Bush cancels "attack night"

Less fire and brimstone, more sugar and spice planned for Republican Convention.


Alicia Montgomery
July 8, 2000 2:07AM (UTC)

George W. Bush claims to be "a different kind of Republican." To prove it, he has canceled "attack night" at the upcoming GOP convention, the Tuesday evening mudslinging sessions that the major political parties have made part of their convention traditions. USA Today reports that the Texas governor plans to draw a big happy face on the whole event, encouraging speakers to stick to the issues and limit Al Gore-bashing. Bush also plans to be fashionably late to the Philadelphia festivities, arriving Wednesday, Aug. 2, two days into the convention.

The Philadelphia picket party
Republicans aren't the only ones eagerly awaiting the GOP convention. The Philadelphia Inquirer reports that an army of protesters will be waiting to greet the politicos at the city gates. "They're our streets, our cities, our country," said John Hogan, a leader of the R2D2K Coalition which plans to oversee demonstrations at both the Republican and Democratic conventions. A hodgepodge of organizations have committed themselves to the protests, and their causes include the plight of the homeless, environmental preservation, campaign finance reform, repeal of the death penalty and legalized marijuana.

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Nader's day as the great green knight
The one presidential candidate who seems to elude the criticism of the new protest movement is Ralph Nader, the Green Party's nominee. The Nation reports that the longtime consumer rights advocate is finding a ready audience of young activists and disenchanted Democrats. Speaking to students in Wisconsin, Nader rallies the faithful to stop voting for the lesser of two evils. "Commercial interests have congealed into giant economic interests," Nader claims. "The two parties have merged into one corporate party, with two heads and different makeup."

The third-party hopeful also remains ambivalent about his role as a potential spoiler for the Democrat, Al Gore. Though even those attending a Nader fundraiser in California muttered "a vote for Nader is a vote for Bush," he believes that his run can help push the Democrats back to their core values. "A funny thing is happening in the Democratic Party. Every time they win, they say it's because they took Republican issues away. And then when they lose, they say it's because they are not appealing to the Republican voters," Nader told New York supporters. "We want them to say they lost because a progressive movement took away votes."

Gore consultant has tangled ties
The Bush camp is sick of Gore's digs at its connections to the pharmaceutical industry, and has now unearthed evidence of doublespeak from its opponent's side. The Washington Post reports that Carter Eskew, the Gore consultant credited with the vice president's new populist message, had unsuccessfully lobbied the pharmaceutical industry to run the public relations and advertising campaign now being handled by Citizens for Better Medicare, a group that Gore has denounced repeatedly in recent days. In a 1999 memo to industry leaders, Eskew warned that "a leading presidential aspirant" would make prescription drug costs a campaign issue. He then proposed a public relations ploy "to chill support for legislative efforts to impose ... price controls on prescription drug medicines by showing how those measures would stifle the innovation at the core of the positive image the industry has built since 1993." Gore spokesman Chris Lehane called the revelations about Eskew irrelevant. "Where's the hypocrisy?" Lehane demanded. "The guy wasn't working for us at the time, and we never changed our views."

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Bradley and Gore mend fences
Earlier in the race, former Sen. Bill Bradley was thought to be the savior of the new left. But ABC News reports that after keeping his distance since dropping out of the race, Bradley will close ranks with the vice president in a joint campaign appearance next week. "It's time for the party to come together, to focus on the general election. The issues at stake are too important for all Democrats," said a Gore campaign official. "The difference between Al Gore and Bill Bradley in the primary is inches, compared to the differences between Al Gore and George Bush in the general election, which is miles." Though Bradley cast his ballot for Gore in New Jersey's June presidential primary, his support of Gore has been tepid at best.

McCain's "Straight Talk Express" rides again
On the Republican side, Arizona Sen. John McCain refuses to let his reforming crusade slip off the radar screen. According to the Washington Times, the Arizona senator plans to roll up to the Republican National Convention in his famed "Straight Talk Express." Along for the ride will be busloads of press people, just as in McCain's glory days in the Republican primary race. "We're up to about 56 reporters and camera people so far," said McCain press secretary Todd Harris. Sources close to the Bush campaign reportedly find McCain's plans "bizarre," but not entirely unexpected.

Hillary's happy anniversary
One year ago, the first lady strove to put years of scandal and bad P.R. behind her, and jumped into the New York Senate race. So far, not so bad. CNN reports that, a year after launching her exploratory committee and traveling on a "Listening Tour," Hillary Rodham Clinton finds herself increasingly comfortable on the campaign trail. "I really enjoy it, and I hope I am getting better at it, been doing it now for a year," she told reporters. "I hope I'm improving, and being able to do what needs to be done to reach voters and convey my opinions on issues -- that's what I am going to keep trying to do."

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Political funny business
Check out Roll Call for Jake Tapper's vision of reality TV, Washington style.

Poll positions

  • Gore 46 to Bush 45 (Newsweek June 29-30).
  • Bush 52 to Gore 39 (CNN/Gallup/USA Today June 23-25).
  • Bush 40 to Gore 39 (Associated Press June 21-25).
  • Bush 49 to Gore 41 (NBC/Wall Street Journal June 14-18).
  • Bush 52 to Gore 40 (Voter.com June 11-13).
  • 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).

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  • Alicia Montgomery

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

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