Hillary after dark

The first lady does "Late Night," the Reform Party slouches toward meltdown, Demos talk tobacco and McCain unveils his tax cut plan -- finally.


Max Garrone
January 12, 2000 11:00PM (UTC)

Come early for the frisking: One of David Letterman's running jokes finally got serious -- sort of -- as he announced that Hillary Clinton would be joining him for the Wednesday
night broadcast. As he put it, "If you're in the audience tomorrow, come early for the
frisking" by Secret Service agents. In the gag a Letterman aide has been calling one of
Hillary's aides daily in an effort to get her on the show. But last night, Letterman began to have second thoughts. "I've got two things," he said to executive producer Rob Barnett on the air last night. "'Alright, Hillary, and don't lie
to me,' I'll say that to her, 'is it true the government is
controlling the weather?'
That's good. That's all I got. And then, I'll say,
'Well, why don't you run for the Senate in Arkansas?' I'd say that to
her -- I'm tapped out. What do I do at that point?"

Burnett: "Go
to commercial?"

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Hillary also found time to label Rudy Giuliani as "temperamentally
unsuitable for the Senate
".

McCain joins the tax cut cavalry: John McCain's modest tax cut proposal provides ample proof that he's learned the lessons of the
Clinton years. Instead of following the Republican gospel of keeping the money out of
Washington, he's embraced the hot, and traditionally Democratic, issues of saving Social
Security and Medicare while also offering a tax cut and a promise not to raise
taxes
to the core Republican base. By playing both
ends against the middle
McCain hopes to capture the moderate GOP and independent votes
while pulling just enough from the right of the party to put him over the top.

In order to pursue the latter McCain is releasing a new ad campaign
aimed at socially conservative GOP primary voters which highlights his pro-life stance and
opposition to pornography on the Internet. All this prompts the question, Quien es mas
conservativo?

And McCain clearly doesn't need Naomi Wolf. According to polls he is thealpha male of this
race.
A Washington Post poll from December showed a stark gender gap between George W. Bush and
McCain with the veteran leading by 14 percent among men and the Texas governor ahead by 17 percent
among women. The Democratic candidates have the same problem: Bill Bradley leads among men by 15
percent while Al Gore enjoys a similar lead among women. Recent polls verify that the gap still
exists.

Who's a card-carrying member of Right to Life? Alone amidst the candidates Steve Forbes isn't pulling any punches, perhaps because he has the least to lose. Or maybe he just can't help himself. Friday he went negative
by releasing an ad claiming that Bush raised taxes in Texas. Tuesday he released a new ad
asserting his pro life credentials. On the same day the National Right to Life Political Action Committee released an ad claiming that McCain isnt pro life. The McCain campaign quickly responded that their
candidate has been staunchly pro life for the last 17 years and attacked the ad as an example of soft money
corrupting the political process. It's taken a week but the campaign finance issue is back
on the political front-burner, right where McCain wants it.

Almost simultaneously, the Sierra Club released an ad campaign accusing McCain of not
supporting the preservation of wildlife areas like the ones that Clinton set aside earlier
in the day. In a sharp jab the ads say that McCain should continue Teddy Roosevelt's legacy
of preserving the nation's natural heritage. Recently McCain cited the rough rider and
founder of the United States' national parks system as a model. This comes after the Sierra Club's
earlier ad blasting Bush's environmental record which ran in New Hampshire late last year.

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Tuesday the McCain campaign trotted out an
ex-Bush campaign volunteer
who claimed to have appeared in a negative Bush ad. The
volunteer, Heidi Quigley, said that she and other campaign volunteers were filmed Saturday
for a Bush commercial comparing McCain and Bush's tax policies and, that when she professed
a lack of knowledge about the issue, a producer told her, "What I want you to say is,
Senator McCain's plan will send your money to Washington,"

Bush aide Ari Fleischer denied any negativity and said that the advertisement was a
substantive comparison of the candidate's tax proposal. He also said that Heidi Quigley
would be removed from the ad.

Reform thyself! The Reform Party is slouching towards a
meltdown.
Early Tuesday party chairman and Jesse Ventura ally Jack Gargan ruled that the
party convention would be held in Minnesota instead of the Perot pack's preferred locale of
Long Beach, CA.

Almost immediately Vice Chairman Gerry Moan responded that he would put the convention
location to another vote in the next few weeks. This would be the third vote on the
convention location. Moan said, "It's really nasty and it's probably going to destroy the
Reform Party, but if you can't stand up for the rule of law and the principles of reform
there's no sense having a party anyway,"

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In the meantime the rank and file are becoming increasingly disillusioned. The New York
Times quoted ex-California party chairwoman Judy Duffy as saying, "Every day, members are
looking for help."

Tobacco Road: Tuesday
Bradley broke new ground by attacking Gore on two Senate votes from the 1980s that supported
the tobacco industry. Bradley appeared as a more aggressive and negative character, digging back to
1985
for his reference.

Bradley defined the issue as one of honesty and consistency, "It has to do with how you
conduct the campaign, and whether you are leveling with people." The Gore campaign
responded that the Clinton administration's record on tobacco was self evident and opined
that Bradley's attack was a symptom of
desperation.
Gore campaign spokesman Chris Lehane said, "We find out that with his
campaign fortunes flagging, he is resorting to the typical negative attacks of a desperate
politician."

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Last week the Boston Globe was the first to report allegations that McCain exchanged campaign donations for
influence in front of the Federal Communications Commission. Wednesday the Globe is scheduled to release a similar story
alleging that
Bradley intervened
with federal agencies on behalf of campaign donors.


Max Garrone

Max Garrone is Salon's Vice President for Operations.

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