- The Washington Times - Monday, May 8, 2000

Competing claims

New York Times columnist William Safire is not one of those who believes "Clinton fatigue" will be supplanted by "Clinton nostalgia" in the waning days of Bill Clinton's presidency.

"I can't help you there," Mr. Safire said yesterday on NBC's "Meet the Press," when asked to sort out the competing claims.

"The forgiveness of the American people is wonderful. But frankly, after the next three or four months, we'll see some real Clinton fatigue," he predicted.

Presidential historian Doris Kearns Goodwin, also a guest on "Meet the Press," suggests there could be some feelings of Clinton nostalgia. She said Americans know how much Mr. Clinton enjoys being president and can understand his sadness at leaving office.

But David Broder, The Washington Post political columnist, seemed to reject the notion that Americans are feeling melancholy toward the lame-duck president.

"The American people want an iron-clad guarantee that the next president will not embarrass them in front of their children like Bill Clinton did," Mr. Broder said. "The incumbent president shamed this nation," and American voters "will not put up with that again," he said on NBC.

Essentially over

Two Republican senators interviewed on political talk shows yesterday did not hold out much hope for Senate hearings to investigate the armed seizure of little Elian Gonzalez from his Miami relatives' home last month.

Sen. Chuck Hagel of Nebraska made it clear he likes it that way. "The law is pretty clear here," and he believes it was followed.

"Let's back off. Let's let this 6-year-old boy have some time with his father," Mr. Hagel said on CNN's "Late Edition."

"Let's keep Congress out of this. Have we turned ourselves into a custody court now?" he asked.

Mr. Hagel said Sen. Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, who is part of the Republican Senate leadership, would be in a better position to know if there will be hearings.

"There may be one day of hearings on the assault of the home" of Elian's great-uncle, Lazaro Gonzalez, Mr. McConnell told CNN. "But I think Chuck is right. It's essentially over and time to move on," he added.

Cold shower

Green Party presidential candidate Ralph Nader believes a loss by Vice President Al Gore to Texas Gov. George W. Bush might provide the "cold shower" needed to re-energize the liberal base of the Democratic Party.

Mr. Nader said he isn't concerned that his support among liberals could cost Mr. Gore crucial votes against Mr. Bush, since he believes it doesn't matter whether a Republican or Democrat wins the White House this year, reports Kevin Ley of Bloomberg News.

"These two parties are so marinated in big business money they can't be internally reformed," Mr. Nader said on NBC's "Meet the Press." "Citizens' groups can't get anything done anymore."

A recent survey showed 11 percent of liberals support Mr. Nader over Mr. Gore, and the consumer activist repeated his goal of winning 5 percent of the vote to make the party eligible for millions of dollars in matching campaign funds for future races.

Mr. Nader accused Mr. Gore of breaking "more of his priorities in eight years than probably any other politician," including such issues as the environment, consumer policy and protecting small farmers.

"He has pandered to big business, he has pandered to the types of lobbies in Washington that are taking over the city," Mr. Nader said. "Al Gore will go anywhere in the country to raise big money."

With Mr. Nader and likely Reform Party candidate Pat Buchanan factored into the presidential race, Mr. Bush leads Mr. Gore by a margin of 47 to 41 percent, according to a USA Today/ CNN/Gallup poll released last week.

Bush meets goal

George W. Bush, the presumptive Republican nominee for president, reached his goal of raising a fresh $10 million by the end of April, and he plans to keep going in an effort that could give him a big summer spending advantage over likely Democratic presidential candidate Al Gore, Cox News Service reports.

The vice president can spend only about $9 million more before the Democrats' national convention in August under the limits he agreed to in exchange for millions of dollars in taxpayer money. Mr. Bush, who has not been accepting federal funds, can spend as much as he can raise. That could give Mr. Bush, who already has spent a record $73 million on his presidential campaign, a huge financial edge.

The Republicans' convention begins July 31 in Philadelphia, the Democrats' Aug. 14 in Los Angeles. After the conventions, Mr. Gore and Mr. Bush each will receive $67.6 million in federal funds and cannot raise any private money for their campaigns.

Bright idea

"So where did Handgun Control Inc. get that video footage used in a new TV ad showing a National Rifle Association exec bragging that George W. Bush is the gun lobby's man? Insiders say it was taped by an NRA member who got the brilliant idea of posting it on the Internet, thinking it would drive members to Bush," Paul Bedard writes in U.S. News & World Report.

"But the supporters of Vice President Al Gore and the anti-gun group downloaded it instead. Says one: 'We just stumbled across it.' "

Bet on it

"It was apparently overlooked by all those ace news hounds at the recent White House correspondents' dinner, but at one point Terry McAuliffe, the Democrat with the Golden Touch, decided it would be a hoot to introduce Don Evans, [George W.] Bush's top check collector and new campaign chairman, to President Clinton," National Journal reports.

"That evening, McAuliffe also twice bet $1,000 that the VP would whip George W.; Wayne Berman and Peter Terpeluk Jr., two of the GOP's top money harvesters naturally put their cash on Bush."

Flying disc

In less than one week, the Republican National Committee has distributed 1,000 free copies of a compact disc called "The Best of Al Gore: Hits of the 80s, 90s and Today!"

The RNC has decided to order another 1,000 copies. The first batch went mostly to radio talk show hosts.

"Gore's 'Best of' CD flew out the door faster than the vice president escaping a pack of reporters demanding a real news conference," Republican Party Chairman Jim Nicholson said in a prepared statement.

The CD includes a recording of some of Mr. Gore's more embarrassing moments, such as claiming credit for invention of the Internet or denying that there was any "controlling legal authority" for fund-raising from the White House.

"Hosts from Seattle, Washington, to Daytona Beach, Florida and everywhere in between requested a free copy. My staff was so inundated with orders, I made a thousand more copies," Mr. Nicholson said.

All 18 cuts from the disc can be heard and downloaded from the RNC web site at www.rnc.org.

Slip of the tongue

In trying to help Vice President Al Gore, President Clinton inadvertently promoted the wrong man Friday.

Mr. Clinton was asked about a videotape that portrayed the National Rifle Association as hankering to operate out of a White House occupied by George W. Bush.

"I don't know that they think that [NRA Executive Vice President Wayne] LaPierre will literally have an office here if President Bush I mean, if Governor Bush gets elected," Mr. Clinton said.

Twice later, Mr. Clinton referred to Mr. Bush as the Texas governor, to try to clear things up, Cox News Service reports.

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