Rudy's private life under scrutiny

Hillary keeps her ads kind and cuddly, but blasts hubby's Puerto Rico plan. The NRA shoots off its mouth about Bush.

By Alicia Montgomery

Published May 4, 2000 11:00AM (EDT)

Rudy Giuliani has been dogged by reporters' questions about Judith Nathan, a "very good friend" who has been seen frequently in the mayor's company. The New York Times reports that Giuliani expressed frustration with the press probing and declined to discuss the relationship. "I am annoyed that people would have invaded the privacy of people who are not in [public] life," he said. The New York Post reports that Nathan, a single mother who lives in Manhattan's Upper East Side, was the Senate hopeful's New Year's Eve date and has accompanied him to a few public functions. Giuliani's wife, Donna Hanover, has rarely appeared with the mayor since rumors of his adultery surfaced in 1996.

Renewed interest in Giuliani's romantic affairs comes after a week of unusually sympathetic coverage of the mayor as a result of his announcement that he suffers from prostate cancer. Giuliani said that reporters shouldn't expect him to be as forthcoming about his marriage as he has been about his diagnosis. But he also stepped away from further talk of his health. "I have told you about my health. That affects my public life," he said. "There is nothing else you need to know."

Hillary ads up

Staying away from personal attacks, Hillary Rodham Clinton's new political spot doesn't mention Giuliani at all, instead focusing on the first lady and her public service record. The New York Daily News reports that the ads' positive tone has nothing to do with her opponent's recent cancer diagnosis. "We've been working on advertisements for several weeks now," said Clinton campaign manager Bill de Blasio. "This was when we were ready to start." The Giuliani campaign, however, remains unimpressed. Campaign manager Bruce Teitelbaum called the ads the "latest attempt to reinvent Mrs. Clinton."

Bill's Puerto Rico plan bombs with Hillary

The first lady thinks that the federal government is wrong to continue its military maneuvers in Vieques, Puerto Rico, USA Today reports. According to a statement released by Clinton's campaign, the "small, inhabited island should not be used for target practice," a position in opposition to her husband's support of the Navy's actions. Critics accused the president of trying to boost his wife's Senate run when he released Puerto Rican independence terrorists last year.

With friends like these ...

While "compassionate conservative" George W. Bush tries to keep his ties to the National Rifle Association out of the spotlight, his friends there aren't at all gun-shy about publicizing the relationship. The Washington Post reports that NRA officials have been shooting off their mouths about what a Bush presidency would do for them. Kayne Robinson, vice president of the organization, declared that gun rights advocates would have "unbelievably friendly relations" with a Bush White House. He went on to say, "If we win, we'll have a Supreme Court that will back us to the hilt. If we win, we'll have a president ... where we work out of their office." Robinson's remarks, made in February at a Los Angeles meeting of NRA members, will be woven into a national ad campaign by Handgun Control Inc., a group that promotes firearms regulation.

The Bush campaign has refused to return the NRA's ardent embrace, at least in public. "Neither the NRA nor any special interest sets the governor's agenda," said Bush spokesman Scott McClellan, responding to the comments by Robinson and other gun rights boosters. "Governor Bush sets his agenda based on his priorities and principles."

No breaks for Mrs. Bush

Bush's wife, Laura, was at fault in a 1963 car crash that killed her then boyfriend, according to the Dallas Morning News. As originally reported by the Midland Reporter-Telegram, a court order directed police in Midland, Texas, to release an account of the incident, which had previously been withheld from the press. The police report found that the then Laura Welsh ran a stop sign, hitting a Chevrolet Corvair driven by Michael Douglas, a classmate of hers at Robert E. Lee High School. No charges were filed in the case.

Laura Bush has been relatively silent about the incident and the recent reports. But her spokesman, Andrew Malcolm, commented, "It was a very tragic accident that deeply affected the families and was very painful for all involved, including the community at large," he said. "To this day, Mrs. Bush remains unable to talk about it."

Babes for Bush

Ladies loved Bill Clinton at the ballot box, but Bush has stolen their hearts from Gore. An NBC/Wall Street Journal poll shows that Bush has erased Gore's advantage with female voters, and leads the vice president overall 46 percent to 41 percent. The survey credits Bush's education policy with closing the gender gap. The poll also found that Republican and independent voters still prefer Gen. Colin Powell and former candidate John McCain for vice president over people who actually want the job, though Elizabeth Dole, one enthusiastic contender, bests McCain for second place in an exclusively Republican sample.

Democrats' DeLay action

House Democrats have learned a thing or two from their hearing-happy brethren across the aisle. The Washington Post reports that the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee is suing House Majority Whip Tom DeLay for racketeering. The civil suit charges the Texas congressman with squeezing contributors for donations to his party, then shifting those funds to shady nonprofits that he controlled. "Never before has a senior congressional and party leader devised a scheme like this: hammering contributors for money, threatening to punish those who decline and setting up a shadow party structure outside public view and outside our laws to make it possible," said DCCC chairman Rep. Patrick J. Kennedy of Rhode Island.

DeLay spokeswoman Emily Miller dismissed the allegations as "utterly invalid and baseless." But the charges aren't new -- DeLay's dealings have raised suspicions before. In April, Capitol Hill newspaper Roll Call detailed creative accounting by a nonprofit group affiliated with him.

Whom should you vote for?

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

Poll positions

Presidential race: (previous)

  • Bush 46 to Gore 41 (NBC/Wall Street Journal April 29-May 1).

  • 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).

    Vice presidential preferences (previous):

    Preferences for Republican vice presidential candidate among Republican voters (NBC/Wall Street Journal April 29-May 1):

  • Colin Powell, 39 percent
  • Elizabeth Dole, 19 percent
  • John McCain, 18 percent
  • Christine Todd Whitman, 5 percent
  • Fred Thompson, 6 percent
  • John Kaisch, 4 percent
  • Tom Ridge, 3 percent
  • Other, 1 percent
  • Not sure, 5 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: California.

    Gore: Illinois and Michigan.

    Talking heads

  • C-Span's "Washington Journal":

    7 a.m. -- Open phones and, from London by phone, Charles Reiss, London Evening Standard.

    8:15 a.m. -- Rep. J.C. Watts (R-Okla.), Republican Conference chairman.

    9 a.m. -- Open phones.

    9:15 a.m. -- Thomas Blanton, National Security Archive, on access to government documents.

    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.

    MORE FROM Alicia Montgomery

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