- The Washington Times - Friday, October 11, 2002

Katherine Harris, the former Florida secretary of state who is now running for a congressional seat from Florida's 13th District, is in Washington promoting a new book that espouses pearls of wisdom.

It was precisely those pearls of wisdom that kept her sane during 36 days in November and December 2000 when the battle for the U.S. presidency hung on election returns from her state. Her crucible began with a 3:30 a.m. phone call on Nov. 8, when she learned that a statewide recount was needed to determine the allotment of Florida's 25 electoral votes.

It was a rough ride, she reports in a new book, "Center of the Storm," which she's been talking up around the capital for the past three days. Yes, she concedes, it's unusual to be pushing her first book during the final month before the election but she's ahead in the polls, her campaign has raised $2.6 million and her publisher insisted on it.

And it's paying off, said a representative of World Net Daily Books, a new imprint by Nashville, Tenn., religious publisher Thomas Nelson. Out of a press run of just under 100,000 copies, 60,000 are already spoken for.

The book is loaded with excerpts from books by famous evangelical Christians, including the late Francis Schaeffer, a philosopher and thinker whose teachings galvanized her during a three-month study tour at his Swiss headquarters in 1979. Lessons she learned there were invaluable 21 years later, she said.

The subtitle, "Practicing Principled Leadership in Times of Crisis," reveals her assessment of how she performed during the 36-day national ordeal during which the U.S. presidency shifted constantly between candidates George W. Bush and Al Gore.

"They could call me 'Cruella de Ville,'" she said, referring to one cutting journalistic remark about her makeup, "but they can't point to one point of law I didn't follow."

What kept her on course, she said yesterday in an interview, was homespun advice such as "know what you believe," "stick to your guns" and "finish what you start."

But she does not shy away from giving her side of the story in response to a media that almost never got it right. The worst hit, she said, was from Bill Maher of the cable TV show "Politically Incorrect" who ruminated on air the hope that O.J. Simpson might murder her.

"I was already having death threats," she said, "but that took my breath away."

She displayed little inclination to discuss some of the issues of national politics.

On adoption by homosexual couples: "I really haven't thought about that much," she said. About abortion: "I'm very comfortable where it is right now. I'm not against overturning Roe vs. Wade," the landmark 1973 Supreme Court decision legalizing abortion nationwide. On the minimum wage, she had no comment.

But she freely discussed issues such as retirement security, the environment and education topics that roil a district heavily populated with the elderly and Vietnam War veterans.

"Politics is not a lifetime career for me," she said. "I am not media savvy. I never ran to the media. The press conferences I had done [before Election 2000] I could count on my hand."

During the vote-counting fracas, she only held four sessions with the press.

"I was told by the media if I had come out and talked with them more," she said, "I would have been less of a caricature."

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