- The Washington Times - Monday, August 28, 2000

Where it counts

National polls show the presidential race neck and neck, but according to a state-by-state breakdown by National Journal's Hotline, Republican George W. Bush is leading by a huge margin where it really counts: in the Electoral College.

Surveying poll results from 31 states, Hotline found the Texas governor leading in 23 states with 246 electoral votes just 24 fewer than the 270 electoral votes needed to win in November. By comparison, Democratic nominee Vice President Al Gore was leading in just eight states with 170 electoral votes.

Factoring in the margin of error in the polls, Hotline found Mr. Gore with a lead exceeding the margin of error in just two states California and New York with 87 electoral votes.

Hotline found Mr. Bush's poll lead exceeded the margin of error in 16 states with 187 electoral votes. Mr. Bush was ahead by 15 percentage points in Pennsylvania (23 electoral votes), 13 percentage points in Florida (25 electoral votes), and 11 percentage points in Virginia (13 electoral votes).

Million, schmillion

Last week, Republican presidential candidate George W. Bush was hammered by the media after he confused billions with trillions in discussing his proposed $1.3 trillion, 10-year tax cut in Des Moines, Iowa.

But it seems some Democrats can't keep their numbers straight, either.

Sen. Joseph I. Lieberman of Connecticut, the No. 2 man on the Democratic ticket, made a similar gaffe in an interview that aired yesterday on CNN's "Both Sides with Jesse Jackson."

Asked by Mr. Jackson what he and Vice President Al Gore would do with projected budget surpluses, Mr. Lieberman answered: "We will take $500 million of it and invest it in paying down the deficit."

"Billion," the host corrected him.

"$500 billion, excuse me," Mr. Lieberman said.

Meanwhile, on NBC's "Meet the Press" yesterday, Sen. John Kerry, Massachusetts Democrat, vastly understated Mr. Bush's proposed tax cut, although he was attempting to show it will be much more than Mr. Bush suggests.

Mr. Kerry said the Republican tax cut would amount to $1.9 billion by the end of 10 years.

"Trillion," show host Tim Russert countered.

"Trillion, excuse me," said Mr. Kerry.

On, Wisconsin

If you're going to Wisconsin, Gov. Tommy G. Thompson hopes you'll keep your clothes on.

Wisconsin's Department of Natural Resources (DNR) had a message on a hot line to answer questions about Mazomanie Beach on the Wisconsin River that told callers: "Regarding the issue of nudity, it is the opinion of the current district attorney that nudity is not illegal unless associated with some type of lewd and lascivious behavior."

News of the pro-nudity message caused phones to light up at the office of the Republican governor, whose chief of staff fired off a letter to DNR: "I am directing you to remove any messages which may be construed as supporting public nudity or other inappropriate behavior."

The outcome prompted one Republican legislator to express his relief that the DNR "is really not the Department of Nude Recreation."

Capture the flag

Georgia Reps. Cynthia A. McKinney and John Lewis, both Democrats, do not display the Georgia flag in their offices.

The two lawmakers have chosen to make a "quiet protest" against what they consider the Georgia flag's "divisive" Confederate symbol, reports Jeffrey McMurray of the Associated Press.

Miss McKinney says the state flag "should be laid to rest," but Mr. Lewis says "there's very little we can do" to change the flag's design, adopted in 1956.

The flag is not expected to be a major campaign issue in Georgia this year. A poll earlier this year showed that 56 percent of Georgians want to keep the flag, with only 31 percent wanting to change it.

Some Republicans say Georgia Democrats "are trying to have it both ways" on the flag issue, Mr. McMurray writes. Republicans says Democrats are "trying to use the flag as a tool to attack GOP supporters, yet avoid messing with it, fearing the wrath of voters."

Rep. Jack Kingston, Georgia Republican, said Democrats may be plotting a "back-room plan" to decide the issue in 2002 statewide referendum, a move Mr. Kingston said "would bring out the vote and help their side" in the off-year election.

'You are wrong'

Alaska Gov. Tony Knowles, a Democrat, last week denounced former President Carter for calling on President Clinton to make the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge coastal plain a national monument.

Mr. Carter made the call during a visit to Alaska. In a letter to his fellow Democrat, Mr. Knowles said the ex-president "used our state as a media prop and platform to project your message to President Clinton."

In the two-page letter to Mr. Carter, the Alaska governor used the phrase "you are wrong" four times, as in: "You are wrong in calling for executive action at the midnight hour instead of an open, public democratic process."

Ventura vs. Wellstone

Minnesota Gov. Jesse Ventura is feuding with Sen. Paul Wellstone, Minnesota Democrat.

In his new book, "Do I Stand Alone?" Mr. Ventura the former wrestler who quit the Reform Party to become an independent criticizes Mr. Wellstone's agricultural policies.

"Wellstone wants to keep farmers dependent on government," Mr. Ventura wrote, according to Hotline. "He marches for all these farm-aid causes, yet he works to keep them in what amounts to a mild form of slavery."

"I simply don't let anybody get away with these kinds of comments," Mr. Wellstone told the Frazee (Minn.) Forum.

Speaking ill

A British writer claims former President Nixon took drugs and beat his wife.

The claims in Anthony Summers' new book, "The Arrogance of Power," were disputed by a former aide to Mr. Nixon who died in 1994 and whose wife, Pat, died in 1993.

"It cannot possibly be true," John Taylor told the New York Times. "It is utterly inconceivable."

Mr. Taylor, director of the Richard M. Nixon Library and Birthplace in Yorba Linda, Calif., was a chief aide to Mr. Nixon after he resigned the presidency in 1974, the Associated Press reports.

In his book, Mr. Summers claims that in the 1960s, Mr. Nixon was given 2,000 capsules of the drug Dilantin a prescription drug used to counter epileptic seizures by the founder of an investment firm. Mr. Summers cited former Nixon aide John D. Ehrlichman as the source for that claim.

"Summers' claims that Nixon abused his wife came from secondary sources," the AP noted. Among those sources were retired Washington lawyer John Sears, a former campaign consultant to Mr. Nixon, who said he heard stories of Mr. Nixon beating his wife from two lawyers who are now dead.

Mr. Taylor, responding on behalf of Mr. Nixon's daughter, Julie Nixon Eisenhower, told the New York Times: "Anyone who knows and worked with President Nixon knows first of all that he could not have done it, second of all that he would not have done it, and third of all that had he done it there are innumerable people who would not have spoken to him and yet remained active in his life and in Mrs. Nixon's life until their deaths and beyond."

• Robert Stacy McCain can be reached at 202/636-3249 or by e-mail at [email protected]

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