Erin Brockovich names her candidate, while Bush and Ridge shack up, Giuliani and McCain team up and the NRA loads up.

By Alicia Montgomery
Published April 5, 2000 11:17AM (EDT)

USA Today reports that Al Gore not only denied flip-flopping on Elian Gonzalez but also showed signs of having a pulse. The vice president "pounded the table with his index finger, his face reddening," when asked whether he had kowtowed to Cuban-Americans on Elian. "I don't care what the polls show," he said. Gore then told USA Today's Susan Page that Florida's courts should have jurisdication over Elian's custody -- this just hours after saying on NBC's "Today" that his father Juan Gonzalez's word "on free soil" would be enough to send the boy back to Cuba.

In the afternoon interview, Gore challenged the notion that Juan Gonzalez can speak about his son's fate without being pressed into puppet duty for Fidel Castro. "We don't know what the father's true feeling is at all." Clearly, Gonzalez lacks Gore's gift for clarity.

On the other side of the Elian aisle, Rep. Steve Largent is crystal clear in his Op-Ed for the New York Times. The Oklahoma Republican demands that conservatives put the "family" in "family values" and put Elian on the next plane to Havana and his dad. The statement places the Christian right rising star at odds with most major players in the GOP, including George W. Bush.

What women want

The vice president hopes that women want cash, according to the Washington Post. Gore's plan for shoring up Social Security includes a tax break for women who leave jobs to raise kids, a cure for what Gore calls the "motherhood penalty."

New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd knows one working mom in Gore's camp: real-life pollution-buster Erin Brockovich. Though Dowd suggests the success of the pro-environment, pro-lawsuit film bodes well for Gore's candidacy, Brockovich, a tepid Gore supporter, doubts that the movie "might have any kind of impact that goes beyond wardrobe."

Touch me in the morning

In the race for the vice presidential nod, Bush is getting quite cozy with Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Ridge, according to the New York Times. The governor slept at Ridge's home during his campaign swing through that state. Bush had bunked in hotels during visits to the states of Wisconsin Gov. Tommy Thompson and New Jersey Gov. Christine Todd Whitman. To an old-fashioned guy like Bush, the sleepover may mean a commitment.

Where's the vote?

While Elian Gonzalez and Microsoft hogged the headlines, the Associated Press reminds us that people are still voting in presidential primaries. In the Pennsylvania and Wisconsin "contests," Bush and Gore won. Surprise, surprise. In the Senate contest in Pennsylvania, the Washington Post reports, Democrat Rep. Ron Klink beat out a crowded field to face one-term Republican Sen. Rick Santorum.

Back on the bus

Rudy Giuliani took his campaign show on the road with new best buddy John McCain, rambling across Long Island to try to pick up the independent voters McCain wowed during his presidential run. Though McCain now seems eager to play Han Solo to Giuliani's Luke Skywalker, the New York mayor could hardly contain his admiration ... for the bus. "This is a great bus," Giuliani gushed. "I've never been on a bus this nice before. This is terrific. The campaign bus that we used in the past was like a truck. This is really great. It's terrific."

Convention contention

The Washington Post reports that the political parties have found a new reason to open taxpayer wallets. Both Republicans and Democrats are having trouble picking up the hefty checks for their upcoming conventions and want locals to do some of the heavy lifting. Democrats are urging Los Angeles to help close the $8 million gap in their convention budget, while Republicans want Philadelphia to ante up $2 million, which would be on top of the $5 million the city has already promised to the GOP.

NRA opens fire

If Republicans need cash this election year, they know where to go. The Los Angeles Times reports that the National Rifle Association, seeking to blunt Columbine-related gun control momentum, has opened its coffers wide. For the first time, the gun group has made it into the ranks of top Republican soft-money donors, giving $550,000 to GOP committees. That buys a lot of bullets.

Talking heads

(All EST and all guests tentative)

  • C-Span's "Washington Journal":

    7 a.m. -- Morning newspapers.

    7:30 a.m. -- Thomas Shatz, Citizens Against Government Waste.

    8:15 a.m. -- Sen. Gordon Smith, R-Ore., on the budget.

    9 a.m. -- Open phones.

    9:15 a.m. -- William Galston, University of Maryland School of Public Affairs.

    Watch "Washington Journal" online.

  • MSNBC's "The Mitchell Report": 6 p.m.

    Governor Tom Ridge, (R-PA) and Sen. Rick Santorum, (R-PA).

  • MSNBC's "Equal Time with Ollie North & Paul Begala": 6:30 p.m.

    Arianna Huffington, Syndicated Columnist and
    Julianne Malveaux, Syndicated Columnist.

  • MSNBC's "Hardball with Chris Matthews":
    7 p.m.

    Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, (R-FL) and
    Rep, Dan Burton, (R-IN).

    Poll positions

    Presidential race:

  • Bush 46 to Gore 45 (Gallup/CNN/USA Today Poll March 30-April 2).

  • Gore 47 to Bush 46 (ABC News/Washington Post March 30-April 2).

  • Bush 46 to Gore 45 (CNN, March 30-April 2).

    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).
  • Clinton 45 to Giuliani 42 percent (Zogby March 23-25).


    "How authentic is it? I mean, this is where I really
    spent my life. It is very, very close. It gives you the picture, of a group of people that aren't very different
    than everybody else but for the pathological way in which they conduct their business. And
    therefore, they can be totally horrible and totally evil, or they can be these enormously
    complex people who love their children, love their friends, but then every once in a while go
    out and kill one of them."

    Former prosecutor Rudy Giuliani talking about his favorite television show, the "Sopranos". (New York Times)

    On the trail

    Bush: Austin, Texas.

    Gore: Washington, Maryland and North Carolina.

    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.

    MORE FROM Alicia Montgomery

    Related Topics ------------------------------------------