- The Washington Times - Wednesday, January 12, 2000

McCain widens lead

Arizona Sen. John McCain led Texas Gov. George W. Bush among likely Republican voters by 7 percentage points in New Hampshire, three weeks before the state stages its crucial presidential primary, according to a Reuters/ WHDH poll released yesterday.
The poll of 602 voters who intend to participate in the Republican primary Feb. 1 found Mr. McCain leading the field with 41 percent.
Mr. Bush followed with 34 percent; publisher Steve Forbes was a distant third with 11 percent; talk radio host Alan Keyes held 4 percent and conservative activist Gary Bauer and Sen. Orrin G. Hatch of Utah each had about 1 percent. Only around 8 percent remained undecided.
The poll, conducted over the weekend by Zogby International for Reuters and Boston television station WHDH, carried a statistical margin of error of plus or minus 4 percentage points. That meant Mr. McCain's lead over Mr. Bush technically remained within that margin.
More than 40 percent in the survey said they could still change their minds.
The result showed Mr. McCain gaining some strength since the last Reuters poll one month ago, when he led Mr. Bush by 35-32 percent. And it came despite a strong performance by Mr. Bush in a debate in New Hampshire Thursday that was seen or heard by 51 percent of poll respondents.

Hatch targets Clinton

Republican presidential hopeful Orrin G. Hatch will air a 28-minute videotaped address this week in New Hampshire and Iowa in which the Utah senator labels the Clinton-Gore administration as possibly "the most deceitful and corrupt in our nation's history."
In the address, Mr. Hatch does not even mention President Clinton's affair with a White House intern. Instead, he warns Americans "of something new and something terribly dangerous."
"Defenders of the administration say 'This isn't Watergate,' " Mr. Hatch says. "You know, they're right. It's worse than Watergate."
He goes on to say that the Clinton administration has used every conceivable means "to dissemble, mislead and fool the people as well as to cover up official corruption. Such actions really are something new and something terribly dangerous. This routine practice of political deception to hide an inner falsity … the cynical deceit that you've not done anything wrong if you can talk your way out of it, is the real cultural legacy of this administration."
The speech will be broadcast twice on the ABC affiliate in Manchester, N.H., as well as the ABC and CBS affiliates in Des Moines, Iowa.

Hillary, meet David

Hillary Rodham Clinton will show up as a guest on tonight's "Late Show with David Letterman," according to the Associated Press.
She's been resisting invitations for months. Not too surprising, perhaps, considering that Mr. Letterman the quintessential New Yorker from Indiana who lives in Connecticut has made a running gag of calling her a carpetbagger from Arkansas.
Meanwhile, her likely opponent in the Senate race, New York City Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani, has been on the show frequently, chatting up Mr. Letterman about the Yankees, Mrs. Clinton and life in New York.
A spokesman for Mrs. Clinton said she had wanted to wait until she moved to New York.
"Dave's thrilled," said Rob Burnett, executive producer of the CBS show.

Rebel rhetoric

The war of words over the Confederate flag flying from atop the South Carolina Statehouse worries some observers.
"The rhetoric from the NAACP has been so heated, and it's been so strident, that I just don't know how they can be so insulting and still be able to convince the press that they are supporting some kind of compromise," said Chris Sullivan, chairman of the South Carolina Heritage Coalition, a pro-flag organization. "The only compromise they want is to get rid of the flag completely."
The flag has flown from the Statehouse in Columbia, S.C., since 1962. The South Carolina legislature has twice rejected proposals to strike the colors. Former Republican Gov. David Beasley was defeated for re-election in 1998 after he supported a compromise that would have taken the Confederate banner down.
The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People has been on the attack since 1991, when it passed a resolution calling the Confederate battle flag "an odious blight upon the universe." Last year, the NAACP called for a boycott of South Carolina over the issue.
"I do not believe that any proposal should be enacted under the threat of an economic boycott," said Rep. Lindsey Graham, South Carolina Republican. "My concern is that the rhetoric on both sides is getting so hot and hostile, somebody's going to get hurt." Mr. Graham said "those who support the flag … need to make sure that our actions don't legitimize the flag being seen as a symbol of hatred."

Primary challenge

A Democratic politician has asked the U.S. Justice Department to investigate the Republican Party's plan to not open polling places in some precincts for its presidential primary in South Carolina.
The Republicans said last week they would use paper ballots and consolidate some polling places for the party's Feb. 19 presidential primary because they must rely on volunteers to run the election, the Associated Press reports.
The complaint was filed by state Rep. Todd Rutherford, a black Democrat, who said that in the 1996 primary the Republicans did not operate ballot boxes in many predominantly black precincts of downtown Columbia, while opening all polling places in majority-white precincts.
State Republican Chairman Henry McMaster said the availability of volunteers and money is what determines which polling places are opened. Getting enough people to operate a polling place is difficult in Democrat-controlled precincts, Republican Executive Director J. Sam Daniels told the New York Times.
In South Carolina, political parties must pay for and run their own primaries.
Mr. McMaster predicted that Democrats also won't be able to open all precincts for their March 9 caucus and primary, which will select delegates to a nominating convention.
"I presume Mr. Rutherford will file the same complaint against the Democratic Party. No party has enough people to open all 1,800 precincts," Mr. McMaster said.

Ashcroft to back Bush

Sen. John Ashcroft of Missouri will endorse Texas Gov. George W. Bush this morning in Columbia, S.C.

Mr. Ashcroft, who dropped his own bid for the White House last January, will make his intentions known at a breakfast with Mr. Bush at his side, the Kansas City Star reported.

Mr. Ashcroft will be the 30th Republican U.S. senator to jump on the Bush bandwagon. The senator would not comment on the endorsement yesterday.

Asked about Mr. Ashcroft's timing, spokesman Steve Hilton said he did not know when the senator made his decision.

"He has for quite some time had a very positive relationship with the Bush family, which has very significant family and friendship connections in the state of Missouri," Mr. Hilton said.

Mr. Ashcroft traveled to South Carolina to make his announcement at the Bush campaign's suggestion, the spokesman said.

Before dropping out of the 2000 race, Mr. Ashcroft had some early political success in South Carolina.

He won a poll of 788 delegates to the state's Republican Convention with 32 percent support. Mr. Bush placed second with 15 percent.

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