Gore's word turns on weed

Bush takes stock of Social Security attacks, Hillary runs for real and the Greens go after greed.

Published May 17, 2000 11:00AM (EDT)

Al Gore has flipped his script on the medicinal use of marijuana, reports the New York Times. "Right now the science does not show me, or the experts whose judgment I trust, that it is the proper medication for pain and that there are not better alternatives available in every situation," Gore told a California audience last week. That's a sharp turn from his advocacy of "flexibility" on the issue during the primaries, when he even wove the topic into comments about his sister's cancer treatment. Though Gore's sister eventually gave up on marijuana as medicine, her doctor said, Gore recounted in December, "'Look, this is an option she ought to have available, very carefully monitored and controlled.'" Gore added, "If it had worked for her, I think she should have had the option."

Gore swaps Social Security stock stand

The Washington Post reports that after the vice president trashed George W. Bush's partial-privatization plan for Social Security, the Texas governor returned fire, accusing Gore of hypocrisy. It turns out that early last year, when the Clinton administration supported putting some Social Security funds into the stock market, the vice president said nothing against the plan. "He's changed his tune," Bush said. "I believe it's important to be consistent. I believe it's important to have somebody who's willing to take a stand. I believe it's important to have somebody who's willing to have the same message all of the time in the course of a campaign." Gore denies Bush's charges that he ever backed the plan. "I did not support it," the vice president said, "but there was a time when I said, 'Let's explore this.'" Gore spokesman Chris Lehane said that the two plans are like "apples and oranges," since the administration's proposal would not put current payroll tax funds into the market, while Bush's plan would.

Hillary nabs party nod

Now it's official. New York Democrats nominated Hillary Rodham Clinton at the state party convention, reports the New York Daily News. About 11,000 Democrats attended the Clinton lovefest, packing Albany's Pepsi Arena with a record crowd for the convention. As expected, the group backed Clinton unanimously, giving the event the air of a coronation.

But the ghost of Rudy Giuliani haunted the proceedings. The New York mayor continues to muse over whether he should stay in the race while several Republicans jockey for Giuliani's spot in case he drops out. Clinton shadowboxed her way through her acceptance speech, sticking to a well-trodden Democratic issue path of health care, education and gun control -- and never mentioning Giuliani by name. "Make no mistake, this election is not about me or my Republican opponent," Clinton said. "It's about the people of New York and our common mission."

The new silent partner

President Clinton stood at his wife's side at the event, according to the New York Times. The president's appearance was a last-minute change because some of Hillary Clinton's aides were worried that he might eclipse the first lady during her big moment. Those on the other side argued that most candidates have their spouse onstage during such events and that his absence might fuel gossip. So a compromise kept Bill Clinton onstage but speechless and clearly behind his wife. "I am delighted that the president is here this evening," the first lady said, with no hint at the controversy, "and I am so grateful for his support. I would not be standing here tonight were it not for Bill and were it not for all he has done for me."

An Arkansan in New York

The president plans to prove that he's a good political spouse by dropping his Arkansas citizenship so he can cast a ballot for his wife. According to Reuters, he expressed some sorrow at abandoning Arkansas politics to become a New York voter. "I just voted in the last school election in Little Rock two days ago. And for me, it's hard, you know, on a personal basis," the president said. "But this is a commitment that we made together ... and I want to support her in every way I can, and I certainly intend to vote for her, and since I'm a tax-paying resident of New York now, I'm entitled to vote and I intend to take advantage of it." After he leaves office, Clinton intends to split his time between New York and his home state.

Run, Rudy, run!

Giuliani has recently divided his time between politics, marriage problems and a cancer crisis, but writers for the New York Observer believe the mayor is of one mind when it comes to finishing his race with Clinton. If his self-obsessed history is any indication, the Observer posits, Rudy will run. "If Mr. Giuliani is to remain a formidable force in city and state politics," the Observer notes, "it's clear that his political options are not nearly as complex as the choices he must make for his cancer treatment." Abandoning the race would permanently brand Giuliani as a traitor to his party, especially after he endorsed Democrat Mario Cuomo for New York governor in 1994. But for the attention-craving Giuliani, there are worse consequences. Dropping out would knock him out of the "center of the universe" and make him "yesterday's news." The Observer suggests that "Giuliani delights in the notion that whether he is loved or hated, he cannot be ignored. But he can be, and will be, if he drops out of the Senate race to become a full-time lame duck [mayor]."

Greens out to get the greedy

Ralph Nader, the Green Party's presidential hopeful, has vowed to clean dirty money out of politics, according to the Associated Press. "Our politicians are increasingly bought and sold," Nader said. "When are we going to get sufficiently upset to roll up our political sleeves and start a progressive movement to take our democracy back?" Nader has advocated a ban on "corporate welfare," and has pressed for labor law reform and universal health care, in his New England campaign stops.

Talking heads

(All times EST and guests tentative):

  • C-Span's "Washington Journal"

    7 a.m. -- Open phones with morning newspaper articles.

    8:15 a.m. -- Gil Coronado, director of the Selective Service System.

    9 a.m. -- Open phones and telephone interview with Democrat Bill Bradbury, Oregon secretary of state.

    9:15 a.m. -- Susan Phillips, former member of the Federal Reserve Board.

    Watch "Washington Journal" on the Web.

    Poll positions

    Presidential race (previous):

  • Bush 47 to Gore 39 (CBS News/New York Times May 10-13).

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

  • 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 (Voter.com 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).

    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 44 to Giuliani 43 (Quinnipiac College May 10-15).

  • Clinton 42 to Giuliani 40 (New York Post/Zogby May 12-13)

  • 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: Washington state.

    Gore: To be announced.

    Sound off

    E-mail Trail Mix with your comments, suggestions and tips at alicia@salon.com.

  • By Alicia Montgomery

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

    MORE FROM Alicia Montgomery

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