Bush busts loose

Bad medicine in Texas, pandering diagnosis for Gore and Whitewater fever hits Hillary.

Published April 11, 2000 12:08PM (EDT)

Support for George W. Bush leapt nine points in a week, giving him a 50 percent to 41 percent lead over Al Gore, according to a poll featured in USA Today. The vice president lost his eight-point advantage with women and is now tied with Bush among female voters. USA Today cites Gore's "firm" opinion that the courts, the father or Congress should determine the fate of Elian Gonzalez as the primary reason his support has slipped. Voters polled viewed the ever-evolving Gore message on Elian as pandering. When the press presses him for his view on the matter, maybe Gore should just say no.

Gore triple-flips on Elian

Just when you thought he'd taken every position possible, Gore has expressed yet another opinion on how the Elian situation should be resolved. The Associated Press reports that the vice president now thinks the whole Gonzalez family should have the last word on the boy. Gore said, "Let the entire family, including the Florida relatives, talk with one another without people from the U.S. government or the Cuban government or lawyers on either side." Or on every side, in Gore's case.

Texas is hard on health

As part of his "New Prosperity Initiative," Bush proposes a health care program for the uninsured, according to the AP. Under the plan, those who didn't qualify for Medicaid would receive tax credits toward health coverage. Though Bush now shows enthusiasm for this issue, Texas health care remains on the critical list. So says a New York Times story detailing Bush's record on public health in his home state. The prognosis is not good: Texas has high rates of AIDS, diabetes and teen pregnancy and low rates of health insurance among poor children.

Bush could also stand to improve his bedside manner. The Times reports that the governor has tried to obstruct the federal Children's Health Insurance Program, supported an unwelcoming Medicaid application system and was dragged kicking and screaming into patient's rights legislation. Furthermore, Bush has shown little interest in health care issues in Texas, and has never made a speech about the topic as governor. But that was before he caught White House fever.

Bush covers his bases

Here's another job that Bush would rather not do. The Austin American-Statesman reports that the GOP presidential candidate has begun work on his 2001 agenda as governor of Texas, just in case. According to the Statesman, Bush's priorities include education, transportation and preserving his legacy. He hopes to deliver the final plan from a Washington address.

Microsoft hires Bush backer

The New York Times reports that Microsoft has hired the firm Century Strategies as its chief Bush lobbyist in hopes of deterring further Justice Department anti-monopoly sanctions. Ralph Reed, former Christian Coalition chief and Bush campaign advisor, heads Century Strategies. Though Microsoft says that similar lobbying efforts are being directed at Gore, the software giant supplied no details about those. Is Bill Gates betting on Bush?

Circling the wagons

The Texas governor is making his mark on the Republican National Committee. The Washington Post reports that Bush has selected Dallas businessman Fred Meyer to chair the Victory 2000 committee, a group formed to oversee GOP fund-raising and other election efforts. Meyer will be joined by Bush advisors Maria Cino and Jeanne Johnson Phillips in the friendly Texas takeover of top RNC posts.

Son of Starr

President Clinton hopes to get out of town with his freedom. Independent counsel Robert Ray, however, makes no promises. The Washington Post reports that Ray is not ruling out criminal charges against Clinton, calling the Monica Lewinsky matter "an open investigation." Ray acknowledges waning public interest, but argues, "There is a principle to be vindicated, and that principle is that no person is above the law, even the president of the United States. That is what we have been charged with doing."

Hillary-hater hobbyists

In more news you've already heard enough of, the AP reports that Hillary Rodham Clinton's Arkansas law license is being challenged by the Landmark Legal Foundation. In response to that group's request that Clinton be disbarred, a state court will investigate the first lady's role in Whitewater. Meanwhile, the American Enterprise Institute sponsored an all-day "what's the matter with Hillary?" session in Washington. Attendees included noted Hillary-bashers Christopher Hitchens, Peggy Noonan and Phyllis Schlafly. Hitchens discounted charges that he and others have an unhealthy preoccupation with the first couple. "People say I'm obsessed about the Clintons. I'm not. I just think about them all the time," he said.

Rudy lunches with ladies

The New York Times reports that Rudy Giuliani has kicked off a series of "Women for Rudy" events across New York. These gatherings will highlight the mayor's continued strong showing among white women voters at a time when his support among men has dropped significantly, largely as a result of the Patrick Dorismond shooting. "I don't consider women voters different than men voters," Giuliani said. "They're the same to me."

McCain: Losers rule

Giuliani's main man, John McCain, continues to be the most beloved loser since Charlie Brown. Within one hour, the AP ran three McCain items, one covering a colorably positive remark the Arizona senator made about Hillary Clinton, another reviewing his scant Super Tuesday wins and a third reminding us of how desolate his supporters are without him. Bill Bradley, eat your heart out!

Whom should you vote for?

Take our survey and find out. You might be surprised.

Talking heads

(All EST and all guests tentative.)

  • C-Span's "Washington Journal":

    7 a.m. -- Joseph Farah, WorldNetDaily.com.

    7:15 a.m. -- Eric Newhouse, Great Falls Tribune (Mont.) and Pulitzer Prize winner.

    7:45 a.m. -- Rep. John Linder, R-Ga., and Rep. Collin Peterson, D-Minn., on the national sales tax proposal.

    Watch "Washington Journal" online.

    Poll positions

    Presidential race:

  • Bush 44 to Gore 44 (Newsweek April 6-7).

  • Bush 45 to Gore 37 (Fox News/Opinion Dynamics Poll April 5-6).

  • Bush 50 to Gore 41 (Gallup/CNN/USA Today April 7-9).

  • 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 Todd 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:

  • Clinton 52 to Giuliani 42 (New York Times/CBS News April 1-5).

  • Clinton 46 to Giuliani 43 (Quinnipiac College March 28-April 3).

  • Giuliani 46 to Clinton 43 (Marist Institute March 27-28).

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

    On the trail

    Bush: Ohio and Missouri.

    Gore: Ohio.

    Sound off

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

  • By Alicia Montgomery

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

    MORE FROM Alicia Montgomery

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