George W. Bush is trying out a new look, but don't expect earth tones. ABC News reports that Bush has upgraded his Web site as part of his pre-convention preparations. New features include "My George W.," a way for surfers to get tailor-made Bush bulletins on the issues they care about, and a "Live Online" section where Bush watchers can listen to recent interviews with high-profile backers of the Texas governor. Even this superficial change in the Bush campaign didn't escape criticism from Al Gore's camp. Press releases from the vice president's team blasted the old design for being unfriendly to disabled users. "George W. Bush is reinventing his Web site today as he's reinvented himself throughout the campaign," said Gore spokesman Dagoberto Vega. Bush shot back that the Web site is "the only thing in our campaign we're constantly reinventing."
Bush's down-home headaches
Though the Texas governor claims that his reinventions are confined to cyberspace, Bush has come under fire back home for letting Republican colleagues get creative with the state budget numbers. Both the Dallas Morning News and the Houston Chronicle report that Lone Star State Democrats have accused their GOP counterparts of cooking the books to minimize the appearance of revenue shortfalls in an effort to boost Bush's campaign, and the Austin American-Statesman reports that Texas' rainy-day fund is going dry.
Eager to rub salt in these new wounds, Gore has announced a Texas campaign stop to highlight Bush's budget problems, according to Reuters. "How Governor Bush has run Texas is relevant to the judgment the American people will make as to how he would run the country if they ever gave him the chance," the vice president said. The Gore campaign will give special attention to a deficit in Texas' Medicaid program, which reportedly falls between $600 million and $750 million.
Don't fence me in
The vice president may have some unwanted guests crowding in on him during the Democratic National Convention, according to the Associated Press. U.S. District Judge Gary Feess threw out the city's plan to herd in an expected stampede of demonstrators several blocks away from the convention site in Los Angeles. While city officials argued that the distant protest pen was a security measure, the judge agreed with the American Civil Liberties Union that the plan aimed to protect Democrats from demonstration-related delays and logistical snags. "When it's convenience versus the First Amendment, convenience loses every time," Feess said. "It is hard to imagine an event when free speech activities would be more important."
White House helping hand for Gore's veep
President Clinton is full of ... advice. The president has given Gore an earful of hints for picking a running mate, according to a New York Times report. Among Clinton's top picks are former Sen. George Mitchell and current Florida Sen. Bob Graham, both of whom were also-rans in the president's own veep search in 1992. Sources close to the campaign say that Clinton has kept his suggestions subtle, to lessen the appearance of meddling in Gore's affairs. But one source noted that Clinton just can't say no to a chance to play one of Washington's most important power games. "The president is a political brain attached to a body," a Democratic lobbyist said. "He can't help himself. It's how he's wired."
Potential veeps take the heat
A candidate doesn't need to be top dog to get a beating on his record. Being surrounded by veep buzz has its hazards, according to an analysis by the Associated Press. The earlier and more often a politician is mentioned as a potential running mate, the bigger a target he or she becomes. Congressional Republicans pumped up the volume on criticisms of Energy Secretary Bill Richardson when he was mentioned as a possible Gore pick. New Jersey Gov. Christie Todd Whitman, who had long been a bjte noire in the conservative wing of the GOP, saw her remaining veep hopes dashed when a 1996 photo surfaced showing her frisking a black criminal suspect. Even blandly likable Indiana Sen. Evan Bayh became a target of Democratic abortion-rights activists for his less-than-perfect voting record, and pro-choice Republican Tom Ridge has been blackballed by right-to-lifers. The best way to avoid the veep vipers seems to be to stay out of the spotlight.
Star power pumps up Hillary's coffers
Maybe she should be running for senator of Hollywood. The New York Post reports that Hillary Rodham Clinton has a star-studded donor list, including Robert De Niro, Robin Williams, Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman. She's also popular with small-screen performers, particularly two talk show hosts. Queen of nice Rosie O'Donnell has coughed up $10,000 for the first lady's various campaign funds, with king of trash Jerry Springer matching that amount dollar for dollar.
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