Bush hits the books

But poll finds his money "excessive." Gore remains under suspicion, they keep coming at Giuliani, and Elian is still in limbo.

By Alicia Montgomery
Published April 3, 2000 3:59PM (EDT)

The New York Times reports that George W. Bush's team will continue to beat the education drum to reposition its candidate as a new-style Republican. According to the Economist, Bush earned bragging rights on school reform, risking "big government" slams from his own party to fund programs that boosted test scores. The magazine also says that Al Gore and the Democrats, with their cozy marriage with teachers unions and resistance to school choice, could lose their lock on the minority vote.

But where do the candidates stand on education for rich white men? NBC anchorman/would-be culture critic Tom Brokaw in the New York Times calls for a cease-fire in the Bush-Gore report card wars.

The money pit

Apparently, a once-uninterested public has begun to tune in to the campaign finance reform debate. The Washington Post reports that a survey by Public Campaign shows nearly three-fourths of voters find the $70 million Bush war chest to be "excessive," and 40 percent believe the Texas governor bought his party's nomination.

Of course, Gore has plenty of campaign finance problems of his own. Both the Washington Post and the New York Times report that Charles La Bella, former Justice Department investigator, repeated his calls for an independent counsel review of the vice president's fund-raising activities during the 1996 campaign. During an interview on NBC's "Meet the Press," La Bella stopped short of accusing Gore of criminal conduct, but said it was "too close a call for [the Justice Department] to make." U.S. News and World Report highlights how Gore's relationship with Tony Coelho, his controversial campaign manager, adds to speculation about his integrity.

Unlike Coelho, advisor Naomi Wolfe and campaign manager Donna Brazile, Gore aide Michael Whouley has kept his nose to the grindstone and his name out of the papers. Sources tell the Washington Post that this "brain" of the Gore operation will soon become the vice president's point man in the Democratic National Committee.

Rudy faces another challenge

As if Rudy Giuliani didn't have enough problems handling fallout from the latest police shooting, he may soon have another challenger in his race for the Senate. Rep. Rick Lazio is "ready to run," blasting Giuliani for squandering his once mighty lead over Hillary Rodham Clinton. Though Republican leaders previously gave Lazio a clear "no-go" for a primary challenge, the four-term representative is a favorite of New York's influential Conservative Party. That group has no love for the pro-choice, pro-gay-rights Giuliani, and is threatening to give Lazio its endorsement.

Fighting for his wife

President Clinton has broken his vow. No, not that one. This weekend the president reversed his sealed-lips policy and began speaking up for his wife in her Senate race. Though the Associated Press reports he later backed down, the president accused Giuliani of being part of "the right-wing venom machine."

Look homeward, Elian

According to the Associated Press, Hillary Clinton has taken a rare
political risk, backing the decision of the courts in the case of Elian
Gonzalez. That puts her in conflict with Gore, who has abandoned the
Clinton administration position and called for Congress to grant Elian and
his father permanent resident status. William Raspberry and Bob
penned op-eds favoring repatriation, and GOP Rep. Steve
Largent broke from party
to support a father-son reunion. For a dissenting view, check
Cuban expatriate Carlos
Alberto Montanerin
in the Wall Street Journal.

Talking heads

(All EST and all guests tentative)

  • C-Span's "Washington Journal":

    7 a.m. -- George Curry, Emerge magazine.

    8 a.m. -- Christine Stolba, Independent Women's Forum.

    9 a.m. -- Alexis Semindinger, National Journal.

  • CNN's "Crossfire":

    Topic: What's Next for Elian.

    Guests: Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (D-TX), Immigration and Claims Subcommittee. And Mayor Joe Carollo (R), Miami.

  • MSNBC's "Hardball with Chris Matthews":

    7 p.m Live Town Meeting from Miami.

    Topic: Elian Gonzalez.

    Guests: Rep. Lincoln Diaz-Balart, (R-FL)
    Rep. Gregory Meeks, (D-NY).


  • C-Span's "Washington Journal":

    7:00 a.m. -- Morning Newspaper Articles.

    7:30 a.m. -- John Hendren, Seattle Times, Washington Correspondent.

    8:00 a.m. -- Richard Boucher, State Department, Spokesman Designate.

    8:45 a.m. -- Nina Rees, Heritage Foundation, Senior Education Policy Analyst.

    Poll positions

    Presidential race (previous):

  • Bush 44 to Gore 42 (Fox News/Opinion Dynamics March 22-23).

  • Bush 47 to Gore 42 (Fabrizio, McLaughlin and Associates March 21-23).
  • Bush 49 to Gore 42 (CBS News March 19-21).

  • Bush 46 to Gore 43 (Hotline Bullseye poll conducted by the polling company (R) and Global Strategy Group (D) March 16-19).

  • Gore 49 to Bush 43 (Pew Research for the People and the Press by the Princeton Survey Research Associates March 15-19).

    Vice presidential preferences (previous):

    Preferences for Republican vice presidential candidate among all voters (Fox News/Opinion Dynamics poll March 22-23):

  • John McCain, 27 percent
  • Elizabeth Dole, 19 percent
  • Rudy Giuliani, 6 percent
  • Christine Whitman, 6 percent
  • George Pataki, 3 percent
  • Tom Ridge, 3 percent
  • Fred Thompson, 3 percent
  • Connie Mack, 2 percent
  • Other, 3 percent
  • Not sure, 28 percent

    Preferences for Democratic vice presidential candidate among all voters (Fox News/Opinion Dynamics poll March 22-23):

  • Bill Bradley, 27 percent
  • Dianne Feinstein, 10 percent
  • Bob Kerrey, 6 percent
  • Bob Graham, 5 percent
  • John Kerry, 4 percent
  • Bill Richardson, 4 percent
  • Evan Bayh, 3 percent
  • Other, 6 percent
  • Not sure, 35 percent

    New York Senate:
  • Giuliani 46 to Clinton 43 percent (Marist Institute poll March 27-28)

    On the trail

    Bush: Pennsylvania.

    Gore: Atlanta and Philadelphia.

    Sound off

    E-mail me with your comments, suggestions and tips at alicia@salon.com.

  • Alicia Montgomery

    Alicia Montgomery is an associate editor in Salon's Washington bureau.

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