Rudy skips campaigning

Instead he goes golfing, dines with a girlfriend and worries New York's GOP. Hillary handles moms mob and Gore's campaign loses grip on women.

Published May 15, 2000 11:47AM (EDT)

Rudy Giuliani, whose run for the Senate has been plagued lately by scandal and doubt, suddenly decided to skip a campaign stop in politically sensitive upstate New York. Instead, the mayor went golfing. "I don't think I was up to taking the trip," Giuliani said, citing health concerns. According to the New York Daily News, the mayor's cancellation stunned even his campaign staff, who had insisted only a day earlier that the trip was on. The mayor also fueled gossip by dining out with "very good friend" Judith Nathan while his wife left town to celebrate Mother's Day with her family in California.

The weekend's events increased skepticism among New York Republicans that Giuliani is serious about continuing his Senate race. "Right now, he's leaving everyone in limbo," said Jasper Nelson, state GOP vice chairman. But the mayor's behavior has clarified the issue for Republican analyst Jay Severin. "Everything about the last 48 hours seems consistent with a decision not to run," he said. Giuliani is expected to announce his decision very soon.

Is that your final answer?

The New York Times reports that plentiful and often contradictory advice is muddling Giuliani's decision on whether stay in the hunt for the Senate. Members of Giuliani's campaign staff are urging the mayor to continue his quest so that they can retain their high-paying, high-profile jobs, but members of his staff at City Hall want him to quit the race and stay on as mayor for roughly the same reasons. State Republican officials are also pressuring Giuliani to make the choice that most suits their self-interests. "There's an enormous amount of that going on," said one Giuliani friend. "People are advising him for their own personal agenda."

Finger-pointing over possible leaks has also increased among Giuliani staffers as articles citing "sources close to the campaign" multiply. Newsweek reports that Giuliani has already decided to quit because of his cancer treatment. But Giuliani called the report "totally absurd."

King wants Rudy's crown

Rep. Rick Lazio and Wall Street businessman Ted Forstmann have previously told the New York GOP that they are ready to run for the Senate, but Rep. Peter King has just added his name to the ring, according to the Associated Press. If Giuliani drops out, "I certainly intend to pursue the nomination," King told NBC's "Meet the Press."
New York Newsday reports that King, who has a reputation as a maverick, plans a race with Lazio over the Republican nomination. "Rick knows that I am out there and I feel I would be a stronger candidate, and he feels that he would be a stronger candidate," King said. "Each of us knows what we are doing, but I am letting my intentions be known." But the congressman pledged to not put up a fight should the GOP pick Lazio instead. "I do not intend to run a primary," King said.

The "million moms" mob Hillary

While Giuliani battled criticism from all sides, Hillary Rodham Clinton, his opponent for the Senate, was smothered by supporters at the Million Mom March for gun control, according to the AP. After speaking at a pre-rally event at the White House, Clinton tried to join the marching moms, but repeatedly found herself penned in by well-wishers. Clinton sightings temporarily stalled the rally's progress as her fans flocked for a glimpse or an autograph. "Oh, my God! Oh, my God! She signed my T-shirt! That is so cool!" said New Jersey teen Trina Williams. While the first lady savored the chance to shake hands with marchers, the reporters shouting questions about her Senate bid proved more than Clinton could bear. Eventually she slipped away from the rally, asserting that "too much press" had driven her away.

Gore is no ladies' man

The vice president could use a few more moms in his camp. The New York Times reports that Al Gore may be losing women voters to George W. Bush. The prospect of a Gore presidency leaves many women unexcited, even those who are longtime Democrats. "I don't like the way he carries himself," said Carla Hannan-Welch. "I see him putting his foot in his mouth a lot." Helen Rabichow, a Chicago Democrat, has conflicting feelings about Gore. "I think he's kind of a nice jerk. He's a
well-meaning, nice guy. But that doesn't necessarily mean that will make him a
good president." Though other women expressed similar concerns about Gore, Bush doesn't impress many of them, either. "I don't think either one of them is really capable," said Irene Cohen. "If I had to go to the polls right now, I'd vote for Mickey Mouse."

Campaign critics dog Team Gore

Though Gore has a reputation as a fierce campaigner, his staff isn't exactly striking fear among the vice president's adversaries. On the contrary, the New York Times reports, the Gore effort has stumbled and stalled badly since his impressive primary sweep over Bill Bradley. Gore's biggest missteps have been surrendering the centrist stage to Bush and flip-flops over Elian Gonzalez. Though campaign chairman Tony Coelho insists that Gore's Elian position has been consistent, he acknowledges that the campaign handled the issue poorly. "It was probably one of our biggest mistakes," Coelho said. "The media didn't know the evolution of his position through four or five months. So the media took it to be something very dramatic when it wasn't. And that was our mistake, not to have put it in perspective."

Despite the miscues and poll numbers, both Coelho and campaign manager Donna Brazile believe the bad news will pass. "You know what I keep telling my friends who are panicking over polls?" asked Brazile, Gore's campaign manager. "That it's a summertime passion in Washington." Brazile also discounted the idea that Bush will hold onto moderates as the campaign wears on. "The Republican Party cannot win from the right so they are trying to dance and shuffle to the middle," she said. "Well, the middle is ours. It's occupied."

Poll positions

Presidential race (previous):

  • Bush 49 to Gore 44 (ABC News/Washington Post May 7 to 10).

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

  • Bush 46 to Gore 45 (Pew Center May 2-6).

  • Bush 48 to Gore 42 ( May 1 - 3).

  • 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: Pennsylvania and Tennessee.

    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.

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