- The Washington Times - Friday, January 14, 2000

Gore's fingerprints

First, it was Sen. John McCain who was put on the defensive by news stories that he intervened with the Federal Communications Commission on behalf of a campaign contributor. Then it was Bill Bradley who was put on the defensive by a news report that he had written a letter on behalf of two $500 donors from New Jersey.
"The Bradley camp could be forgiven for seeing [Vice President Al] Gore's hand in that story it was written by a Boston Globe reporter who [Wednesday] praised Gore's press operation," writes the New York Post's Deborah Orin.

Political maneuver

The Wall Street Journal, in a news story by reporter Jeanne Cummings Thursday, offered a long list of ways that President Clinton and his aides are helping Vice President Al Gore's presidential bid. Here's one interesting maneuver:
"To help win over the Teamsters union, one of only two large labor organizations that have yet to endorse a candidate in the presidential campaign, the administration is expected to cite safety concerns and delay opening the nation's Southern border to Mexican trucks."

Crackdown on religion

"In its waning days, the Clinton administration is going on a regulatory spree affecting everything from SUVs to gender equity in high schools," Ramesh Ponnuru and John J. Miller note on National Review's Internet site (www.nationalreview.com).
"The latest effort may be the most breathtaking… . [T]he Federal Communications Commission has decided that religious programming on radio stations doesn't count as 'educational.' Consequently, many religious broadcasters could lose their licenses and educational licenses are cheaper than commercial ones. The Democratic appointees to the commission voted for the new policy, while the Republicans opposed it."

Ducking the issues

Presidential front-runners George W. Bush, Al Gore and Bill Bradley are at the bottom of the heap in terms of willingness to provide Americans with information regarding their intentions if elected, according to a new survey by Project Vote Smart.
Adelaide Elm, a board member and spokeswoman for Project Vote Smart, a national library of facts on political candidates and issues, said Mr. Bush and Mr. Gore "did not submit anything" when asked how they would handle at least 17 of 22 issue areas "known to be of top interest to voters and likely to be dealt with by the next president."
"We devoted seven weeks to trying to elicit that information, and we confronted each presidential front-runner on up to 21 separate occasions," requesting that they respond, Ms. Elm said.
Mr. Bradley, she said, "submitted 47 pages of issues positions," but Project Vote Smart found that format unacceptable. It was evidence of his "wanting to rely on canned, controlled messages," Ms. Elm said.
Only four of the presidential candidates in this year's primaries Republicans Steve Forbes, Sen. John McCain, Gary Bauer, and Sen. Orrin G. Hatch "provided citizens with the essential issue information requested" in Project Vote Smart's National Political Awareness Test, the group said at a press conference yesterday where it released its results.
Project Vote Smart said it was the "worst showing" among front-running candidates since the group began doing these surveys of presidential hopefuls in 1992.
"It's outrageous that a candidate refuses to answer tough, but fair-minded questions on issues that he will have to deal with if he's elected," Ms. Elm said.
But a candidate's failure to respond to the survey doesn't necessarily translate into failure at the polls. "Clinton bypassed it twice," she said.

No messages

Monica Lewinsky "is shooting down talk that she has been sending messages and packages to the White House in a bid for a reunion with the commander-in-chief," George Rush and Joanna Molloy report in their New York Daily News column.
"Lewinsky laughed out loud when we asked her in a phone interview about a tabloid report claiming she has been calling presidential secretary Betty Currie and has sent copies of her new Jenny Craig commercials, in which she shows off her new figure," the columnists said.
Miss Lewinsky remarked: "I'm putting all my energy into something beyond what's happened."

Commuter president

President Clinton, lately of Chappaqua, N.Y., got a taste of the New York commute Thursday when light snow kept him from flying in his helicopter.
Mr. Clinton spent Wednesday night at the $1.7 million house he and first lady Hillary Rodham Clinton purchased last year in Chappaqua, about 35 miles north of New York City.
A light snow interfered with visibility enough to ground Clinton's Marine One helicopter, so he took to the roads like thousands of other commuters, Reuters reports.
In his case, though, he had a 14-car motorcade with police guarding the intersections to ease the drive into town. And he whizzed right through a toll booth.
Mr. Clinton, running typically late, missed the heart of the New York rush hour. He was attending events in Brooklyn and Manhattan and was to spend last night back at the Chappaqua house.

'Soft money' deal?

First lady Hillary Rodham Clinton and New York Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani have taken one more step to end their "soft money" fight.
The candidates' spokesmen finally talked this week about Mrs. Clinton's offer to limit their use in the New York Senate race of the unlimited funds that parties collect, but no agreement had been reached by Thursday.
The first lady's likely opponent, Mr. Giuliani, was busy Thursday delivering his State of the City address.

'Stupid mistake'

Republican presidential hopeful Alan Keyes says the Panama Canal treaty was a "stupid mistake" and that he would take steps to put the canal back under U.S. control if elected president.
Last month, the United States turned control of the canal over to Panama as called for under a 1977 treaty, which Mr. Keyes said he did not support.
"I thought it was a stupid mistake," he said.
Skeptics, including Mr. Keyes, believe the Chinese may be seeking ways to gain control of the strategic waterway, the Associated Press reports.
"I think we're in a situation now where it would be folly to wait until the communist Chinese get some kind of entrenched foothold in Panama," Mr. Keyes told about 200 people Wednesday during a question-and-answer session after a speech to the local chapter of the National Contract Management Association in Cedar Rapids, Iowa.
"And so I would be inclined to look at that situation, make the assessment that the treaty was no longer [consistent] with American security and take the canal back as quickly as possible," the former radio talk-show host said.

Independent thinker

Rep. Virgil H. Goode Jr., Virginia Democrat, "is strongly considering becoming an independent and caucusing with Republicans," Roll Call reports, citing "several well-placed GOP leadership sources."
L.F. Payne, a Democrat and former congressman whom Roll Call identified as a confidant of Mr. Goode, told reporters John Bresnahan and Ethan Wallison that Mr. Goode is indeed thinking about running as an independent.

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