- The Washington Times - Monday, December 31, 2001

Reich's decision
Former Labor Secretary Robert Reich said yesterday he will make a decision within the next couple of weeks on whether to run for governor of Massachusetts in 2002.
"I'm talking to a lot of people right now about it," the Democrat said on CNN's "Late Edition."
"We have a kind of crisis in leadership up here in Massachusetts and in this recession a lot of people are hurting, so I'm giving it a lot of very serious consideration and I will make a decision in the next couple of weeks," the former Clinton administration official said.
Jane Swift, a Republican, has been acting governor since April, when Gov. Paul Cellucci became U.S. ambassador to Canada. Mrs. Swift is widely expected to seek a full term as governor in the November election.
Mr. Reich has been teaching at Brandeis University in the Boston suburb of Waltham.
During the same news program, former presidential candidate Steve Forbes said he had no plans to run for political office but left his options open, Reuters reports.
"You never say never, but no plans right now," Mr. Forbes said.

Assistant Senate Minority Leader Don Nickles says he doubts that a deadline of Jan. 18, set by Congress for requiring airlines to screen all checked baggage, is "realistic."
Tim Russert, host of NBC's "Meet the Press," said the airline industry claims it needs 2,000 machines to screen luggage, and only 160 exist. He said the industry suggests the machines will cost $5 billion, and Congress has authorized only $97 million.
Mr. Nickles, Oklahoma Republican, said the federal government obviously has a responsibility to help the airlines acquire the machines, because it mandated the luggage screening to improve airline safety. "Now, whether that's $5 billion, whether it's $2 billion. I'm not sure of exact figures," he said.
Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle, who also appeared on the show, was asked if the Jan. 18 deadline must be met.
"I think if it's at all possible, they must get it done. Clearly, we've got to pull out all the stops. We've got to do whatever is required to ensure that we're ready; that's the law. We can't violate the law this soon after it's been passed. It would make a mockery of the intent of both the Congress and the administration to deal with the issue effectively," the South Dakota Democrat said.

Newt Gingrich, the Republican former speaker of the House, appeared on ABC's "This Week" and was asked by newsman Sam Donaldson whether President Bush can maintain his popularity in the new year.
"I think the president's popularity, Sam, is based on the fact that, first, he rose to the challenge, and after September 11 was both a very effective leader of the American people, a very strong commander in chief, and clearly the leading figure in the world in terms of government figures, in a way that I think impressed people," Mr. Gingrich said.
"But beyond that, when you watch him there's a practical, down-to-earth quality to George W. Bush that I think sticks with the American people. And whereas historically presidents have had bumps in, you know, support, and then it's declined again, he's already had a strong period of support longer than most presidents.
"And to some extent, it's in the John F. Kennedy-Franklin Delano Roosevelt kind of model, where people are beginning to really like the person. And with a depth that transcends policy, and they feel comfortable with President and Mrs. Bush in a way that I think does resemble, to some extent, for our generation when we were young, the way John F. Kennedy took hold or, in 1933 and '34, the way FDR did."

Texas infighting
"A year after President-elect George W. Bush chose the Texas House of Representatives as the setting for his campaign victory speech saying it embodied the bipartisanship he hoped to bring to fractious Washington that chamber is awash in intrigue and infighting in the aftermath of political redistricting," the New York Times reports.
"The hard feelings emerged last month after a panel of three federal judges approved a Republican-drafted legislative redistricting map that is expected to transfer control of the House to Republicans for the first time in more than a century. Several prominent Democrats have since announced they would not seek re-election because they were either paired with other incumbent Democrats or pushed into unfamiliar districts," reporter Jim Yardley writes.
"'They were after maximizing the number of Republicans that can be elected,' said Zeb Zbranek, an East Texas Democrat who is stepping down after being placed in the same district as two other Democratic incumbents. 'It was purely political.'
"Meanwhile, even though the biennial Legislature will not convene again until January 2003, a furious behind-the-scenes political race is already under way among Republican lawmakers positioning themselves to be the next House speaker, the job currently held by a Democrat, Pete Laney. It was Mr. Laney whom Mr. Bush held out as a symbol of bipartisanship and selected to introduce him for the nationally televised speech last December."

Rosie and Reno
Talk show host Rosie O'Donnell hosted a $250-per-person fund-raiser in Miami yesterday for Janet Reno, the former U.S. attorney general and a Democratic candidate for governor.
"When I heard that she was running, I called up her office and told her I would do any and everything I can," Miss O'Donnell said.
Miss O'Donnell was hoping to raise $50,000 for Miss Reno, one of five Democrats attempting to unseat Gov. Jeb Bush.
The comedian owns a home on Miami Beach's Star Island, a gated community of mansions along Biscayne Bay. The closed event was held at a private home.
Analysts said the appearance with Miss O'Donnell could pose problems for Miss Reno when she attempts to court voters in areas heavily composed of gun owners, sportsmen and military personnel. "Anything that connects Reno to gun control means Democrats lose big in north Florida," said Susan MacManus, a political scientist at the University of South Florida in Tampa.

Watts and Jackson
House Republican Conference Chairman J.C. Watts Jr., interviewed Saturday on CNN's "Novak, Hunt & Shields," was asked by pundit Mark Shields if Jesse Jackson is "still the dominant African-American leader, politically, in this country."
The black Oklahoma Republican, well-known for his own political skills and diplomacy, never answered that question directly.
Instead, Mr. Watts said: "Well, Mark good, bad, or indifferent, I think that Jesse Jackson is still a very viable player in the black community. I think he has proven that. He continues to prove that.
"So, yes, I do believe that Jesse Jackson is still a player, a viable player on the political front, on the economic front in the black community," Mr. Watts said.
Reminding Mr. Watts that Republicans have lost seats in the House in the past three elections, Mr. Shields asked him if 2002 will be the year they "finally lose their razor-thin majority."
"I don't think it is," Mr. Watts replied. "I think we're positioned very well due to redistricting [and] due to the record we've established concerning policy, due to the policy successes we've had over the last year."

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