Independent counsel Robert Ray brought down the curtain on the Whitewater investigation Wednesday, citing a lack of evidence of criminal wrongdoing on the part of President Clinton or Hillary Rodham Clinton. The six-year investigation was the costliest ever conducted by his office, with a total price tag in the neighborhood of $52 million. A determination about whether the president should be charged with perjury for his testimony in the Monica Lewinsky case will be made after Clinton leaves office.
What a difference a debate makes
Rick Lazio may have been better off as an unknown. In his debate last week with the first lady, New Yorkers finally got a chance to take a good look at the congressman -- and many of them apparently don't like what they see. A New York Times poll released Thursday shows that voter attitudes toward Lazio "have turned markedly more negative since June, with suburban women now moving solidly toward Hillary Rodham Clinton and many New Yorkers saying Mr. Lazio came across as harsh and inexperienced in his debate with Mrs. Clinton." The race, which was dead even in some polls as recently as last week, now shows Clinton with a nine-point lead, according to the new survey. The last Times poll showed Clinton up by five points. Meanwhile, Lazio has called Clinton's bluff in an effort to rid the campaign of television spots paid for with "soft money."
Release the oil
As prices of wholesale crude oil reach a 10-year high, with no relief in sight at the gas pump, Al Gore called for a release of some federal oil reserves in a speech in Maryland Thursday. Gore has continually tried to link George W. Bush and Dick Cheney to big oil companies in a sort of guilt-by-association judo move. "One of the central choices we face in this election is whether we will have a president who's willing to stand up to the big oil interests and fight for our families," reads a line from Gore's prepared remarks. But the Bush campaign accused Gore of playing politics. "That reserve is intended for strategic and national security purposes, not for election-year political purposes," Bush spokeswoman Karen Hughes told the Associated Press. Meanwhile, Cheney used the high gas prices as an excuse to attack the Clinton administration for its dealings with Iraq.
Plugging the leak
Speculation among Republicans about the mysterious leak of a Bush debate-preparation tape to the Gore campaign is now focusing on the office of Bush media consultant Mark McKinnon. The Gore campaign turned over the tape to the FBI, which is investigating the incident. According to the Washington Post, McKinnon's shop is the focus because he has worked for Democrats in the past. In 1990, McKinnon ran the media campaign for Ann Richards, the woman whom Bush defeated in Texas in 1994. McKinnon says, however, "There is no possibility of a mole on my staff." Bush spokeswoman Karen Hughes said last week that McKinnon was one of only a handful of people who would have had access to the tape.
On the trail
Pat Buchanan: Pennsylvania.
Bush: New York, Ohio and Tennessee.
Ralph Nader: Michigan.
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