- The Washington Times - Monday, September 30, 2002

Gasping for air
Senate Minority Leader Trent Lott, Mississippi Republican, says he agrees that the threat of war with Iraq has taken the oxygen out of the Democrats' economic issues.
"It certainly has had that result, I know that, and I think it has affected the thinking of candidates all over the country," Mr. Lott said Saturday on CNN's "Novak, Hunt & Shields" about remarks by Rep. Thomas M. Davis III of Virginia, chairman of the National Republican Congressional Committee.
The Mississippi Republican said there is "no question" that the "American people look to Republicans when it comes to national defense and security."
"But I also think we should make the point that Democrats gripe about what is not being done about the economy, but they have no proposals," Mr. Lott said.
He added: "When we take over the majority next year, we are going to address those issues that are left hanging. We are going to have a jobs-creation tax-incentive proposal. We are going to pass some retirement security legislation. We're going to keep a strong national defense. And we're also going to pass some stronger education legislation."

It's the economy, Gore
Al Gore plans to offer his views on the U.S. economy Wednesday in a speech at the Brookings Institution.
Last week, the former vice president's speech in San Francisco made headlines by accusing the Bush administration of squandering the "enormous sympathy, good will and support around the world" after the September 11 terrorist attacks. He said that President Bush's policy threatened to inaugurate a "reign of fear" around the world.
But while Mr. Gore made Iraq the focus of his San Francisco speech, Democrats are eager to turn the subject to domestic policy issues where they believe they have an advantage in the midterm congressional elections.
Mr. Gore is talking with several economic analysts while preparing for his Wednesday speech, aide Jano Cabrera told the Associated Press.

Lawyers vs. patients
The North Carolina Republican Party hailed the U.S. House's passage last week of medical malpractice reform legislation, and has dared two prominent state Democrats to take a stand on helping doctors "by limiting exposure to non-economic damages."
"But the U.S. Senate has rejected reform of this critical area in the past. North Carolina has been designated by the American Medical Association as one of the top 19 states with a Medical Liability Crisis," the state Republican Party said in a statement.
Bill Cobey, chairman of the party, says he wants to know if the Senate "will act now to protect patients or will it stand squarely with liberal trial lawyers once again?"
"I call upon Erskine Bowles, Democratic candidate for the U.S. Senate, to tell us whether he stands with patients or with liberal trial lawyers," Mr. Cobey said.
"I also call upon Sen. John Edwards [North Carolina Democrat, former trial lawyer and possible presidential candidate in 2004] to act in the best interests of patients and prevent the mass exodus of physicians from the medical field because of lawsuit abuse," he said.

Romney's sex appeal
Republican Mitt Romney, running against a woman for governor of Massachusetts, is turning on the sex appeal.
The candidate named one of People magazine's 50 most beautiful people appears bare-chested in a swimsuit in a new television ad in which he and his wife speak tenderly about their courtship, the Associated Press reports.
The telegenic former Winter Olympics chief also invited reporters and photographers this week to watch him run along the Charles River with his dog and one of his five sons.
"What is he running for, prom king or governor?" asked Sue Harvey, a Democratic Party spokeswoman.
Mr. Romney, 55, who was known to take bobsled rides and ski the moguls while overseeing the Olympics, is downplaying the new strategy and has specifically denied that it is an attempt to attract female voters. A Boston Herald poll last week had Mr. Romney trailing among women by 15 percentage points in his gubernatorial race against state Treasurer Shannon O'Brien.

County seeks help
A group that has monitored elections in El Salvador, the Philippines, Poland and Russia is being called in to help restore voter confidence in Miami-Dade County.
County commissioners voted 6-2 last week to have the independent, nonpartisan Center for Democracy observe the Nov. 5 elections in an effort to restore faith in the voting process after the botched Democratic primary, the Associated Press reports.
"One thing is for sure: We need help," Commissioner Betty Ferguson said. "And we need all the help that we can get."
Florida officials needed a week to determine the results of the Sept. 10 gubernatorial Democratic primary, largely because of problems in Democrat-controlled Broward and Miami-Dade counties with the opening and closing of polls and tallying votes.
The problems, reminiscent of the 2000 presidential election dispute, have been blamed on a lack of training, a lack of familiarity with new computerized voting systems and poor organization.

Slime rhyme
A prominent Jewish organization yesterday joined New Jersey Gov. James E. McGreevey in calling for the resignation of the state's poet laureate, saying Amiri Baraka had bought into "the big lie" that Jews were responsible for the September 11 attacks last year.
Mr. Baraka, a writer and political activist who just last month was named by the Democratic governor to a two-year term as New Jersey poet laureate, angered many with "Somebody Blew Up America," a poem he read at a New Jersey poetry festival this month implying Israel knew about the terror attacks in advance.
The poem reads in part:
"Who knew the World Trade Center was gonna get bombed
"Who told 4,000 Israeli workers at the Twin Towers
"To stay home that day
"Why did Sharon stay away?"
A spokeswoman for the Anti-Defamation League said her organization found the work offensive, Reuters reports.
Mr. Baraka, 67, who won acclaim as a poet and playwright in the 1960s under his former name LeRoi Jones, was selected poet laureate through the New Jersey Council for the Humanities and the State Council on the Arts.
Mr. McGreevey signed a proclamation Aug. 28 appointing Mr. Baraka for a two-year term and giving him a $10,000 stipend "to promote and encourage poetry."
Mr. Baraka told the New York Times that he has no intention of stepping aside, adding that Jews were not the only ones who had advance knowledge of the attack.
"Obviously they knew about it, like Bush knew about [it]," he said.

Always a Democrat
"Copies of a new bio of Republican-turned-independent Sen. James Jeffords, whose switch gave the Democrats control of the chamber, are making the rounds on Capitol Hill and confirm what every GOP-er always thought: The Vermonter was always a closet Democrat," Paul Bedard writes in the Washington Whispers column of U.S. News & World Report.
"On issue after issue, Jeffords writes in 'An Independent Man' of his disdain for conservatives and their politics. He even brags on how former President Clinton considered him 'his favorite Republican senator.'

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