Rudy cuts cancer funds

Grumbling follows McCain's halfhearted endorsement of Bush. Gore burns Republicans on Confederate flag and gets torched in new poll.

Published May 10, 2000 9:47AM (EDT)

So much for Rudy Giuliani's new kinder, gentler image. New York Newsday reports that the New York mayor has slashed funds for prostate cancer screening in his current budget plan. Giuliani, who has been diagnosed with the disease himself, would eliminate a $750,000 program to provide free testing to uninsured New Yorkers. "It's a shame that we have to go to the City Council for help in restoring this money," said Judith Wessler of the Commission on the Public's Health System, an advocacy group. "The mayor should do it." Other potentially problematic cuts in public health include a $2.1 million reduction for health programs for poor children and a $1 million cut for family planning services in poor communities suffering from high infant mortality rates.

McCain backs Bush -- barely

Ex-presidential candidate John McCain gave in and endorsed George W. Bush at a Pittsburgh "summit." The Washington Post reports that after weeks of preparation and cross talk, both camps claimed to have gotten just what they wanted from the meeting: unity and a useful dialogue.

But McCain's statements at a joint press conference hardly matched his promise to "enthusiastically" support former rival Bush. For one, the Arizona senator agreed that "take the medicine now" was a good description of why he chose to give his nod to Bush, and McCain didn't use the word "endorse" until prodded by a reporter. Further, though McCain has said that he always planned to back Bush, his remarks showed uncharacteristic understatement. "I believe that it's very important that we restore integrity and honor to the White House," McCain said. "I am convinced that Governor Bush can do that more than adequately."

Can't you see the bumper stickers now? "Bush: More Than Adequate."

Bush ducks Robertson ruckus

Even as Bush stood by McCain to get his endorsement at the Pittsburgh press conference, the Texas governor wouldn't stand up for him in McCain's ongoing feud with Pat Robertson. According to the New York Times, Bush refused to directly denounce Robertson for saying that McCain was too unstable to be a suitable vice president. "John's a friend," Bush responded to a query about Robertson's comment. "He is a good man. He's a man of good judgment, and I look forward to working with him."

Though McCain had already said no to the veep slot, the dodge still stung many in his camp. "I'm very disappointed," said Rick Davis, McCain's former campaign manager. "I don't think there's a Republican around who doesn't think Pat Robertson's comments Sunday were outside the mainstream of our party. What's the harm of saying that?"

Candidates grin, but voters shrug

Whatever struggle led to McCain's tepid nod, the American people are likely to ignore the endorsement altogether on Election Day, according to an Associated Press analysis by Walter Mears. That point is borne out by a long list of tenacious also-rans whose formal endorsements of party nominees didn't make a difference. In fact, the late strong-challenger endorsement has proved to be the kiss of death in several campaigns. For Democrats, the list includes Eugene McCarthy's last-minute nod for Hubert Humphrey in 1968, Edward Kennedy's endorsement of Jimmy Carter in 1980 and the infamous Jesse Jackson-Michael Dukakis accord of 1988.

On the Republican side, Nelson Rockefeller and Richard Nixon had a summit similar to the Bush-McCain meeting in 1960, but John F. Kennedy went on to win the race. Likewise, Ronald Reagan's endorsement after a tough primary didn't lead to a victory for Gerald Ford. Considering history, maybe Bush should have told McCain to stay home.

Gore raps GOP on Confederate flag

As McCain pledged his allegiance to Bush, Al Gore blasted them both over the Confederate flag issue. According to Reuters, Gore didn't name names, but said, "We know it is wrong not only to support it, but to find it impossible to summon the moral courage to speak out about it" -- referring to McCain's tardy rebuke of South Carolina's flying of the flag during that state's primary, even though McCain has recently repudiated his initial position.

Gore's veiled criticism of McCain is also a reversal of sorts. Since the end of the primaries, the vice president has often painted himself as a McCain disciple on campaign finance reform, and even engineered a photo op with the Republican senator in late April. In addition, Gore has portrayed McCain as a victim of dirty politicking by Bush. What a difference a day makes.

Gore's Catskills-style country shtick

An Anti-Defamation League event gave Gore an audience for a series of lighthearted jokes. Though the vice president's sense of humor has rarely been perceived as one of his strengths, the New York Times reports that the audience laughed out loud at Gore's routine. Gore drew a group guffaw with a sendup of his Southern roots and a rundown of his top Jewish country music choices: "I Was One of the Chosen People -- Until She Chose Somebody Else," "The Second Time She Said 'Shalom,' I Knew She Meant Goodbye" and, his all-time favorite, "Mommas, Don't Let Your Ungrateful Sons Grow Up to Be Cowboys When They Could Very Easily Just Have Taken Over the Family Business That My Own Grandfather Broke His Back to Start and My Father Sweated Over for Years, Which Apparently Doesn't Mean Anything Now That You're Turning Your Back on Such a Gift." The crowd loved it.

Poll's picks go against Gore

According to the Los Angeles Times, Gore's poll numbers are no laughing matter. Its latest survey shows the vice president with 43 percent to Bush's 51 percent. Though the overall deficit isn't as dire when the three-point margin of error is factored in, the demographic breakdown of Bush's backers may alarm the vice president. The poll finds that Bush has taken a significant lead among married voters, a traditionally Republican group that splintered during the Clinton years, and that the married women now in Bush's corner have nearly erased the gender gap.

Poll positions

Presidential race (previous):

  • Bush 51 to Gore 43 (Los Angeles Times May 4-7).

  • 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: Iowa.

    Gore: Arkansas, Texas and California.

    Talking heads

    All guests tentative and times EST.

  • C-Span's "Washington Journal":

    7 a.m. -- Open phones and morning newspapers.

    8:15 a.m. -- TBA

    9 a.m. -- Open phones.

    9:10 a.m. -- William Kovacic, law professor, George Washington University.

    Watch "Washington Journal" on the Web

  • CNN's "Crossfire":

    Topic: NY Senate race - private vs. public lives.

    Guests: Jake Tapper from and Rich Lowry from the National Review.

    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

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