- The Washington Times - Monday, September 22, 2003

Novelty appeal

Ah, the fickle voter. Retired Gen. Wesley Clark — the new kid on the block bullied all week in the press by nine rivals for the Democratic presidential nomination — now leads the pack, according to a Newsweek poll released yesterday.

Mr. Clark garnered 14 percent of the vote among registered Democrats and Democratic “leaners,” though 45 percent said they’d never heard of him before now. Former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean and Sen. Joe Lieberman of Connecticut followed with 12 percent.

In a test election, however, President Bush is the victor every time.



In a Bush vs. Clark match, 47 percent favored the former, 43 percent the latter. Paired with other candidates, 48 percent favored Mr. Bush, and 43 percent chose Sen. John Kerry of Massachusetts. Thirty-eight percent chose Mr. Dean, compared with 52 percent who favored the president.

What about a Bush vs. Gore match? The poll showed that 45 percent favored Al Gore, and 48 percent Mr. Bush. Bush vs. Hillary? Mr. Bush took 50 percent of the vote, while the New York Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton got 43 percent.

The poll of 1,001 adults was conducted Thursday and Friday and has a margin of error of plus or minus 3 percent.

Political hang-ups

And speaking of polls, will all those eager telephone pollsters be affected by impending regulations imposed by the National Do not Call Registry?

Millions have signed up for the Federal Trade Commission project, which goes into effect Oct. 1, barring telephone solicitors from contacting those who have signed on to the list.

“I suspect they will find a way around the list,” USA Today political and polling correspondent Richard Benedetto told C-SPAN yesterday morning.

Mr. Benedetto elaborated to The Washington Times a few hours later: “I’m not entirely sure about the details, but pollsters have been making arrangements to get around these regulations. They have suggested the rules won’t pose a problem. How they cope with answering machines and the fact that people don’t want to talk to telephone pollsters in the first place is another matter.”

Do the math

Meanwhile, retired Gen. Wesley Clark is putting together a respectable campaign war chest. He raised $750,000 in the first three days of his Democratic presidential drive, his campaign managers announced yesterday.

Advisers say the money does not include the $1.9 million that supporters pledged before he entered the race Wednesday.

The grand total tops $2.6 million. But now it’s pay-up time.

The campaign intends to “notify” those supporters, members of various grass-roots-style draft-Clark organizations, and ask them to back up their pledges with cash, the Associated Press reports.

Just a reminder

“I have long believed there was a divine plan that placed this land here to be found by people of a special kind and that we have a rendezvous with destiny. Yes, there is a spirit moving in this land and a hunger in the people for a spiritual revival.”

From former President Ronald Reagan to a Dorothy Conaghan of Tonkawa, Okla., written in 1976, three years before he announced his intention to run for president. (From “Reagan: A Life in Letters” published today by Free Press.)

If elected…

The official, 47-page “Voter Information Guide” has been mailed out to California voters listing the campaign philosophies of many of the 135 candidates in the recall election, Cox News reported yesterday.

Bill Prady, TV comedy writer: “If elected, I pledge to solve all the state’s problems in 22 minutes and 44 seconds with two commercial breaks and a hug at the end.”

Ex-con B.E. Smith: “I spent two years in federal prison because I grew medical marijuana. Californians: Rise up; cast off the chains of tyranny!”

Trek Thunder Kelly, independent: “Dear voters, please vote for me, thus breaking the Seventh Seal and incurring Armageddon.”

None of the major candidates in the recall have shared their feelings in the pay-as-you-go guide; the rest are getting their points across at $10 per word.

The next GOP state?

A survey released yesterday by the San Francisco-based Public Policy Institute of California shows that 27 percent of the respondents do not trust the state government to “do what is right,” and 70 percent think California could spend less money but still deliver adequate services.

The political climate is changing: 40 percent of likely voters say they intend to back a Republican in the recall election, while 28 percent say they favor a Democrat.

The poll found that Democrat Lt. Gov. Cruz Bustamante is the choice of 28 percent of voters, followed by Republicans Arnold Schwarzenegger at 26 percent and Tom McClintock with 14 percent. Challengers Peter Camejo garnered 3 percent and Arianna Huffington 2 percent.

The survey of 2001 adults was conducted in California from Sept. 9 to 17 and has a margin of error of plus or minus 3 percent.

“If those trends follow through to the ballot box, they will provide an astonishing turnaround for a party that just last year could not garner a single statewide office for the first time in more than 80 years,” the Stockton (California) Record noted yesterday.

Bill’s solution

Former President Bill Clinton visited the American University of Dubai yesterday to put in his two cents on postwar Iraq.

“We should play a role and spend a lot of money there, but we shouldn’t dominate,” Mr. Clinton told students.

“What we need is for the [United Nations] to nominally supervise the security situation and NATO to be used as an instrument. This will enable us to spread both the responsibility and the risks and make it look less like an occupation,” he said.

Some on the Internet faulted Mr. Clinton for such back-seat driving. The following is a sample from www.Lucianne.com.

“Dems flaunt their violation of rules, even unwritten rules. In this case that a former president not criticize a sitting president on foreign policy, especially while overseas,” wrote one observer.

Huggy kissy

Bill Cosby has signed on to help a Philadelphia Democrat. A campaign commercial for incumbent Mayor John Street features the comedian getting all cozy about the mayor.

“Some politicians, they hug people and kiss babies,” Mr. Cosby says in the 30-second TV spot. “Mayor Street — his way of kissing and hugging is to put more policemen on the streets.”

Street spokesman Dan Fee said this was Mr. Cosby’s first involvement in a political campaign.

Republican rival Sam Katz doesn’t buy any of the good feeling, though.

“Sam thinks Bill Cosby is very funny and great pitchman for Jell-O. The difference here is that everybody likes Jell-O,”, Katz spokeswoman Maureen Garrity told Associated Press.

The candidates are preparing for a November rematch of their 1999 campaign, which ended with Mr. Street beating Mr. Katz by less than 2 percent of the vote.

Contact Jennifer Harper at jharper@washingtontimes.com or 202/636-3085.

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