- The Washington Times - Monday, November 27, 2000

Apoplectic Joe

Democratic vice-presidential candidate Joseph I. Lieberman opened the fall campaign by jettisoning centrist positions (such as opposition to racial quotas) that offended Democratic special interest groups. Now he appears to be going into full attack-dog mode, belying his former image as an all-around nice guy.

Mr. Lieberman was sent out of the vice-presidential mansion last week to denounce Republican protesters in Dade County and elsewhere, referring to them as a "mob."

A Washington lobbyist who was said to speak regularly with presidential candidate Al Gore and his top lieutenants told New York Times reporter John M. Broder that Mr. Lieberman is "apoplectic" these days. The Connecticut senator "believes that the Bush forces are impeding a full count of the Florida vote," the reporter wrote.

The unnamed lobbyist added: "There is a gut-wrenching personal aspect for him." The reporter suggested this is because Mr. Lieberman "invested many days courting Jewish voters in South Florida."

The census angle

"Republican and Democratic partisans agree on one thing: If Gore wins, the Republicans will gain seats in the House of Representatives in 2002. This conventional wisdom is based on historical fact but it is, nonetheless, dead wrong. The reason is an innovation pushed by the Clinton-Gore administration known as 'census sampling,' " writes Jim Boulet Jr., executive director of English First.

"The Clinton-Gore administration has sought to correct what they claim is an 'undercount' by the national census. They claim there are some people who do not return census forms to the government and who will not respond to a visit from a census taker in particular, poor people, residents of big cities, and illegal aliens," Mr. Boulet said in a guest commentary for nationalreview.com.

"For this reason, the U.S. Census Bureau wants to guess how many illegal aliens and other people do not fill out the census and add its guess to the official census figures. This procedure, dubbed 'census sampling,' was strongly defended by William M. Daley, now chairman of Gore 2000, but secretary of commerce at the time.

"Both Daley and Gore know that if they can hold the White House, they can rig the census. Once a Gore administration finishes fiddling with the census figures, the mandatory reapportionment of congressional seats that must follow a national census would be strongly biased in favor of the Democrats. A biased census count would mean that more Republicans and fewer Democrats will lose their seats in the 2002 election.

"Thus, if a Gore administration can keep control of the Census Bureau's computer keys, it could easily enshrine Democratic dominance in Congress until 2012. Republican Party Chairman Jim Nicholson once calculated that census sampling would mean 'losing 24 or more GOP congressional seats; losing 113 GOP state Senate seats; [and] losing 297 GOP state House seats.' "

T-shirts, crying towels

Regardless of who finally wins the White House, the legions of Republican lawyers and operatives in Florida have hands-down beaten their Democratic counterparts on style, the St. Petersburg (Fla.) Times reports.

Every day, it seems, the masses of Republicans staging protests outside vote-tallying command centers receive new T-shirts or knickknacks. Last week they added "Gorey Mess" to the T-shirt mix that already included slogans such as "Don't be had by Chad," "Got Chad?," "I Support Sec. Katherine Harris" and one dubbing West Palm Beach a banana republic, reporter Adam C. Smith writes.

Marilyn Patillo, a nurse from Austin, Texas, whose lodging and air fare were paid by the GOP, stood amid the West Palm Beach protesters Saturday in her well-stitched "Recount Team" cap.

"I get this great stuff because I volunteered one week of my life. I really appreciate it," she said.

The shirts are only a small part of the array of Republican gear turning up in recent days in West Palm Beach and Broward counties. And it reflects the fine-tuned Republican machine working the voting command centers.

Scattered throughout the crowds are out-of-state operatives with earphones and walkie-talkies ensuring that TV cameras see lots of furious citizens mobilized in protest. Periodically, they check in at a special GOP motor home parked nearby.

The Democrats, of course, also have loads of out-of-state staffers in Florida, but the Democratic recount team appears nowhere near as organized as the Republicans.

Thanksgiving was telling. Out-of-town Democrats scattered here and there in search of turkey dinners. Some 200 Republicans gathered at the Hyatt in Fort Lauderdale, where they were entertained by Wayne Newton and received thank-you calls over the speaker phone from George W. Bush and his then-hospitalized running mate, Richard B. Cheney.

Aside from the GOP T-shirts are "crying towels" imprinted with "Sore-Loserman" and special recount team baseball caps.

Fowl tactic

"Imagine what it would be like if the U.S. presidential race had come down to just a few votes in Philadelphia County," Philadelphia Inquirer reporter Clea Benson writes.

"For one thing, it would be a lot more fun. 'Voting irregularities' wouldn't be restricted to a few thousand accidental hole punches next to Pat Buchanan's name," the reporter said.

"Think of the collective federal horror when it was revealed that Philadelphia party operatives were holding turkey raffles at polling places deep in the heart of Kensington on Election Day.

"That actually became an issue in the race between Democratic U.S. Rep. Robert A. Brady and his Republican challenger Steve Kush, manager of a Center City mattress store. (Kush lost by about 120,000 votes. Even without the turkey raffle, we doubt it would have been close enough for a recount.)

"Kush's campaign workers complained in court that Democratic voters in the Seventh Ward, 14th Division, had been given flyers promising free coffee and doughnuts and a chance at a turkey if they voted.

"Philadelphia Common Pleas Judge Alan Teresko issued an immediate order commanding the illegal turkey giveaway to stop.

"The Seventh Ward is the realm of Democratic ward leader and newly elected state Rep. Angel Cruz, who goes on trial in February on charges that he helped bribe Democratic committee people to elect him to the war post."

The reporter added: "We hope the voters of the Seventh Ward, 14th Division, had a happy Thanksgiving, even if they didn't get their free turkey."

Fighting like Democrats

"If it's possible to have a bourgeois riot, it happened [in Miami] Wednesday. And it could end up saving the presidency for George W. Bush," Wall Street Journal columnist Paul Gigot writes.

"With both parties spinning, I thought I'd go south to see the Miami-Dade manual recount first hand. Surely it couldn't be as arbitrary as it sounded from Washington? And it wasn't. It was worse. Little did I know it'd be bad enough to inspire 50-year-old white lawyers with cell phones and Hermes ties to behave, well, like Democrats," Mr. Gigot said.

"These normally placid burghers popped their corks after a week of watching a recount they felt was rigged for Al Gore. They kept mum but stewed for days as a three-member, Democratic-leaning canvassing board tried to divine the 'intent' of the voter without any standards at all."

Mr. Gigot, after noting that the canvassing board finally decided to call off the recount, added: "If Al Gore loses his brazen attempt to win on the dimples, one reason will be that he finally convinced enough Republicans to fight like Democrats."

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