- The Washington Times - Thursday, August 3, 2000

Torricelli's mistake

Sen. Robert Torricelli, New Jersey Democrat, made a bid to run for governor next year, saying only he could unite the party. As it turned out, he was right, the New York Times reports. Mr. Torricelli united Democratic officials in opposition to his candidacy.
"After three weeks of hurried deal making, Mr. Torricelli was forced to quit the governor's race on Monday because he had lost a struggle that was less backroom horse-trading than an all-out street brawl," reporters David M. Halbfinger and David Kocieniewski write.
"Mr. Torricelli had made a critical mistake, it turned out, by underestimating the strength of his opponent, Mayor James E. McGreevey of Woodbridge, who had spent much of the last six years ingratiating himself with Mayor Sharpe James of Newark and other local leaders.
"There was payback at work, too: Powerful Democrats like Sen. Frank R. Lautenberg and Rep. Robert Menendez had felt slighted by Mr. Torricelli during his rise to power and were eager to get back at him.
"What has emerged from the seismic political upheaval is a new balance of power within New Jersey's Democratic establishment, with Mr. Torricelli, one of Congress' most powerful Democrats, clearly diminished, and Mr. Menendez ascendant."

Panic sets in

"It's clear from the increasingly shrill and hysterical tone of their recent matched-set twin speeches that the first couple are both becoming unhinged as they watch Hillary sink slowly behind Rick Lazio and Al Gore drop further below George W. Bush," Dick Morris writes in the New York Post.
"Gone is the tradition of discreet silence during the other party's convention (which the president observed while pretending to enjoy his 'vacation' at Jackson Hole, Wyo., during the '96 GOP conclave). Gone is the desire to preserve Clinton's 'presidentiality' and Hillary's independence of her husband. Gone are both patience and perspective."
Mr. Morris added: "Most important in this Clinton madness is its clear indication that when Hillary gets in trouble, Bill can't handle it. Instead of being the cooler, wiser influence — using his experience and ballast to prevent lurching and disaster — he just adds his complaints to the cacophony of panic.
"As the going gets tougher during the fall months, this tendency could sink both of the Clintons."

Double-edged sword

President Clinton excoriated Republican vice presidential candidate Dick Cheney for voting "against releasing" Nelson Mandela from prison in the 1980s, but apparently did not realize that he was campaigning Monday for a Democrat who voted the same way.
"That takes your breath away," Mr. Clinton declared of Mr. Cheney's vote as a congressman.
But on Monday Mr. Clinton praised Bill Nelson, the Democratic candidate for a U.S. Senate seat in Florida, as a man of great judgment. Yet Mr. Nelson was one of 32 Democrats who voted against the measure.
Stephen F. Hayes of National Review Online observed: "If the Cheney vote took his breath away, Clinton might well be on his knees, red-faced, clutching his throat and gasping for air when he learns that 32 of his fellow Democrats voted with Cheney, against the resolution. And he might be thoroughly asphyxiated if he knew he spent all day Monday campaigning for someone who had cast the exact same vote."

No Dick Darman

"In mid-June, George W. Bush took a break from campaigning and traveled to Kennebunkport, Maine, to relax with his father for a few days. But he left before the former president quietly received another guest the younger Mr. Bush wants nothing to do with: Richard G. Darman," the Wall Street Journal's John Harwood writes.
"Mr. Darman is one former Bush administration official who won't be anywhere near the GOP convention here his week. Texas Gov. Bush raided his father's Cabinet to find his running mate, an army of close advisers and, if he wins, his likely secretary of state. In the most important speech of his life here [Thursday] night, he will speak with unabashed pride of his father's legacy," Mr. Harwood said.
"But he never speaks of — or even to — the man who has as much to do with that legacy as any other, save the former president himself. 'I haven't talked to Darman in a long time,' George W. Bush says.
"The former White House budget director's unforgivable sin was assembling the 1990 defict-reduction deal that shattered the 'read-my-lips-no-new-taxes' pledge that then-Vice President Bush, in his best Clint Eastwood style, offered at the GOP nominating convention in New Orleans 12 years ago. Now, in assembling his own team, Gov. Bush is saying, in effect: Read my lips, no Dick Darman."

Miller, Mattingly file

Vowing to avoid negative ads, Georgia Sen. Zell Miller placed his name on the ballot one more time yesterday — this one for the remaining four years of a late senator's term. Among his challengers: former Sen. Mack Mattingly.
Mr. Miller, governor from 1990 to 1998 and lieutenant governor for 16 years before that, was appointed to the seat by the state's Democratic governor following Republican Sen. Paul Coverdell's death July 18. Voters will choose a permanent replacement Nov. 7.
Mr. Mattingly and three others also paid the $4,101 fee to enter the contest after qualifying opened yesterday morning. Hopefuls have until tomorrow to file. Mr. Mattingly, who was in Philadelphia at the Republican National Convention, sent his papers with Dot Burns, a key Coverdell backer, the Associated Press reports.
Mr. Miller called for a positive campaign and promised he wouldn't run negative ads but added, "If I'm attacked I'm going to have to respond." He said he would forgo the Democratic National Convention later this month to campaign for the seat.
The election is nonpartisan, meaning candidates' party affiliations will not be listed on the ballot. Nevertheless, the two major parties are competing fiercely for the seat.
Mr. Mattingly, 69, has been battling former ValuJet chief Lewis Jordan, 56, for the backing of Republican Party leaders.

Down the list

New Jersey Gov. Christine Todd Whitman says she was never seriously considered for the vice presidency.
"I don't think it was [my] pro-choice [position on abortion] that influenced the final decision," Mrs. Whitman told USA Today. "I have to take George's word when he said I was on the list at some point. But I was never asked for documents, so it never got down to the narrowing process… . I was never that seriously considered."

Clinton to the rescue

"Here's the latest thinking about the Democratic convention," Paul Bedard writes in the daily Internet version of U.S. News & World Report's "Washington Whispers" column.
"Pollster John Zogby, normally more accurate than most, says Al Gore is so stuck in the 38 percent to 42 percent range that it will fall to President Clinton to bolster his veep's chances for higher office. 'If he can't do it, nobody can,' Zogby told reporters [Tuesday] over a breakfast of french toast and berries. But he said Clinton will have only one chance to wave his wand: opening night of the Democratic convention in Los Angeles. 'This isn't over … but Gore needs a jump-start,' says Zogby. 'That jump-start happens August 14 when Bill Clinton speaks.' "

'Flawless choice'

George W. Bush's choice of Dick Cheney as veep nominee has earned the Texas governor the enthusiastic endorsement of Human Events, the conservative weekly.
The newspaper called Mr. Cheney a "flawless choice" as evidenced by the "disappointment among liberal Democrats." His selection "guaranteed unity in the Republican Party through election day in November," the newspaper said in a front-page editorial.
Terence P. Jeffrey, the editor of Human Events, worked for Pat Buchanan in the 1992 and 1996 presidential campaigns.

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