Ventura wrestles McCain

But the senator sticks to his script. Hollywood gives a thumbs down to Democratic fund-raising, and the Bush dynasty produces a third act.

By Alicia Montgomery
Published April 18, 2000 8:21AM (EDT)

Minnesota Gov. Jesse Ventura tried to wrestle John McCain back into the presidential ring. The Associated Press reports that Ventura made the pitch in a private meeting with McCain, their first after many phone chats. "I told him I felt quite strongly he would have a chance to win," Ventura said.

But McCain, in Minnesota on a book tour, stood his ground, pledging to stay off a third-party ticket. "I will not leave the Republican Party," said McCain. "The Republican Party is my home." The former candidate has steadily repeated that line ever since he dropped out of the race for the GOP presidential nomination in the wake of a dismal Super Tuesday showing.

Say goodbye to Hollywood

The film industry is ready to roll the credits after eight years as a top Democratic Party patron, according to the Washington Post. DreamWorks, the studio run by the dynamic trio of David Geffen, Jeffrey Katzenberg and Steven Spielberg, has made public its intentions to quit the party-building business after having raised $15 million for Democrats over the past seven years.

Aside from the fund-raising fatigue in the entertainment community, charisma-challenged Al Gore is a pale second act for those accustomed to President Clinton's star power. "When someone sets a benchmark like that," said political scientist John R. Petrocik, "the man who follows him is in trouble." As of yet, the Democrats haven't settled on a way to build their box-office take without Hollywood's help.

Bush crashes Democrats' party

If the entertainment industry is looking for a fresh new Democrat to recapture the Clinton magic, it might try GOP presidential contender George W. Bush. Writing for the Los Angeles Times, Ronald Brownstein sees Bush taking the "New Democrat" third way on several social issues championed by the Democratic Leadership Council. Washington Post columnist E.J. Dionne writes that Gore's concentration on Cuba-bashing has cost him the chance to paint Bush as an ideological opportunist. And the New York Times reports on Bush's Clintonian campaign strategy: Outflank your opponents in their ideological backyards. Despite the Democratic dance, the Bush campaign says that its man sings from the Republican songbook, only with a new style. "He talks about [social issues] in a way that is fundamentally different," a Bush advisor said, one "that gives the conservative philosophy a more attractive face." Time for an about-face by Gore?

Million-dollar man

If the national budget falls short of covering some of Bush's social programs, he can always make up the difference himself. The New York Times reports that Bush and his wife, Laura, are reporting $1.3 million in income on their 1999 tax return. Though the figure is significantly more than Gore's $240,930 in 1999 income, it's chump change compared with the $18 million Bush cleared last year. While the Texas governor proposes tax relief for the nation, surely he wants some of his own. Bush owes about $514,000, or 39.5 percent of his income, in taxes.

George Bush: The sequel ... again

George II has yet to be crowned and people are already talking about George III. George P. Bush, son of Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and his wife, Columba, may be the next in line to carry the family name to the White House, according to the New York Times. Aspiring law student George P. has a political asset that may prove as helpful as his Bush pedigree: Apparently, he's a total fox. "He's like Ricky Martin, except better looking," said one Bush aide, while another called him "very smooth. Rico suave. Chicks ate him up." Though he has not ruled out a future in politics, the 23-year-old George P. is content for now to work for his uncle's campaign, wait on replies to his law school applications and blow kisses to his fans.

No safety net for Bush

No word yet on any fan sites for George P., but his uncle just lost a battle to take down another Internet site. The Federal Election Commission has thrown out the Texas governor's complaint against, a Web site devoted to mocking him. According to the New York Times, the FEC said the complaint was a waste of time and dismissed it without ruling on whether the government has a right to regulate political speech on the Net. The agency's announcement pleases site creator Zack Exley, but he feels that the dismissal leaves the future of Net politics unclear. "The issue is still open," he said, "and that means that the FEC still has to do the right thing in the end."

Whom should you vote for?

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

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: Michigan.

    Gore: No public schedule.

    Sound off

    E-mail Trail Mix with your comments, suggestions and tips at

  • Alicia Montgomery

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

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