Rudy's wife miffs mourners

Hanover holds press conference outside John Cardinal O'Connor's wake. Cuban-Americans back Giuliani, Clintons return to Arkansas and Bush fires back on the NRA.

Published May 8, 2000 11:00AM (EDT)

Rudy Giuliani's personal problems keep stealing the spotlight in his Senate race. The New York Post reports that Giuliani's wife, Donna Hanover, angered Roman Catholic Church officials by holding a press conference about her troubled marriage just outside St. Patrick's Cathedral, where John Cardinal O'Connor lay in state. Though the New York mayor's relationship with "very good friend" Judith Nathan has grabbed headlines recently, Hanover told reporters, "this marriage and this man have been very precious to me." Some members of the archdiocese, however, thought Hanover's comments intruded on a tribute to another man who was quite precious to many. "You don't call a press conference at a wake," said one church official. "It's grossly inappropriate."

Some Giuliani supporters find his handling of questions about his marriage "inappropriate." The Washington Times reports that charges of adultery may discourage voters who gave Giuliani a sympathetic second look after he announced his prostate cancer diagnosis. "I'm really saddened by this," said New Yorker Adele Keogh of the Giuliani-Nathan affair. "This may complicate his chances more than the disease."

Viva Rudy!

New York's Cuban community, however, remains squarely behind Giuliani, especially since his public stands against the federal government's action in the Elian Gonzalez case. According to the New York Times, Giuliani received a hero's welcome at a Cuban Day parade and enthusiastically returned the crowd's affection. "I have tremendous respect for the Cuban-American community because they embody the very best values of America," he said. The mayor reiterated his charges that the federal agents who seized Elian acted as "storm troopers" for the Clinton administration; he said they "dressed up as if they were involved in a major war confrontation and they went in with a machine gun pointed at a child."

Down-home Clintons

Giuliani's Democratic opponent, Hillary Rodham Clinton, took her fund-raising show on the road, reports the New York Daily News. Hometown boy President Clinton helped the first lady pocket $100,000 for her Senate campaign at a Little Rock, Ark., rally. The president stressed the importance of Democratic voices in Congress and said that his wife's victory would be "great for America." Though Hillary Clinton has previously broken with some of her husband's positions -- most recently over military maneuvers in Vieques, Puerto Rico -- the first lady couldn't have agreed more with him on this matter: "Bill's absolutely right," she said. "This election, like all elections, is about the future."

The Giuliani campaign called her comments "more Clinton double-speak," noting that the first lady has kept her distance from the president throughout the race. "In her new commercial Mrs. Clinton attempts to create her record without mentioning President Clinton," said Giuliani spokeswoman Kim Serafin. "Now she's flip-flopping and asking for support because of the President."

Hillary Clinton's semi-truth in advertising

New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd finds the "more than a first lady" punch line in Hillary Clinton's campaign ad less than sincere. Dowd argues that the slogan demeans the historical importance of presidential wives, and confirms the worst charges about the first lady's character. "The ad is a little astounding because it finally blurts out what we suspected Hillary felt all along," Dowd writes, "that she was entitled to more, that being the most powerful woman in American politics for eight years was not enough."

Robertson won't turn the other cheek to McCain

Time, apparently, has yet to heal all wounds in the feud between Christian conservative Pat Robertson and former presidential candidate John McCain. The Washington Post reports that Robertson advised George W. Bush not to choose McCain for the vice presidential slot, saying that the Arizona senator's criticism of him during the Republican primaries proved charges that McCain was too temperamental to lead. "We need somebody with his hand on the nuclear trigger and on other levers of government ... who wouldn't go into a man's hometown and make extreme statements like that on the spur of a moment. This is very dangerous," Robertson said on NBC's "Meet the Press." "Can you imagine dealing with our foreign powers, and you get mad and you fly off the handle? ... I think we should have a balanced leader."

Robertson's love of balance, however, does not extend to the abortion issue. Pennsylvania's Tom Ridge, a pro-choice Republican governor, could expect only a lukewarm welcome from Robertson should Bush put him on the ticket. "I personally could probably accept it, but ... I don't think the evangelicals and many of the conservatives and the pro-life people in the Republican Party would be happy with that, and Bush might lose support. And I don't think it would be a wise choice for him."

Bush fires back on the NRA

The Republican presidential hopeful returned fire after Al Gore charged him with being at the National Rifle Association's beck and call. According to the Los Angeles Times, Bush responded to the charge by questioning the vice president's own gun record, citing an NRA report that Gore supported NRA measures in 75 percent of relevant votes from 1985 to 1990 during his time as a Tennessee senator. "My position is that when it was convenient politically, he voted one way and when it was convenient politically, he changed his tune," said Bush. But the Texas governor went even further, suggesting that Gore was once an NRA member. When reporters pressed for evidence, Bush demurred, saying "a little birdie" told him that Gore belonged to the gun rights group. "He might have been a member," Bush continued. "Let's put it that way."

The Gore team dismissed Bush's accusations and said that he was just trying to distract Americans from his own gun record. "I don't think it's relevant," Doug Hattaway, a Gore spokesman, said of the NRA membership charges. "What's important is that Al Gore is standing up to the NRA and its extreme agenda while George Bush is carrying their ammo bag."

Is Bush getting gun-shy?

In a Time magazine analysis, Jessica Reaves predicts that Bush will be haunted by his NRA ties just as his "compassionate conservative" message gains momentum. Reaves believes that ads featuring NRA officials jubilant over the prospect of "unbelievably friendly relations" with a Bush White House will strike a nerve in many of the swing voters the Texas governor needs to win. "Even if voters are able to shake off the image of NRA executive vice president Wayne LaPierre setting up shop in the Oval Office," writes Reaves, "many Americans -- increasingly in favor of gun control in the wake of Columbine and similar incidents -- may not be entirely comfortable with the idea of an NRA so confident in its standing in a Bush presidency."

Bush's big endorsement

The major media outlets missed a major, potentially race-altering endorsement for Bush last week. See it here.

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: New York and Pennsylvania.

    Gore: New York and Washington.

    Talking heads

  • C-Span's "Washington Journal":

    7 a.m. -- Newspaper articles.

    8:15 a.m. -- Lenora Falani, Committee for the Unified Independent Party, on a lawsuit against the Federal Election Commission.

    9 a.m. -- Newspaper articles.

    9:15 a.m. -- TBA.

    Watch "Washington Journal" on the Web.

    Sound off

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

  • By Alicia Montgomery

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

    MORE FROM Alicia Montgomery

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