WASHINGTON -- Ari Fleischer's remarks about false alarm suspects
in the Washington sniper case produced rare private criticism of the
presidential spokesman from middle levels of the White House staff.
At Monday's daily briefing, Fleischer was asked about the arrest
outside Richmond, Va., of two illegal immigrants. After he referred to "the
arrests," Fleischer was asked whether "there's been two arrests, more than
one." Fleischer replied: "I know there has been more than one." He quickly
backed away when pressed for details.
Although Fleischer's comments were brief and limited, they
brought out long knives wielded by his colleagues. They complained that
since the departure of Communications Director Karen Hughes, Fleischer has
been riding too high -- as when he seemed to welcome the assassination of
Iraq's Saddam Hussein.
A TEAMSTER SENATOR?
Alaska Teamsters leader Jerry Hood may become the big union's
first member of the U.S. Senate if Republican Sen. Frank Murkowski is
elected governor of Alaska Nov. 5.
Murkowski as governor would appoint his own successor. He may
select Hood, who as secretary-treasurer of Local 959 has been Alaska's top
Teamsters official since 1994. He has worked closely with Murkowski in
unsuccessful efforts to authorize drilling in Alaska's ANWR (Arctic National
A longtime Democratic activist and former Democratic National
Committeeman, Hood re-registered as a Republican earlier this year. Labor
sources say the other two members of Alaska's all-Republican delegation --
Sen. Ted Stevens and Rep. Don Young -- have signed on to the Hood
Former Vice President Dan Quayle's Phoenix-based consulting
firm, Quayle & Associates, has registered with the federal government as a
lobbyist for two firms.
The Quayle clients are Aterhays, Ind., a genomics and
biopharmaceutical company, and Cerberus Capital Partners, a capital
management firm. The Aterhays registration calls for lobbying of the White
House and Congress "relative to the issues of cloning and new technology,
using adult stem cells instead of embryonic cells." The Cerberus
registration talks about "working to help build relationships with several
agencies" (Energy, Commerce, FEMA and Homeland Security).
Craig Whitney, a longtime Quayle aide, is listed in the official
registration as the former vice president's lobbying contact.
Democratic Sen. Mary Landrieu hovering in Louisiana polls below
45 percent for re-election to the Senate brings further uncertainty to
control of the Senate for the next two years.
Under Louisiana's unusual election system, a Dec. 7 runoff will
be held if nobody gets 50 percent of the vote Nov. 5. Landrieu may yet
achieve that standard, however. A big undecided vote remains, and the
candidate closest to Landrieu -- Republican State Election Commissioner
Suzie Terrell -- is recording around 20 percent in public and private polls.
A footnote: If Republican Jim Talent holds his lead over
appointed Sen. Jean Carnahan in Missouri, the GOP is set take control of the
Senate during a lameduck post-election session of Congress. If Landrieu is
not elected outright Nov. 5, Republican leaders will try to force her into
tough votes prior to the runoff.
One likely Democratic congressional pickup Nov. 5 in southern
Tennessee, State Sen. Lincoln Davis, would be likely to vote with House
Republicans on abortion, gun and tax issues more often than with his
The Tennessee Conservative Union (TCU) leadership prefers Davis
to Republican Alderman Janice Bowling of Tullahoma for the seat opened by
Republican Rep. Van Hilleary's candidacy for governor. The TCU lists Davis
as a hero of the "Axe the Tax" movement against Republican Gov. Don
Sundquist's tax program. It predicts Davis would be the most right-wing
Democrat in Congress since the late Rep. Larry McDonald died in 1983 when
Soviet fighter planes shot down Korean Airlines Flight 007.
A footnote: The TCU has not endorsed former Gov. Lamar Alexander
for Tennessee's open Senate seat against Democratic Rep. Bob Clement.
Although Clement votes a moderately liberal line in Congress, some
conservatives prefer him to Alexander on the tax question.