- The Washington Times - Thursday, February 3, 2000

Goring opponents

Vice President Al Gore's New Hampshire campaign chairman led the crowd that splattered Nebraska Sen. Bob Kerrey with mud and called the Vietnam amputee a "cripple" and a "quitter," the Chicago Tribune reports.

"Leading the chants for Gore as a crowd of the vice president's supporters surrounded Kerrey was none other than Bill Shaheen, who's helping run Gore's New Hampshire campaign," Tribune columnists Ellen Warren and Terry Armour reported. Mr. Shaheen is the husband of the state's governor, Jeanne Shaheen, who is also a Gore supporter.

"They were calling me a cripple," Mr. Kerrey told the pair.

"I am a cripple that's the only [bleeping] honest thing they said all day," a laughing Mr. Kerrey, a Vietnam War hero and Medal of Honor recipient who lost part of a leg in the fighting there, told the columnists.

But the Internet-inventing, always pro-choice vice president has a different version of events.

Mr. Gore called in to MSNBC's "Equal Time" last night and was questioned by co-host Ollie North about the incident.

"It didn't happen," Mr. Gore said of the incident.

Mr. Gore said that what did happen was just jolly good fun, anyway.

"[Mr. Kerrey] showed up at a rally to give the other side's point of view, and there were friendly words between him and [Iowa Sen.] Tom Harkin, who is a strong supporter of mine, and it was in good fun, where they had a kind of a debate in front of the press corps."

Meanwhile, in a joint appearance on the Fox News Channel program "The Edge," Republican Chairman Jim Nicholson confronted Democratic National Committee General Chairman Ed Rendell about the incident.

"If what Jim recounted happened, and if it was a Gore campaign person, then I believe the vice president will apologize," said Mr. Rendell, the former mayor of Philadelphia.

Vento to retire

Rep. Bruce F. Vento, Minnesota Democrat, announced yesterday that he has lung cancer and will not seek a 13th term.

Mr. Vento said he will finish this term but will not seek re-election so he can focus on treatment of his illness, malignant mesothelioma. The cancer was detected in its early stages and doctors believe it is treatable, Mr. Vento said in a written statement.

"The specialists at the Mayo Clinic have recommended an aggressive course of treatment," said Mr. Vento. "Such treatment must be my first priority. It is a fight that I did not expect but it is a challenge that I hope to win."

Mr. Vento, a St. Paul native, has represented the 4th District since 1977. The district includes the eastern area of the Twin Cities and is considered Democratic-leaning because of its strong labor tradition and concentration of government workers, the Associated Press reports. Republicans have not held the seat since 1946.

Comeback kid

"Unlike any GOP presidential contender in more than a quarter century, McCain, even though he calls himself a conservative, triumphed in New Hampshire by reinvigorating the once proud moderate wing of the Republican Party," USA Today political columnist Walter Shapiro writes.

As for the Democrats: "With more validity than Bill Clinton in 1992, Bradley can now claim the mantle of the 'Comeback Kid.' With five weeks before another meaningful Democratic primary, Bradley gets a breather to refine his campaign and to refresh his critiques of Gore's record and Bill Clinton's scandal-plagued legacy."

Hillary misspeaks

A group of police officers yesterday criticized Hillary Rodham Clinton for saying that African immigrant Amadou Diallo, fatally shot by New York police last year, had been murdered.

In a letter to Mrs. Clinton, the Coalition for a Fair Trial said her statement had "prejudged the officers" charged with the killing and "poisoned the jury pool."

Clinton Senate campaign spokesman Howard Wolfson said the first lady had misspoken.

The criticism came as Mrs. Clinton launched her first radio ad yesterday, trying to entice volunteers for her Senate race and drum up support for her issues.

The 60-second ad features the first lady touting her hopes to expand health care access, enlarge the Family and Medical Leave Act, increase federal spending on schools, and create a $10,000 college tuition tax deduction.

Veep commutes

Secret Service agents called it unprecedented: a vice president (or president, for that matter) sitting on a commercial flight, snoozing like any other New York-to-Washington commuter.

So it was yesterday on the 9 a.m. shuttle US Airways flight 6355 out of La Guardia when Al Gore decided to make a mad dash for Washington and Air Force Two wasn't ready to go. Mr. Gore hurried to Capitol Hill for a tie-breaking Senate vote that ultimately wasn't needed, the Associated Press reports.

Flight attendants looked surprised routine-weary commuters mostly didn't notice as Mr. Gore boarded with his armed Secret Service agents and a military aide carrying nuclear codes. "Has anyone ever carried the football on a commercial flight?" one aide wondered, speaking of the locked code box.

Mr. Gore tipped his head against the window to sleep, ignoring the bagel snack that a flight attendant put on his tray. He also seemed blissfully unaware of the interview with Republican presidential candidate George W. Bush being broadcast on the cabin's overhead TVs.

Mr. Gore did wake up in time to bring his seat back and tray table into the upright and locked position.

Sounds familiar

"Count the prime minister of Israel now among those who have learned firsthand about the danger of getting too close to the politics of Clintonism," the Wall Street Journal says.

"Ehud Barak hired the president's famous team of political consultants Stanley Greenberg, James Carville and Bob Shrum to help him defeat Benjamin Netanyahu in last year's elections. Now his One Israel coalition faces fines of $3.2 million, and Mr. Barak and his associates could face a criminal investigation. The reason: alleged campaign finance abuses that look a lot like the 'soft' money campaign that helped Mr. Clinton regain the White House in 1996," the newspaper said in an editorial.

The Journal noted that the Clinton consultants were not named in Israeli Comptroller Eliezer Goldberg's report on campaign finance violations, but "Tal Zilberstein, who runs the Tel Aviv office of the American trio's political consultancy, is named. According to Goldberg, Mr. Zilberstein's role was to oversee the use of the illegitimate funds" by non-profit organizations.

Ski season

"It has been a busy month at some of Colorado's finer ski slopes for prominent (and money-hungry) Democrats," National Journal reports.

From Jan. 20 to Jan. 24, House Minority Leader Richard A. Gephardt of Missouri and Rep. Patrick J. Kennedy of Rhode Island "were schussing and raising funds for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee," the magazine said.

"Gephardt and Kennedy, who is head of the DCCC, were playing hosts to two dozen of the committee's megadonors. Their fun on the slopes was capped with a dinner that included slabs of local elk at the vacation home of Joe Rice, a well-wired South Carolina trial lawyer."

Pancake man

As reported here and elsewhere, Republican presidential candidate Gary Bauer fell down the other day trying to flip and catch pancakes at a lighthearted event in New Hampshire.

What was not reported: The week before the Iowa caucuses, the Associated Press noted oddball facts about the candidates. Under "hidden talents," Mr. Bauer listed "Making pancakes."

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