactic came across as an expression of weariness with Mr. Bush's positions and strongly suggested Mr. Gore belittled his views. The vice president was criticized.

On "Fox News Sunday" yesterday, Mr. Devine was asked if Mr. Gore will ditch the sighs when he squares off with Mr. Bush this week.

Mr. Devine initially failed to address that question, asserting that Mr. Gore clearly won the first presidential debate.

His dancing around the issue obviously irked Fox's Brit Hume. "Is he going to stop sighing?" the no-nonsense managing editor of Fox's Washington bureau asked the Democratic consultant.

Mr. Devine smiled and said, "I don't think he sighs too much."

Spin Alley

"The opportunity for momentary media stardom has led to an absurdly bloated cadre of designated spinners" after presidential debates, Michell Cottle writes in the New Republic, after attending last week's debate in Boston.

"Team Gore alone boasts 35 official surrogates everyone from Ted Kennedy to Al Franken all mouthing the same half-dozen hypercautious talking points green-lighted by the campaigns. And then there are the 700 strung-out campaign aides distributing those talking points often packaged in sleek binders with pithy titles like 'The Bush-Cheney Debate Survival Kit.'

"Within minutes of the debate's close, a strict hierarchy of spinners becomes clear: If you are an undisputed star say, Karl Rove or Jesse Jackson a mob of cameras and pencils hovers about you, documenting your every utterance. If, on the other hand, you are Bob Menendez or Marc Racicot, you have to be a bit more entrepreneurial. To facilitate the spinner/media mating dance, each surrogate is trailed by a harried-looking escort carrying a large sign bearing the surrogate's name. This not only helps reporters locate a particular individual in the crush, it helps them avoid mistaking lesser-known spinners for members of the university's maintenance crew," Miss Cottle observed.

"Of course, ambitious escorts know better than to leave things to chance. (God forbid your surrogate goes unnoticed.) Thus it is that I find myself manhandled into a tete-a-tete with [Democratic National Committee] Chairman Ed Rendell. 'You! How about you?' Rendell's escort yelps at me as I foolishly drift onto the fringes of the fray. Before I can flee, he puts a hand to my back and propels me over to Rendell, who stands languishing in the company of one lowly print reporter.

"Less confrontational escorts stand on chairs to draw attention to their charges. Other surrogates, meanwhile, jockey for prime placement next to brighter lights. During a slow period, J.C. Watts hovers at the edge of the perpetual scrum that surrounds Rove, while the escort for the AARP spinner sends his charge down toward Donna Shalala in hopes of snagging a few runoff questions."

Rah-rah guy

Republican vice-presidential candidate Richard B. Cheney crashed tailgate parties in Ames, Iowa, Saturday before the Iowa State Cyclones played the Nebraska Cornhuskers. But when reporters asked which football team he was rooting for, Mr. Cheney replied, "I have to be neutral."

However, former Sen. Alan Simpson, Wyoming Republican, who, along with Iowa Republican Sen. Charles E. Grassley, was accompanying Mr. Cheney, felt no need to be diplomatic, the Associated Press reports.

Mr. Simpson declared his support for Iowa State, saying otherwise "Grassley would kick me in the head."

As it turned out, Nebraska won 49-27.

Bauer disappointed

"Every public opinion poll suggests that the Bush-Cheney ticket has no more loyal supporters than the millions of men and women of faith who care about family and life issues. How surprising, then, that those voters have had their hearts broken in two consecutive debates, as they watched first a lackluster defense of the sanctity of life, and then a surrender on the defense of traditional marriage," Gary Bauer, the conservative activist and former Republican presidential candidate, writes in the New York Times.

Mr. Bauer was referring to Republican candidate George W. Bush's statement that as president he would not have the authority to overrule the Food and Drug Administration's decision to allow the use of RU-486, an abortion pill, and a statement by Republican vice-presidential candidate Richard B. Cheney that it should be up to the states to decide whether homosexuals can "marry."

"In both cases, the ticket I strongly support has missed an opportunity to speak for these Americans who are deeply troubled by the undermining of this sanctity and by the attack on the institution of marriage between a man and a woman," Mr. Bauer said.

Nobody noticed

"Imagine the nation's five biggest tobacco companies secretly arranging to milk consumers for billions in new profits by raising and fixing prices, colluding to maintain their respective market shares, and using carrots and sticks to get discounters and other small producers to raise their own prices enough to hold their combined market shares around 1 percent," Stuart Taylor Jr. writes in National Journal.

"Once they got wind of the deal, the anti-tobacco public health groups would be in a rage; the state attorneys general and their trial-lawyer allies would be suing the companies en masse for conspiring to violate the antitrust laws; and the feds would be doing their best to put the ringleaders in prison. Wouldn't they?" Mr. Taylor asks.

"Actually, no. For the facts are that the tobacco companies have already created just such a cartel and that the attorneys general, trial lawyers, and anti-tobacco groups were (and are) in on the deal, as is the Clinton administration. Although detailed in public documents, the cartelization of the tobacco industry with the blessings of its harshest critics was camouflaged so well that almost nobody noticed it."

Premature mirth

With nine full minutes left before the end of Thursday's vice-presidential debate, Sen. Joseph I. Lieberman already had won at least according to his campaign staff.

A spokeswoman for the Connecticut senator sent a message declaring victory before the 90-minute debate ended at 10:30 p.m. EDT.

"Joe Lieberman won tonight's debate because he and Al Gore have a shared vision …" began an e-mail from the Democratic vice-presidential nominee's spokeswoman, Kiki McLean a vision Mr. Lieberman was, at that very moment, still actively sharing with the American people.

The campaign staff for Republican vice-presidential nominee Richard B. Cheney waited until the moments immediately after the debate to dub their man the evening's winner, the Associated Press reports.

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