- The Washington Times - Wednesday, March 13, 2002

Wooing Lazio
Former Rep. Rick Lazio met privately yesterday afternoon with a trio of House Republican leaders Speaker J. Dennis Hastert of Illinois, campaign committee chairman Thomas M. Davis III of Virginia and New York Rep. Thomas M. Reynolds. The Republican leaders were trying to persuade Mr. Lazio to run this year for his old House seat in New York.
"We're doing everything we can to get him to do it," a Republican insider tells reporter Ralph Z. Hallow of The Washington Times. "We'll give him everything he wants. The ball's in his court."
Republican strategists believe that Mr. Lazio could win back his House seat from freshman Democrat Steve Israel. Mr. Lazio gave up his House seat for an unsuccessful Senate run against Democrat Hillary Rodham Clinton in 2000.
Mr. Lazio is "holding out for some type of meaningful committee chairmanship," a supporter said.
Mr. Davis was said to have been carrying in his back pocket private polling numbers showing Mr. Lazio could easily defeat Mr. Israel, who won the seat in 2000 with 48 percent of the vote in a three-way race.
Mr. Lazio is said to be reluctant to leave his high-paying post as president and CEO of the Financial Services Forum in New York, a trade association of 21 major banking-investment-insurance firms.

Hush-hush meeting
White House officials met secretly last week with two of the nation's most powerful labor union leaders, sources tell reporter Donald Lambro of The Washington Times.
Dennis Rivera, who runs New York City's giant health care workers' union, and Andy Stern, the president of the Services Employees International Union, were seen Friday at the White House, where they huddled with Ken Mehlman, director of the White House Office of Political Affairs, and other senior administration officials.
The hush-hush meeting with the union bosses was another sign of the aggressive, behind-the-scenes offensive being waged by President Bush to forge new relationships with organized labor in an attempt to dismantle the Democratic Party's long-standing political alliances with the unions.
Mr. Rivera has been helping Republican Gov. George E. Pataki of New York lately in his re-election bid and recently attacked the governor's two Democratic rivals. If that was not enough to rattle Democrats, Mr. Rivera has just resigned from his post as a member of the Democratic National Committee.
Mr. Stern, a die-hard liberal, has been working with Republican congressional leaders on issues such as immigration liberalization, airport-security screening and other issues, and has recently hinted that he might support Mr. Pataki.
"This is another sign that union leaders are willing to do business with this administration," a labor union adviser said.

Hollings rambles on
Sen. Ernest F. Hollings, South Carolina Democrat, suggested in a Senate hearing yesterday that the talk of a possible war with Iraq was first and foremost an effort by President Bush's top political aide to boost the Republican vote in this fall's elections.
"Tell Karl Rove to cool it," the silver-haired junior senator from South Carolina told Secretary of State Colin L. Powell during a hearing ostensibly devoted to the department's budget.
"I know [Mr. Rove] is trying to keep the war fires burning until November, but that's not helping you out at all," Mr. Hollings told Mr. Powell, in a somewhat rambling discourse that bounced from U.S. nuclear policy to textile jobs to Vietnam to the U.S. military advisers recently dispatched to Georgia.
"How can you get diplomacy and state and friends and influence and bring about peace …" Mr. Hollings began to wonder before sidetracking himself with a discussion on U.S. policy in Colombia.
The South Carolina Democrat suggested that Charlotte Beers, the new head of the State Department's public-diplomacy arm, should focus her efforts not around the globe, but across the Potomac.
"Maybe you ought to assign her not necessarily to get the American message of freedom and individual rights and peace around the world," he said. "Get her over by the Department of Defense that you headed and coordinate" the U.S. message on the terrorism war.
Mr. Hollings, who chairs the subcommittee that funds the State Department, ended his discourse by suggesting that the United States arrange for Colombian President Andres Pastrana and Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon to trade jobs.
"Maybe that swap would really get us going somewhere," he mused. "I see you don't want to comment."
"No, sir," Mr. Powell quickly replied.

Reno's anti-war remarks
Former Attorney General Janet Reno has expressed doubts about the battle against terrorism, saying, "I have trouble with a war that has no end game."
Miss Reno, who served under President Clinton and is now seeking the Democratic nomination to run for governor of Florida, told a group of students at Old Dominion University in Norfolk on Monday that she also has "trouble with a war that generates so many concerns about individual liberties."
Miss Reno said she thinks the government would be hard-pressed to find a legal basis to prosecute many of the Taliban and al Qaeda prisoners being detained at Guantanamo Bay, the Richmond Times-Dispatch reports.
Miss Reno's remarks drew a rebuke from Rep. Mark Foley, Florida Republican, who said in a prepared statement: "Is the eradication of terrorism a good enough end game for you, Madam Attorney General? But then, again, I guess it depends on what her definition of 'is,' is."

Byrd's complaint
Sen. Robert C. Byrd, West Virginia Democrat, charged yesterday that Congress has been left out of the loop in the war on terrorism.
Congress "by and large, has been left to learn about major war-related decisions through newspaper articles," Mr. Byrd said in an op-ed piece in the New York Times.
"One day, we hear that American military advisers are heading to the Philippines. Another day, we read that military personnel may go into the former Soviet republic of Georgia. The next day, we are sending advisers into Yemen. And, oh yes, we also learn from news reports that we have a shadow government in our own back yard, composed of unknown bureaucrats, up and running at undisclosed locations, for an indeterminate length of time.
"Is it any wonder that members of Congress are beginning to question whether the administration is deliberately leaving Congress in the dark or whether the administration is making major policy decisions on the fly, without taking time for due consideration or consultation? Neither scenario is comforting."

Thune request rejected
Rep. John Thune, the South Dakota Republican running for a U.S. Senate seat, has asked outside groups to quit airing political ads in the state. But the Family Research Council, one of the groups contacted by Mr. Thune, says it will continue to employ issue ads there.
FRC President Ken Connor said yesterday that "people in South Dakota deserve to know what is going on in Washington, D.C., especially on such critical issues as human cloning and infanticide."
Since November, FRC and American Renewal, the lobbying arm of FRC, have run print and radio ads in South Dakota on various bills and issues being held up by Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle of South Dakota, including the human cloning ban, judicial nominations, and the energy bill.
"Rep. Thune is asking FRC to surrender our First Amendment rights to free speech," Mr. Connor said. "It is perfectly appropriate for groups that have matters pending before the Congress to air their concerns to the people of South Dakota."


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