Death row trips Bush again

DNA test muddies case against Texas inmate as protesters dog Bush in California. Gore's e-mail may have been destroyed by "the Mad Deletor."

By Alicia Montgomery

Published June 21, 2000 7:01AM (EDT)

As protesters continue to shadow George W. Bush, demanding a reprieve for death row inmate Gary Graham, a DNA test bolsters another condemned Texas inmate's claim of innocence. The Dallas Morning News reports that DNA tests requested by Michael Blair, sentenced to death for the murder of a 7-year-old in 1993, proved that some of the physical evidence used to connect him with the victim was faulty. However, the Texas authorities remain unpersuaded by the tests. Collin County District Attorney Tom O'Connell said the DNA exam was irrelevant. "This was not ... a determinative issue in the case," said O'Connell, who has yet to review the test results.

Blair's case has yet to draw the attention granted Graham. ABC News reports that hecklers have been hot on Bush's trail, interrupting his California campaign stops with calls for a Graham reprieve. Bush even backtracked on his newfound open-door policy with reporters, canceling a press conference, apparently to avoid death penalty questions. Graham is scheduled to die tomorrow.

Poll: Bush is California dreamin'
Even a school-reforming, Latino-friendly compassionate conservative doesn't stand a chance in California, according to a Field Poll cited by the San Jose Mercury News. That survey shows Gore with a 46 percent to 35 percent lead over Bush, even when factoring in Green Party hopeful Ralph Nader. But the Bush forces remain publicly optimistic. "There's a long way to go until November," said Bush spokeswoman Mindy Tucker. "We know when Californians have a chance to see both the candidates and their agendas they will embrace George W. Bush."

They've seen a lot more of this Bush than they saw of his father. Former President George Bush wrote off the state in the 1992 election, and California Republicans were up in arms over early signs that Dubya might do the same.

Rich candidate, poor candidate
George W. Bush has raised $90 million so far in his presidential run, more than twice the previous record set by Bob Dole in 1996. But the Associated Press reports that most of that money is already gone, and the measly $7.1 million Bush has left in the bank has to last until after the Republican Convention, which ends Aug. 3, when Bush will pocket $67.6 million in federal funds. On the other side of the aisle, Al Gore has raised only $37.3 million but has kept more of his money, with $8.3 million remaining in his campaign coffers. Unfortunately for Gore, that money has to last until after the Democratic Convention, when he'll also get the $67.6 million government boost.

Is "the Mad Deletor" behind the Gore e-mail mess?
The vice president's top techie told a White House computer specialist to "get lost" when he offered to back up Gore's e-mail files, according to the Washington Post. In an affidavit filed in federal court, White House aide Howard Sparks recalled that 1993 exchange with Michael Gill, Gore's chief information expert. Sparks also said that Gill, who has since left the vice president's office, was sometimes called "the Mad Deletor" for his tendency to solve computer problems by deleting electronic files. Missing e-mail has gotten Gore in hot water with congressional investigators searching for clues about the Chinese fundraising scandal.

Gore's college daze
Gore, like Bush, is haunted by his father's history. In a revealing portrait, the New York Times exposes Gore's college years and his personal struggle with his role in the Vietnam War. "I remember so clearly him saying he was going to have to do it the way his father's constituents did it, as an enlisted man," said Richard Neustadt, Gore's senior thesis advisor at Harvard. "He'd spent enough time in Tennessee to understand morality as it applied locally, and it was a moral, not a political, judgment that 'if the regular folk have to enlist, I do, too.'" Gore also thought that enlisting was the best way to help his father, a war opponent, win another term as a Tennessee senator.

The article also explores the more mundane side of Gore's Harvard experience: trying to pick up girls, discovering "Star Trek," switching majors and, like his rival in the presidential race, consistently missing the dean's list.

First lady fumes over press
Hillary Rodham Clinton lashed out at the peeping Toms of media Tuesday, accusing some press outlets of insensitivity in dealing with the Central Park sexual assault victims. The Associated Press reports that Clinton blasted their coverage at the annual conference of the New York State Broadcasters Association. "The information age and the 24-hour news cycle should not turn acts of abuse and disrespect into a spectator sport," she said.

Clinton's charges came after some television stations showed the faces of the assault victims without permission. Last week, Pat Buchanan blamed Clinton and other critics of the New York Police Department for police inaction during the crimes.

Taking down Little Ricky
The first lady is coming to television herself in hopes of exposing opponent Rick Lazio as a closet conservative. The Washington Post reports that Clinton has shifted her strategy because the "anybody but Hillary" vote is buoying Lazio's numbers. In her new negative television ads, Clinton accuses Lazio of casting votes on HMO reform and hate-crimes legislation that are out of step with New Yorkers' views. Each ad ends by telling viewers, "The more you know, the more you wonder" about Lazio. Marist Institute pollster Lee Miringoff says that the new tone is a necessary evil for Clinton's campaign. Since voters already have a strong opinion about Clinton, Miringoff asserts, she "better make sure they also have an opinion about Lazio, and that it's negative ... You're going to see a real race to define Rick Lazio."

Poll positions
Presidential race:

  • Bush 49 to Gore 45 (CNN/Time June 14-15)
  • Bush 50 to Gore 40 (Los Angeles Times June 8-13).
  • Bush 47 to Gore 39 (Zogby June 9-12).
  • Bush 49 to Gore 45 (ABC News/Washington Post June 8-11).

    On the trail
    Buchanan: To be announced.
    Bush: California and Texas.
    Gore: Iowa and Minnesota.
    Nader: Washington.

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  • Alicia Montgomery

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

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