Inside the Beltway

Article excerpt

UNFAIR ADVANTAGE

The Washington Post's national staff reporter and columnist, Al Kamen, duly noted this week that first lady Hillary Rodham Clinton's new White House spokesman is a former colleague at the newspaper.

What he didn't mention, however, is the Post's current connection to Lissa Muscatine. She's married to Brad Graham, one of Mr. Kamen's fellow reporters on the Post's national staff.

Mrs. Muscatine, a former speech writer for Mrs. Clinton, began work Tuesday, replacing Marsha Berry.

PARENTAL GUIDANCE

We clicked into first lady Hillary Rodham Clinton's senatorial Web site - www.hillary2000.org - and had to laugh at the written warning posted above the box where people can type in their home addresses in order to receive Mrs. Clinton's campaign updates: "Kids, check with your parents first."

BUYING POWER

Speaking of Hillary Rodham Clinton's political aspirations, her popularity numbers in New York could use some bolstering.

The latest Marist poll has her trailing likely Republican opponent New York Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani by a rather wide margin of 49 percent to 40 percent.

Worse yet for Mrs. Clinton, the state's undecided voters say they are leaning toward Mr. Giuliani if for no other reason than he's been a resident of New York for longer than two weeks.

In a related development, Mr. Giuliani reveals that his exploratory committee has raised $12 million, setting a fund-raising record for this point in a Senate campaign.

Contributions, the mayor says, have come from 90,000 individuals in all 62 counties of New York, and exceed his original fund-raising projection by 41 percent.

Still, Mrs. Clinton continues to boast that she will raise in excess of $25 million in her bid to become the Empire State's next senator.

That doesn't include contributions to the first lady from numerous left-leaning special-interest groups, which pledge to pour millions more into Mrs. Clinton's coffers.

"We must expect that given the massive Clinton fund-raising machine, it's likely Hillary will outraise us," acknowledges Mr. Giuliani's campaign manager, Bruce Teitelbaum.

POPULAR SEAT

Six short years ago, Rep. Tim Penny, Minnesota Democrat, expressed disillusionment with Congress. …