- The Washington Times - Tuesday, July 11, 2000

Ad campaign a failure?

A month after beginning a multimillion-dollar television ad campaign, Vice President Al Gore is still languishing in public opinion polls, seemingly unable to stir the enthusiasm of apathetic voters, writes Reuters political correspondent Alan Elsner.
According to officials who did not want to be identified, the Democratic National Committee has spent around $11 million in ads that began in early June and have run in 17 states.
The ads have dealt with universal prescription-drug benefits, patients' rights, the virtues of fatherhood and education all issues Mr. Gore wants to highlight in his campaign against his Republican opponent, Texas Gov. George W. Bush.
Campaign and Democratic Party officials insisted the ads had improved Mr. Gore's standing in their internal polling, but refused to give details, the reporter said. In public polling, there has been little apparent movement and Mr. Gore continues to trail Mr. Bush by between 5 and 13 percentage points nationally.

No thanks, Davis says

California Gov. Gray Davis all but ruled himself out as a possible Democratic running mate for Vice President Al Gore yesterday, saying he would best serve his party's presumptive presidential nominee by keeping his current job.
"No Democrat can win without California, and I think my best opportunity to serve [Mr. Gore] is to stay home, be his spokesman, his cheerleader," Mr. Davis told reporters at the summer meeting of the National Governors Association in State College, Pa.
"I really think I can be very helpful to the vice president in ensuring that the biggest state in the union, with 54 electoral votes, is in his column."
Mr. Davis said he could not rule out accepting a job that had not been offered to him, but added that in failing to do so, he did not intend to leave himself "weasel room" should the vice presidency come his way, Reuters reports.
"Please interpret that as a negative response," he told reporters. "No California governor has ever been elected vice president or president while on the job."

The high ground

Vice President Al Gore, after careful polling, has skillfully repositioned himself on issues such as Medicare, Social Security, tax cuts and the environment, in order to give himself the high ground in debates this fall, Dick Morris writes.
"While Bush is playing to the crowd, Gore is laying the basis for a win on the issues. Through negative ads and in the autumn debates, Gore will be able to rake Bush over the same coals that he used to neuter Bill Bradley en route to the nomination," the former political consultant said in a column in the New York Post.
"Gore's positions are carefully polled and researched. Doubtless, he has tested the differences between his positions and Bush's and staked out the higher political ground."

No reform, please

"Standing before the teachers union convention in Chicago last week, Democratic presidential candidate Al Gore was in a mood for bellowing," the Wall Street Journal says in an editorial.
"He bellowed: 'I'm on your side. The other side fights for the powerful. That's why the big pharmaceutical companies are supporting Governor Bush. That's why the big oil companies are supporting Governor Bush. That's why the big polluters are supporting Governor Bush.'
"So you're asking yourself, What's this got to do with education? Obviously, nothing. But if you'd spent the week hanging around the [National Education Association's] convention, education reform is probably the last thing you'd bring up, too. They'd have hooted their man off the stage."

Actors union riled up

The Screen Actors Guild (SAG), in the midst of a strike over pay for actors in radio and television ads, is quarreling with Texas Gov. George W. Bush's campaign over its use of nonunion actors in at least one commercial.
Scores of SAG members picketed for three hours on Saturday outside a residence in Brooklyn that the Bush campaign rented to tape a campaign spot.
Union officials said the Bush campaign broke a promise not to use nonunion actors in its ads or to at least seek a waiver from the union stipulating the campaign would pay the wages and residuals union members are striking for. SAG officials were further outraged that the campaign ignored a picket line to make the commercial, the Associated Press reports.
"It's one thing to be involved in a nonunion commercial. That happens all the time. But to cross a picket line in the middle of a political campaign that speaks for itself," said Pat O'Donnell, executive director of SAG and the American Federation of Television and Radio Actors in the Washington-Baltimore area.
Earlier, Bush campaign spokeswoman Mindy Tucker denied that any agreement existed between SAG and the campaign. "I don't know where they got that idea," she said.

West steps down

Veterans Affairs (VA) Secretary Togo D. West Jr., whose two-year tenure was marred by accusations of mismanagement, is stepping down with less than seven months left in the Clinton administration.
"Under his leadership, the VA has begun to confront some long-neglected problems head-on, reaching out to more than 400,000 veterans who were exposed to Agent Orange, pressing for answers to the Gulf War syndrome and proper care for those who suffer from it," President Clinton said yesterday at the White House.
Mr. West, a former Army secretary and lobbyist who plans to return to the private sector, will be succeeded by his deputy, Hershel Gober of Monticello, Ark., a veteran of both the Army and the Marine Corps.
"Hershel has already made his mark on the critical issue of veterans' health care," Mr. Clinton said, referring to the more than 400 outpatient clinics the VA has opened during the administration to help serve more than 3 million veterans and their survivors.
In 1997, Mr. Clinton picked Mr. Gober to be secretary of veterans affairs, but Mr. Gober withdrew his nomination after lawmakers went public with allegations of sexual misconduct involving Mr. Gober. He was accused in 1995 of making an inappropriate sexual advance toward a woman during a 1993 celebration of the Marine Corps. Mr. Gober denied the accusation.

Vacation canceled

President Clinton has abandoned plans for a family vacation this summer, opting instead to spend extended weekends raising money for the Democratic Party, the White House said yesterday.
The president and first lady will spend the first weekend in August in Massachusetts, attending a fund-raiser on Martha's Vineyard and another in Hyannis, said White House spokesman Joe Lockhart.
The Clintons expect to take at least two more extended weekends in upstate New York, one following the Democratic National Convention in mid-August and another over Labor Day weekend, Mr. Lockhart said. Mrs. Clinton is running for the Senate from New York.

Convention deputy

Hector F. Irastorza Jr. yesterday was named deputy convention manager by Andy Card, general co-chairman of the Republican National Convention.
Mr. Irastorza will assist with all aspects of convention planning.
Mr. Irastorza is president and chief executive officer for Icon Solutions Inc., a strategic-planning and reputation-management firm based in the District of Columbia. He held a number of positions in the Reagan and Bush administrations, including special assistant to the president for administration, director of scheduling and director and coordinator of special initiatives.

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