- The Washington Times - Tuesday, October 29, 2002

Dire straits
Democrat Bill McBride trails Florida Gov. Jeb Bush by 8 percentage points in the most recent poll, and he is considering a desperation move: letting former President Bill Clinton appear publicly in the state to try to boost party turnout.
Mr. Clinton has been busy behind the scenes and in courting blacks and liberal Democrats, but he is akin to poison among the rest of the electorate.
For example, Erskine Bowles, Mr. Clinton's former chief of staff and a candidate for the U.S. Senate from North Carolina, has done everything he can to distance himself from his former boss, as did Vice President Al Gore in the 2000 presidential election.
On Friday, Mr. Clinton spent nearly an hour on the phone talking to more than 30 black ministers in Florida, urging them to support Mr. McBride and to get their congregations out to vote, Cox News Service reports.
"There were ministers from Pensacola to Key West," the Rev. Randolph Bracy told the congregation of New Covenant Baptist Church in Orlando on Sunday. "He talked to us about Bill McBride as a champion of civil rights."
Mr. Clinton is so effective with the black community that the McBride campaign is hoping to arrange more phone calls with black ministers. And there is still discussion in the McBride camp about whether to bring Mr. Clinton to Florida to campaign for him, Cox News Service reporter Brian E. Crowley writes.
The downside of bringing Mr. Clinton in is that he may turn off conservative Democrats in north Florida. Mr. McBride's formula for winning the governor's race requires him to do better among Panhandle voters, especially military veterans, than former Gov. Buddy MacKay did against Mr. Bush in the 1998 election.

No liberals, please
"Forget mudslinging. Try 'cockfight' or 'blood bath' if you want to describe Friday's fifth and final U.S. Senate debate between Democrat Alex Sanders and Republican Lindsey Graham," the State newspaper in South Carolina reports.
"Take this slap early in the debate, during a discussion about whose friends are more liberal:
"Sanders said Graham was the one running a TV endorsement from Rudy Giuliani, former mayor of New York City.
"'He's an ultra-liberal,' Sanders said. 'His wife kicked him out and he moved in with two gay men and a Shih Tzu. Is that South Carolina values? I don't think so.'
"Graham said a vote for Sanders would be a vote for liberal Democrats such as U.S. Sen. Hillary Clinton of New York and Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle of South Dakota, who hosted a Las Vegas fund-raiser for Sanders," reporter Valerie Bauerlein writes.
"Graham, who has been leading in the polls, zinged back, 'I think Alex is behind and he doesn't like it.'
"Replied Sanders: 'It's not whether I'm behind or not. I'll tell you what I'm behind; I'm behind the people of South Carolina.'
"That set the tone."

Special delivery
"A Democratic executive of the U.S. Postal Service abruptly quit last Friday amid allegations that she used the federal mail budget to hurt the re-election chances of Arkansas Republican Sen. Tim Hutchinson," Paul Bedard writes in the Washington Whispers column of U.S. News & World Report.
"Sources allege that Deborah Willhite, the Postal Service's top lobbyist, pushed to have the budget for Arkansas post offices cut and Hutchinson blamed. The money was to be transferred to Georgia's post offices, allowing supporters there to credit Democratic Sen. Max Cleland, who's in his own tough re-election battle," Mr. Bedard said.
"Senate Republican leader Trent Lott caught wind of the deal making and demanded the resignation of Willhite, an Arkansan who has donated to Hutchinson's opponent and to Cleland. Willhite, however, says 'it's all a plot' to discredit her and that she planned to resign anyway. 'It spins a good story,' she says, 'but it's just not the case.' Postmaster General John Potter is scouring all recent budget moves for other political hanky-panky."

McCall's alibi
"Key supporters of [New York Democratic gubernatorial candidate] Carl McCall plan to blame 'white racism' for their candidate's all-but-certain defeat in the Nov. 5 election," the New York Post's Fredric U. Dicker writes, citing "campaign insiders."
"The 'blame game' attack on white voters has already been discussed among important McCall strategists and is expected to publicly surface in the final days of the campaign," Mr. Dicker said.
"Some insiders describe the claim as a cynical ploy to deflect attention from their own and their candidate's failure to mount a credible, well-financed and exciting gubernatorial campaign.
"But they also say the racism charge accurately reflects a growing sense among black New York voters that the state's and nation's largely white Democratic political establishment has walked away from McCall's historic campaign."

Despairing Democrats
"Even though history and economics are on their side, many Democrats are despairing of their chances of winning control of the House of Representatives this fall unless something dramatic changes between now and the Nov. 5 elections," the Los Angeles Times reports.
"Democratic hopes of translating voter anxieties about the economy into political gains large enough to win a House majority have been stubbornly hard to fulfill, as pocketbook issues have been eclipsed in the media by the prospect of war with Iraq and the Washington-area sniper killings," reporter Janet Hook writes.
Democratic political consultant Peter Fenn said, "If I had to look at it right now, I'd have trouble doing the math in such a way that the Democrats pick up" the six seats needed to take over the House.

Talent's father dies
Milton Oscar Talent, a retired lawyer and father of Missouri Republican Senate candidate Jim Talent, died early Sunday after a brief illness. He was 91.
Jim Talent's campaign said election activities would go on, but without the personal participation of the former congressman or his immediate family while funeral arrangements are made.
"The Talent family appreciates your thoughts and prayers in this difficult time," Mr. Talent's campaign said in a statement Sunday.
Milton Talent, who was widowed, was hospitalized Oct. 21 after a fall at home. Jim Talent received news of his father's hospitalization after concluding his first televised debate with Democratic Sen. Jean Carnahan.
Reassured by his father's doctors, Mr. Talent briefly ventured back to campaigning and completed a second televised debate with Mrs. Carnahan, the Associated Press reports.

Ex-candidate arrested
James Treffinger, the county executive of Essex County, N.J., who dropped out of the U.S. Senate race this year amid a federal investigation, was arrested by FBI agents Monday on corruption charges.
The charges against Mr. Treffinger include extortion, mail fraud, conspiracy and making false statements to the Federal Election Commission, said Assistant U.S. Attorney Perry A. Carbone. Extortion carries the heaviest penalty, up to 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.
Mr. Treffinger will plead not guilty, said his attorney, Henry Klingeman.
Mr. Treffinger withdrew from the Republican primary for U.S. Senate on April 22, four days after FBI agents searched his offices, and seized documents and records related to his campaign contributions, county contracts and employees.
At the time, Mr. Treffinger was considered the front-runner for the nomination. He is not seeking a third term as executive of Essex County, the state's second-largest county.
The charges mostly say that Mr. Treffinger abused his office to raise campaign funds.

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