- The Washington Times - Tuesday, September 5, 2000


Republican presidential candidate George W. Bush yesterday let slip a salty media critique in an aside to his running mate, Richard B. Cheney.
The campaign of Vice President Al Gore, a onetime seminarian, attacked him for it at once. The journalist who was the target of the remark said his feelings were hurt, too.
Mounting a stage in Naperville, Ill., Mr. Bush spied among those gathered a reporter for the New York Times whom he regards as hostile to his campaign and said to Mr. Cheney: "There's Adam Clymer a major-league [deleted]," employing a vulgar euphemism for a rectal aperture.
Mr. Cheney replied: "Oh, yeah, big time."
Their remarks were not heard by most of those in the audience but were picked up faintly by microphones at the podium and were recorded by several reporters.
Speaking to reporters last night upon his arrival in Allentown, Pa., Mr. Bush said, "I regret the comment I made to the vice-presidential candidate made it to the public airwaves."
But he would not say he regretted making the remark, despite reporters' proddings.
The Gore campaign seemed to be upset not by the offense, if any, to those of tender years in the audience, but by the curt criticism of a friendly reporter.
"Al Gore and the Gore campaign hold the members of the fourth estate in very high regard, including those who write for the paper of record, the New York Times," said Chris Lehane, spokesman for the Democratic presidential nominee.
"Last week, the governor broke his promise not to engage in negative personal attacks when he attacked Al Gore. And now this week, facing increased pressure, he not only is attacking Al Gore, he's also attacking the press."
Asked whether Mr. Gore, no stranger to salty talk himself, had ever spoken sharply of reporters in the privacy of his inner circle, Mr. Lehane did not answer directly. He said only that journalists "should be treated with the respect they deserve."
A reporter asked how much respect the reporters deserved. Mr. Lehane smiled, winked and said: "That's the beauty of the comment."
Bush spokesman Scott McClellan said Mr. Bush's remark was intended as "a whispered aside. And I think most independent observers would agree [Mr. Clymer's] coverage has not been fair."
Quizzed by reporters later in Chicago, Mr. Cheney said only, "The governor made a private comment to me. It was a private comment, and I don't plan to say anything about it."
For his part, Mr. Clymer said he was "disappointed in the governor's language."
Salty and even vulgar language is not unknown in the press entourage, however, and various Bushes have joined in on earlier occasions. Mr. Bush's unsuspecting father was recorded making a similarly candid remark after a 1984 vice-presidential debate with Geraldine Ferraro, joshing to aides that "we kicked a little ass." Barbara Bush, the governor's mother, offered a more ladylike remark on that occasion, that Mrs. Ferraro sometimes acted like "something that rhymes with rich." She later apologized if anyone thought she had implied that Mrs. Ferraro had acted like a "witch."
Dave Boyer in Naperville, Ill., and Bill Sammon in Pittsburgh contributed to this article, which is based in part on wire service reports.

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