Inside Politics

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KENNEDY MISTRESS

Cancer-stricken Judith Campbell Exner, saying she's still beset by guilt, contends that President John F. Kennedy made her pregnant in 1962 and that the late Mafia boss Sam Giancana helped arrange for the child's abortion.

In an article in Vanity Fair, Mrs. Exner tells syndicated columnist Liz Smith she never had an affair with Giancana, as she formerly asserted, and slept with him only once after telling him she was pregnant.

Mrs. Exner, who says she was Mr. Kennedy's mistress for two years, also said Giancana offered to help her keep the child, as did the president, but she refused.

No Kennedy has acknowledged Mrs. Exner, and her claims have never been substantiated.

Miss Smith asserted yesterday in the New York Post, however, that "no one has ever come forward to disprove any part of her update and revised account." Mrs. Exner told her this is the final truth: "I don't have a single, solitary thing to hide."

Mrs. Exner, 63, said she broke off her relationship with the president and went to Chicago. JFK asked if she wanted to have the baby, then urged her to ask Giancana to "help us" secure a then-illegal abortion.

In a book published in 1977, Mrs. Exner wrote of her affair with the president, who was assassinated in 1963. Giancana was murdered gangland-style in 1975. She now claims that much of the book was erroneous.

Miss Smith, who has written about Mrs. Exner before, says Mrs. Exner took messages to Giancana from Kennedy about assassinating Cuban leader Fidel Castro.

"I never, never intended to tell this story, but because of the release of new documents, I need to tell it," Mrs. Exner said. She was referring to documents that may be available under the John F. Kennedy Assassination Records Collection Act.

HAIRY PROSPECT

USA Today political columnist Walter Shapiro offers this "dazzling insight" into our times: "When the histories of our era are written, the legalization of over-the-counter sales of Rogaine will prove far more epic than the 1996 campaign."

CAMPAIGN FINANCE?

"In the aftermath of the 1994 Northridge, Calif., earthquake, the Federal Emergency Management Agency went out of its way to help Southern Californians rebuild," the New Republic recalls, with a tip of its hat to reporting by the San Diego Union-Tribune.

"FEMA apparently sent many of its 400,000 checks to homeowners who actually had no damage to repair. Some people received up to $3,340 without ever having asked for assistance. . . .

"Questioned about the giveaways two years later, FEMA spokesman Morrie Goodman suggested they could still be put to good use, perhaps subsidizing `crisis counseling' for the untouched Southern Californians who had to recover from the distressing sight of their neighbors' cracked driveways and drooping decks. . . .

"Gives new meaning to the phrase `welfare state.' "

DEEP PUNDITRY

New York Post columnist Cindy Adams opines that if Elizabeth Dole married G. Gordon Liddy, she would be "Liddy" Liddy.

MORRIS ON CLINTON

The New York Times' Adam Nagourney reports that erstwhile Clinton consultant Dick Morris emerged from exile to tell a classroom of New York University students how it is.

The political consultants' job description? "It basically requires the ability of an academic and the canniness of a drug pusher," he said.

What's the president like? He's a "little weird" because he can measure public opinion by watching his audience as he speaks. He has "like a skin which can sort of absorb what you're thinking."

CRONKITE: `LIKE ADLAI'

He says he's a liberal, but he may just be open-minded: Walter Cronkite says on CNBC's "Politics With Chris Matthews" tonight that he is a liberal like the late Democrat Adlai Stevenson. The retired broadcaster said Stevenson was a non-doctrinaire man of judicial temperament. …