Bush dumps Bob Jones, accuses McCain of sleaze

Bush "regrets" Bob Jones, his campaign manager slams McCain as sleazy; Giuliani plays footsie with McCain; Ventura says yes and maybe to being McCain's V.P.

Published February 28, 2000 9:02AM (EST)

Tired of getting slapped around for his Feb. 2 appearance at Bob Jones University, George W. Bush released a copy of a letter to New York's Cardinal John O'Connor saying, "On reflection, I should have been more clear in disassociating myself from anti-Catholic sentiments and racial prejudice. It was a missed opportunity, causing needless offense, which I deeply regret." This is a total reversal for Bush, who had defended the appearance in recent weeks. As John McCain advisor Warren Rudman said, "It's taken a long time," almost four weeks, and is just in time for primaries in states with large Catholic constituencies.

Coincidentally, Bush's campaign manager, Karl Rove, in an appearance on "Fox News Sunday," accused McCain of running a "sleazy, anonymous, smear phone campaign in Michigan."

Elsewhere Bush swept delegates in American territories like the U.S. Virgin Islands, American Samoa and Puerto Rico Sunday.

GOP in crisis mode

Questions continue to circulate over the importance of McCain's Michigan victory. New information is emerging to cast doubt on the initial estimates of Democratic influence in the GOP primary. The latest information shows Republicans turning out widely for McCain. Changes are also afoot in California, where the GOP is deeply divided between bedrock supporters and the middle-of-the-road voters who will be needed to capture the national election.

Giuliani to endorse McCain?

The New York Daily News quotes one of Rudy Giuliani's "closest advisors" as saying, "I think when you look at them, McCain and Giuliani, they are very similar. They are fighters. If you like one, you probably like the other." It goes on to speculate that Giuliani could find McCain's appeal to Democrats and independents exactly the thing he needs to win in New York. Giuliani has officially endorsed Bush for president, but he, along with ex-New York Sen. Al D'Amato, hasn't been that reserved with positive comments about McCain's run for the GOP nomination. Even the New York Post thinks that state Republicans are nervous about the results of the March 7 primary.

Ventura considering V.P. spot?

Jesse Ventura told reporters Sunday that he won't endorse anyone for president until late summer and that he'd "listen" if McCain asked him to be V.P. Later in the day he stressed that he would consider running as McCain's V.P. only if he lost the GOP nomination and decided to run as an independent.

New York Daily News endorses Gore

The New York Daily News endorsed Al Gore for Democratic presidential candidate Sunday, saying he is: "Focused. Sharper. Hungrier." It criticized Bill Bradley for his votes against welfare reform and his intervention against Saddam Hussein and Alan Greenspan. "He was on the wrong side of these issues, and with the belated exception of his Greenspan vote, Bradley refuses to acknowledge his mistakes."

Bradley bets on the long ball

In a last gasp for electoral support in Tuesday's Washington primary -- actually a beauty contest, since no delegates will be in the balance -- Bill Bradley says that he's more of a reformer than McCain.

Poll positions

The latest Time/CNN poll, conducted Feb. 24-25, showed Bush leading McCain by 25 points in California. On the Democratic side, the poll showed Al Gore leading Bradley by a crushing 56 to 12 percent. The poll also asked about hypothetical national matchups: Voters picked Gore over Bush 54 to 41 percent and McCain over Gore 47 to 46 percent.

A Newsweek poll shows Bush ahead of McCain nearly 2 to 1, 58 to 27 percent, among Republicans nationwide.

The latest Mason-Dixon poll for the Viginia GOP primary shows Bush ahead of McCain 48 to 37 percent.

Talking heads

MSNBC Decision 2000: Bill McInturff, a pollster for the McCain campaign.

MSNBC's Equal Time: Rep. Peter King vs. Bill Donohue, head of the Catholic league, on the religious attacks in the 2000 race.

CNN's Crossfire: Bush vs. McCain, guests TBA.

C-Span's Washington Journal: Fred Barnes, executive editor of the Weekly Standard (webcast).

On the trail

Bradley: Seattle in the morning and San Francisco in the afternoon.

Bush: Bellevue and Pasco, Wash., and Ohio.

Gore: California.

McCain: Virginia, North Dakota, Washington and California.

By Max Garrone

Max Garrone is Salon's Vice President for Operations.

MORE FROM Max Garrone

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