- The Washington Times - Friday, June 1, 2001

Davis aides boast
Associates of California Gov. Gray Davis are bragging to the media that they outwitted President Bush and his White House political advisers.
"We outfoxed them," chortled Paul Maslin in an interview with Los Angeles Times political columnist George Skelton. "We turned up the heat and made it politically impossible for Bush not to meet" with the Democratic governor during a visit to California this week.
The columnist — who likes to refer to power producers as "pirates" — clearly agreed with the governors men.
"When the president holds a 'summit with a governor, you can figure one of three things: This president — politically — is weak, desperate or inept," Mr. Skelton said. "With President Bush, weve just seen indications of all three."

Worried Kennedys

"Some of Matthew Maxwell Kennedys family members, including U.S. Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, his uncle, are expressing concerns over his planned congressional candidacy, feeling he is not prepared to carry the vaunted Kennedy name into such a tough political battle," the Boston Globe reports, citing anonymous Massachusetts Democratic sources.
"'Teddy doesnt know if he can win, said one official who has been in contact with the senator. 'Theres concern in the family, reporters Frank Phillips and Glen Johnson wrote.
"No one in the family has ever lost a political race in Massachusetts. Kennedy, 36, known as Max, has never before sought elective office, and the congressional contest is drawing strong candidates with deep roots in the district.
"The familys concern crystallized after Kennedy gave a widely ridiculed speech May 17 to the Robert F. Kennedy Action Corps, a charity named for his late father. During the address, he rambled, lost his place, and erupted in nervous laughter. Later that same day, Kennedy stumbled again, referring to retired Supreme Court Justice Byron White as an active member of the high court."

Message to Gore

Wall Street Journal columnist Al Hunt, who is close to many Democrats, is warning Al Gore that if he really wants a rematch with George W. Bush, the former vice president should end his self-imposed silence and "join the political fray now."
"The vice president was given advice in December after his defeat: Dont appear a sore loser, lay low for six to nine months to give the new president a chance," Mr. Hunt writes.
"That was good counsel, at the time. But once energy and the environment became a defining issue for Democrats, the former vice president stuck to a game plan overtaken by events. A politically tone-deaf Al Gore doesnt have the feel to adapt.
"Mr. Gore still could raise funds more easily than most [Democratic presidential] rivals, but it would be harder than last time. Big-money types already are listening to other entreaties.
"One of the more prescient Democratic strategists ventures a good early line: Al Gore would go into a race as the front-runner, but the odds are that a fresher and more politically able Democrat would emerge to defeat him."

Renos charisma

"Recently we heard former Attorney General Janet Reno suggest that she might be interested in running for governor of Florida. I think she might instead consider becoming a country-and-Western singer," political analyst Stuart Rothenberg writes in Roll Call.
"In terms of background, experience, accomplishments and contacts, she clearly would be a credible gubernatorial candidate," Mr. Rothenberg said.
"Still, even forgetting for a moment about the political fallout from Renos handling of controversial issues such as Elian Gonzalez or Waco, it takes more than a resume to be elected governor in most states. It takes 'candidate skills, and I dont see Reno as even beginning to have them.
"Aside from a truly funny appearance on 'Saturday Night Live, Reno, who has the charisma of [Steve] Forbes and the hipness of former Sen. Paul Simon, Illinois Democrat, has never demonstrated much of a personality or shown any warmth. Its extremely hard to see how she would 'connect with voters on any level other than a partisan one."

Kean eyes Senate

"Bush-land is suddenly fired up to find a hot prospect to go after 'The Torch now that New Jersey Sen. [Robert G.] Torricellis legal problems are growing — and popular former Gov. Tom Kean says he may make the run," the New York Posts Deborah Orin writes.
"The new urgency to finding a Republican who can beat Torricelli (the seat is up next year) is also being fueled by the desertion of Vermont Sen. [James M.] Jeffords, who gave Democrats control of the Senate by one vote," she said.
"'Its intriguing, particularly in this kind of a Senate, Kean said in a telephone interview from Drew University, where hes been president since leaving the governors mansion in 1990.
"Kean said its 'too early to decide, but he feels obliged to say 'go or 'no go by late this year, after the New Jersey governors race, where hes helping pal Bob Franks."

Means for governor

American Indian activist Russell Means said he will run for governor of New Mexico in 2002 as a Libertarian, even though a felony conviction could block his candidacy.
Mr. Means, who made his announcement Monday, said he would challenge a new state law that prevents felons from holding office unless they have been pardoned.
"Ive already committed my felonies, so people wont have to worry about me as governor," Mr. Means said.
Mr. Means, convicted in a 1975 clash with police in South Dakota, will register as a Libertarian under the same law, which allows felons to vote after completing their sentences, the Associated Press reports.

Jeffords finger-pointing

Christian Coalition founder Pat Robertson made his harshest criticism to date of President Bush, claiming the White House could have done more to stop the defection of Sen. James M. Jeffords of Vermont from the Republican Party.
In an interview last night on Fox News Channels "The Edge with Paula Zahn," Mr. Robertson said the White House did not fully grasp the importance of the Jeffords situation.
"I believe that the White House could have done more to cultivate Senator Jeffords," he said. "Its so easy if youre a president to pick up the telephone and call somebody … . If the White House wouldnt call a prominent senator, theyre making a terrible mistake."
The Bush administration "didnt act like it was terribly important. I dont think they understood the gravity of it."
The White House has denied deliberately freezing out or seeking to punish Mr. Jeffords.
The preacher compared Mr. Bushs personal rapport unfavorably with the last two presidents, including Mr. Bushs father.
"George Bush Sr. was a master at sending out notes," he said. "Bill Clinton knew how to schmooze people — that goes a long way in politics."

Senate showdown

Democrats seem likely to take control of the Senate on Wednesday, but Republican demands for a way to protect President Bushs nominations may cause a showdown that could slow the reshaping of the chambers committees.
Aides to incoming Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle said yesterday that in negotiations over the shape of the Democratic-controlled Senate, Democrats have offered to take one-seat majorities on panels by adding a Democrat to each, soothing Republican aversion to losing a seat.
A Republican leadership aide said his party will insist on a way to ensure that Democrats do not quosh Mr. Bushs judicial nominations for ideological reasons.
If Democrats do not agree to such a process, the Republican aide warned, negotiations over the new committee roster will be lengthy. In the meantime, he said, Republicans will have majorities on many Senate committees.


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