Final handshakes

Gore runs from his past, McCain crosses his fingers, and Forbes, Keyes and Bauer hope for a miracle.


Max Garrone
February 1, 2000 11:00PM (UTC)

The first
votes have already been cast
in New Hampshire's 2000 primary. You can catch
the action live on C-Span's TV and webcast.

Ghost of elections past

Bill Bradley's recent accusations that Al Gore is a flip-flop artist on abortion and
campaign financing creates a strong case of dij` vu. During the 1988 primaries,
presidential candidate Richard Gephardt (now a Gore supporter) made hay by accusing Gore of flip-flopping on abortion, citing the same voting
analysis that Bradley does. Here's a March 7, 1988, U.S. News & World Report report by Michael Kramer:

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In 1987, reminded the Gephardt campaign, the prolife group that monitors Congress
described Gore as having a "near perfect anti-abort record." The most damning
vote is the one in which Gore agreed to redefine "life" as beginning at
conception, a change that would have ended the possibility of abortion -- even in
the cases of rape and incest -- at facilities that receive federal funds. "Since
there's a record of that vote, we only have one choice," concedes a Gore adviser
anonymously. "In effect, what we have to do is deny, deny, deny." So Al Gore
stood up last week and said, "I have not changed ... I have always been
against anything that would take away a woman's right to have an abortion."

Bradley's campaign mannerisms have made quite an impression on voters and
journalists alike. He's been likened to a professor and taken to school for his "academic" appearance and, now, for being a throwback, a radio age
candidate.

Gore has drawn the line at accusing his opponent of negative campaigning and personal vilification but apparently some of his supporters pushed
things too far
Sunday when they insulted Bradley allies Rep. Jerrold
Nadler and Sen. Bob Kerrey. Several reporters saw Gore
volunteers insult Nadler's weight and Kerrey's prosthetic leg and then throw mud-laced snowballs at them.

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Beating the Bushes

George W. Bush is on pace to pass
the presidential campaign spending record.
In 1999 he collected $68.7 million
and spent $37.3 million. He resumed campaigning without press
conferences
Monday and hammered his core theme: that his opponent, John McCain, "sounds like Al Gore." He also skipped a scheduled rally in Exeter
because, his campaign
claimed,
a protest rally there constituted a security threat. Reports said the rally was canceled because there was a marijuana
legalization protest
in the offing. Reporters on the ground said that the Bush cancellation left about 100 supporters out in the cold -- and a few Gore supporters triumphant.

Bush's father continues to make many appearances for him, saying George W. was "at his side" during crucial events like the Gulf War and the
fall of the Berlin Wall. But there is a lack of evidence in the George
Bush Presidential Library in College Station, Texas. The library's files do show
George W. Bush advocating for the appointment of certain candidates for federal judgeships and lobbying on behalf of the oil industry. Liddy Dole -- onetime candidate and vice presidential hopeful -- is also beating the bushes for Bush support in New Hampshire and, soon,
South Carolina.

McCain's moment?

There is relatively unanimous agreement that New Hampshire is the make
it or break it moment
for McCain's presidential campaign. Every poll
agrees that he's running neck and neck with Bush, but his campaign coffers are
almost dry, probably just enough to get him through the South Carolina primary
Feb. 19. His campaign has run largely on his personal charisma, which has helped him with journalists who can't help but like
him.
Michael Lewis, writing in the New York Times Magazine, decided he couldn't report on McCain anymore because he liked him too much.

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An end to the trailing trio?

The Steve Forbes campaign is still
optimistic
but polling only half of what is expected for Bush or McCain. Alan Keyes is right
on Forbes' heels with estimates of between 5 and 10 percent of the vote. After
falling offstage in a morning pancake flipping contest, Gary Bauer rose to tell
the audience, "I'm a survivor," pancake in pan. Unfortunately, the polls do not
reward culinary dexterity. Bauer is slated to capture 1
percent
and possibly bow out of the race later this week.

New Hampshire clean-up

The conventional wisdom holds that independents will decide both the Democratic
and Republican races, but their influence hinges on how many actually go to the
polls. Hotline reports that a key local pollster, Dick Bennett, believes that 30 percent of the GOP votes must come from independents for McCain
to win. That's creating
another race between McCain and Bradley: McCain doesn't
have all the independents to himself: Bradley has staged a formidable
campaign to woo independents to his race. His supporters have even staged rallies
outside of McCain appearances, and the two men will probably split their support.

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One aspect of the New Hampshire race that has seldom been covered is the
electorate's sense that they can't
lose
with this crop of candidates. Both the New York
Times
and the Washington
Post
led with stories Tuesday that canvassed happy voters.

All the candidates will be heading out of New Hampshire Tuesday night. Bush and
McCain for South Carolina, where McCain has a Midnight Madness Rally scheduled in
Greenville, Bradley for California, and Gore for New York City.

Watts breaks promise for new run

Despite his pledge to serve only three terms, Rep. J.C. Watts Jr., R-Okla., announced
Monday that he would run for a
fourth term. Rumors had swirled about Watts' future, but Republican arm
wrestling and the threat of a Democratic Congress helped convince him to stay.

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Clinton to declare

Hillary Rodham Clinton will officially announce her candidacy
for the New York Senate race Sunday.


Max Garrone

Max Garrone is Salon's Vice President for Operations.

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