- The Washington Times - Friday, August 24, 2001

Dole's signal

Now that Sen. Jesse Helms, North Carolina Republican, has announced he will retire in 2002, Elizabeth Dole is wasting no time preparing to run for the open seat. Mrs. Dole has written the Kansas secretary of state's office of her intention to switch her voter registration to North Carolina, CNN reports.

Kansas, of course, is the home of Mrs. Dole's husband, Robert, who served as that state's senator for many years until he quit to focus on a presidential run in 1996.

Mrs. Dole plans to register in her native state of North Carolina within the next few days, CNN said, citing an anonymous source.

Mrs. Dole was in Salisbury, N.C., when Mr. Helms made his retirement announcement Wednesday night. The Los Angeles Times reports that over the past 30 years, Mrs. Dole "has returned home nearly every month to go to parties, lunch at the Big Pig barbecue and spend time with her mother, Mary, who turned 100 this year."

A gentleman

President Bush yesterday praised retiring Sen. Jesse Helms, North Carolina Republican. He also had kind words for Elizabeth Dole, who may run for Mr. Helms' seat next year.

"Senator Helms has served our nation with distinction," Mr. Bush told reporters. "I called him yesterday, had a good visit with him. I told him I appreciated his service to America. He explained to me he and [his wife] Dot wanted to take some time to be together after his term is up, and I said, 'I appreciate that, senator, you served well.'

"I tell you one thing about Senator Helms, he was a gentleman. You may not have agreed with his politics all the time, but he was a gentleman about it. He brought a lot of class, I thought, to the Senate, and he will be missed."

When asked about a possible Dole candidacy, Mr. Bush said he does not get involved in Republican primaries, but that Mrs. Dole "would make a fine candidate."

"I've competed against her once before [as a presidential candidate] and she was formidable and a fine lady, there's no question about that," Mr. Bush said.

Hated by the press

The Media Research Center did not have to look far in its archives to find "numerous examples of hate-filled invective" directed at Sen. Jesse Helms, North Carolina Republican, by journalists.

"In 1997, for instance, George Stephanopoulos called him a 'terrorist.' In 1995, NPR's Nina Totenberg wished he would die: 'If there is retributive justice, he'll get AIDS from a transfusion, or one of his grandchildren will get it.' And in 1994, Bryant Gumbel claimed Helms had earned 'the disrespect and disgust of people from coast to coast,'" Brent Baker writes at www.mrc.org.

Brit Hume of the Fox News Channel commented yesterday to conservative pundit Bill Kristol, "Perhaps few powerful figures in Washington have been more, I don't know if it's too strong a word to say, reviled within the Beltway by the usual institutions. I can't think of a reporter I knew, other than perhaps you and Fred Barnes, Bill, that admired Jesse Helms. He did not get good news coverage, he did not have favorable press at any time."

Nary a mention

"For the first time, as many Americans identify themselves as pro-life as pro-choice, according to a Gallup poll released last week. Just six years ago, the same poll had a 23-point margin, with 56 percent as pro-choice, and only 33 percent as pro-life," Joel Mowbray writes at www.nationalreview.com.

"In light of the historical polling data and conventional political wisdom on abortion, this is nothing short of a minor miracle. And yet, even though the poll has been out for over a week, a search of the New York Times, Washington Post, L.A. Times, and the Associated Press finds nary a mention of this potentially major shift in popular opinion," Mr. Mowbray said.

"Gallup didn't even issue a press release to generate some buzz about this intriguing poll result. It was posted on their Web site, but not on the front page or any page highlighting their latest polls.

"To be perfectly honest, I firmly believe that any single poll must be taken with a grain of salt. However, the media does not abide by this rule when a poll result confirms their liberal instincts."

Gun compromise

The Secret Service and the Utah Republican Party have worked out a compromise gun ban during Vice President Richard B. Cheney's scheduled keynote address Saturday during the state Republican convention in Salt Lake City.

Utah Attorney General Mark Shurtleff and Sandy police have agreed to provide gun lockers outside the convention's security perimeter for safe storage of firearms packed by delegates who are licensed to carry concealed weapons. After Mr. Cheney leaves the building, metal detectors will be removed and conventioneers will be allowed to retrieve their arms for the remainder of the session. "We're pleased with this solution," said Mike Fithen, special agent in charge of the Secret Service's Salt Lake City office. "It certainly works for us."

Even the gun-rights group encouraging protests over the gun ban, and demanding an apology from Mr. Cheney and Utah party officials, has settled down since the compromise, the Salt Lake Tribune reports.

"We see this as being a huge victory for gun owners — not only in Utah, but all over the country," said Sarah Thompson, executive director of the Utah Gun Owners Alliance. "This has really turned around."

Vacation news

Up and out before the sun, President Bush teed off into trees yesterday and sheepishly shrugged: "So, I won't be a professional golfer."

After Mr. Bush took a second shot from the first tee, one man in a waiting foursome said he planned to fetch the president's errant ball as a souvenir. "If you can find the first one, you're a pretty good bird dog," Mr. Bush cracked.

Mr. Bush was out the gate of his Crawford, Texas, ranch by 6:40 a.m. to play his latest round of vacation golf at the Ridgewood Country Club with Texas state Sen. David Sibley and two friends, Roland Betts and Dr. Ned Snider, the Associated Press reports.

Earlier in his hot and dusty Texas respite, Mr. Bush disdained East Coast vacationers for "lying on the beach, sucking in the salt air."

Yesterday, it was the other coast's turn for a poke.

When a member of his entourage told him she had just been at the beach on the West Coast, Mr. Bush asked teasingly: "Brie and cheese?"

Seeing the light

We don't quite know what to make of this tidbit, but pass it along as a public service: Actress Shirley MacLaine views President Bush in a different light from most Hollywood liberals.

New York Post gossip columnist Cindy Adams, without further explanation, quotes the "red-hot Democrat" as saying, "I had a vision. I saw this great white light shining in the Oval Office, enveloping George Bush in its warmth. I now know George Bush is God's divine plan for us."

1,700 percent wrong

At a U.N. conference on the international firearms trade last month, Mary Leigh Blek of the Million Mom March said: "The gun lobby has been talking for 40 minutes. During that time, 40 people have died from the use of small arms and light weapons in this country."

Not so, according to the Statistical Assessment Service.

"One death per minute would result in a whopping 525,600 deaths per year. The actual number of deaths from firearm injuries … in 1998 was 30,708. Ms. Blek's figure is off by about 1,700 percent."

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