- The Washington Times - Friday, November 15, 2002

The bungler

"Looks like the Bill Clinton era is over," the New York Post's Deborah Orin writes.

"Democrats led by Clinton's handpicked chairman, Terry McAuliffe, decided [Wednesday] to take their 2004 national convention to Boston instead of New York where Bill and Hillary Clinton could relive their 1992 glory days and be the stars of the show," Miss Orin said.

"There was a question of, 'You don't want this to be about the Clintons. You want this to be about the future,' says a site selection insider who insists the arguments in favor of Beantown weren't just bigger bucks.

"President Bush likes to joke about getting misunderestimated. Bill Clinton's problem is that he misoverestimated himself this fall. He cast himself in a unique role as leader of the opposition against Bush and helped lead the Democrats into an Election Day disaster.

"'If you look at where Clinton campaigned this fall, he motivated their base more than ours he backfired,' says a Democratic strategist."


Conyers' world

Issues important to blacks are now "down the toilet," Rep. John Conyers Jr. said yesterday.

"They're out, each and every one of them and no majority leader on the Republican side can or will bring them back," the Michigan Democrat lamented during a forum hosted by the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies. "As a matter of fact, they may not speak out for them anyway."

Mr. Conyers, who did not identify any particular issue, went on to denounce black Republicans.

"How can you be a conservative when conservatives have been giving you hell all your life, and then in earlier history, before your life?" he said.

"What makes you like this?" Mr. Conyers asked of Republican blacks. "Why do you think that getting some money and a title and job is somehow going to change the fact that you are black from the moment you are born till the time you die?"

He said the appointments of Secretary of State Colin L. Powell and National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice mean nothing.

"If you think having those two stand in the background of Bush putting two black people, very qualified, very admirable, very smart so what?"


Not easily fooled

During a forum Wednesday on the black vote in last week's election, Barbara Arnwine, executive director of the Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, asserted that blacks were singled out for misleading phone calls and letters, "reminding" them to vote on Nov. 6, one day after the election.

"These people, whoever they are, are targeting African-American voters," said Miss Arnwine, whose group was formed in 1963 at the request of President John F. Kennedy "to involve the private bar in providing legal services to address racial discrimination."

However, Miss Arnwine apparently was unaware that one prominent white person received such a phone call Florida Democratic gubernatorial candidate Bill McBride. The caller promised to give Mr. McBride a ride to the polls on Nov. 7.

Mr. McBride, who is not easily fooled, managed to make it to his polling place on Nov. 5, although that was not enough to keep him from going down to defeat against Republican Gov. Jeb Bush.


Cleland to marry

Sen. Max Cleland, Georgia Democrat, is getting married, Cox News Service reports.

The day after losing his re-election contest to Republican Rep. Saxby Chambliss last week, the 60-year-old Democrat popped the question to his longtime companion, Nancy Ross. It will be Mr. Cleland's first marriage.

"It goes to show you there certainly is life after the Senate," Cleland spokeswoman Patricia Murphy said. "They'll ride off into the sunset."

Miss Ross, an official with the U.S. Postal Service, was a fixture during Mr. Cleland's hard-fought campaign, often pushing his wheelchair during public appearances or standing in the background during his speeches.

Mr. Cleland, a decorated veteran, lost both legs and an arm in the Vietnam War. He served as head of the Veterans Administration under President Carter and later as Georgia secretary of state.

The couple has not set a date, and there was no word on whether it will be a big to-do or a small private affair, the spokeswoman said.

Grucci concedes

Nine days after the election, freshman U.S. Rep. Felix J. Grucci Jr., New York Republican, conceded defeat yesterday in one of only two House races nationwide in which Democrats defeated Republican incumbents.

"I don't look back with any regret, and I certainly have no animosity toward the voters," Mr. Grucci said. "They spoke, they rendered their decision, and I will abide by that decision."

The victory in the bitterly contested race goes to Tim Bishop, a former college administrator and political newcomer.

Mr. Grucci conceded after a recanvass of voting machines and examination of absentee and paper ballots by the Suffolk County Board of Elections boosted Mr. Bishop's lead to about 3,000 votes out of more than 160,000 cast, the Associated Press reports.

Mr. Grucci's defeat in a district where Republican registration outnumbers Democrats by more than 50,000 came in a year when the Republican Party experienced gains in the House and reclaimed the Senate. Republicans also lost liberal Rep. Constance A. Morella, ousted from her Maryland district by former state Sen. Christopher Van Hollen.

As recently as September, political pundits predicted Mr. Grucci would easily win re-election. But that was before he aired a radio advertisement accusing Mr. Bishop of ignoring rape accusations at Southampton College.

Mr. Bishop, who resigned as college provost to run for Congress, denounced the accusations, and the college filed a $6 million defamation suit. The claim was based on a decade-old college newspaper report that was pulled from newsstands over concerns about its accuracy.


Globetrotter

"Sen. John Edwards is hitting the campaign trail hard, now that it appears the opportunity is ripe for his presidential candidacy," the anonymous Prowler writes at www.americanprowler.org.

"Earlier this week he made a high-profile policy speech on the economy, and because his background is so thin on foreign affairs, he's also taking his show overseas.

"Edwards staffers recall how their boss traveled to Israel two summers ago for photo-ops and to get a handle on the Middle East situation. Last winter, he traveled to Pakistan and Afghanistan. Now in early December, Edwards will travel to Europe.

"The planned itinerary calls for him to meet with NATO officials to discuss Iraq. He also hopes to meet with government leaders. According to an Edwards campaign staffer, the now-senior senator from North Carolina asked his sometimes adviser, former President Bill Clinton, to make calls on his behalf to British Prime Minister Tony Blair and German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder to see if they might meet with him.

"It won't just be Edwards in the rooms with them. He's bringing along an all-access video crew to shoot much of his trip. 'The idea is that some of those shots will be used for campaign ads down the road to blunt Republican criticism that he's not plugged in enough on the international front,' says the staffer."


Leading ladies

Number of lines in "Who's Who in America 2002" biography of Sen.-elect Elizabeth Dole, North Carolina Republican: 33

Number of lines in "Who's Who in America 2002" biography of Rep. Constance A. Morella, Maryland Republican: 20.

Number of lines in "Who's Who in America 2002" biography of incoming House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi of California: 8.

Wrong show

In quoting the Rev. Al Sharpton earlier this week, we misidentified the Fox program on which he appeared. It was "Weekend Live."


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