Southern sweep on "Stupid Tuesday"

Another presidential contender, the latest on Bob Jones, more on guns and gas and politicians as porn stars.

Published March 15, 2000 9:13AM (EST)

A Southern anticlimax to the primary season gave George W. Bush and Al Gore the delegates they needed to become their parties' nominees come August. This means that the United States will elect a Southern president for the third consecutive time.

Ever wonder whether delegates are really tied to candidates? Slate's "Explainer" reviews how the delegate process functions.

Bush eyeing the RNC

Now that he has effectively secured the Republican nomination, Bush can start making changes that will help him in the national campaign. Among the first items on his list may be a change in the leadership of the Republican National Committee; an alternative strategy would be to insert operatives into more minor positions.

Duke joins the race

Just as everyone else has cleared the boards for Bush and Gore, "Doonesbury's" Duke has declared his candidacy.

Still more on Bob Jones

The latest tidbit on Bob Jones University is that it has pulled a message from its Web site calling Catholicism and Mormonism cults.

Guns are too hot to handle

President Clinton and Gore are aggressively pursuing gun control as an election-year issue, and they've gained some unlikely allies. As the gun issue gets hotter, congressional Republicans fear that it will hurt their campaigns; New York Gov. George Pataki has even proposed something of a compromise initiative.

Bush caught on gas criticism

Bush has been trying to make a campaign issue of the 1993 4.3-cent-per-gallon gas tax and recent foreign policy toward OPEC nations that have restricted oil supplies to raise prices. But looking back to a Dec. 6, 1999, debate in which Bush was questioned about the possibility of high gas prices hitting American consumers, he told a different story. In that debate then-candidate Steve Forbes asked Bush what he'd do to lower the price of heating oil in areas like New England. Bush responded that he'd "say to our drillers: We want you to continue exploring" and focus on natural gas because it's "immune to OPEC," and "I think we need to wean ourself off of foreign oil and rely on other products."

Meanwhile House Republicans scuttled plans to repeal the gas tax Tuesday because it would offer "scant relief," according to Majority Leader Dick Armey, and would kill "an average of 420,000 high-paying jobs" by 2002-2003, according to Rep. Bud Shuster, chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee.

Slate's William Saletan doesn't think that the gas tax is a dead issue. He says it's one of the few things that the Republicans could turn against Gore. Then again, Slate's Chatterbox wonders whether Bush would benefit more from high gas prices.

Gore has his own little oil problems. It seems that he owns a significant amount of stock in Occidental Petroleum through a trust fund set up by his recently deceased father. Critics and protesters have dogged Gore about that ownership because the company plans to drill near a Colombian Indian reserve.

Vouchers nixed in Florida

Education and school vouchers look to be big election-year issues. In Florida Tuesday a judge ruled that the state's school voucher program was unconstitutional, throwing out the country's first statewide school voucher system. This represents a big defeat for Gov. Jeb Bush, who has highlighted his voucher program as a major initiative.

Jeb Bush is also getting knocked for his "One Florida" initiative, which would soften the impact of eliminating affirmative action in Florida. These are two blows against issues the Republican Party -- and especially George W. Bush -- hopes to run on this year. The blows are bonuses for Gore, who is starting to view Florida as winnable in the general election.

Do issues matter?

The Weekly Standard argues that Bush's strongest quality is his likability.

Bush continues to dodge drug questions

An ABC News brief buried within an article about Gore indicates that Bush hasn't completely eliminated allegations about his past drug use. In Louisiana Monday Bush was asked how he can criticize rivals for being vague on the issue when he hasn't completely answered allegations about his own drug use. Bush responded, "I've been investigated. I've had reporters all over my background. They've been looking at all aspects of my life. It's time somebody came along and said, 'I'm going to set a better standard.' You can draw any kind of conclusion you want. But what you cannot draw is the conclusion that I have not brought honor and respect to the highest office in my state. I have and that's what I'm going to do as president of the United States."

Which politician is doubling as a porn star now?

A few years back it was the Italian sensation "Cicciolina" (Ilona Stoller), who was known to allow supporters to fondle her breasts in campaign appearances. She later married artist Jeff Koons, a union that ended in an acrimonious split. Now the Associated Press brings us news of a certain Goeran Eurenius, a local councilor in Haerryda, Sweden, exposed by his own party as a porn star who has appeared in 14 pornographic movies. The leftist party is trying to expel him, but Eurenius says, "I want to work both with politics and pornography."

Hillary spurns her past

Hillary Rodham Clinton was recently invited to a meeting of Arkansas first ladies called "Public Image, Private Lives," a daylong event that celebrated the collection of first ladies' gowns on display at the Old State House, including a dress Hillary wore to one of her husband's inaugural balls. Clinton sent a gracious letter from the Senate campaign trail saying she was sorry she couldn't attend the event. Betty Tucker, wife of former Arkansas Gov. Jim Guy Tucker (who was convicted in the wave of Whitewater indictments and forced to resign from office in 1996) did attend. Clinton, who hasn't appeared in the state for nearly two years, seems to be avoiding Arkansas in favor of a constant presence in New York. Rudy Giuliani made an appearance in Arkansas as recently as July, when a $500-a-plate fund-raiser added to a total of $29,800 donated to his campaign by Arkansas to date -- much more than the $11,450 Clinton has raised from Arkansas so far.

(By Suzi Parker)

Meanwhile Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee doesn't think Clinton is a viable candidate for the Senate in New York or Arkansas: "It's hard for me to believe that New York would elect someone to be senator who's never lived there, been educated there, worked there ... someone who moves to Arkansas and [says], 'I've never lived here, never been educated here, never had a job here, and I want to be your next senator.' They'd be hooted to the next border."

Giuliani offers more proof that criticizing campaign donations is a double-edged sword with a recent fund-raising plea for soft-money donations to the Giuliani Victory Committee.

Just across the river in New Jersey, the race for the Democratic nomination for the Senate is heating up. Jon Corzine, the challenger to local pol Jim Florio, this week released his first TV commercials, at an estimated price of $750,000 for the week. While the race for the New York Senate seat being vacated by Daniel Patrick Moynihan is expected to be the most costly in Senate history, the New Jersey race is expected to be the most costly in state history.

Talking heads

All times EST

  • C-Span's "Washington Journal":
    7 a.m., Cragg Hines, Houston Chronicle.
  • CNN's "Burden of Proof": 12:30 p.m., discussion of "The Hunting of the President" with authors Joe Conason and Gene Lyons.
  • CNN's "Inside Politics": 5 p.m., discussion of the election with Robert Novak, Margaret Carlson, Tucker Tarlson, Bill Turque and Dwight Morris.
  • CNN's "Larry King Live": 9 p.m., discussion of the Roman Catholic Church with Pat Roberston and Father Gregory Coiro.

    Poll positions

  • Bush 49 to Gore 43 (Gallup/CNN/USA Today March 10-12).

  • Bush 47 to Gore 44 (Newsweek poll conducted by the Princeton Survey Research Associates March 9-10).

  • Gore 46 to Bush 45 (ABC News/Washington Post March 9-11).

  • Gore 46 to Bush 43 (CNN/Time poll conducted by Yankelovich Partners March 8-9).

    On the trail

    Bush: No events.

    Gore: Florida, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh and Washington.

    Sound off

    E-mail me with your comments, suggestions and tips at

  • By Max Garrone

    Max Garrone is Salon's Vice President for Operations.

    MORE FROM Max Garrone

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