Bush feels our pain

Reed seeks forgiveness, Gore follows the money and Clinton staffers check the classifieds.

By Alicia Montgomery
Published April 12, 2000 12:20PM (EDT)

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.

Foot-in-mouth disease

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.

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. -- 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.

    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: Missouri.

    Gore: Washington and North Carolina.

    Sound off

    E-mail Trail Mix 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

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