- The Washington Times - Friday, August 31, 2001

Schundler's task

Bret Schundler, the Republican candidate for governor of New Jersey, "is lagging well behind his Democratic opponent, James E. McGreevey, both in the polls, which show Mr. McGreevey with a widening lead of nearly 20 percentage points, and in the crucial area of fund-raising," The New York Times reports.

"And in the coming weeks, his own aides say, he will come under mounting pressure to trim Mr. McGreevey's lead or risk being written off by fellow Republicans, within the state and beyond," reporter David M. Halbfinger writes.

The reporter adds: "With nearly 10 weeks remaining until the election, of course, anything is possible. New Jersey elections are won and lost, more and more, with television commercials, and the real advertising blitzes have yet to begin. And while state Democrats hold a huge financial lead, that balance could be reversed if the Republican National Committee's plan to spend unlimited amounts for advertisements aiding Mr. Schundler's campaign survives a court challenge by Mr. McGreevey's lawyers."

High on the hog

"Democratic leaders in Congress are all in a tizzy, claiming that President Bush broke the bank with his $300 tax rebate, but they're a lot less miserly when it comes to spending taxpayer bucks on themselves," the New York Post's Deborah Orin writes.

"U.S. Navy figures obtained by the Post show taxpayers shelled out more than $250,000 to help House Democratic leader Dick Gephardt jet across Europe to rev up his attack on Bush's foreign policy," Miss Orin said.

"Gephardt's July 1-9 trip to Brussels, Berlin, Moscow and London cost $231,426 for use of a Navy C-32 — a Boeing 757 configured for VIPs with just 42 first-class seats and a stateroom.

"Another $4,788.76 went for on-board supplies for the jet-setters, including a chocolate mousse tower, filet mignon, chicken stuffed with mushrooms and suntan lotion.

"And that doesn't count the cost of meals and eight nights at hotels like the Brussels Hilton (corporate rate, $276), Berlin Hilton ($184), Moscow National ($218) and London's posh Grosvenor House ($425)."

Mr. Gephardt brought along his wife, six staffers, eight other congressmen, wives of four congressman and three military staffers as VIP escorts, Miss Orin said.

"Of the nine lawmakers, all but one were Democrats and only two are on the House International Relations Committee."

Examples, please

"When a prominent columnist accuses an even more prominent politician of being a 'racist' — in the headline of his column, no less — it might be a good idea for him to provide actual examples of manifest racism.

"David Broder's latest Washington Post column, starkly titled 'Jesse Helms, White Racist,' does no such thing," John J. Miller and Ramesh Ponnuru write at nationalreview.com.

"Writes Broder: 'What is unique about Helms — and from my viewpoint, unforgivable — is his willingness to pick at the scab of the great wound of American history, the legacy of slavery and segregation, and to inflame racial resentment against African-Americans.'

"Broder's first piece of evidence is a negative characterization of Helms's 1984 re-election campaign by another reporter whom he describes as 'one of the most evenhanded reporters I have ever known.' People who consider David Broder an authority on evenhandedness will find that convincing," the writers said.

"Broder goes on to criticize Helms's opposition to a national holiday for Martin Luther King Jr. and his 1990 campaign commercial denouncing employment quotas. Opposition to neither the holiday nor quotas need be motivated by racism.

"One need not take the view of Walter Russell Mead — who concluded in the Wall Street Journal last week that Helms helped ensure 'the triumph of the civil-rights revolution' by refraining from lawlessness — to see that Broder hasn't made his case."

Hollings and Thurmond

Sen. Ernest "Fritz" Hollings, South Carolina Democrat, says his colleague, Strom Thurmond, is no longer "mentally keen," but stays in the Senate because he has nowhere else to go.

Mr. Hollings' remarks about Mr. Thurmond, a South Carolina Republican and the Senate's oldest and longest-serving member, came in an interview Wednesday with the Greenville News.

The newspaper said Mr. Hollings, 79, did not seem to want to talk about Mr. Thurmond, 98. But he eventually said it is "sad because the poor fellow doesn't have any place to go, if you think on it."

"Someone has said the best nursing home is the U.S. Senate," he said. "He's got a car, a place to stay and somebody over there at night at the apartment with him. If he's well enough, he's in the pool for a few laps."

Thurmond spokeswoman Genevieve Erny said Mr. Thurmond told her she did not need to respond to Mr. Hollings' "off-the-cuff" remarks, the Associated Press reports.

Mr. Hollings told the newspaper that Mr. Thurmond's degenerative hip condition causes him to shuffle.

"With age, the shuffling makes him look, I guess, more aged," Mr. Hollings said. "He's not mentally keen. He's alert, he's awake and they get him to votes and lead him around."

When asked if Mr. Thurmond is mentally diminished, Mr. Hollings said "there's no question about that."

When asked if Mr. Thurmond should step down, Mr. Hollings forcefully said, "No," then added, "You don't want to ruin Hollings now, good God."

Mr. Thurmond has said he will not seek re-election in 2002.

Hollings spokesman Andy Davis said yesterday that the two men are friends and Mr. Hollings meant no ill will.

Absentee voter

Rep. Bob Stump, Arizona Republican, has admitted that he never lived in the precinct where he has voted during his 41 years as an elected official.

Mr. Stump said that since 1980 he has lived in Phoenix, 17 miles from the 80-acre farm in Tolleson that he lists as his voting address. Arizona elections director Jessica Funkhouser said she will look into the matter, the Associated Press reports.

Residency is not a requirement for a congressional run, but is a requirement for voting. State laws require that voters cast ballots where they have "actual physical presence."

"It's a serious allegation," Miss Funkhouser told the Arizona Republic on Tuesday. "We've never seen precisely this."

Mr. Stump, 74, said he plans to seek re-election to the House, where he has served for 25 years and is chairman of the House Armed Services Committee. He previously served 16 years in the Arizona Legislature.

Mr. Stump said he has farmed in the Tolleson area all his life, but never lived there.

Stump spokeswoman Lisa Atkins told the Republic that the congressman has taken no action to change his registration.

Just having fun

Bill Clinton is having a fine time adjusting to life after the White House, his wife says.

"He's doing great," said Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, New York Democrat, in an interview with the Associated Press on Wednesday.

"He's not anywhere near retired," she added. "I don't think he knows the meaning of the word."

The senator said her husband was "actively involved in a lot of causes, and he's traveling widely on both his speaking tour and his not-for-profit activities."

"He's having a really good time. He gets to play golf a lot, which he loves, and he gets to go to beautiful places," she said as she prepared to leave a diner just north of Albany, N.Y., for a meeting with local officials in nearby Troy. "He's down in Brazil right now."

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