Bush reads from the Clinton script

Candidates are all quiet on the Western front, and Ventura gets bitten by the drama bug.

By Alicia Montgomery

Published June 6, 2000 8:00AM (EDT)

George W. Bush makes much of his pledge to end the Clinton era, but the Washington Post notes that the Texas governor has borrowed much from the president's playbook in his campaign thus far. The flurry of policy papers, the gentle rebukes of the most partisan elements of his own party, the war room crowded with strategists ready to spin their candidate's record are all borrowed from President Clinton's 1992 effort. Just as Republicans fumed over Clinton's co-opting the center, moderate Democrats accuse Bush of treading on their turf. "Bush is trying to steal the mantle of reform and innovation from the New Democrats, and we can't let him get away with it," said Will Marshall, head of the Progressive Policy Institute, a think tank associated with the Democratic Leadership Council. But the Republicans say the turnabout is fair play. And Bush policy director Josh Bolten agrees: "I'd argue that we're retrieving Republican territory the DLC had encroached."

Candidates rank Rocky Mountain states low
While nearly all of New Hampshire has met with the presidential contenders, residents of the Rocky Mountain states have barely seen them. The Los Angeles Times reports that Western states, with the exception of California, have gotten little attention from either Bush or Al Gore, and their citizens are sick of being last on the list. "For much of the Rocky Mountain region, I believe people feel not only left out but disenfranchised," said Wyoming Gov. Jim Geringer, a Republican.

Bush and Gore may feel safe neglecting the region because of its relatively low number of electoral votes and its late state primaries. Furthermore, several states are seen as sure things for either the GOP or the Democrats. Idaho and Wyoming, for example, are overwhelmingly Republican, while New Mexico's Democrats outnumber its Republicans by 21 percent. As a consequence, many regional residents see their concerns getting no time on the national stage, and they are beginning to complain. "Presidential candidates have a responsibility to know the entire American family," said Arturo Vargas, executive director of the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials. There are others, however, who prefer to be left alone. "For me, I'm kind of glad they are flying over," said Arizona Republican pollster Bruce Merrill of Bush and Gore. "I'm not thrilled with either of them."

Jesse Ventura soaps up
The Minnesota governor must miss the melodrama of the Reform Party because he has signed up to guest-star on "The Young and the Restless," according to ABC News. Ventura will play himself on one episode of the CBS soap, to be taped on June 14. This will hardly mark Ventura's first foray into show business. Before being elected governor, he starred in "Predator" and other movies, had a successful run as a talk show host and, most notably, acted with the beefy thespians of the World Wrestling Foundation.

Gore gets government online
Gore plans to get the maximum mileage out of his invention the Internet, the Associated Press reports. The vice president, speaking in North Carolina, announced his plan to make all federal services available online by 2003. "The power of government should not be locked away in Washington but put at your services -- no further away than your keyboard," he told his audience. Gore also mused about "g-bay," an online method for contractors to bid on federal projects, but stopped short of endorsing Internet voting.

It's the candidate, stupid!
Bush's team offered some helpful advice to the vice president about how to get back up in the polls: Disappear. "When Gore is in the news his ratings either stagnate or drop," one Bush aide told reporters. The remarks came as the Texas governor's campaign team ganged up on Gore, ridiculing him and blaming his attacks on Bush for their man's rise in the polls. The Gore campaign "gained no traction on risky, inexperienced, not-ready-to-serve ... fundamentally, they gave it their best shot and it didn't work, so they've got to find something else," said another member of the Bush squad. Ironically, these charges come a week after a Reuters/Zogby poll shows the race tightening up.

Nader completes Green team
Those interested in having a female vice president may have to go Green. The Free Press News Service reports that consumer rights crusader and presidential dark horse Ralph Nader will run with Indian activist Winona LaDuke on his ticket. "She is a very accomplished person," Nader told "Fox News Sunday." LaDuke is a farmer, an author and a Harvard graduate who also ran as Nader's second in command in 1996. Though Nader won only 1 percent of the vote in that race, some polls now show him with 4 to 10 percent support.

Poll positions

Presidential race:
Bush 42 to Gore 41 (Zogby May 29-31).
Bush 49 to Gore 39 (Fox May 24-25).
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
  • Fred Thompson, 6 percent
  • Christine Todd Whitman, 5 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

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

  • Alicia Montgomery

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

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