- The Washington Times - Friday, July 19, 2002

Tennessee Sen. Bill Frist's new book on bioterrorism, published in Spanish and English editions, has colleagues speculating about the aim of the Republican's outreach.
"I guess he's running for vice president," a fellow Republican lawmaker said privately as he thumbed through both versions of Mr. Frist's "When Every Moment Counts: What You Need to Know about Bioterrorism from the Senate's Only Doctor."
Although 150,000 copies of the book were shipped to booksellers in March, the Spanish-language version was just released, according to a spokesman for Rowman & Littlefield Publishers Inc.
A Frist aide suggested a couple of reasons for the bilingual approach to the book, in which Mr. Frist answers what he says are more than 120 commonly asked questions about how to prepare for a biological or chemical attack.
"He wrote the book as a response to the anthrax attacks last fall, and he wanted to get it out in Spanish as well, because the Spanish-speaking population is growing fairly rapidly," said spokeswoman Antonia Ferrier.
She suggested that another reason for the Spanish edition is that Mr. Frist takes his party's injunction to reach out to Hispanics nearly as seriously as the heart surgery he used to perform before winning a Senate seat in 1994.
Mr. Frist had a 100 percent American Conservative Union voting record for 2001, compared with 84 percent for Tennessee's other Republican senator, Fred Thompson, who is not seeking re-election this year.
Some Republicans, however, disapprove of Mr. Frist's idea of Hispanic outreach. "It's cruel," said Kerri Houston, national field director for the American Conservative Union. "By publishing in Spanish, Frist is enabling people to remain in dependency, by not forcing them to learn to speak and read English in an English-speaking country."
Nonetheless, as National Republican Senatorial Committee chairman, Mr. Frist, 50, has further boosted his image at both ends of Pennsylvania Avenue by raising money "hand over Frist," as one candidate joked admiringly for his party's candidates. They can be expected to return the favor in the future. His committee raised $38.7 million through June, with a little more than half that amount in federal "hard dollars." The committee has $38.1 million in cash on hand.
By contrast, Washington Sen. Patty Murray, the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee chairman, reported that her committee raised $34.8 million in the first six months of this year, with $28.9 million in cash on hand as of June 30.
Some lawmakers in Mr. Frist's party privately believe he is positioning himself for the second spot on the Republican ticket in 2004 if Vice President Richard B. Cheney is unavailable for health or other reasons.
Admirers call Mr. Frist a dream politician tall, handsome, wealthy, accomplished and literate. "When Every Moment Counts" is his fourth book.
"We are very proud of the job Vice President Cheney is doing, and we don't want to speculate more than we should," said Tennessee Republican Party Chairman Beth Harwell. "But Senat. Frist has unique talents, has done a fine job of representing Tennessee and would make a wonderful vice president, should that come to play."
Mrs. Harwell said Tennessee "doesn't have very many Hispanic voters, but the number is growing."
"I don't know what to make of [a Spanish edition]," said New Mexico Republican Party Chairman John Dendahl. "In my state, few people of Hispanic descent would be reading a book like that in Spanish. The great emphasis here, going back to statehood, has been on teaching English to Spanish speakers."
Mr. Dendahl said Mr. Frist "would make a good backup" for the No. 2 spot on the Republican ticket in 2004 if Mr. Cheney is unable to run.
But other Republicans say a Frist advancement would be nearly impossible unless their party, already down a seat in the Senate, holds onto the Tennessee governorship in November. If Mr. Frist moves up within party ranks, a Democratic governor could be in a position to appoint a Democrat to fill the remainder of the senator's second term, which expires in 2007.
"Any hope the Bush administration has for Senator Frist to join it rests first on the outcome of the Tennessee governor's race," said Tennessee native Mike Tuffin, executive director of GOPAC, a Republican fund-raising and candidate-training organization.
"Our tax-raising Republican governor, Don Sundquist, is term-limited," said Mr. Tuffin, "and Phil Bredesen, the probable Democratic candidate this year, is a close friend of Al Gore's and would make the state into a wholly owned subsidiary of a Gore presidential campaign in 2004." Mr. Gore lost his home state to President Bush in the 2000 election.
Republicans hope their Hispanic outreach got another boost on Tuesday when California Rep. David Dreier, the GOPAC chairman, held a seminar in Washington aimed at building a Hispanic Republican "farm team" at the state and local levels.
"We will teach Republican candidates how to engage Hispanic voters, take the lead in supporting Hispanic Republican candidates for state and local office," said GOPAC President Louise Oliver.


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