- The Washington Times - Monday, April 15, 2002

Behind the times
Senate Minority Leader Trent Lott said yesterday that Al Gore, in his ballyhooed return to politics, appeared to have fallen behind the times.
Mr. Gore, the failed Democratic presidential nominee in 2000, "just didn't seem to connect with what was going on with the American people today," Mr. Lott, a Mississippi Republican, told CNN's "Late Edition."
Mr. Gore received a hero's welcome Saturday in Orlando, Fla., in his first appearance in the state since the recount battle there that marked the disputed 2000 White House election.
Speaking before about 2,500 party activists, Mr. Gore ripped President Bush's domestic policies, particularly on the environment and the economy.
Mr. Gore, who has yet to say if he will make another White House bid, said he stood with Mr. Bush in the war on terrorism but added that patriotism "means speaking up."
Mr. Lott, asked if he believed Mr. Gore was trying to make a political comeback, noted, "Well, he seems to be trying and trying again. He has shaven his whiskers off his face.
"But you know what struck me was that here we are dealing with very critical situations around the world and fighting terrorism in Afghanistan, the delicate situation in the Middle East, the turmoil in Venezuela, the need for the United States Senate to move on energy legislation, trade legislation, on the budget, and his comments didn't seem to be connected with anything that's going on," Mr. Lott said.

Biden waits, watches
Sen, Joseph R. Biden Jr., Delaware Democrat, was asked Saturday why he wasn't in Florida that day with other Democratic presidential hopefuls "for the first cattle show of this election cycle."
"I'm running for re-election in Delaware right now," Mr. Biden, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, told Robert Novak on CNN's "Novak, Hunt & Shields."
"So you're not interested in the presidency?" Mr. Novak asked.
"No, I didn't say that. I said I'm running for re-election in Delaware right now. That's why I'm here," Mr. Biden replied, to laughter.
Al Hunt then asked Mr. Biden when he will decide if he's going to run for president in 2004.
"I have to make that decision by January. Some argue that's even too late. But I don't know enough to know whether or not I should run," said Mr. Biden.
"And, quite frankly, part of whether I run or not depends upon if the president does the kind of job I think he can do on foreign policy. I don't feel any real obligation to put my hat in the ring. If things slipped away they might then I would feel more of an obligation personally to get into the fray."
The senator, who made an unsuccessful bid for president in 1988, said a bid in 2004 would be a personal decision as no one is drafting him for the top spot on the Democratic ticket at this time.

Kyl vs. Daschle
Sen. Jon Kyl, Arizona Republican, says the Bush administration is keeping Congress well-informed about the war on terrorism.
Mr. Kyl's opinion clashes with statements by Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle, who has charged that Congress is being kept in the dark.
"Almost every week or two, we get a briefing from [Defense] Secretary [Donald H.] Rumsfeld; from the head of the CIA; from people like [Deputy Defense Secretary] Paul Wolfowitz," Mr. Kyl, a member of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, said on CNN's "Saturday Edition with Kate Snow."
What's more, he said, Secretary of State Colin L. Powell "has been there," as have members of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
"So, we get a lot of briefings. And, of course, in his position as majority leader, Tom Daschle has but to ask, and his questions will be answered," Mr. Kyl said.

Reno's troubles
"Florida political fortunes can shift like sand, as Janet Reno is finding out," Rod Thomson writes at National Review Online (www.nationalreview.com).
"When she announced her candidacy last year, Reno was the putative lock for the Democratic nomination to run against Gov. Jeb Bush. She had phenomenal name recognition after spending most of the '90s as Bill Clinton's attorney general; the immediate backing of certain party elements; and the reputed ability to raise campaign cash, at least outside the state. Additionally, there were no heavyweights running against her. It looked like a Bush vs. Reno showdown a referendum of sorts on the presidencies of George W. and Clinton," said Mr. Thomson, a free-lance writer in Florida.
"Now, however, Reno is in a full-throttle battle just to get the nomination a battle that promises to bruise whoever is the ultimate challenger to Bush.
"Previously unknown Tampa lawyer Bill McBride, who has never held public office, is piling up endorsements with his 'worker-friendly' rhetoric and proposals to open the spigot on state-government spending for health care and public schools. He has been campaigning full-time on these core Democratic issues and it has paid off.
"In January, the Florida Education Association, with its 120,000 members, stunned political watchers when it endorsed no-name McBride. Several smaller, independent teacher associations such as the 30,000-member United Teachers of Dade also publicly backed McBride. And in a further blow, the 500,000-member AFL-CIO endorsed McBride in March. His campaign has now attained the critical mass of credibility needed to attract real money backing."

Candidate sweats it out
A computer salesman challenging Pennsylvania Rep. Bill Shuster in the Republican primary is carrying out a different kind of campaign a 500-mile walking tour of the congressional district.
"I think anybody who wants to be a congressman should have to break a sweat, and I'm breaking a sweat," said David Keller, 32.
Mr. Keller faces an uphill battle against Mr. Shuster, who has just returned from a high-profile trip to Afghanistan. Mr. Shuster is the son of longtime Republican Rep. Bud Shuster, who retired last year.
Mr. Keller also faces the possibility that some of his miles of walking will have been in vain, the Associated Press reports. A court ruling last week invalidated the state's current congressional districts, and Republican legislative leaders are still appealing to avoid having the lines redrawn.
The campaign is already beginning to wear on the young candidate, who took a two-month leave from his job.
"I think it's a shinsplint," Mr. Keller said from a road in Reels Corner in southwest Pennsylvania. He has been hopscotching between his walking route and his Chambersburg home each day, with his father accompanying him in an aging station wagon.

Clinton's secret
"Bill Clinton is telling friends that he will hit the road this summer to help at least 30 U.S congressmen and Senators raise money for their re-election campaigns. But his office won't divulge who those candidates are, or even in which states they reside. Neither will the Democratic National Committee or the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee or the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee," the Prowler column notes at www.americanprowler.com.
"So what's the deal? '[DNC Chairman] Terry McAuliffe is keeping Clinton's locations secret,' says a party fund-raiser. 'He wants the candidates to have the privilege of announcing that Clinton will be their big fund-raising attraction.'
"A staffer on the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee says he, too, has heard that excuse, but says fund-raisers on the House and Senate campaign committees have heard another reason. 'Clinton asked them not make the announcements because he doesn't want there to be adverse publicity too far in advance of his arrival,' says the staffer. 'He's concerned about protesters and organized opposition to his appearances.'"

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