- The Washington Times - Thursday, September 28, 2000

The horse race

The Los Angeles Times yesterday published its first national presidential poll since early August and found Republican George W. Bush leading Democrat Al Gore by six percentage points, 48 percent to 42 percent.

Mr. Bush had what the newspaper called a "crushing 22-point advantage" among men. Mr. Gore had a seven-point advantage among women.

The CNN/USA Today/Gallup tracking poll released yesterday had Mr. Bush up 46 percent to 44 percent.

The Voter.com Battleground 2000 tracking poll released yesterday showed Mr. Bush ahead, 43 percent to 40 percent.

The Portrait of American www.portraitofamerica.com tracking poll released yesterday showed Mr. Bush with a 44 percent to 42 percent lead.

Hillary at 50%

Hillary Rodham Clinton has reached the 50 percent support level for the first time in her Senate race against Republican Rep. Rick Lazio, according to a poll released yesterday.

Among the likely New York voters questioned, Mr. Lazio trailed with 43 percent, according to the poll issued by the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute.

A Sept. 12 poll by the institute had the first lady leading the congressman from Long Island by 49 percent to 44 percent.

"We know this race is going to be close, but it's nice to hit the big five-o," Clinton spokesman Howard Wolfson said.

Mr. Lazio's campaign played down the new results, the Associated Press reports.

"Polls have been all over the place, so we don't pay much attention to them," spokesman Dan McLagan said. "Essentially, there's no change from the last Quinnipiac poll."

It found the race close in upstate New York, with Mr. Lazio at 46 percent and Mrs. Clinton at 44 percent. In the New York City suburbs, Mr. Lazio led 53 percent to 40 percent, but in the city itself Mrs. Clinton was ahead 67 percent to 39 percent.

Cheney's list

GOP vice-presidential hopeful Richard B. Cheney said that if called upon to take over as president in an emergency, his first move would be to confirm that the chief executive really was incapacitated.

"You'd need to go back and get confirmation," Mr. Cheney told a high school student in Sharon Hills, Pa., who asked what he would do in the first 24 hours if forced to assume the presidency.

Mr. Cheney took the question similar to one asked previously in vice-presidential debates at an appearance at Academy Park High School yesterday morning before flying to Washington to practice for his debate next week with Democratic Sen. Joseph I. Lieberman of Connecticut, the Associated Press reports.

The second thing on Mr. Cheney's list was taking the oath of office. Third, he said, he would let the public know what was happening. The former defense secretary said his next move would be to put international security forces on a safety alert.

Moral obtuseness

"Some readers may wonder what's the big deal about the Clintons rewarding more than 100 Democratic donors with a night in the Lincoln Bedroom or at Camp David since the first lady decided to run for the Senate. After all, these are innocuous perks compared with, say, auctioning off seats on a Commerce Department trade mission or modifying a government regulation to benefit a major donor," USA Today columnist Walter Shapiro writes.

"The problem is that every president sets an ethical tone that sends a signal to others in his administration. During his 1996 re-election effort, Bill Clinton turned 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. into a campaign money factory, devoting countless hours to wooing six-digit donors at White House coffees and slumber parties. No president since Richard Nixon rivals Clinton in his shameless use of the White House for political ends," Mr. Shapiro writes.

"At a news conference Monday, I asked Hillary Rodham Clinton what personal lessons she drew from the 1996 campaign scandals, particularly in terms of the use of the Lincoln Bedroom. The first lady's answer radiated a moral obtuseness that, alas, remains characteristic of the Clintons.

" 'That's been looked into endlessly, and all the conclusions that people can draw are out there to be drawn,' she said. 'And I think that most voters have decided what they think about that.'

"Expressing her support of 'campaign finance reform' six times in the space of the next 100 words, Clinton acted as though her right-thinking stance on the issue inoculated her against all criticism. But campaigns are not dry comparisons of position papers; a candidate's personal record is usually a far better predictor of future behavior."

Amanpour explains

CNN foreign correspondent Christiane Amanpour, under fire for telling the Radio-Television News Directors Association convention that the news media had been too easy on Republican presidential candidate George W. Bush, issued a clarification yesterday.

Mrs. Amanpour married to former Clinton administration State Department spokesman Jamie Rubin had asked the conventioneers: "Why have we given George W. Bush such an easy ride until now when actually his qualifications are questionable?"

In her statement yesterday, she said: "Let me clarify my remarks at the RTNDA. I was discussing international affairs from my perspective as an international correspondent. The views expressed were my own, and not those of CNN. I believe that we as a collective group of journalists need to ask tough questions to those running for president concerning their policies both domestically and abroad.

"This is not a partisan view. Recall the tough question I asked on Bosnia of President Clinton in a globally televised forum in 1994.

"The comment I made about George W. Bush was in a speech about foreign affairs and the coverage of international news. I am sorry if that was not clear. I do not cover politics in the U.S. and I would not have made such a comment in a news report. But a speech is intended to reflect thoughts and opinions, which is what I was doing at the RTNDA."

More smut woes

The security official in charge of investigating the private backgrounds of Commerce Department employees has been suspended for downloading and storing pornography on his government computer, according to www.WorldNetDaily.com.

"It's the latest case of a federal employee misusing government property for personal thrills. Over the past few months, the Clinton administration has suffered a rash of smut-related computer violations," reporter Paul Sperry writes.

Several senior officials at Housing and Urban Development got in trouble after being caught e-mailing pornography from their government computers. And dozens of White House staffers have been caught downloading hard-core porn.

Terminal silliness

"Hillary Clinton and Rick Lazio have agreed to try to ban soft money spent on behalf of their New York Senate campaigns. The operative word is 'try,' because driving money from politics is akin to King Canute commanding the waves to stop," the Wall Street Journal says.

"The agreement is hollow; allies of the two candidates are already making noises they won't comply. And why should they? Other than the parsons of the press and incumbent politicians, everyone knows these bans restrict free speech. That any such notion should enter a political campaign is terminal silliness," the newspaper said in an editorial.

A proud moment

"I feel a certain undeniable pride that women have taken control of the two great male preserves of America politics and sports and ruined them," New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd writes.

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