- The Washington Times - Monday, July 31, 2000

Touchy subject

On one of his five talk-show appearances yesterday, Richard B. Cheney, the Republican vice-presidential choice, was asked about what an interviewer acknowledged is a "touchy subject."

"Jerry Falwell puts out a comment saying that he supports you. He talks about your daughter's sexual orientation. Was that any of his business?" Tony Snow, host of "Fox News Sunday," asked Mr. Cheney.

"I've got two daughters. They are fine women. I'm very proud of both of them. And I think their private lives are private, and I just firmly believe that," Mr. Cheney replied, adding: "I'm running for public office. They are entitled to their privacy."

The candidate's wife, Lynne, former chairman of the National Endowment for the Humanities, was asked about the same ticklish topic on ABC's "This Week." Mrs. Cheney, formerly a regular on CNN's "Cross Fire," who is known for being outspoken, was less conciliatory when Cokie Roberts raised it.

Said Miss Roberts: "It's so hard on families these campaigns. And you have a daughter who has now declared that she is openly gay. Are you worried?"

Before the host could complete her question, Mrs. Cheney declared: "Mary has never declared such a thing. I would like to say that I'm appalled at the media interest in one of my daughters. I have two wonderful daughters. I love them very much. They are bright. They are hard working. They are decent. And I simply am not going to talk about their personal lives."

Before she was through, Mrs. Cheney gave Miss Roberts a little lecture. "I'm surprised, Cokie, that even you would want to bring it up on this program," she said.

Forget Graham

Karl Rove, chief strategist for Republican George W. Bush's presidential campaign, insists that no one under consideration to be Al Gore's running mate "strikes terror" in his heart.

But, when pressed on CNN's "Evans, Novak, Hunt & Shields," Mr. Rove identified several candidates he thinks would be "tough."

"Let's see. [Senator] Bob Kerrey of Nebraska, he'd be tough," said Mr. Rove.

"How about [Senator] Bob Graham of Florida?" co-host Rowland Evans asked him.

Mr. Rove did not answer but said, "[Senator] Daniel Patrick Moynihan [of New York] would be tough."

Mr. Evans tried again. "How about Bob Graham of Florida?" he asked.

Mr. Rove finally replied. "That would make Florida a little bit more competitive. But … first of all, [Mr. Graham] would have to give up his Senate seat. Florida has a resign-to-run law."

In the end, said Mr. Rove, "We'd get one more Republican senator and we'd win Florida. Match [Florida Governor] Jeb Bush vs. Bob Graham, we'd still carry Florida."

The big speech

The Bush campaign has been working on his convention acceptance speech since May, when speech writer Michael Gerson "became a student of past convention speeches, watching them, reading them, reviewing the reactions to them," Gloria Borger writes in U.S. News & World Report.

"Then came the obligatory 'theme meeting' with top aides and the governor, after which Gerson returned to tape Bush's answers to questions about vision and policy. With that transcription in tow, Gerson packed a bag and went off to Texas A&M;, where he spent 10 days outlining and re-outlining the construction of the speech," the columnist said.

"Memorial Day weekend was spent in Kennebunkport, Maine, with Bush and top aides Karl Rove and Karen Hughes. The group held a long drafting session on the balcony, in which Bush expressed some structural concerns about the speech. (Bush is very big on structure.) Then came the line editing, with calls from Bush in the evening. 'When he gets up there to speak,' says speech writer Gerson, 'he will have touched every word of this speech one way or another.'

"Even during the crazy weekend before the vice presidential announcement, there was a speech session at the ranch at which media adviser Mark McKinnon taped Bush doing a read-through. By the 15th draft, Bush felt he had made the speech his own. All he had left to conquer was the TelePrompTer no small feat for a candidate who seems to believe that a speech with stumbles is a sign of genuineness."

Just a rabble-rouser

Tennessee's Democratic Party is experiencing a little deja vu in its Senate primary, and party leaders aren't happy, the Associated Press reports.

For the second major election in a row, the Democratic nominee for the most visible statewide seat on the ballot could be John Jay Hooker, a flamboyant 68-year-old Nashville lawyer who's been called everything from a misunderstood genius to a crackpot.

In 1998, he won the party's gubernatorial primary when the Democrats failed to support a formidable candidate to oppose Republican incumbent Gov. Don Sundquist. Mr. Hooker won only 30 percent of the vote, compared with Mr. Sundquist's 69 percent.

Now, Mr. Hooker has a chance at taking a nomination again in Thursday's primary to pick a candidate to face incumbent Republican Sen. Bill Frist. There are no Republicans running against Mr. Frist as he seeks a second term.

The prospect of Mr. Hooker winning is troublesome for state Democratic leaders, who have not endorsed any candidate, reporter Tom Sharp writes.

In recent years, Mr. Hooker has alienated the party and others by filing numerous lawsuits over campaign financing laws and denouncing political contributions as bribes. And he's not in the race to beat Mr. Frist, but to draw attention to campaign finance reform.

"We're certainly not for John Jay Hooker," said Democratic Party Chairman Doug Horne. "We don't think people ought to vote for him. He's really not a Democrat anymore, he's just a rabble-rouser."

Helping Hillary

President Clinton stepped up efforts on Saturday to get his wife elected to the Senate, helping raise an estimated $250,000 for her campaign and warning against voter apathy in the November election.

With Hillary Rodham Clinton locked in a bitter fight with Republican opponent Rep. Rick Lazio for the Senate seat from New York, the president has increased his role in the campaign, helping the first lady raise funds and talking up her commitment to health care and education, Reuters reports.

"She will be the best advocate New York could possibly have," he told a group of Korean-Americans at a fund-raiser in New York City.

Dogged by accusation that she once made an anti-Semitic slur, the first lady told the group she would fight to "eliminate and stamp out" discrimination in all forms.

Eager to shore up relations with New York Jews, a key constituency, she also told WCBS radio she favored moving the U.S. Embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem before the end of this year, and criticized Palestinian President Yasser Arafat over the collapse of peace negotiations with Israel.

Virtual convention

If protesters get out of hand during the Democratic National Convention in Los Angeles, the party is prepared to let delegates stay safely in their rooms and conduct proceedings on line, Seth Gitell writes in the Boston Phoenix.

"The DNC is prepared for it," an anonymous Democratic insider told Mr. Gitell. "We can have a virtual convention if we have to. The delegates can vote from their hotels."

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