- The Washington Times - Thursday, June 15, 2000

Judge keeps Tripp case

The White House and Pentagon spokesman Ken Bacon lost a court battle yesterday to have Linda Tripp's lawsuit against the government taken away from a Republican-appointed judge and reassigned.

U.S. District Judge Royce Lamberth ruled that Mrs. Tripp's suit was related to another case the judge is handling, a complaint by former appointees of the Reagan and Bush administrations whose FBI background files were gathered by the Clinton White House.

The White House, Mr. Bacon and Pentagon employee Clifford Bernath wanted the Tripp suit randomly reassigned by computer to a different judge. They argued that the Tripp case is only "a tangential avenue of inquiry" in the FBI files suit.

Judge Lamberth said, however, that the two cases have many issues in common, the Associated Press reports.

In a ruling March 29 in the FBI files case, Judge Lamberth, a Reagan appointee, ruled President Clinton committed a criminal violation of the Privacy Act in releasing the president's personal correspondence with presidential accuser Kathleen Willey.

Mrs. Tripp is suing the government because the Pentagon released information from a background form she filled out. Mrs. Tripp stated on the form that she hadn't been arrested when in fact she had been as a teen-ager.

Surprise guest

President Clinton remembers his friends. He surprised many of them along with some Capitol Hill Republicans by showing up unannounced and addressing the Arab American Institute's Kahlil Gibran Spirit of Humanity Awards dinner Tuesday night at the Washington Monarch Hotel.

James J. Zogby, the foundation's president and brother of the pollster John Zogby, had invited Mr. Clinton months in advance, but didn't learn until two hours before the event that the president had decided to attend. Mr. Zogby kept the news to himself until he introduced the president to the audience of current and former U.S. and foreign diplomats and House and Senate members of Arab descent.

Mr. Clinton hugged Mr. Zogby, spied Sen. Spencer Abraham at a table in front and, in his best bipartisan mode, saluted the Michigan Republican. Mr. Clinton noted that he is the first president to address an Arab-American audience at Mr. Zogby's dinner two years ago and the first to visit Gaza, now under the control of the Palestinian Authority.

Hillary on offensive

The New York Senate race grew more heated yesterday as Hillary Rodham Clinton, contrary to her usual style, launched a strident attack on her Republican opponent, Rep. Rick A. Lazio.

The first lady called the Long Island congressman "a follower, not a leader" and accused him of voting "against the interests of New York women, children and families" by opposing gun licensing, a patients' bill of rights and federal funding of abortions.

Mrs. Clinton pledged to vote to confirm Supreme Court nominees only if they would uphold Roe vs. Wade, and she said Mr. Lazio has voted against federal funding for abortions.

"My opponent calls himself pro-choice, but if you look at his record, he's apparently pro-choice for rich women," she said.

The attack came in a speech to 1,100 supporters at a breakfast fund-raiser at the Waldorf-Astoria in New York, the Associated Press reported. Mrs. Clinton in the past has left such specific and sustained broadsides to proxies.

Lazio spokesman Dan McLagan replied, "Mrs. Clinton's campaign is out of state, out of touch, out of ideas and maybe even a little bit out of control."

Mr. Lazio, in Washington for a fund-raiser, said he was "disappointed" by her "mudslinging."

On gun control, Mrs. Clinton said she would work for mandatory nationwide licensing and registration of handguns, which is already the law in New York state, but which Mr. Lazio opposes.

Nader vs. Gore

Green Party presidential candidate Ralph Nader, accepting a labor union endorsement yesterday, said traditional Democrats should welcome the prospect of defeating Vice President Al Gore in November.

Mr. Nader, 66, the self-described consumer advocate, is hoping to get the Green Party on the ballot in all 50 states and raise $5 million for a campaign targeted especially at labor union members upset by Mr. Gore's support of free-trade agreements.

He won the endorsement of the 31,000-member California Nurses Association yesterday and called on major national unions to give his candidacy a careful look, Reuters reports.

Mr. Nader is running at around 4 percent in recent national polls, but is particularly strong in California, where one survey put him as high as 9 percent, and on the East Coast.

Some Democrats fear that in a close race between Mr. Gore and Republican George W. Bush, Mr. Nader could tip the balance in the direction of the Texas governor in the Nov. 7 election.

Asked about that possibility, Mr. Nader responded: "If I was a dyed-in-the-wool Democrat, I'd be happy, because that would give the Democratic Party a four-year cold shower for reconsidering their historical traditions at its highest levels and why it has abandoned these traditions."

Windy nonanswer

Vice President Al Gore met with writers and editors at the New York Times on Tuesday, and "the first question put to him was: How do you assess George W. Bush as a candidate?" columnist Maureen Dowd writes.

"The vice president spoke 1,565 words, really, really slowly, with glacial pauses between each word. He propounded and expounded for more than 15 minutes, touching on such diverse topics as the human genome, the ice-free future of the Arctic Ocean, the 'Star Wars' journey, the climate of New York City, federal entitlements, the climate of Atlanta, embassy security, the climate of Illinois, Individual Development Accounts, the climate of Oklahoma and the state of the U.S. economy in 1835. But despite some prodding, he never did get around to answering," Miss Dowd said.

Giuliani's jump

A poll released yesterday shows that New York Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani's approval rating jumped to 49 percent, his highest in 18 months, after he withdrew from the race for Senate.

Just before he quit the race against first lady Hillary Rodham Clinton, Mr. Giuliani's approval had bottomed out, at 37 percent, Reuters reports.

The poll, by the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute in Hamden, Conn., also found that while Mr. Giuliani got 53 percent approval for his handling of crime, the centerpiece of his administration, he received low marks on education and race relations.

"Now that he's out of the Senate race, is Mayor Giuliani on the rebound?" asked poll director Maurice Carroll in a statement.

"This is the first positive approval rating for him since the Amadou Diallo case in February 1999," he added, referring to the fatal police shooting of the West African immigrant.

Education debate

A billionaire financier is offering Vice President Al Gore and Texas Gov. George W. Bush $500,000 each for their favorite children's charities. The hitch: They must participate in an education debate.

"The idea is, 'Gee whiz, you guys spend huge percentages of your time raising money for your campaigns, and here's a chance to do what you should anyhow while raising money for charity,' " Ted Forstmann said Tuesday in a telephone interview with the Associated Press.

Mr. Forstmann is co-founder of the Children's Scholarship Fund, a philanthropic organization that recently offered $50 million in new, partial scholarships to underprivileged children this fall. He is on a campaign against what he calls the "government monopoly" in elementary and secondary education.

In a letter sent to both campaigns yesterday, Mr. Forstmann proposed a 90-minute education debate between the two major-party candidates.

"Instead of raising money for TV commercials and consultants, you can make sure that $1 million will be devoted to needy children," he wrote.

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