Sounding dangerously Democratic, George W. Bush has staked a claim to yet another Clintonian pet project: helping the working poor. The Washington Post reports that Bush is offering more specifics about his "New Prosperity Initiative," including $34.7 billion worth of tax cuts to enable the working poor to get health coverage.
Bush also touted his "American Dream Downpayment Fund," a program designed to help low-income renters become home buyers. Said Bush, "I believe in private property so strongly and so firmly, I want everyone to have some." Now that sounds like a Republican.
Bush was working hard to walk away from remarks made by Texas Health Commissioner William R. Archer III. The Associated Press reports that the Bush-approved appointee has backed off comments that suggest Hispanics are primarily responsible for the state's high teen birthrate. Bush campaign spokesman Ari Fleischer said that that suggestion was "not in keeping with the spirit of the governor's comments."
Archer issued an apologetic press release, which read in part: "I deeply regret that I have created an erroneous impression about Hispanics and teen pregnancy." Earlier Archer statements to the New York Times were somewhat less compassionate, however. He previously said that teen pregnancy was hard to limit among Hispanics because they didn't believe "that getting pregnant is a bad thing."
Reed is really sorry
Christian conservative Ralph Reed has also started his apology tour. The New York Times reports that the Bush advisor and Microsoft frontman has promised to stop lobbying the Texas governor on Microsoft's behalf. Reed apparently didn't get far in his efforts to put Microsoft's case onto Bush's radar screen. The campaign says it has received only one letter from a Bush backer expressing support for the software company in its antitrust battle.
But no matter how small his efforts, Reed is so sorry. "It is an error that we regret," read a statement issued by Century Strategies, his political consulting firm. Whether this regret has been simmering since Reed joined the Microsoft payroll in 1998, started working for Bush in 1999 or promised to begin lobbying Bush earlier this year is a matter of some question.
President puts down pardon pen
President Clinton, the man who practically invented the politically expedient apology, has no plans to give himself the ultimate out at the end of his term. White House spokesman Joe Lockhart ruled out a presidential self-pardon at the end of Clinton's term, according to USA Today. The statement comes in the wake of reports that independent counsel Robert Ray may indict Clinton after he leaves office.
In that case, maybe Clinton should just stay put. The AP reports that one young Clinton supporter in Annapolis, Md., suggested that the president break or bend the law to allow for an additional term. In response, Clinton laughed and said, "I can't do that." Not anymore, anyway.
Gore collects cash
Undaunted by long-running rumors of fund-raising improprieties, Al Gore continues to stuff his pockets and Democratic coffers with campaign cash. The vice president has racked up more than $1 million so far this week, according to the AP, with no plans to slow down. Gore has raised $26 million for the Democratic National Committee so far this year; if the experience of his boss is any indication, the committee might want to save some of that for future legal bills.
Hillary jabs at jobs
We know the first lady doesn't go for baking cookies or giving teas, but now she has also expressed disdain for the welfare-to-work jobs promoted by her rival, Rudy Giuliani. The New York Post reports that Clinton bashed Giuliani for "[putting] people in make-work jobs that don't lead to real economic independence. Hillary Clinton told the Albany, N.Y., crowd, "We have a mayor here who perverts welfare reform." The mayor of Albany, Gerald Jennings, has no response so far.
First lady layoffs?
The New York Observer reports that some of Clinton's campaign staff may be hunting for work soon themselves. Despite the campaign's recent successes, internal feuding is making many staffers uneasy. According to the Observer, "There is a sense running through Team Hillary of the shoe about to drop; an ax about to fall; a general apprehension as to what will happen." Anyone who works for either Clinton should probably get used to it.
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(All EST and all guests tentative.)
7 a.m. -- Morning newspaper articles.
7:30 a.m. -- Rep. John Sweeney, R-N.Y., on clean lakes legislation.
8 a.m. -- Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchinson, R-Texas, on the marriage penalty tax.
8:45 a.m. -- Rep. Bill Pascrell, D-N.J., on H.R. 1168, fire services funding.
9:15 a.m. -- Rep. Tom Lantos, D-Calif., on international news.
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On the trail
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