- The Washington Times - Monday, December 20, 1999

Firm condition

Republican presidential candidate Gary Bauer has a firm condition on accepting the vice presidency, Paul Bedard writes in U.S. News & World Report.
Mr. Bauer told the magazine he would accept the nomination “only if the presidential candidate was in extremely poor health.”

Ancient history

Vice President Al Gore apparently has a hard time remembering those ancient days when his party controlled Congress.
Asked yesterday on NBC’s “Meet the Press” why he and President Clinton did not advance campaign-finance reform in their first year in office, Mr. Gore claimed legislation was blocked only because of Republican intransigence.
“Because all of the Republicans voted against it,” Mr. Gore said. “And they controlled the Senate.” He added: “We got every single Democratic senator to vote for it.”
Just one problem: the Democrats controlled the Senate, as well as the House, in 1993. The Republicans did not take over until after the 1994 elections.
Rival candidate Bill Bradley also took liberties with the truth in his debate yesterday with Mr. Gore, Associated Press writer Calvin Woodward reports.
Mr. Bradley, attacked on health care, said his proposal covers far more people than Mr. Gore’s does and cited as evidence a “study last week by Harvard and Stanford.” A joint study carrying the clout of those two top schools?
Hardly. It was done by three economic advisers to the Bradley campaign, two of whom have jobs at Harvard and Stanford, the AP reporter noted.

Republican error

Rep. Asa Hutchinson, Arkansas Republican, who served as a House manager during the Senate’s impeachment trial of President Clinton, believes Congress erred in releasing en masse all that salacious material about Mr. Clinton’s sexual relationship with Monica Lewinsky.
Interviewed yesterday on CNN’s “Late Edition,” Mr. Hutchinson alluded to comments former independent counsel Kenneth W. Starr made in an earlier interview on the same show.
“I heard Judge Starr make a comment about wishing he had given more warning [about what was in his report]… . I wish we had been more careful insofar as releasing that,” the congressman said.
“We believed and understood that was going to be acceptable to release it. I wish we had not released it in that fashion, but there was a lot of public interest at that point.”
Nevertheless, Mr. Hutchinson said he believes the “mistakes that were made did not make an ultimate difference in the outcome” of the impeachment proceedings.

Davis’ flexibility

Pundit Robert Novak, co-host of CNN’s “Evans, Novak, Hunt & Shields,” interviewed California Gov. Gray Davis on the show Saturday and recalled when Mr. Davis was chief of staff for Gov. Jerry Brown in the 1970s.
“When did you stop being liberal and why?” Mr. Novak asked the Democratic governor.
“Well, times have changed in the last 25 years,” said Mr. Davis. “And a lot of ideas that I thought were best initiated by the government and were, in fact, initiated by the government, in fact, didn’t work.
“And, at this point in my life, and, for some time, frankly, I don’t care if an idea comes from the left or the right. All I care is that it’s the right idea and that it works.”
Because of this flexibility, Mr. Davis said, “We’ve been able in Sacramento, on almost every issue, to bring together coalitions from the right and the left.”
He cited some examples. “On my budget, which I was proud was passed a day early, we had 80 percent of the Republican vote for it in the Senate and 65 percent of the Republicans in the Assembly, [and] nearly all the Democrats. That never happened. That’s the highest vote total in 30 years.”

Label making

Barbara Bush makes it clear she resents all the questions that have been raised about son George W. Bush’s intelligence.
“I’ve seen him get into three tough schools and graduate… . I’ve also seen him be a great success in business,” the Republican presidential front-runner’s mother said yesterday in a joint interview with her son’s wife, Laura, on ABC’s “This Week.”
The former first lady added: “That irritates me a little, because I think they’re trying to lay a label on him that just is not true. George Bush is a very smart man.”

Holiday time

You can tell it’s holiday time on Capitol Hill when a senator answers her own phone.
Well, Sen. Barbara Boxer, California Democrat, isn’t exactly answering her own telephone these days, but she did record the message callers hear when they ring her. “Thank you for calling my Washington office,” she says. “All lines are currently busy. If you wish to stay on the line, you will hear classical music while you’re on hold.”

Politics of biography

Arizona Sen. John McCain’s “war record and blunt political style are perfect for a year when prosperity and Bill Clinton have made character count more than issues. Just as Democrats turned to Jimmy Carter as the purest anti-Nixon after Watergate, many Republicans view Mr. McCain as the ideal anti-Clinton,” writes Wall Street Journal columnist Paul Gigot.
“Poor Steve Forbes thought the issues would make him the anti-establishment candidate, the populist outsider to [Texas Gov. George W.] Bush. But the politics of biography has let Mr. McCain fill that role, despite his 17 years in Congress. No sitting senator has pulled this off since [John F. Kennedy] in 1960.
“Mr. McCain’s challenge from now on, however, is to show his campaign is more than just another chapter in his autobiography. Especially because his domestic agenda has more holes than a Harold Ickes deposition.”
Mr. Gigot added: “The best news about the McCain threat to Mr. Bush is that it may improve both of them. Mr. McCain’s character campaign will force Mr. Bush to get tougher and to run as a tax cutter. This Bush counterpunch will in turn force Mr. McCain to offend the New York Times by running on more than liberal campaign reform.
“Republicans might even emerge with a nominee who can win.”

Just warming up

Republican presidential candidate Steve Forbes says the federal government is “just getting warmed up” in terms of snooping on citizens.
“The Clinton-Gore administration has proposals in to have all of your health care records centralized in Washington, D.C. All your intimate details will be in the hands of bureaucrats and political appointees,” Mr. Forbes said on “Fox News Sunday.”
“They piously promise that they’ll have safeguards that those records won’t be abused. This from an administration that couldn’t even protect our nuclear secrets. This from a crowd that had 900 FBI files on their opponents miraculously appear in the White House basement. They want you to believe it was immaculate conception.
“I don’t trust Gore and Clinton with my medical records, and neither should the American people,” Mr. Forbes asserted.

On-line voting

Voting is now just a mouse click away but only if you live in Arizona and are a registered Democrat, Reuters reports.
In what officials claim is a national first, the state’s Democratic Party chairman signed a deal last week with a New York company to enable Democrats in Arizona to officially vote via the Internet in the March 11 presidential primary election.
Registered voters will hop on line, sign up for a personalized certificate and then be able to cast their ballots using their own special code. The process is expected to take only a few minutes to complete. Paper ballots still will be available at the polls.

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