- The Washington Times - Monday, November 20, 2000

Forget it

Montana Gov. Marc Racicot, a Republican who on Saturday became a key spokesman for the Bush camp in ongoing political hostilities in Florida, says he does not like the idea of inviting former President Jimmy Carter, a Democrat, and former President Gerald Ford, a Republican, to intervene in the election argument.

Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle of South Dakota, on the other hand, told CNN Saturday he favors the idea of a blue-ribbon commission headed by the former presidents.

"Well, you know, there's a certain amount of arrogance associated with the notion that somehow candidates or parties can abrogate the law as it is," Mr. Racicot said yesterday on ABC's "This Week."

"That's really what we've tried to vindicate from the very beginning, is the law. That's all that we want to see vindicated now, the imperatives of the law. We want to see the truth established. There's never been any contest about the Bush campaign wanting every authentic vote tabulated. That's not a dispute. And I would say to those particular notions, any time that you exceed the boundaries of the law, you don't have the right to do that.

"You can't call meetings between the candidates and suggest that we'll just ignore the law and whatever we agree to, we'll carry forward with. This is the law passed by the people of Florida."

Daschle's pledge

Sen. Tom Daschle, South Dakota Democrat and minority leader, has promised his "complete cooperation" with the next president, "regardless of who it is."

"I don't care whether it's a President Bush or a President Gore. I'm telling you, I think we've got to set a new level of comity and partnership. And I want to be the first to make that [pledge]," Mr. Daschle said Saturday on CNN's "Evans, Novak, Hunt & Shields."

Show co-host Rowland Evans responded: "Are you telling some of your hot-head Democratic pals that, or are you just telling us that?"

"No, I've said that to my caucus already," Mr. Daschle replied. "I've said, 'Look, we've got to start anew. We've got to clean the slate and really try to create a new partnership that we haven't had before,' especially now. I think the country needs it. We don't need more confrontation like we've seen in the 106th [Congress]."

In an unrelated matter, Mr. Daschle told the interviewers he intends to reclaim his seat on the tax-writing Finance Committee, a role he had given up after becoming leader of the Senate Democrats six years ago.

Peace and harmony

Sen. Bill Frist, Tennessee Republican, thinks the next vice president whoever he is will be "taking a much more active role in Congress, working both sides of the aisle to try to get them together."

Mr. Frist, interviewed yesterday on "Fox News Sunday," believes this will be one of several changes on Capitol Hill in the wake of Democratic gains in the Senate and, to a lesser extent, in the House.

"The narrow margins mandate a coming together. I'm optimistic people will come together in a bipartisan way," with the two chambers of Congress cooperating more, Mr. Frist said.

Sen. John B. Breaux, Louisiana Democrat, who was also on Fox, foresees better relations in the next Congress. He said he is already in the process of "re-instituting the Chafee-Breaux coalition," a bipartisan effort that ended after the death of Sen. John Chafee, Rhode Island Republican.

Mr. Breaux said he has been talking to Sen. Robert F. Bennett, Utah Republican, and Sen. Olympia J. Snowe, Maine Republican, about getting that group reorganized.

To get things done in the new Congress, Mr. Breaux said, "We're going to be forced to like each other, whether we like each other or not."

Message of hate

"There have been a number of shameful public moments in the drama so far," Peggy Noonan writes in the Wall Street Journal.

She cited Gore campaign Chairman William M. Daley's declaration that "the will of the people" is that Mr. Gore win, as well as "Mr. Gore's own aggressive remarks in the days just after the election, [and] Hillary Clinton announcing in the middle of what may become a crisis involving the Electoral College that her first act will be to do away with the college."

The former speechwriter for Presidents Reagan and George Bush added: "And there is this Internet column from Paul Begala, who prepped Mr. Gore for his debates with Mr. Bush. He acknowledged that when you look at an electoral map of the United States, you see a sea of red for Mr. Bush, and clots of blue for Mr. Gore.

" 'But if you look closely at that map you see a more complex picture. You see the state where James Byrd was lynch-dragged behind a pickup truck until his body came apart it's red. You see the state where Matthew Shepard was crucified on a split-rail fence for the crime of being gay it's red. You see the state where right-wing extremists blew up a federal office building and murdered scores of federal employees it's red. The state where an Army private who was thought to be gay was bludgeoned to death with a baseball bat, and the state where neo-Nazi skinheads murdered two African-Americans because of their skin color, and the state where Bob Jones University spews its anti-Catholic bigotry: they're all red too.'

"It was a remarkably hate-filled column, but also a public service in that it revealed what animates Clinton-Gore thinking regarding their opponents: hatred pure and simple, a hatred that used to be hidden and now proudly walks forward.

"It stands in the living room, too.

"As does the unstated but implicit message of the hatred: that extraordinary means are understandable when you're trying to save America from the terrible people who would put George W. Bush in the presidency so they can kill more homosexuals and black men and blow up federal building and kill toddlers.

"Really, if Republicans are so bad it's probably good to steal elections from them, don't you think?"

Still a force

The so-called "religious right" has not faded, as some pundits suggested before the election, but instead turned out voters who helped Republicans maintain their majority in the House, opponents of religious conservatives tell the Associated Press.

"It wouldn't be fair to say they're in the driver's seat, but they're in the car, and grabbing the steering wheel from time to time," says Steve Benen, research coordinator with Americans United for Separation of Church and State, a group critical of Christian conservatives.

The religious right was "quietly working beneath the radar," said another critical group, People for the American Way.

According to lists compiled by both friends and foes, here's the record for House candidates who had movement support:

• In contests for open seats, 18 won and three lost.

• Among incumbents, 70 won and two lost. (Movement efforts to defeat nine incumbent House members all failed.)

Nationwide exit polling showed 14 percent of voters labeled themselves religious-right members, and they gave Republican Texas Gov. George W. Bush lopsided support.

The rest of the Republican religious coalition consisted of solid majorities among white Protestants as a whole and among weekly worshippers of whatever faith, plus a slight edge among white Catholics a once-Democratic bloc that is now a key swing vote.

Democrat Al Gore scored with nonreligious Americans (61 percent), Jews (79 percent) and the largely Protestant blacks (90 percent).

Recount, please

Tim Russert, host of NBC's "Meet the Press, informed guest Bob Dole yesterday that this "is your 61st appearance" on the program, a record.

"I thought it was only 60. I'm going to seek a recount," the 1996 Republican presidential nominee and former Senate majority leader quipped.

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