Dubya dines for $18 million

Gore says no free lunch on GOP spending, Dems plot bucks-boosting barbecue and Giuliani won't enter "Vagina" dialogue.

By Alicia Montgomery
Published April 26, 2000 7:56PM (EDT)

George W. Bush plans to score big money at an inside-the-beltway gala, according to the Associated Press. Republicans expect to break their own $14 million single-day fund-raising record by pocketing more than $18 million in donations at a dinner in Bush's honor. Tobacco titan Philip Morris is among the 38 donors giving at least $250,000 to dine with Dubya; an additional 16 companies and individuals are shelling out $100,000 each.

Gunning for glory with Bush

Wayne LaPierre, chief of the National Rifle Association, will also have a seat at the big spenders' table. The New York Times reports that the NRA's $250,000 pledge is part of a fierce gun lobby crusade to help Bush capture the White House and keep the GOP in charge of Congress. In fund-raising letters to its membership, the NRA has touted the Texas governor's support of concealed-gun laws, asking members to "encourage George Bush to continue his strong stance in favor of your Second Amendment rights." The organization has also switched from hard-money donations to candidates to a soft-money strategy, giving $540,000 to Republican election committees this year.

According to campaign spokesman Ari Fleischer, Bush couldn't be happier than to be an NRA-backed candidate. "Governor Bush is proud to have the support of members of the National Rifle Association," he said. The gun lobby's enthusiasm for Bush makes the Gore camp very happy as well, and Democrats plan a strong attack on the issue in coming months.

Bush bands with bipartisan buddies

The Texas governor is taking a shot at the Democratic vote, reports the Washington Post. In an Ohio campaign stop, Bush traveled with four Texas allies to vouch for his bipartisanship, an effort to deflect criticism by Al Gore. One such Bush buddy, former state Rep. Hugo Berlanga, said, "I know the governor well, and I can tell you, he is the best governor Texas has ever had."

While Bush extended his hand to Democrats, the Republican candidate also took a moment to slap at Gore for "stretching the truth and exaggerating." "I would hope that this is a campaign of ideas, not exaggerations," said Bush. "But ... I'm running against a person who is so anxious to become president, he will do whatever it takes."

Cheney chosen as V.P. search chief

According to the AP, Bush has picked Dick Cheney, his dad's secretary of defense, to head his campaign's quest for a suitable second. "It's obviously an important decision for me and I can't think of a better person to work with on making that decision," said the Texas governor. Though speculation has swirled around former presidential candidate John McCain and Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Ridge as top contenders for the bottom of the ticket, Bush denies that there has been any list thus far. Cheney's selection as search supervisor "is the beginning of the list," he said.

Gore empire to strike back

The Los Angeles Times reports that Gore plans to take off the gloves and aggressively attack Bush after weeks of allowing the Republican candidates' policy statements to dominate the campaign with little challenge. Though Gore's disappearing act has drawn criticism from some in his party, other Gore supporters feel Bush's solo turn on the public stage has produced several fat policy targets vulnerable to a Democratic attack. "The beauty is, [Bush] laid issues on the table," Gore spokesman Doug Hattaway said. "Now we can have some good debate."

Son of a Bush

An early Gore counterpunch to the Bush compassion campaign will be to remind voters of the deficits rung up under the last Republican administration, according to the New York Times. Gore said that eliminating the national debt by 2013 is a top priority and warned Americans against the debtor days of Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush. "This is a test of our memory," Gore said. "Have we forgotten the dangers of irresponsibility? Have we forgotten the virtues of responsibility?"

Big-bucks barbecue

The Washington Post reports that Democrats will try to beat the black-tie Republican fund-raiser with their "blue jeans and cowboy boots" tribute to President Clinton. First daughter Chelsea Clinton will join her aspiring successor, Karenna Gore Schiff, in trying to entice younger donors to join in the $50-a-ticket event. And the Democrats are offering perks to those who give a bit more: While organizer Terry McAuliffe has attempted to differentiate the exclusive GOP gala from the 10,000-guest gathering to honor President Clinton, those who raise more than $250,000 will be invited to a private dinner with the president the day before the main event.

Rudy doubts Hillary's donors

Rudy Giuliani, in the wake of an Albany Times Union report showing that Hillary Rodham Clinton has a higher rate of in-state donations, has accused the first lady of concealing her soft-money donors. Giuliani spokesman Bruce Teitelbaum said Clinton is hiding unsavory givers by shifting money from campaign accounts to Democratic Party accounts that accept soft money. "They hide it in this committee and then they transfer it," Teitelbaum said. "This is classic Clintonian mathematics. You can't have it both ways to puff up campaign numbers." The Albany Times Union says its analysis of contributions covered hard money, and did not examine the soft-money donations to either Clinton or Giuliani.

"The Vagina Monologues" leave Rudy speechless

Though the New York mayor has plenty to say about Clinton's wife, Giuliani is strikingly silent on his wife's plan to star in an off-Broadway production of "The Vagina Monologues." The New York Observer's Nina Burleigh suggests that Donna Hanover's role in the play could give the mayor a chance to connect to women voters. "If Mr. Giuliani had a few female counselors around, they could sneak into 'The Vagina Monologues' and tell him how to react," Burleigh writes. "He told Shere Hite for her new book on sex and business that a full third of his inner circle of advisers are women. It's time for them to be seen."

No word on whether Giuliani will ever be seen at the play. "I think those discussions will be private discussions about whether I do or I don't," he said. "My wife is independent and she leads an independent life, so do I. I keep the rest of that private."

Whom should you vote for?

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

Poll positions

Presidential race:

  • Bush 43 to Gore 41 (CBS News April 15-17).

  • Bush 44 to Gore 42 (Newsweek April 13-14).

  • 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).

  • Bush 45 to Gore 40 (Marist College April 3-5).

  • Bush 46 to Gore 42 (Zogby April 1-4).

    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: Washington.

    Gore: Connecticut.

    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

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