- The Washington Times - Friday, September 6, 2002

Still close

Despite political setbacks, Republican gubernatorial candidate Bill Simon has lost no ground to California Gov. Gray Davis in the past two months, the Associated Press reports, citing a new poll.

The Field Poll released yesterday shows 38 percent of likely voters surveyed support the Democrat, while 31 percent support Mr. Simon. Nine percent said they supported other candidates, and 22 percent said they were undecided.

A similar Field Poll in July found Mr. Davis leading Mr. Simon 41 percent to 34 percent, with a margin of error of plus or minus 4 percentage points.

The latest telephone poll surveyed 765 likely voters from Aug. 23 through Tuesday and had a margin of error of 3.6 percentage points.

Election shadows

"The two missing towers of the World Trade Center will cast their shadow over the fall campaign for the midterm congressional elections," Dick Morris writes in the New York Post.

"Then, as the days shorten and November approaches, the other shadow that cast by the impending U.S. military action in Iraq will make its impact felt," Mr. Morris said.

"Together, these shadows may blot out the light of every other issue our nation faces and rivet attention on the one aspect of President Bush's record which commands overwhelming majority support.

"Bush was smart to announce [Wednesday] that he will seek congressional authorization to attack Iraq. Pressing a vote will force every incumbent and each candidate to record his or her views on Iraq and will put the issue front and center where the Republican Party needs it to be on Election Day."

An ugly scene

Andrew M. Cuomo did his best to sound gracious Tuesday as he withdrew his candidacy for the governorship of New York, a week before the Democratic primary.

But the humiliated politician let out his true feelings later that day in a phone call to New York Times columnist Bob Herbert. In doing so, Mr. Cuomo cast a spotlight on the ugly racial politics for which the New York Democratic Party is becoming infamous.

"I believe in my heart that if I did a negative ad [against Democratic rival Carl McCall], I would have won," said Mr. Cuomo, who was quoted in Mr. Herbert's column yesterday.

"I could argue it's not even negative. Why is it negative to say Carl McCall says he's going to fix the Board of Education, but when he was the head of the Board of Education, scores went down?"

When Mr. Herbert pointed out that Mr. Cuomo had said exactly that during the campaign, it prompted this response: "I know, but say that in an ad. They say that's a personally derogatory ad and that would create racial problems."

Mr. Cuomo added: "The negative here is that I was running against the first African-American. It was his turn."

He said his campaign collapsed in August when Mr. McCall began running negative ads, while Mr. Cuomo felt he was prohibited from posting ads that said anything negative about a black man.

His withdrawal notwithstanding, Mr. Cuomo says he is now viewed in a negative light by his fellow liberal Democrats.

"It is generally negative," he said. "But I think it was situational. How could I go against Carl McCall? How could you do that? Don't you like black people? Aren't you a progressive? Aren't you a liberal?"

Pulling the strings

"Carl McCall doth protest too much," the Wall Street Journal says.

"'President Clinton didn't broker anything,' declared the presumptive Democratic New York gubernatorial nominee on Tuesday, after the unusual concession of opponent Andrew M. Cuomo a week before primary day. But the circumstances of Mr. Cuomo's withdrawal show who's running today's Democratic Party," the newspaper said in an editorial.

"Clinton confidante Harold Ickes was a major player in weekend negotiations between the two campaigns; Sen. Hillary Clinton chose to march with Mr. McCall in Monday's West Indian Day Parade; and Mr. Cuomo made his announcement with Bill at his side, sporting the look of a man who'd been made an offer he couldn't refuse.

"More even than Mr. McCall, a long-shot challenger to GOP Gov. George Pataki this autumn, this electoral coup d'Cuomo will help Mrs. Clinton. By pushing a white candidate out of the race in favor of Mr. McCall, she helps heal the racial wounds left from last year's vicious New York City mayoral primary. None other than Al Sharpton noted that, 'If Mark Green had listened to him [Clinton], Michael Bloomberg wouldn't be mayor.' Nothing personal, Andy, the senator just has to shore up the base for 2008. And we did give you that HUD job after all.

"All of this is one more sign that Mr. Clinton isn't retiring from politics; he's the de facto Democratic Party chairman. The nominal party boss is his protege, Terry McAuliffe, who took notes from Mr. Clinton when preparing his attack last month on President Bush's handling of the economy and war on terror. His blessing was also sought by most of the presidential wannabes who spoke at last month's Democratic Leadership Council meeting.

"'I am the only person on this stage whose political career is over,' a coy Mr. Clinton offered Mr. Cuomo on Tuesday. Everybody laughed."

Torricelli debates foe

The already-heated race for the Senate in New Jersey kicked up a notch last night as Democratic Sen. Robert G. Torricelli faced Republican challenger Doug Forrester in their first televised debate.

"Bob Torricelli has not been an effective senator," Mr. Forrester said, opening the debate. "He has not put New Jersey first. He has put himself first."

Mr. Torricelli's lead in the Senate race vanished after the Senate Select Committee on Ethics admonished him in late July for accepting expensive gifts from businessman David Chang.

"I've made a mistake," Mr. Torricelli said. But he said people should "look at the totality" of his record. "I think people on the balance find that I've been a good senator and done good things," he said.

He said Mr. Forrester wants to harp on the ethics violation because he does not want to discuss issues like abortion, gun control or environmental protection.

Mr. Forrester said ethical issues are very important.

"New Jersey cannot forget how we have become the butt of national jokes because of the behavior of our senator," Mr. Forrester said.

The two candidates are running neck and neck according to a poll the Torricelli camp commissioned in mid-August. Two other polls commissioned by television stations in the New Jersey area in August have Mr. Forrester ahead by at least 11 percentage points.


"New York Times Executive Editor Howell Raines claimed those who say his paper is biased against Bush's Iraq policy are making the accusations 'for ideological reasons,'" Brent Baker reports at the Media Research Center's Web site (www.mediaresearch.org).

"He charged on the PBS 'NewsHour' on Tuesday night: 'When you look at what the conservative columnists are saying, they're expressing a perception of opinion, and they're the best witness on it.'

"Raines also revealed how he sees everything through a Vietnam prism: 'I'm hearing a lot of echoes of the early '60s, when people were saying it was unpatriotic to report the debate over Vietnam.'

"Of course, Raines was being disingenuous," Mr. Baker said, "since critics are not saying it's unpatriotic to accurately report the debate over Iraq policy, but that the New York Times is distorting that debate."

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