While Al Gore may bear a striking resemblance to the Godfather, he's also taking on some of the affectations of contemporary gangsters. Slate reports that in an interview with D.J. Angie Martinez on New York radio station HOT 97, Gore said that Wyclef Jean (formerly of the Fugees) has endorsed him.
Martinez: "He did?"
Gore: "Absolutely, I'd like to give him a shout out."
Martinez: "You're getting a lot of cool points right now."
Slate has gotten itself into a bit of trouble lately by reporting exit poll data from the New Hampshire, South Carolina and Michigan primaries before the polls closed. The exit polls are paid for by a consortium that includes the Associated Press, all major domestic television networks, CNN and major newspapers like the New York Times. Consortium members have agreed not to report the results of polls until voting has stopped to avoid any influence on the voting. Slate's Jack Shafer calls the media's exit poll embargo a "big joke" and lambasts anchors for pretending they have no knowledge of who's leading as they broadcast reports on the voting. But the consortium, Voter News Service, isn't laughing. It has sent letters to Slate demanding that it withdraw its exit poll articles and cease the early reporting.
Who is Reagan's legitimate child?
John McCain and George W. Bush have returned to the theme of who is more conservative. In an appearance Thursday at California State University in Sacramento, McCain said that Bush is "a big spender and not a fiscal conservative." More important, McCain's new message is that he's a Reagan Republican. In a new ad being broadcast in California he says he's a "proud Reagan Republican" and lists tax cuts, debt reduction and tax reform as his major priorities. This portrayal layers Reagan-style issues on top of the Reagan persona and voting patterns McCain has already mastered. The Bush campaign is having none of it; campaign spokesman Ari Fleischer said, "You can't call yourself a Reagan Republican when your tax plan leaves Bill Clinton's tax hike firmly in place." The struggle for the Reagan legacy is entering its second act. While the Bush campaign complains that McCain isn't willing to embrace supply-side economics, McCain has already built a cross-platform constituency. Don't take it from me: The debate is alive and well within the Republican Party.
Dole exhorts, candidates weave
Bush and McCain have already started advertising in the battleground states of Washington and California, but Thursday ex-Sen. and presidential candidate Bob Dole urged them to avoid negative attacks: "Call a 'timeout'; reclaim the high road for your sake, the party's sake and, most importantly, the country's sake." Both campaigns responded that they loved the idea, but blamed all negativity on the other guy. The Associated Press reports that Bush's Fleischer said, "Governor Bush agrees with that sentiment, and that's why we have been so distressed to see the tactics that Senator McCain is employing." McCain spokesman Dan McLagan said, "We welcome and applaud Senator Dole's statement and we certainly hope that Governor Bush takes it to heart."
McCain advertising on porn sites
McCain's new governing coalition is apparently embracing a new constituency. Thursday Matt Drudge reported that a "McCain for President" banner ad had appeared on an Asian porn site hosted by the theglobe.com. Drudge cites the college newspaper the Harvard Current for making the observation. According to theglobe.com's director of advertising sales, Will Margiloff, McCain's ads were geographically targeted and could appear on all of theglobe.com's sites.
Bush catching on to that media love affair thing
Perhaps it's a singular occasion or maybe it's a sign that Bush is learning to wield the press in a similar fashion to McCain. In the governor's interview with the New York Times' Frank Bruni Thursday, he clearly illustrates his grasp of the interview, a skill that had eluded him until now. Bruni tells us that Bush "exhibited a confidence and equanimity that seemed utterly genuine" -- a sharp contrast to many other portrayals that have characterized Bush as an insincere and pandering figure. The interview is swathed in Bush's positivism: "As sure as I'm sitting here, I think I'm going to win the presidency."
All politics is local
Bush may believe in himself, but his many missteps -- such as his appearance at Bob Jones University and an advisor's claim that three Jewish journalists follow the "religion of Zeus" -- are the least of his troubles. Part of the Michigan vote against Bush was surely motivated by animosity toward that state's governor, Jim Engler, and Bush's policy of soaking up endorsements from the nation's Republican establishment may hurt him where he needs it least. The latest example is Massachusetts Gov. Argeo Cellucci, whose many foes may be organizing to vote against his choice for president as a protest against his policies.
Media abandons liberal bias for cult of personality
McCain's presidential run may have dividends beyond the race itself. The Los Angeles Times' Jeff Cohen says that it has dispelled the myth of the liberal media.
Hillary, Rudy racing to the bottom
Perhaps it's a result of polls showing that the New York Senate race is dead even, but Hillary Rodham Clinton and Rudy Giuliani have gone negative early in their race. It started with small things like Giuliani's Web site (www.HillaryNo.com) and has blossomed into name-calling, with Clinton advisor James Carville calling Giuliani's team "goons" and "thugs." One thing's for sure -- the next months will bring a bevy of one-upmanship.
Clinton preparing for star turn in Disney film
The Center for Responsive Politics issued a report Thursday analyzing the sources of Hillary Clinton's campaign coffers. The largest single corporate donor was Walt Disney, at $56,000, with most donations coming from Disney's Miramax subsidiary. But Disney can't hold a candle to lawyers -- who have donated $666,879 so far. The analysis also shows that most of Clinton's money, 56 percent, came from out of state.
Bradley getting slapped down at every occasion
Responses to his campaign for the Democratic nomination must be leaving Bill Bradley especially baffled. He was staunchly pro-choice during his entire tenure in the Senate and has shown that Gore was much lauded by right-to-life advocates until just before his 1988 run for president, yet the pro-choice lobby has largely sided with Gore. To add insult to injury, Kristina Kiehl, a founder of Voters for Choice, reneged on her Bradley endorsement Thursday and endorsed Gore because she was "disappointed Bill Bradley has chosen to attack Al Gore on abortion rights, simply for political gain."
"There simply aren't enough organic-food-eating, used-Volvo-driving, liberal college professors to nominate Bradley."
Stuart Rothenberg in his Roll Call column.
On the trail
Bradley continues to work Washington while Gore comes off the bench in Ohio and California. Bush heads to Virginia while McCain appears in Ohio.