- The Washington Times - Wednesday, October 16, 2002

Al's 'sit-downs'
Al Gore has agreed to do a series of sit-down interviews after Election Day, the New York Times reports, citing aides to the former vice president.
"The interviews will coincide with what should presumably be an acceleration in his decision making about the White House, as well as with the release of a new book by Mr. Gore and his wife, Tipper," reporter Adam Nagourney writes.
Mr. Gore, campaigning for Democratic House candidates in Iowa on Monday, said he would announce by the end of December whether he will seek the presidency in 2004.

Dead man walking
Just when Carl McCall thought things couldn't get any worse, the Democratic gubernatorial candidate in New York was snubbed by New Jersey Gov. Jim McGreevey, a fellow Democrat.
Mr. McGreevey, rather than walking with Mr. McCall in the Columbus Day Parade on Monday in New York City, chose to join incumbent Republican Gov. George E. Pataki.
Mr. McCall, who trails significantly in the polls and is short on cash, did have the company of Democratic Sens. Charles E. Schumer and Hillary Rodham Clinton of New York, as well as former rival Andrew Cuomo, the New York Post reports.

Leach in trouble
"House GOP leaders and party strategists are growing increasingly concerned over the re-election prospects of [Iowa] Rep. Jim Leach, who has now joined [Pennsylvania] Rep. George W. Gekas as the most vulnerable Republican incumbents in the nation," Roll Call reports.
"Despite Leach's reservations, the National Republican Congressional Committee began running a new TV ad in Iowa's 2nd District last week bashing his Democratic opponent, pediatrician Julie Thomas, on her position on Medicare-funded prescription drugs. GOP officials plan to go up with more ads soon and are now vowing to spend whatever it takes to see Leach win a 14th term," reporter John Bresnahan said.

Leahy's 'word'
"In an escalation of the battle over judicial confirmations, Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy has accused Republicans of 'testing the limits' of a Senate rule restricting criticisms senators may make of each other on the Senate floor," Byron York writes at National Review Online (www.nationalreview.com).
"Last week, committee Republicans Strom Thurmond and Orrin Hatch appeared in the Senate to denounce Leahy for reneging on a promise to hold a vote on the federal appeals court nomination of Dennis Shedd. Both Thurmond and Hatch suggested, but did not explicitly say, that Leahy had lied to them," Mr. York said.
"'Chairman Leahy assured me on numerous occasions that Judge Shedd would be given a vote,' Thurmond said. 'I took him at his word.'
'Senator Leahy promised me,' Hatch said. 'We operate under the presumption that a senator's word is as good as gold.'
"The message was as clear as things get in the gentlemanly world of the Senate: Patrick Leahy lied.
"Leahy did not deny the charge, nor did he appear on the Senate floor to defend himself. Instead, Democratic whip Harry Reid spoke on Leahy's behalf, saying the committee simply needed more time to consider the Shedd nomination, given the level of opposition to Shedd among African-American groups.
"Now, in a letter to Hatch and other Republicans, Leahy strikes back at his accusers. Although he still does not deny the accusation that he lied, Leahy writes that he has 'never resorted to the tactics and tone used by Republican members of this committee in committee statements, in hallway discussions, in press conferences, or in Senate floor debate testing the limits of Senate Rule 19.' The rule Leahy cites says, in part, 'No senator in debate shall, directly or indirectly, by any form of words impute to another senator or to other senators any conduct or motive unworthy or unbecoming a senator.'"

The big question
Wall Street Journal columnist Thomas J. Bray, noting that the economy is in the doldrums and the nation on the verge of war with Iraq, asks: "So why are polls also showing that the midterm elections are a toss-up, indeed that Republicans might eke out some gains in both the House and Senate?
"If true, this election may return control of both houses of Congress to Republican hands. A close election would defy history; the party that controls the White House almost always loses seats in Congress in midterm elections. What we have here isn't the status quo. Even a draw in the midterm election would be a major victory for the GOP," Mr. Bray said.
"The reason voters appear reluctant to punish the GOP, one suspects, is not just a rally-round-the-president effect."
"More likely, what has stuck in voters' minds is the way the Democrats conducted the Iraq debate. They came away seeming hollow; the debate underlining their cynicism and mean-spiritedness. Democrats, in other words, are in danger of becoming what they accuse their opponents of. Because the media suffer from almost total myopia on this point preferring always and everywhere to attach the words cynical and mean-spirited only to the 'right wing' they may be missing an important political phenomenon.
"It's not just a matter of the Democrats having been on the wrong side. I persist in believing that there are some good arguments against going abroad in search of monsters to slay. But the Democrats utterly failed to confront these issues honestly. Instead, they caviled, whined, played for time and tried to arrange things so that they can start yelling 'I told you so' as soon as something goes wrong even while trying to insulate themselves from having their fingerprints on the decision for war or peace. Michigan's Sen. Carl Levin chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, no less wanted to duck the issue by putting the United Nations in charge of the decision."

More Broward follies
The new elections chief in Broward County, Fla., has asked county commissioners to approve a $1.5 million emergency cash advance to cover the cost of the Nov. 5 election.
The official, Joe Cotter, told commissioners Monday that the elections office is running out of money because Elections Supervisor Miriam Oliphant overspent her budget by $900,000 in the fiscal year that ended Oct. 1.
Mr. Cotter said he will eventually need to ask the commission to increase his funding because the financial problems are too great to fix through cutbacks alone, the Associated Press reports.
Mr. Cotter took over most of Miss Oliphant's responsibilities after the widespread problems of the Sept. 10 primary. It took Florida a week to determine that Bill McBride narrowly defeated former Attorney General Janet Reno in the Democratic primary for governor, in large part because of problems Broward and Miami-Dade counties had opening and closing polls, and tallying votes.
Under pressure from Gov. Jeb Bush, a Republican, and other officials, Miss Oliphant agreed to let the county commission run the general election, though she remains in her elected post.

Help for Sununu
"The Republican National Committee is looking to pour an additional $500,000 into the campaign of New Hampshire Senate candidate John Sununu, this after polling in the past week that shows the GOPer down to Gov. Jeanne Shaheen by as many as 4 points," the anonymous Prowler writes at www.americanprowler.org.
"Sununu's sinking numbers are still within the margin of error, making the race a dead heat, but the party is concerned that one of the candidates expected to retain a Senate seat for the Republicans could slip so soon after holding a 6- to 8-point lead in the polls in late September.
"'We have to fix this situation fast,' says an RNC staffer. 'We can't afford to be worrying about that seat in two weeks. We have other states to focus on: Missouri, Minnesota, South Dakota. Those are the ones this money should be spent, not a seat we are holding and had in hand.'"


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