This weekend saw Republican candidates focusing on the early primary and caucus states of Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina, where George W. Bush continued
promoting his tax pledge while John McCain aggressively
defended himself from allegations of campaign finance
improprieties. The Democratic duo had their first Iowa
debate, where Al Gore appeared to score points blasting Bill
Bradley's voting record on agriculture. The Donald stopped
off in Minnesota for a tjte-`-tjte with the Reform Party's
shining light and remained mum on the prospect of his
candidacy. Also: The Democratic Party is starting to make noises
about a lack of funds, a hotly contested House race in
California got off the ground and McCain's campaign has started
organizing in California.
Keyes Surging? Alan Keyes has long held that primary polls are meaningless,
but his campaign was quick to point out an apparent Keyes uptick in a new round of polling late Sunday night. The Keyes camp sent out
an e-mail to supporters late Sunday evening noting that Keyes had pulled even with publisher Steve Forbes in four new polls.
Zogby, Newsweek and Boston Herald -- three of the polls that apparently show Keyes' upward movement -- did not have poll
results listed on their Web sites late Sunday night and the Des Moines
Register's poll pages contained hopelessly mangled html. Some
confirmation of his rise was noted in a widely reported
Zogby poll last week.
Campaign improprieties abound: John McCain
continued to defend himself against allegations of campaign finance improprieties by saying that the worst part about
money in the political system is the "appearance of
impropriety." Saturday he went on the offensive with a
familiar tactic, releasing 500 pages of letters he sent to
federal regulators on behalf of individual and corporate
constituents. His staff claims that only 15 letters were on
behalf of major campaign donors but a full analysis is still
A scandal of his own: Bush himself may soon be forced to confront allegations
of campaign finance improprieties. Sunday, Matt Drudge
reported that Salon and
New York Observer columnist Joe Conason will break a story about
G.W. using Texas state funds to pay a Washington firm with longtime ties to the Bush family. The story will appear in the
February issue of Harper's.
And speaking of money, Donald Trump continued his absurd but entertaining quasi-presidential campaign
Friday, stopping in Minnesota to meet with Gov. Jesse Ventura to discuss
his entry into the presidential fray. While the stop provided another Ventura/Trump photo-op, most coverage
focused on Trump's promise (or threat) to dump $100 million of his own money into a presidential bid. Ventura staffers aren't adverse
to Trump running on the Reform ticket if for no other reason that
they've always run shoestring campaigns. The New York Times
focused on the lack of scrutiny that Trump's finances have
engendered, probably because the media, like most right-minded Americans, still hasn't taken Trump's candidacy seriously.
There are frequent discrepancies between the Donald's financial claims
and outsider's evaluations; he claims that he's worth $5
billion but Forbes magazine thinks he's overvalued, estimating that his net worth is less than $1.6
Surprise: Trump's mouth continues to be the biggest barrier to any hopes he has of reiventing himself as a presidential contender.
And the promise of a Buchanan/Trump battle for the Reform Party nomination still has the potential to become the greatest sideshow of Campaign 2000.
Tax cuts redux: As G.W. rose to the podium Friday to pledge not to raise
taxes and to cut them, "so help me God" Harry Chapin's "Cat's
in the Cradle"
provided a suitable subtext, replete with a silver spoon
reference, to frame the son within the Bush family history
of tax pledges. Within hours of Bush's announcement Friday,
Forbes released an attack ad
featuring Mary C. Williams of Taxpayers for Accountability
lambasting gubernatorial candidate Bush's pledge not to
raise taxes and Gov. Bush's stated willingness to raise them
While the presidential candidates continue to bicker over
taxes, the House GOP leadership isn't waiting and will
propose their own tax cut during the next legislative
The battle is joined in California: Saturday, former impeachment manager Jim Rogan kicked
off his reelection campaign
in California. The Democratic Party has made
him a primary target this cycle because his district has become increasingly Democratic and because of his aggressive support of President Clinton's
impeachment. Rogan's seat will be one of a handful of hot congressional races in the Golden State this year, along with seats held by targeted Republican incumbents Brian Bilbray and Steve Kuykendall, and the battle royal over the seat vacated by liberal Republican Tom Campbell.
In other news from California, McCain's Internet
strategy is shifting into gear. A McCain Interactive
mail sent Friday encourages Californians to re-register
Republican in order to vote for him in the March 7 primary.
The McCain camp has also made re-registering Democrats and independents a linchpin to their strategy in Arizona, and has aggressively courted independents in New Hampshire.
Debate down south in Dixie: Friday's GOP debate in South Carolina was a shadow of
Wednesday's humdinger. A mellow mood prevailed as Bush
dodged questions about the Confederate flag and Forbes fed
Gary Bauer another opportunity to condemn Donna Brazile's comments about race and the Republican Party.
Bradley takes the poll position in New Hampshire: The latest Boston Herald/WCVB-TV Channel 5 poll
shows Bill Bradley pulling ahead of Al Gore in New Hampshire
by a 44-38 percent margin. The poll shows many
registered Democrats are leaping to the Bradley camp, while the former New Jersey senator still enjoys support from New Hampshire independents.
Massachusetts legislators agree: 51 of them endorsed Bradley
But in the first caucus state of Iowa, polls show a 21-point Gore lead with just two weeks until Election Day. Bradley
will not go down without a fight. According to the Des
Moines Register, Dollar Bill is dumping $800,000 into Iowa advertising buys
and shipping in every volunteer that he can find to the Hawkeye State.
Saturday's Democratic debate in Iowa
saw familiar themes and issues raised by both candidates.
Gore continued his even-keeled delivery and scored points by
attacking Bradley's Senate votes on agriculture policy
while Bradley continued to emphasize big ideas and invoked
FDR and LBJ as model presidents. Gore again
characterized Bradley as an aloof academic and labeled him
as a "distant theorist" on health care.
Who's afraid of the big, bad bankbook? Maybe the Democratic Party should join McCain and Bradley in their call for an end to soft money.
As Campaign 2000 goes prime time, Democrats are worried that the GOP
will be able to overwhelm them with spending. Sen. Robert
Torricelli, D-N.J., told the New York Times that the Republicans could "easily
have a three- or four-to-one" advantage. Other analysts called the estimates hyperbolic.
Torricelli's remarks appear aimed at giving the Democratic donor
base a kick in the rear and organizing the party's own
fund-raising structure. Since Beth Dozoretz quit as
Democratic finance chairman three months ago, the position
has remained open. That's in woeful comparison to the GOP's
crackerjack organizational and fund-raising skills. Apparently, House
Democrats got so frustrated with this situation that they've
struck out on their own, and claim to have more cash on hand than the GOP.