Giuliani's wife quits "Vagina"

New York polls stagnate as Hillary picks a new fight. Gore's base shakes and Bush's backyard grumbles. Union ponders Nader nod.

By Alicia Montgomery

Published May 2, 2000 11:00AM (EDT)

Rudy Giuliani's wife, actress Donna Hanover, is postponing her stage run in "The Vagina Monologues" because of "family circumstances," according to the New York Post. The decision comes less than a week after Senate hopeful Giuliani announced that he had been diagnosed with prostate cancer. Hanover's initial decision to take the part brought considerable attention as a result of the play's graphic sexual content and author Eve Ensler's outspoken support of Hillary Rodham Clinton. The incident also revived talk about the strained Giuliani marriage, which has been rocky in the years since rumors surfaced of the New York mayor's infidelity.

Although Hanover vows to assume the role at a later, unspecified date, Giuliani himself won't have to exchange any tickets. He had previously announced that he would not attend the show.

State without pity

Some poll watchers expected Giuliani to get a bump in voter support thanks to his humanizing cancer diagnosis. But so far, no dice. As reported by Reuters, two surveys taken in the wake of Giuliani's cancer announcement show no sympathy effect in New York. The Quinnipiac College poll finds Clinton retaining a 46-to-44 lead against Giuliani, while a Zogby poll has the candidates in a dead heat at 43 percent each.

Searching for Sister Souljah

Giuliani's illness may have temporarily robbed Clinton of a suitable target for political attacks, but the Reform Party has supplied her with a replacement. New York Newsday reports that Lenora Fulani, perennial fringe candidate and Pat Buchanan's choice for vice president, has responded to charges Clinton made at New York's Independence Party Convention that Fulani and Buchanan have engaged in "hateful" and "divisive" rhetoric.

At a press conference, Fulani accused Clinton of making "slanderous attacks on me" to "score some political points by name-calling." She added, "The black community and black leaders have experienced a lifetime of efforts by professional politicians to manipulate and divide us."

Gore grasps at straws

Al Gore, despite his countless reinventions, remains locked in a fierce battle with George W. Bush, even in some solidly Democratic states, according to the Associated Press. Iowa, Minnesota, Oregon, Washington and Wisconsin, all sure shots for the Democrats in the past three elections, are tossups this time around. Thus far, the vice president hasn't solidified his political base in the race, said political scientist Steve Schier, and Gore's flip-flops on Elian Gonzalez haven't helped. "He has created a lot of publicity for himself with a position that reinforces negative feelings people have about him -- that he shifts with the wind, panders, is not trustworthy," Schier said. Pollster Tim Hibbitts also credits Bush's leftward turn with weakening Gore. "Bush has been able to portray himself, despite a brutal primary, as a centrist Republican," Hibbitts said.

Austin ain't Bush country

Texas favorite son or not, Austin hasn't rolled out the welcome mat for Bush and his campaign. The Washington Post reports a cultural divide between the state capital's bohemians and new residents from the Bush team. The Bushies themselves don't dispute their fish-out-of-water status, according to campaign aide Joe Allbaugh. "I can't say [Bush] is a favorite son of Austin," Allbaugh admits. "He's sort of like a temporary resident in this government-funded house," says state Democratic Rep. Glen Maxey. "I think by and large most of the people who think of Austin wouldn't say this is a George Bush kind of town." Some residents go even further. Two Austin teens, Angela Robertson and Millie McGillie, came up with a novel way to get rid of their distinguished guest. Their slogan: "Support cannibalism. Eat George Bush."

Television's political prime time

The Washington Post reports that television stations are gobbling up money, thanks to the deluge of election year ads. Between candidates and lobbying groups, political spots have become a $600 million windfall for television, edging out fast food as the third highest sector in airtime consumption. Consequently, broadcasters aren't exactly leading the charge for campaign finance reform, especially because it could require free TV time for candidates. "The networks and the TV industry have been a huge roadblock in trying to fix the system because up pop the dollar signs," said Fred Wertheimer, president of Democracy 21, a nonprofit organization working for campaign finance reform. "The industry has a sweetheart deal and is not interested in making any moves to open the door to make it work better."

Lean, green labor machine

Green Party presidential candidate Ralph Nader wants organized labor working in his corner, the AP reports. The consumer advocate discussed his views with officials from the United Auto Workers, though he declined to ask directly for the union's endorsement. "I just tell people what we're doing," Nader said. The UAW has pledged to withhold its endorsement pending the outcome of a congressional vote on permanent normal trade relations with China. Nader shares labor's low opinion of the measure, unlike Gore, who has nonetheless secured the AFL-CIO's support.

Whom should you vote for?

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

Poll positions

Presidential race:

  • Bush 49 to Gore 44 (Gallup/CNN/USA Today April 28-30).

  • Bush 47 to Gore 38 (Fox News/Opinion Dynamics Poll April 26-27).

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

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

  • 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 46 to Giuliani 44 (Quinnipiac College April 24-30).

  • Clinton 43 to Giuliani 43 (Zogby April 28-29).

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

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

    On the trail

    Bush: Texas.

    Gore: Georgia and New Jersey.

    Talking heads

  • C-Span's "Washington Journal":

    7 a.m. -- Open phones.

    8:15 a.m. -- Ambassador Michael Sheehan on counterterrorism.

    9 a.m. -- Open phones.

    9:15 a.m. -- Adriel Bettelheim, CQ Weekly.

  • C-Span's broadcast of the White House conference on teenagers:

    10:15 a.m. -- President Clinton and Hillary Clinton, Ben Casey, the Dallas YMCA and others.

  • C-Span's broadcast of the campaign finance investigation:

    9:30 a.m. -- Senate Judiciary Committee hearing, with witness Charles LaBella.

    Watch "Washington Journal" on the Web.

    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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