- The Washington Times - Thursday, October 19, 2000

Chance meeting?

Sen. Joseph I. Lieberman greeted Nation of Islam Chief of Staff Leonard F. Muhammad during a campaign appearance in Chicago and “reaffirmed his desire” to meet with Louis Farrakhan, according to the organization’s newspaper.

The Web site of the Final Call features a photograph of Mr. Lieberman talking to the Nation of Islam chief of staff during an interfaith breakfast Aug. 28.

The newspaper reports that “campaign officials facilitated a face-to-face meeting between Senator Lieberman and Leonard Farrakhan Muhammad, the Nation of Islam chief of staff, during a Chicago campaign appearance.”

But the Lieberman campaign says the Connecticut senator met with Mr. Muhammad by chance.

“This was an interfaith breakfast that Senator Lieberman attended with over 200 leaders from different faiths representing a broad range of denominations,” most of them Christian and Jewish, said Dan Gerstein, a spokesman for Mr. Lieberman.

“There was no effort” by Mr. Lieberman’s campaign “to facilitate a meeting,” Mr. Gerstein said. “We did not know that he was there” beforehand.

Jewish leaders have urged Mr. Lieberman not to meet with Mr. Farrakhan. They say such a meeting would lend legitimacy to Mr. Farrakhan, who has called Judaism a “gutter religion.”

‘Chain-Saw Al’

Vice President Al Gore, in the presidential debate Tuesday, once again “presented himself as the Man of Many Faces,” USA Today political columnist Walter Shapiro writes.

“In place of Exaggerator Al from the Boston debate and Agreeable Al who briefly surfaced last week, the vice president became Chain-Saw Al, although he softened his over-caffeinated tone as the evening wore on. In the biggest debate of his political career, Gore resorted to relentless counter-punching, constant refrains of ‘I’ll fight for you’ rhetoric and a self-defeating compulsion to rattle off his resume (he brought up his Vietnam service twice) at every opportunity,” Mr. Shapiro said.

“Gore deserves plaudits for his range as an actor during the debates. But as a would-be president, his technically adroit, though not always likable, performance in St. Louis was less satisfying. Americans prize competence and emotional reassurance in a president, but they also value steadfast predictability. The question for Gore remains what it has been for months: Can we trust a candidate this changeable to do what he vows he’ll do in the White House?”

‘Playing to type’

“It took about, oh, a minute into [Tuesday] night’s presidential debate to tell which Al Gore had shown up: It was the aggressive, attacking Al Gore,” Wall Street Journal columnist Gerald F. Seib writes.

“And it took about five minutes to figure out where the great divide would lie in this third and final confrontation between the two presidential candidates.

“On one side was Mr. Gore, full of proposals and programs, facts and figures, bills and reports.

“Across the platform was Republican George W. Bush, talking of philosophies and principles, common sense and consensus, leadership style more than legislative proposals,” Mr. Seib said.

“In performing this way, each candidate played to what he has determined to be his strength and personified the split personality of this entire presidential campaign. Mr. Gore knows he’s expected to be the brainiac in this race, and [Tuesday] night he played the part with relish.

“And Mr. Bush knows that he’s expected to be the folksy and friendly leader who’s big on consensus and short on Washington’s arcane policy debates and proud of it.

“Thus the two candidates were playing to type, one an expert and the other a self-proclaimed leader… .”

Gore’s Tennessee blues

“Perhaps the best clue to how worried Democrats are these days is the fact that Al Gore plans to stump next week in his home state of Tennessee, and President Clinton’s Arkansas to boot,” the New York Post’s Deborah Orin writes.

“It’s not unheard of for a presidential contender to lose his home state and still win the White House. James K. Polk, also from Tennessee, did it way back in 1844,” Miss Orin said.

“But the last White House wannabe to lose his home state was George McGovern (South Dakota) in 1972.

” ‘This is a competitive race just about everywhere,’ said Gore campaign Chairman Bill Daley though he admitted that’s not true in Texas Gov. George W. Bush’s home state. Mr. Bush will win there by a landslide.

“Those electoral votes add up: 11 from Tennessee and six from Arkansas are nothing to be sneezed at.”

Baucus accused

The former chief of staff for Sen. Max Baucus sued the Montana Democrat yesterday, accusing him of firing her for rebuffing his sexual advances.

Christine Niedermeier is seeking $300,000 in damages in the sexual harassment case filed in federal court, the Associated Press reports.

Mike Siegel, a Baucus spokesman, said the charges are “completely, 100 percent, clearly false” and “border on harassment of Senator Baucus, his friends, family and staff.”

The senator has said he fired Miss Niedermeier because he faced a revolt by staffers over her management style.

Miss Niedermeier originally lodged a complaint in 1999 with the Office of Compliance, a legislative agency charged with mediating such disputes. Mediation failed, and Miss Niedermeier decided at the time not to sue.

She said yesterday that she had decided not to sue “in the hope of moving on with my personal life and restarting my career in public service.” But she said Mr. Baucus and his aides had sabotaged her yearlong effort to find another job by refusing to give a positive recommendation.

A promise unkept

Ralph Nader is busy campaigning for president, but folks back in his hometown of Winsted, Conn., wonder if the Green Party candidate has forgotten a promise he made two years ago to open a museum of tort law there.

“I wonder if he’d be the same kind of president. You know, two years later, nothing’s been done,” one longtime resident of the city told Boston Globe reporter Joanna Weiss.

The Nader family owns the would-be site of the museum, a four-story brick building that once served as an electrical-coil factory, and won a state grant to renovate the structure and turn it into a business incubator.

“But while the roof and windows were fixed, the incubator never took off. The building remains empty, except for a few offices downstairs: a private agricultural-policy law office, and a ‘community lawyer’ funded by the Naders’ trust,” the reporter writes.

Jobs in the balance

The Detroit News yesterday published the first of three editorials on Al Gore’s opposition to the internal-combustion engine, as explicated in his book, “Earth in the Balance.”

The newspaper predicted Mr. Gore “would press an environmental agenda at the expense of Michigan,” and said his election “threatens to expose Detroit to unparalleled government interference.”

“Clearly, it’s the auto industry that’s in the balance in this,” the newspaper said, forecasting job losses that could total 96,500 in Michigan alone.

Polling corner

Republican George W. Bush was ahead of Democrat Al Gore in two national tracking polls released yesterday, but a third survey showed a tie.

All three polls were taken before Tuesday night’s presidential debate.

The Voter.com Battleground 2000 survey gave Mr. Bush the edge, 42 percent to 40 percent.

The Portrait of America poll (www.portraitofamerica.com) found a larger lead for Mr. Bush, 47 percent to 40 percent.

The MSNBC-Reuters-Zogby poll had the race knotted at 43 percent each.

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