- The Washington Times - Wednesday, May 10, 2000

Question from J.D.

Rep. J.D. Hayworth, Arizona Republican, sneaked into a news conference called by Democratic National Committee Chairman Joe Andrew in Pittsburgh yesterday and took a seat among the reporters.

Actually, the three-term congressman is accustomed to the drill. He's a former member of the fourth estate, having toiled as a reporter in North Carolina, Ohio and Arizona.

In other words, nobody paid any attention.

That is until Mr. Andrew, who didn't know any better, called on the congressman, whose question began with Al Gore and ended with Chinese money.

"He bested the guy," Republican National Committee spokesman Mike Collins tells Inside the Beltway in a telephone interview from Pittsburgh.

Once he realized he'd been set up, Mr. Andrew thanked the RNC for having its people present.

"We told him we were very happy to oblige," says Mr. Collins.

As for Mr. Andrew, he'll know next time not to call a Democrat news conference on the same day and in the same hotel where Arizona Sen. John McCain endorsed Texas Gov. George W. Bush for the GOP presidential nomination.

Pulling teeth

The Republican National Committee never had any doubt that Arizona Sen. John McCain would ultimately endorse Texas Gov. George W. Bush for president.

"Eighteen months ago, John McCain sat in [RNC Chairman] Jim Nicholson's office and told us he had every intention of supporting the eventual nominee if he didn't receive the nomination himself," RNC spokesman Mike Collins tells this column.

That said, the RNC was on hand in Pittsburgh yesterday, prepared to counter any negative interpretation of the endorsement, given the heated primary contest between the GOP's top two candidates.

So is Mr. McCain's endorsement genuine?

"Of course," Mr. Collins reacts. "McCain himself joked about it, saying over and over again [yesterday], 'I endorse him, I endorse him, I endorse him,' in every tone of voice, in every contortion he can make, so as to fit any sound bite any reporter could dream up."

Wouldn't you know, moments after Mr. McCain gave his support to the Texas governor, CBS News observed that reporters almost had to "pull" the endorsement out of the Arizona senator, much the same way a dentist has to extract a sore tooth.

Hoisting stars

Senators and congressman who provide deserving constituents with U.S. flags flown over the U.S. Capitol have been given some new guidelines by Alan M. Hantman, architect of the Capitol and chief flag hoister.

First, each flag ordered will cost $4.05, quite the bargain considering those popular decorative flags with brown dogs and yellow daisies can cost up to $20 a piece.

Second, "only the official 50-star flag or a past official U.S. flag will be flown" no dogs or daisies or what's fluttering above the state Capitol in South Carolina.

Third, flags are flown "weather permitting" Monday through Friday. (Mr. Hantman's three-man team of flag hoisters is not going to risk life and limb by climbing to the top of the dome, one of Washington's loftiest pinnacles, during a thunderstorm.) Saturday and Sunday flag flying is done only on special request.

Fourth, requests for flags flown above the Capitol must be made two weeks in advance, and orders must include flag size, flag type (nylon or cotton), and if desired, the date the flag is to be flown.

Finally, unlike the Senate shoe repair, "rush requests cannot be done while you wait."

We popped into the U.S. Capitol's "Flag Office" yesterday, where a flag lady said U.S. citizens can also order the flags, each brand new and measuring 8-by-12-feet, for only $8.

"Each flag is flown above the Capitol for 30 seconds," she explains. In other words, the three flag hoisters are constantly raising and lowering flags on the U.S. Capitol's flag pole.

Members can also order "used" flags that have flown above the Capitol for 24 hours, free of charge. But the flag lady says these flags "are often torn and tattered" and don't make a very nice gift.

Still sore

"I have to be careful how I comment about my freedom-loving friend, Tom DeLay, because I don't need the Justice Department banging either of our doors down at four in the morning."

House Republican Conference Chairman Rep. J.C. Watts Jr., of Oklahoma, responding to the Democrats' lawsuit against House Majority Whip Tom DeLay of Texas over fund-raising tactics.

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