- The Washington Times - Monday, April 2, 2001

McCain's supporters

Tim Russert, host of NBC's "Meet the Press," yesterday read Sen. John McCain, Arizona Republican, some new Reuters/ Zogby Group polling data that prompted him to ask the Arizona Republican if he is in the wrong party.
In the poll, people were asked: "In the event of a dispute between Bush and McCain, who would you say is more likely to represent your views?"
The results found that 49 percent of respondents said Mr. McCain would better represent them, and 40 percent said Mr. Bush.
"Now let's look behind those numbers" to find out the political party affiliations of those who answered, Mr. Russert said, adding:
"Democrats: McCain, 69 percent; Bush, 17 percent.
"Independents: McCain, 57 percent; Bush, 31 percent.
"Republicans: McCain, 21 percent; Bush, 72 percent."
Asked if he's in the wrong party, Mr. McCain said, "I don't think so. Look, I'm the party of Abraham Lincoln and Theodore Roosevelt and Ronald Reagan. I'm proud of my record. I'm proud of my commitment to the principles of the party that I love. And I noticed that most of my Republican colleagues were pleased to have me come and campaign for them in the last election."

Lieberman and Gore

Sen. Joseph I. Lieberman, Connecticut Democrat, is pondering a presidential run in 2004 if his former running mate, Al Gore, decides to stay out of the race. But some of Mr. Lieberman's advisers apparently are questioning the wisdom of his imposing that condition.
Interviewed Saturday on CNN's "Evans, Novak, Hunt & Shields," Mr. Lieberman was asked about a report in the New York Times that said he had summoned two dozen political operatives to a meeting to talk about his presidential prospects.
"A number of these people were former Gore advisers who probably are saying it'd be a disaster if Al Gore were to run in 2004. What are you saying when they tell you that?" pundit Al Hunt asked Mr. Lieberman, the Democratic nominee for vice president in last year's election.
"Well, I don't hear that very much. And, you know, this is totally up to Al Gore," the senator said.
The people he met with "have friends who've said they want to be of help, and we just got together to talk about how I could be a better senator," Mr. Lieberman added.
Mr. Hunt then asked if the outcome of media vote recounts in Florida might affect the prospects of Mr. Gore's seeking a rematch with President Bush.
Mr. Lieberman said he does not know the answer to that question.
"You know, I keep in touch with the former vice president, and he's very focused on his teaching, on his lecturing. He's writing a book with Tipper about family and about families. And I don't think he's thinking about anything politically in the future yet. I'm sure he will, but I think not now," Mr. Lieberman said.

Blatant abuser

"Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton's excuse that she needs the priciest hometown office space because of her huge troop of interns is drawing fire from ethics watchdogs, who say she is flouting employment rules," Paul Bedard writes in U.S. News & World Report.
"Explaining the need for a large, $514,148-a-year Manhattan suite, Clinton says she has to house 60 interns to handle constituent casework. But rules on page 112 of the closely held Senate Ethics Manual say interns shouldn't handle 'official or officially connected activities of the Senate office.' Volunteers are there for their 'educational benefit.'
"Says a Hill critic considering a General Accounting Office probe: 'There are privacy issues involved with that casework and workplace rules she's violating.' Senator C isn't the only slave driver. 'This has always been something to be concerned about,' says Pete Sepp of the National Taxpayers Union Foundation. 'But with 60 volunteers, she's probably the most blatant abuser.' Clinton's spokesman, Jim Kennedy, artfully blows it off: 'The interns we have are here for education purposes, and they are used in the same way as [for] other senators.' So there."

Anybody but Berry

Mary Francis Berry, head of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, in a recent address to about 20 people at a Pennsylvania community college, said out loud what few could doubt: She really wishes Al Gore had won the election. She also said she feared for the economy and the judiciary under the Bush administration.
"It ought to go without saying that someone claiming to investigate the conduct of last November's election shouldn't run around complaining about the consequences of Gore's defeat," John J. Miller and Ramesh Ponnuru write at nationalreview.com.
"The problem is that when Berry and her partisan commission finally issue a report, it will receive lots of attention in the press. The New York Times probably will treat it with grand seriousness, even though the commission, after two lengthy public hearings in Florida, has yet to identify a single legal violation on the part of any public official responsible for elections," the writers said.
"The Bush administration shouldn't take this abuse idly. One thing it can do now is to remove Berry as head of the commission. She'll still be a commissioner, but she won't hold the title or necessarily run the meetings. Because other commissioners must approve a new chairman, and because Democrats currently control six of the commission's eight seats, this might entail temporarily elevating another Democrat, such as Yvonne Lee. Almost anybody would be better than Berry.
"In November, Bush gets to replace two of the Democratic commissioners, and he can pick a new chairman then. A perhaps even more important step would be to replace four key presidential appointees who work at the staff level and lead the Florida probe on a daily basis. They are staff director Les Gin, general counsel Edward Hailes, and special assistants Kim Alton and Joshua Gottheimer. Each is a Clinton holdover, now operating in the Bush administration with the specific goal of undermining it."

Bernadette's friends

New York State Parks Commissioner Bernadette Castro, 57, who is on the short list to head the National Parks Service, has attracted broad support to boost her chances everyone from the governor to radio personality Don Imus.
The irrepressible Mr. Imus was on a recent tour of the state's parks and says that everywhere he went veteran employees told him she was the only commissioner they had ever seen. "She's sensitive to our needs," added Mr. Imus, who owns a ranch in New Mexico, "and she knows we don't want people coming in and tearing up our land and telling us what to do."
Republican Gov. George E. Pataki, a Yale classmate of George W. Bush's, is in favor of a promotion for his loyal parks commissioner, who campaigned with him down to the wire in 1994 when he defeated Democratic Gov. Mario Cuomo.
"Bernadette loves the outdoors and loves family fun. In my view, she's the best parks commissioner in the nation and it shows in our parks," Mr. Pataki said.
Is that an endorsement?
"Sounds like a recommendation to me," said Suzanne Morris, a press aide to the governor. Other pro-Castro voices include actress Bette Midler, a parks advocate, and David and Laurence Rockefeller.

No TV, please

Senate Majority Whip Don Nickles, Oklahoma Republican, was asked yesterday whether the May 16 execution of Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh should be televised.
"No. I sponsored the legislation to allow closed-circuit TV for the victims to see the trial. But I don't think televising the execution would be the right thing to do," Mr. Nickles said on ABC's "This Week."
That view was supported by Sen. John Edwards, North Carolina Democrat, who was also on the program. "I think we should do everything we can to allow the victims to have access, but I think televising is probably not a great idea," Mr. Edwards said.

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