- The Washington Times - Friday, August 9, 2002

Bob's not Tony

The world thinks New Jersey yields nothing but "The Sopranos" version of life, laments Newark Star-Ledger columnist Paul Mulshine.

"And I'm sure that all but a few of them perceive Bob Torricelli as a scrappy guy who grew up on the mean streets of Jersey and clawed his way to the top.

"Nothing could be further from the truth. Torricelli's life story doesn't come out of Mario Puzo's 'The Godfather.' It comes out of Lisa Birnbach's 'The Preppie Handbook.' Torricelli didn't attend some gritty inner-city high school. He attended Storm King Preparatory School in Cornwall-on-the-Hudson, N.Y. His dad was a lawyer. His mom was a professor of library science.

"There's nothing wrong with being a rich kid. But that privileged upbringing is supposed to be accompanied by a bit of noblesse oblige. People from the horse country, where Torricelli recently purchased an estate, are supposed to conduct themselves with a certain restraint. The Torch, on the other hand, is notorious for screaming, shouting, slamming down phones and as [former Sen. Frank] Lautenberg attested threatening to cut off key parts of his rivals' anatomy."

And the numbers

"The ethics issue continues to take its toll on New Jersey Sen. Robert G. Torricelli who has lost support and now is locked in a dead heat with Republican challenger Douglas Forrester," a Quinnipiac University poll noted yesterday.

Mr. Torricelli and Mr. Forrester each get 37 percent, with 19 percent undecided. A June poll gave the Democratic incumbent a 44 percent to 36 percent lead, with 16 percent undecided.

Elvis is everywhere

As the 25th anniversary of his passing approaches Aug. 16, some say Elvis Presley is bigger in death than he was in life, may God rest his soul.

But the city of Memphis knows one real truth.

"Our grand city, Memphis, Tennessee, is recognized as the home of Elvis Presley and as the birthplace of the blues," the fair town notes on its official Web site.

"Did you know that Elvis's home, Graceland, is the second most visited house in the country behind the White House in Washington, D.C.?"

Why he really lost

Reinvented American rock 'n' roller Bruce Springsteen is on a national tour with rave reviews and tickets at $77 a head.

But not everyone wants to shell out the moolah, Fox News reports.

Former Vice President Al Gore and wife Tipper hoped to land free Springsteen tickets for the entire Gore staff, but were told that such a generous gesture was nearly impossible. Mrs. Gore persisted in her quest, though.

"They wound up being offered four," a source told Fox. "But when they were asked to pay $75 apiece, they said forget it. And you know, that's why Gore isn't president, in a nutshell."

Movin' on up

Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton's political fund-raising machine is pulling in so much cash, she has moved to a bigger Manhattan office, the New York Post reports.

Mrs. Clinton, who rented space from the New York State Democratic Party for more than a year, has signed a deal for a two-office suite at 15 E. 26th St., complete with a "sweeping view of Madison Square Park."

Her rent was once $562 a month.

"Now she'll have to cough up roughly $3,103 a month. That's a lot more than before, but a sum that HILLPAC her political-action committee can easily afford. She'll continue to maintain her main HILLPAC office in D.C.," the Post said.

Mrs. Clinton recently raised over $1 million for her PAC, pulling in more money than senior lawmakers and even outpacing fellow New York Democrat Sen. Charles E. Schumer, who has $8.8 million on hand.

A busy girl

Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton wants to go to the Lone Star State, perhaps with an unusual entourage. The New York Democrat wants to lobby President Bush for some World Trade Center aid, and may bring along firefighters and ironworkers to enhance her plea for a health-tracking system and better radios for emergency workers.

"If I get invited, I'll be there," Mrs. Clinton told reporters yesterday. "I feel so strongly about this that I would be more than willing to travel to Crawford, Texas, to make my case to the president in person."

She even volunteered to "put on a pair of work gloves."

"I am sure the guys I bring with me will be happy to help out," she added.

Something to spin

Republicans rewarded Erskine Bowles, a North Carolina Democrat seeking a seat in the Senate, after he finally mentioned his former boss. Early in his campaign, Mr. Bowles once Bill Clinton's chief of staff did not refer to Mr. Clinton by name. The former president remains unpopular among Tarheels.

Chided by Republicans, Mr. Bowles finally alluded to Mr. Clinton. This week, he went further:

"Bowles, sensing that Republicans are vulnerable on jobs and finances, also said Monday that Congress acted 'rashly' when it passed a $1 trillion package of tax cuts President Bush sought," reported the Raleigh News & Record. "The measure approved last year was 'too big,' Bowles said, and it depleted surpluses that came about from budgets he helped to negotiate while Clinton's chief of staff."

The folks at the National Republican Senatorial Committee couldn't resist. They bought a recording of Tammy Wynette's "Stand by Your Man" on EBay and mailed it off to Mr. Bowles with appropriate greetings:

"What worries us is that politics alone persuaded you to stand behind your record. And when the political winds change, you may retreat from your past as a loyal Clinton foot soldier," wrote Mitch Bainwol of the NRSC. "We thought we'd give you this gift Tammy Wynette's 'Stand By Your Man' in the hopes that this 'record' will help you continue to tout your own 'record.'"

Negative results

"Maybe it's just anecdotal, but it sure seems to us that we're seeing more pre-Labor Day negative TV ads than we've ever seen," the National Journal's Hotline reported yesterday.

Their sharp-eyed observers have monitored early mean-spirited stuff in Florida, California, Texas, Oregon, Maine, North Carolina, New Hampshire and South Dakota.

"Could strategists be prepping for what could be a seven-to-10-day no-negative TV ad blackout around the 9/11 anniversary?" the Hotline wonders. "How many candidates have already filmed their firefighter/police officer/wrap-themselves-in-the-flag spot to run during the 9-11 remembrances? And will running ads with this theme play well or look exploitative?"

Jackson's mission

The Rev. Jesse Jackson wants the United States to shepherd Israelis and Palestinians to the peace table. "The U.S. government really has the capacity, if it has the will, to convene both sides today. It has shown no inclination to do so," he said yesterday.

Mr. Jackson met last week with Palestinian President Yasser Arafat, the Palestinian Authority Cabinet and Israeli leaders, as well as religious leaders from both sides.

He said they made progress: Israel agreed to let trucks wait at Jordanian and Egyptian borders to deliver supplies to Palestinians, expanded the number of job permits and extended the fishing zone.

Mr. Jackson credited "third-party" shuttle diplomacy for the moves. If the United States does not assume this role, he called for a multinational force to "provide assurances to both sides and to give them the time to come out of this prolonged cycle of retaliatory violence."

But he criticized U.S. policy, saying it is "unrealistic" to demand Palestinians elect a different leader before the United States will agree to move forward.

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