Cheney, gay rights crusader?

Conservative groups beat up GOP veep nominee, Lazio blasts Clinton campaign for following his wife and Sharpton hits Lazio for following Giuliani's example.

By Alicia Montgomery

Published October 10, 2000 10:14PM (EDT)

Dick Cheney's debate performance was praised by friends and foes alike. However, his remarks on gay marriage rubbed some conservatives the wrong way. The New York Times reports that "family values" groups are blasting Cheney's opinions on gay rights, including his assertion at the veep debate that "people should be free to enter into any kind of relationship they want to enter into" and that legally recognized same-sex marriage is up to individual states. That's not what the Republican Party platform says. It declares instead: "We support the traditional definition of marriage as the legal union of one man and one woman."

The American Family Association wants Cheney to follow the platform's lead. "Live and let live is fine as a policy for people's private lives, but Secretary Cheney should have been much stronger in saying that same-sex marriages are wrong," Tim Wildmon, president of the association, said in a statement on his group's Web site. But Cheney won't say any such thing. Though he has pledged to follow the policy set by George W. Bush -- who stands solidly against same-sex marriage -- the Republican veep wannabe insists, "My position's unchanged." Cheney refused to talk about what effect having an openly gay daughter, Mary Cheney, has had on his position. "I have consistently refused to get into the business of talking about Mary," he said. "She's entitled to her privacy."

Just because you're paranoid ...
New York Senate candidate Rick Lazio claims that the first lady is invading his family's privacy, according to the Associated Press. On the CNN program "Larry King Live," Lazio said Hillary Rodham Clinton's campaign cameramen were "sort of harassing" his wife. The Long Island congressman alleged that "trackers" -- campaign operatives hired to follow and record a political opponent's events -- had been tailing Patricia Lazio. "I just have come to accept it," Lazio said. "That's the way they do business." Not so, according to Clinton spokesman Howard Wolfson, who said he had "no idea" what Lazio was talking about, and that he knew of no trackers assigned to trail Lazio's wife.

Lazio: Turning his back on racial profiling?
Instead of worrying about photographers following his wife, Lazio ought to be worried about New York cops trailing innocent black people, according to the Rev. Al Sharpton. The New York Post reports that Sharpton has demanded that Lazio speak out in support of a Justice Department probe that called the New York Police Department's stop-and-frisk policy racially biased. Sharpton accused Lazio of hypocrisy for "touting a policy of reaching out to the minority community" while continuing "to campaign ... with Rudolph Giuliani and not comment at all on this report and not denounce the offensive and insensitive statements of the mayor." Lazio's campaign has dismissed the Justice Department's findings as politically motivated.

Big brother at the ballot box
New York doesn't have a monopoly on paranoia, and a Washington Post report suggests that all voters should be looking over their shoulders. Advances in software technology are allowing political operatives to get detailed information about Americans' voting habits, and candidates and issue groups are using that information to reach out and touch their target markets. For example, the National Rifle Association is using consumer and government data -- like pickup truck purchase records and hunting license or concealed-weapon applications -- to find possible pro-gun voters outside its membership. A new mini-industry of market researchers has sprung up to harness this sort of information, mapping communities throughout the country according to their political sympathies.

The new technology has professional campaign advisors positively giddy. "I see us on the cusp of a completely new politics, a marriage of old shoe-leather organizing with the high-tech of the Internet age," said Ralph Reed, former executive director of the Christian Coalition, who now works for Bush. But privacy rights advocates find the trend disturbing. "It scares the hell out of me," said John Aravosis of Wired Strategies, an Internet consulting firm. "Political information is per se more sensitive [than consumer information] ... People have no clue about what these companies do."

On the trail
Bush: Tennessee and North Carolina.
Buchanan: Arizona.
Gore: Florida.
Nader: Michigan and Illinois.

Presidential poll positions
Major-party candidates:

  • Bush 50 to Gore 42 (USA Today/CNN/Gallup Oct. 6-8).
  • Gore 43 to Bush 42 (Reuters/MSNBC Oct. 6-8).
  • Gore 44 to Bush 41 (Newsweek Oct. 4-6).
  • Gore 48 to Bush 46 (Washington Post/ABC News Sept. 28-Oct. 1).
  • Gore 45 to Bush 39 (New York Times/CBS News Sept. 27-Oct. 1).
  • Bush 48 to Gore 42 (Los Angeles Times Sept. 23-25).

    Third-party candidates:

  • Nader 4 (USA Today/CNN/Gallup Oct. 6-8).
  • Nader 5 to Buchanan 1, Browne 1 (Reuters/MSNBC Oct. 6-8).
  • Nader 5 to Buchanan 2 (Newsweek Oct. 4-6).
  • Nader 3 to Buchanan 1 (Washington Post/ABC News Sept. 28-Oct. 1).
  • Nader 4 to Buchanan 2 (New York Times/CBS News Sept. 27-Oct. 1).
  • Nader 2 to Buchanan 1 (Los Angeles Times Sept. 23-25).

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  • Alicia Montgomery

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

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