- The Washington Times - Monday, October 16, 2000

A bumbling tactic

Amid reports that Al Gore's top campaign advisers have begun fighting among themselves, Newsweek correspondent Howard Fineman points out that in the days leading up to last week's presidential debate, the Gore camp violated an elementary rule of politics: lowering expectations for your opponent.

"When there's not much ideological friction, side-by-side character comparisons can be decisive and Bush has prospered onstage beside Gore," Mr. Fineman writes in the latest issue of the magazine. "By branding Bush a 'babbling bumbler' after the first debate, the Goreans lowered expectations for Bush further and he impressively exceeded them."

Gore's Southern woes

Republican George W. Bush has a real chance to sweep the South, the New York Times reports.

"Arkansas, along with Tennessee and Florida, has been one of the states where [Democrat Al] Gore is hoping to avoid a Southern shutout, but despite three visits and a barrage of television advertisements, he has not been able to establish a lead here," reporter David Firestone writes from Conway, Ark.

"Although the state has voted Democratic in 26 out of 33 presidential elections, a poll conducted two weeks ago for the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette showed Gov. George W. Bush of Texas at 45 percent and Mr. Gore at 43 percent, with a margin of sampling error of plus or minus 4 percentage points.

"Tennessee, Mr. Gore's home state to the east, is similarly divided, and to the south in Louisiana, which the Clinton-Gore ticket won handily in 1992 and overwhelmingly in 1996, Mr. Bush has been consistently ahead. A survey late last month by Southern Media and Opinion Research for several Louisiana television stations showed Mr. Bush leading Mr. Gore 44 percent to 38 percent among registered, likely voters, with a margin of sampling error of four percentage points."

Hillary's mistake

Hillary Clinton, in a speech last month that decried ignorance about black history, apparently confused the evangelist Sojourner Truth with another black heroine of the 19th century, Harriet Tubman.

New York Post columnist Andrea Peyser, writing Friday, noted that "a black monthly newspaper is demanding an apology" for the U.S. Senate candidate's errant remarks at the First Baptist Church of Crown Heights on Sept. 10.

"I really hope our children learn about Sojourner Truth . . because she did stand for truth and she did sojourn in difficult places time and time again," Mrs. Clinton said, before describing to a puzzled audience how Truth had escaped from slavery and then returned to the South on numerous occasions to lead others to freedom.

Truth, who grew up in Kingston, N.Y., did not escape from slavery, the columnist noted. "After she was emancipated in accordance with state law in 1827, Truth became an itinerant preacher, feminist and abolitionist famous for challenging 19th century prejudices about black humanity and femininity with the statement, 'Ain't I a woman?'

"Truth is revered for helping to lead the call for the end of slavery. But she has never been credited with guiding slaves' escape.

"That credit goes to Harriet Ross Tubman," who escaped from a Maryland plantation in 1849 and made at least 15 rescue missions back into the South.

David Greaves, publisher of the black monthly Our Times, wrote an angry editorial demanding an apology from Mrs. Clinton.

A tie in Michigan

After trailing for weeks, Texas Gov. George W. Bush has pulled even with Vice President Al Gore in the battleground state of Michigan, according to a new poll published yesterday by the Detroit News.

The poll of 581 likely voters showed Mr. Bush with 42.5 percent and Mr. Gore with 42.3 percent. Twelve percent were undecided and 2 percent backed Green Party candidate Ralph Nader. The poll was conducted by Mitchell Research & Communications Inc. from Monday through Friday last week and had a margin of error of four percentage points.

It was the first time a Michigan poll had not shown Mr. Gore in the lead in a month, Reuters reports. A poll published on Sept. 30 by the Detroit Free Press had Mr. Gore ahead by six percentage points, one on Sept. 23 by the Chicago Tribune had Mr. Gore up two points, and one by a Michigan television station on Sept. 19 had Mr. Gore ahead by 11 points.

"It's an absolute dead heat," Steve Mitchell, who conducted the poll, was quoted by the newspaper as saying.

Michigan, with 18 electoral votes, is one of a handful of Midwestern states that could be crucial to the outcome of the presidential race. Both Mr. Bush and Mr. Gore have visited the state frequently to campaign and both plan more visits.

The Detroit News also said its poll showed that in a closely watched race for the U.S. Senate, Republican Sen. Spencer Abraham has taken a commanding lead over his Democratic challenger, Rep. Debbie Stabenow, 50 percent to 33 percent.

Abraham and Bush

Sen. Spencer Abraham, Michigan Republican, doesn't rule out ultimately supporting Texas Gov. George W. Bush's $1.3 trillion, 10-year tax cut plan.

But Mr. Abraham, who is in a re-election battle with Democratic Rep. Debbie Stabenow, says he first is going to "fight" for his own tax-cut package that is "based on what the people of Michigan told me they want."

"They want to see their capital gains taxes cut. We've got a huge number of investors in our state, and they'd like to cut the capital gains tax further to stimulate more savings and investment and help them put a little money away," Mr. Abraham said Saturday on CNN's "Evans, Novak, Hunt & Shields."

Like Mr. Bush, Mr. Abraham says he supports repeal of the estate tax and the marriage penalty tax, and he favors raising the $500-per-child tax credit to $1,000.

Asked if he would oppose the Bush tax plan in the Senate, the Michigan Republican said, "Before [Mr. Bush] lays it on the table, I intend to fight for the things the people in Michigan want, and we'll see where things stand after that.

"But I think I can persuade him that some of the ideas I'm talking about today would make his tax plan even more effective… . Our plan would be growth-oriented by cutting capital gains taxes … and I think I can persuade him that our growth-oriented plan is even more effective," Mr. Abraham said.

Not a love story

"Vice President Al Gore's exaggerations have claimed a victim, 'Who Wants to be a Millionaire' contestant Joel Foss," Paul Bedard writes in U.S. News & World Report.

"The Marysville, Wash., contractor faced this $64,000 question last Thursday: 'Al Gore was the basis for the main male character in which of these best-selling novels?' "

Host Regis Philbin listed "A Separate Peace," "Primary Colors," "The Secret History" and "Love Story."

The contestant "recalled that Gore repeated an erroneous report that he and Tipper were the basis for Erich Segal's 'Love Story.' He remembered Segal saying he used a dash of Gore, a pinch of actor Tommy Lee Jones, and imagination to create Oliver Barrett IV. So he rejected 'Love Story' and guessed 'Primary Colors' and lost," Mr. Bedard said.

"Was the question fair? ABC says Segal now insists 'he derived a great deal from Al Gore.' That's the furthest he's gone on it, but how was Foss to know? ABC wouldn't release Segal's letter. 'We didn't say that Al Gore was the only basis for the character,' whines ABC. Says Foss, 'In my opinion, when they say Al Gore was the basis for it, that's singular; they didn't say a basis.' The result: He's filing a grievance and hopes to return."

Propaganda film

"Don't waste your money on 'The Contender.' Unless you want to watch a two-hour campaign commercial for Bill/Hillary/ Monica and their sordid sexual extracurriculars. And Al Gore, by association," Debbie Schlussel writes about the new film at www.JewishWorldReview.com.

The movie is "pure, unadulterated propaganda. Or, in the case of these people, it's adulterated. And adultery. And what a coincidence! It's come out with just a month to go before the biggest national election in eight years. The one in which Bill's sex life and Hillary's total life are the referendum. The one in which Hillary's trying to gain her first step to her own White House," Miss Schlussel said.

Lieberman ducks

Sen. Joseph I. Lieberman, the Democrat who is seeking re-election to a U.S. Senate seat from Connecticut while simultaneously running for vice president, has drawn criticism for backing out of a debate scheduled Thursday with his Republican opponent for the Senate seat, Cox News Service reports.

On Friday, Mr. Lieberman told the debate's sponsor that he would be unable to attend because of the hefty demands of his Democratic vice-presidential candidacy. His challenger, Philip A. Giordano, mayor of Waterbury, said Mr. Lieberman's withdrawal "displays his arrogance."

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