Inside Politics

By Pierce, Greg | The Washington Times (Washington, DC), September 4, 1997 | Go to article overview

Inside Politics


Pierce, Greg, The Washington Times (Washington, DC)


TAKING THE FIFTH

Paul Clark, communications director for the Senate committee investigating campaign-finance wrongdoing, was lamenting the fact that so many potential witnesses are refusing to talk.

"We have dozens of people who are very important to this investigation who have left the country, who have simply fled! We have a number of others who are still in the country, as Mr. John Huang is, as is Mr. Mark Middleton, a former White House employee, and others who are taking the Fifth Amendment, and we can't talk to them," Mr. Clark said on NET television Tuesday.

Mr. Clark was then besieged by phone, fax and e-mail with pleas that the committee force these recalcitrant witnesses to appear before the TV cameras (NET and the Fox News Channel are covering the hearings live) to take the Fifth, as was done in the Kefauver hearings on the Mafia in 1951.

"I think I can safely say, if there's one message that I can take back to the committee and to the chairman, it will be that the viewers of this show strongly urge that the witnesses be called and take the Fifth in public," Mr. Clark said.

He also said it's likely that Sen. Christopher J. Dodd, Connecticut Democrat and chairman of the Democratic National Committee during the 1996 elections, will testify.

"That determination has not been made. Certainly, it's a possibility, even a probability," Mr. Clark said.

CURRENT BENCHMARK

Ambitious politicians have learned the lessons taught by President Clinton and his former adviser Dick Morris: Get the cash quick.

So reports the New York Times' Richard L. Berke, who quotes Republican fund-raising wizard Stanley Huckaby as saying he has never seen such interest so many years before a presidential election.

"We've already been contacted by seven races," Mr. Huckaby said.

David B. Magleby, a political scientist at Brigham Young University, commented: "The experiences of the '96 election with soft money and kaffeeklatsches and the Lincoln Bedroom left the impression on candidates and players that money is now paramount. The Clinton-Morris strategy of pre-emptive early spending is the current benchmark against which candidates are going to be measuring themselves and their opponents."

LUGAR AND HELMS

Sen. Richard G. Lugar conceded yesterday that he does not seem to be making much progress in persuading Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Jesse Helms to change his mind and schedule a hearing on former Massachusetts Gov. William F. Weld's nomination to be ambassador to Mexico.

Asked if he thought he had lost support during the August recess, the Indiana Republican told reporters, "I'm not sure we had any before the break, so I'm not sure we had any to lose."

During the recess, another committee Republican, Sen. Paul Coverdell of Georgia, voiced support for Mr. Helms of North Carolina and urged President Clinton to withdraw the nomination.

Mr. Lugar said he had written a new letter to Mr. Helms urging a hearing. Would it make any difference? "I have no idea," he said.

Mr. Weld yesterday took his case to friendly Democrats on the committee. He met separately with Sen. Russell D. Feingold of Wisconsin and Paul Wellstone of Minnesota, who called Mr. Helms "unjust" for refusing to grant a hearing.

BUSH ON TOP

Texas Gov. George W. Bush leads the pack in an early poll in the nation's first presidential primary state, but he's not a clear favorite.

In a telephone poll of 400 registered Republicans, 16 percent said they would vote for the son of former President Bush if the New Hampshire primary were held today.

Poll results showed that Jack Kemp would receive 12 percent of the vote, and Lamar Alexander and Steve Forbes each would get 11 percent. …

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