- The Washington Times - Friday, October 25, 2002

McAuliffe's misstep

Terry McAuliffe, chairman of the Democratic National Committee, outraged some black members of his party Wednesday by saying that New York Democratic gubernatorial nominee Carl McCall would receive little financial help from the national party unless his poll numbers improve.

Mr. McAuliffe's remarks to reporters and editors at the New York Times stunned supporters of Mr. McCall, who is black.

Rep. Charles B. Rangel, New York Democrat, expressed disbelief at Mr. McAuliffe's remarks, the New York Times reports.

"If he said that out loud, it would be a stupid thing for him to have said, because he has to work in New York," Mr. Rangel said.

Meanwhile, the Rev. Al Sharpton, a prominent Democrat who is exploring a run for the presidency in 2004, scheduled a news conference yesterday in which he planned to warn the Democratic National Committee that blacks will not invest in the party if it does not invest in minority candidates.

Mr. McAuliffe's remarks came on a day when former President Clinton attended a rally for Mr. McCall. Mr. Clinton, who hand-picked Mr. McAuliffe as the party chief, was quoted in the New York Post as making almost identical remarks about the need for Mr. McCall to raise his poll numbers before getting more money, lending credence to the widespread belief that Mr. Clinton is still calling the shots for the national Democratic Party.

Perfect balance

Voters are evenly split between the Democrats and the Republicans, according to a new poll.

The Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll "shows the two sides stuck in almost perfect balance entering the homestretch of the 2002 campaign," John Harwood writes in the Wall Street Journal.

"Republicans and Democrats each draw 39 percent when voters are asked which party they'll support for the House. Democrats receive higher marks but only slightly on handling the economy, which voters call the most important issue in the campaign debate. Yet Republicans enjoy much bigger edges on handling the war against terrorism and the situation in Iraq," the reporter said.

"'This election's too close to call,' says Democratic pollster Peter Hart, who conducts the Journal/NBC survey with his Republican counterpart, Robert Teeter. As a result, Mr. Teeter concludes, there are still 'equal possibilities' that Republicans or Democrats could seize majorities in the House and Senate or split control of the two chambers.

"The extraordinary level of pre-election unpredictability, in effect, amounts to a second overtime in the evenly split 2000 presidential election. Voters divide almost evenly between whether the nation is headed in the right direction (44 percent) or off on the wrong track (42 percent), whether their U.S. House member deserves re-election (42 percent) or should give a new person a chance (39 percent), or even whether they're better off (39 percent) or worse off (40 percent) than they were two years ago before Mr. Bush became president."

Schwab and Belafonte

The investment firm Charles Schwab has no plans to cancel an address by Harry Belafonte, despite contentious remarks the left-wing celebrity has made about Secretary of State Colin L. Powell and National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice.

Mr. Belafonte is scheduled to make the keynote speech next week to a Charles Schwab financial investment adviser conference in Washington.

Lance Berg, a Schwab spokesman, told reporter Marc Morano at www.CNSNews.com that Mr. Belafonte's speech is "intended to be light and inspirational" and "will provide value to our adviser clients on human conditions."

The event is an annual meeting of Schwab advisers and includes major co-sponsors such as BN Amro Asset Management, ProFunds, Heartland Funds, Morgan Stanley, Scudder Investments, JP Morgan Fleming Asset Management and Oppenheimer Funds, Inc.

Niger Innis of the Congress of Racial Equality said he does not understand why Schwab would pick Mr. Belafonte to speak at an investment conference. "I find it particularly offensive that a man who has supported every left-wing totalitarian dictatorship that stifles free-market principles is going to be speaking to financial investors professionals."

The Bush bounce

"Call it the Bush bounce," the New York Post's Deborah Orin writes.

"Every time President Bush campaigns in a state, Republicans say he boosts their candidates anywhere from 2 to 6 points in the polls enough to decide a lot of close races so no wonder he's planning a last-minute stump-a-thon," Miss Orin said.

"The Bush bounce is why this election looks more and more like a referendum on the president. There just aren't any clear-cut issues out there and that's how pundits will judge it so Bush might as well go all out.

"'He gives Republicans a pop that lasts from two to four days, so it could have a very big impact in the final weekend,' says GOP pollster Ed Goeas.

"In Bush-loving states like South Dakota, the bounce is 5 or 6 points, so no wonder insiders say Bush is planning two more stops in that state because of its dead-heat Senate and House races."

McBride's performance

The latest Mason Dixon poll shows Florida Republican Gov. Jeb Bush with only a 49 percent to 44 percent lead over Democrat Bill McBride, "but that was before Mr. McBride's subpar performance in the campaign's last debate Tuesday night," John Fund writes at www.opinionjournal.com. "The Miami Herald called it 'dramatically abysmal,'" Mr. Fund said.

"Voters are dissatisfied with the progress Mr. Bush has made in improving education, and that has become Mr. McBride's Johnny-one-note theme. That's why debate moderator Tim Russert of NBC News honed in on the massive backing Mr. McBride has gotten from the Florida Education Association, the state's teachers union.

"Mr. Russert asked if Mr. McBride disagreed with the union on even one issue. After a long pause, Mr. McBride mumbled something about being friendlier to charter schools than the union would be. He claimed that the union 'never asked me to take a position on a single issue.' But did it have to?

"But the real damage came after several more long pauses, when Mr. Russert got Mr. McBride to concede that a ballot measure he supports to reduce classroom size would probably cost as much as $15 billion a year, or one-fourth of the state budget. Mr. McBride ruled out any increased taxes to pay for the measure save for raising the tax on cigarettes by 50 cents a pack a move that would raise at most $500 million a year. 'It's a question of priorities,' Mr. McBride repeated. He then said he would pay for reduced class sizes with 'across the board' cuts in services, a stance that could ravage the budgets of other key government agencies."

Bond's big worry

Sen. Christopher S. Bond, Missouri Republican, fears that Democrats will use his state's new provisional-voting procedure to flood the system with fraudulent votes, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports.

Mr. Bond told the newspaper that no more than 1,000 provisional votes should be cast legitimately in Missouri on Nov. 5.

If election officials' predictions of 50,000 or more turn out to be true, that would be evidence of possible vote fraud by the Democrats, Mr. Bond said.

Election officials expect the state's Democratic-leaning urban areas, especially St. Louis, to produce most of the provisional votes ballots cast by people whose voter-registration status can't be verified immediately. Such balloting will be allowed in Missouri for the first time on Nov. 5.

Only those provisional votes later determined to be cast by legitimately registered voters will be counted. But Mr. Bond said he feared a Democratic effort to count votes from people who shouldn't have been allowed to cast them in the first place.

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