Inside Report: Bush and Cheney

Posted: Sep 16, 2000 12:00 AM
WASHINGTON -- Despite Dick Cheney's problems as the Republican vice-presidential candidate, George W. Bush plans to campaign with him more rather than hide him for the balance of the campaign. Republican insiders grumble that Cheney has been a liability for their ticket while Sen. Joseph Lieberman has been a big plus as Al Gore's running mate. Bush himself feels Cheney has been treated unfairly, especially in the latest furor about segregated (between foreigners and Americans) restrooms in Kosovo maintained by Cheney's Halliburton energy services company. While Lieberman campaigns with Gore much more than past vice- presidential nominees, many Republicans want Cheney to fade into the background. But Bush defends his choice for running mate and wants Cheney by his side on the campaign trail more frequently. WASHINGTONIAN IN AUSTIN The decision to send rising Washington insider Ed Gillespie to Austin for the rest of the campaign represents the first tacit admission that Gov. George W. Bush's all-Texas campaign team needs outside help. Actually, the 39-year-old Gillespie has no more presidential campaign experience than the Texans. But he is a veteran on the Washington scene and is viewed as an innovative political strategist. Gillespie was a top aide to House Majority Leader Dick Armey and Republican National Chairman Jim Nicholson before joining former GOP Chairman Haley Barbour's lobbying firm. Earlier this year, Gillespie joined with Jack Quinn, a former aide to both President Clinton and Vice President Gore, in forming a bipartisan lobbying company. INTERFERING WITH DEMOCRATS Regina Seltzer, the 71-year-old former librarian who apparently ousted party-switching Rep. Michael Forbes in the New York Democratic primary Tuesday, had unrequested, unpublicized support from the National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC). Forbes had full backing from the Democratic party apparatus and spent $1.4 million against Seltzer's $40,000. But she was helped by NRCC mailings to Democratic voters "praising" Forbes's conservative record during two terms as a Republican congressman from his Long Island district. "Mike Forbes has been a strong supporter of the Christian Coalition's agenda," says one GOP mailer. "That's why the organization awarded him a 100 percent score for his first year in Congress." The Republican nominee, Town Supervisor Felix Grucci, is a heavy favorite against Seltzer. That could lose more than one seat for the Democrats in what may be a tightly contested battle for control of the House. If Democrats fall a few seats short Nov. 7, House Democratic Leader Richard Gephardt had hoped to talk eastern Republicans (such as Forbes had been) into changing parties. Forbes's experience makes that a much more difficult sell. THE OLD LIEBERMAN Democratic Sen. Joseph Lieberman joined last year with Lynne Cheney, wife of his Republican opponent for vice president, in a fund-raising campaign to fight "political correctness" on college campuses. The appeal from the American Council of Trustees and Alumni (ACTA) listed Mrs. Cheney (former head of the National Endowment for the Humanities) as chairman and Lieberman as a board member. In soliciting contributions, the letter says the "forces of political correctness are winning" what it terms a "war against Western civilization" that "rages on campus." Joining Lieberman and Cheney in the appeal were such prominent conservatives as writer-scholar Irving Kristol, education reformer Chester Finn and Federal Appellate Judge Laurence Silberman. The fund-raising solicitation cited National Rifle Association president Charlton Heston as an "ACTA supporter." MCCAIN LOSES Although polls show Sen. John McCain of Arizona is by far the most popular public figure in New Hampshire, he failed in his endorsement of the liberal candidate in the state's Republican primary for governor Tuesday. McCain upset some of his own supporters when he came out for State Sen. Jim Squires, who backs a state income tax and opposes a ban on partial birth abortions. Businessman Fred Bramante, who like Squires had supported McCain for president, was stunned and dropped out of the race (endorsing another candidate). Conservative former Sen. Gordon Humphrey won the governor's nomination with 53 percent of the vote, far ahead of Squires's second-place 23 percent.