- The Washington Times - Monday, August 30, 2004

Daschle’s hug

“How bad has it gotten for Democrats at summer’s end: A paid TV advertisement from Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle, President Bush’s top congressional foe, features the South Dakotan hugging and embracing President Bush,” Matt Drudge writes at www.drudgereport.com.

“While Democrat Party officials of all stripes descend on New York City to blast the president, Daschle has quietly purchased airtime in his home state for the minute-long campaign commercial — a commercial insiders have dubbed: ‘Bush Hug,’” Mr. Drudge said.

“Daschle faces a tough campaign against South Dakota Republican challenger John Thune.

“‘This is delightful,’ laughed one Republican official in New York yesterday. ‘Senator Daschle now concedes supporting the president can score him votes in the fall.’”

Not long ago, Mr. Daschle denied filmmaker Michael Moore’s comment that he and the senator hugged after the Washington premiere of Mr. Moore’s Bush-bashing movie.

No McGreevey suit

A former aide who says New Jersey Gov. James E. McGreevey sexually harassed him said yesterday he will not sue the governor, the Associated Press reported.

The governor’s resignation announcement was sufficient admission of his wrongdoing, Golan Cipel said in a statement written in Hebrew and released yesterday by an Israeli public-relations agency. Mr. Cipel is in seclusion with his family in Israel.

Mr. McGreevey announced Aug. 12 that he is a homosexual and would resign from office because he had an extramarital affair with a man, whom administration sources have identified as Mr. Cipel.

Although the Democratic governor has said the relationship was consensual, Mr. Cipel insisted that he had been sexually harassed and pressured by Mr. McGreevey while he worked as an adviser.

Backing rescinded

The St. Petersburg Times rescinded its endorsement of Mel Martinez in today’s Republican Senate primary in Florida, accusing him of “hateful and dishonest attacks” on fellow Republican Bill McCollum.

In an editorial published yesterday, the newspaper said it took the unusual step of withdrawing an endorsement because the former Bush Cabinet member “took his campaign into the gutter with hateful and dishonest attacks” over Mr. McCollum’s support of a hate-crimes bill and expanded embryonic stem-cell research.

“The Times is not willing to be associated with bigotry,” the editorial said. The newspaper said it was now recommending Mr. McCollum, a former congressman who was defeated by Bill Nelson in the 2000 Senate race.

The newspaper cited a Martinez campaign mailer that called Mr. McCollum “the new darling of the homosexual extremists” because he supported a hate-crime bill that included protection of homosexuals. It also criticized a conference call of social conservatives arranged by the campaign in which Mr. McCollum was labeled “anti-family.”

Mr. McCollum called on Mr. Martinez to repudiate the mailing and the comments during a debate on Friday. Mr. Martinez refused.

Three crucial states

President Bush has moved ahead of Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry in the crucial states of Florida, Ohio and Wisconsin, according to new polls.

The surveys of 801 likely voters in each state by Strategic Vision LLC were conducted Thursday through Saturday.

In Florida, the poll found that Bush-Cheney has moved ahead of the Kerry-Edwards ticket, 48 percent to 45 percent with 7 percent undecided. In a three-way race with independent Ralph Nader included, Bush-Cheney led 48 percent to 44 percent, with 2 percent for Nader-Camejo and 6 percent undecided.

In Ohio, Bush-Cheney led Kerry-Edwards 48 percent to 43 percent with 9 percent undecided. With Mr. Nader included, the results were Bush-Cheney 48 percent to 42 percent for Kerry-Edwards. Nader-Camejo had 1 percent and 9 percent were undecided.

In Wisconsin, Bush-Cheney led Kerry-Edwards 48 percent to 47 percent with 5 percent undecided. With Mr. Nader included, the results were Bush-Cheney 48 percent to 46 percent, Nader-Camejo at 2 percent and undecided at 4 percent.

Boos for Kerry gals

“MTV, Rolling Stone and the rock and roll establishment — past and present — have cast their vote, and their man is John Kerry,” Matt Drudge writes at www.drudgereport.com.

“So on Sunday night, when John Kerry’s daughters were announced to speak at the annual MTV Video Music Awards, the MTV youth were expected to welcome his daughters as pop-culture princesses.

“Instead, in an era of the unexpected, the daughters of the Democratic candidate were met with cheers — and jeers — during the live broadcast in Miami,” Mr. Drudge said.

“From the moment Alexandra and Vanessa started speaking, the boos outweighed anything close to cheers, and the reaction turned worse when the daughters asked the Viacom youth to vote for their father. So shocked by the reaction, the taller of the two daughters tried to ‘shhhhhh’ her peers to no avail.”

Tied in Pennsylvania

President Bush holds a narrow lead in Wisconsin and has moved into a tie in Pennsylvania, according to polls conducted by the Gallup organization for USA Today and CNN.

However, Mr. Kerry was on top in another battleground state — Iowa.

In Pennsylvania, Mr. Bush and rival John Kerry each had 47 percent of likely voters. Independent Ralph Nader was at 2 percent. Among battleground states, Pennsylvania is second only to Florida in number of electoral votes, with 21. Mr. Gore carried the state by five percentage points.

In Wisconsin, Mr. Bush led Mr. Kerry among likely voters, 48 percent to 45 percent. Mr. Nader has 4 percent. Mr. Gore won the state in 2000. It has 10 electoral votes.

In Iowa, Mr. Kerry leads Mr. Bush among likely voters, 51 percent to 45 percent. Mr. Nader was at 2 percent. Mr. Gore narrowly carried the state’s seven electoral votes.

Mr. Kerry fared better among the larger pool of registered voters, USA Today reports. He leads in Pennsylvania by 49 percent to 43 percent, in Wisconsin by 47 percent to 45 percent and in Iowa by 50 percent to 44 percent.

Brokaw’s analysis

“In a likely preview of a media obsession this week, Tom Brokaw ended Sunday’s ‘NBC Nightly News’ by complaining that the decision to feature three ‘middle-of-the-road’ speakers, in contrast to the party’s ‘hard right’ positions, may be seen by ‘streetwise New Yorkers’ as ‘the political equivalent of a popular con game in this tough town, three-card monty,’” the Media Research Center reports at www.mediaresearch.org.

“But, Brokaw lamented, ‘That’s a game in which the dealer almost always wins.’”

Greg Pierce can be reached at 202/636-3285 or gpierce@washingtontimes.com.

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