Campaign Countdown 2000
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June 13, 1999

Bob Dole campaigns for Elizabeth.

Council Bluffs, IA)  Potential "first gentleman" Bob Dole on Sunday returned to the campaign trail, cultivating supporters and donors for his wife, Elizabeth's, bid for the G.O.P's. presidential nomination in 2000, and talking about what role he will play in the campaign and perhaps, in the White House.
    "I'll do what I've been doing for 25 years.  I'll do whatever I'm told, you know, as most husbands do," Dole quipped to reporters.
    When pressed, Dole said he would have a "fairly active role" in his wife's campaign.
    "I haven't done  a lot early on because she had to get out there and establish her campaign.  It wasn't Bob Dole out there running again, or whatever the pundits might say," he told reporters.  .
    As for what role Dole might play to America's first female President, the former U.S. Senator Majority Leader said it would be "precedent setting" but "with certain limits."
    "You don't go out and embarrass the president.  You do pretty much what you're asked to do," Mr. Dole said.
    Dole said he might be asked by his wife for advice on policy matters, and in particular how to get along with the House and the Senate, a Senate he resigned from in 1996 during his third and last bid
for the presidency.
    Since his loss to Bill Clinton, Dole has hit the speaking circuit and appeared as a spokesman in television commercials, including a commercial about "erectile dysfunction" which strikes men who, like Dole, have survived prostate cancer.
    Dole said he has turned down more commercials than he's made and will continue to weigh offers.
    "If it's a fun thing or it's going to help somebody, depends on what it is," he said.  "The health commercial affects about 30 million men."
    Dole acknowledged Texas Governor George W. Bush has "front-runner" status in the current race, but noted at this time in the '88 campaign he was trailing then-Vice President George Bush by a wide
margin of about 30 points.  1988 was the year Dole beat Bush in the Iowa Caucuses.
    "We're not going to have a coronation, we're going to have a process," Dole said  "Elizabeth will be, sort of, the people's candidate.   She won't be the establishment candidate."
    Dole said he doesn't have to give his wife much advice about campaigning in Iowa, the first caucus state in the race for the White House.  Mrs. Dole traveled extensively through the state on behalf of
her husband's presidential campaigns of 1988 and 1996.
    "The thing that Elizabeth brings to the Republican party and to her campaign are new people, people who've never shown up at Republican meetings....women and others who've felt a little, you know, distant from our party.  I think what she does, she puts a smile on the face of the Republican party and that's going to be very helpful," Dole said.
    Mr. Dole attended two Sunday afternoon picnics in western Iowa on behalf of the Elizabeth Dole 2000 campaign.  On Monday, he'll headline her campaign fund-raisers in Omaha, Kansas City and  Wichita.
    During a photo-taking session at the backyard party in Council Bluffs, Dole joked that he might "run for the Senate from Arkansas" -- a quip aimed at current First Lady Hillary Rodham Clinton's apparent decision to move to New York to run for an open U.S. Senate seat.
    Mr. Dole's appearance on the campaign trail came a few weeks after his public discussion of making a campaign donation to one of his wife's potential rivals -- Arizona  Senator John McCain.
    "I never was in the doghouse," Dole replied when asked about the flap.  "You have to consider where that story came from, the New York Times.   They're not noted to help Republicans."
    Dole characterized McCain as a long-time friend during their years of service in the U.S. Senate -- and by their connection through military service.  Dole was wounded in World War II.  McCain was a
prisoner of war during Vietnam.
    "You can have friends in this business and still be loyal to your number one candidate, and that's Elizabeth," Dole said.

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June 12, 1999

Bush drawls into Iowa.

(Amana, Iowa)  After 500 people finished their corn-on-the cob and pork on the plate meal, a huge door on the steel-sided building -- a door big enough for a tractor to drive through --  was raised, revealing a perfect, powder blue sky, fluffy white clouds -- and the front-runner for the Republican party's next presidential nomination.
    Texas Governor George W. Bush quickly acknowledged expectations were "sky high" for this, his first trip of the campaign.  Then, Bush quickly fueled those expectations.
    "I'm runnin' for President of the United States, " Bush told the crowd, which rose to its feet.  "There's no turnin' back and I intend to be the next President of the United States."
    That means he'd follow in his father's footsteps, the elder George Bush who won Iowa's 1980 Caucuses, a victory which helped vault him into the Vice Presidency.   But a 1988 defeat for the elder Bush, a third place finish in the Iowa Caucuses, bears a warning for the son.
    "We're so by-god stubborn," Iowa Congressman Jim Nussle sang as an introduction for Bush.  Finishing the song from "The Music Man" -- Nussle challenged Bush "You really ought to give Iowa...ought to give Iowa a try."
    Bush launched into a speech which outlined his "compassionate conservatism" and talked about "prosperity with a purpose."
    "America will be prosperous and strong if we do the right things. But prosperity alone is simply materialism.  Prosperity must have a greater purpose.   The success of America has never been proven by cities of gold, but by citizens of character," Bush said.
    He mentioned our "better angels" -- conjuring up President Lincoln -- and talked about a "moral line in the sand" -- a subtle prompt reminding a few in the audience of his dad's success in the Gulf War.
    Bush talked about his "heart" and his "vision."   He wowed a handful of Iowans who used to live in Equador, some of the "new faces and new voices" Bush promises to attract to the Republican fold.
    "Tell the families, from the barrios of L.A. to the Rio Grande Valley:  'El sueno amiercano es para ti," Bush said.
     "Oh, he's a very honest politician and he has a good future for this country and for the state of Iowa," said Rick Sanchez, who's been living in Cedar Rapids for the past seven years.
    "I just like a lot of the things he's for," Robert Ohlen of Blairstown, Iowa said after the speech.
    But some in the crowd weren't ready to fully commit to being a Bush backer and needed more specifics from the Texas Governor.
    He sought to allay some fears in his second speech of the day by talking about a "touchstone" issue in Iowa:  ethanol.
    "People are wondering whether a guy from an oil state can come up here and...look straight into the cameras and talk about ethanol and the subsidy," he said.  "I'll start right today.  I'm a plain-spoken fella. I support the ethanol subsidy and I will do so tomorrow because not only is it good for agriculture, it's good for the air quality of America."
    In that speech to those who are signed-on as Bush supporters, he said he's "some kind of fired up" about the first big test of the Iowa campaign, the Iowa Republican Party's strawpoll which gauges the
organizational strengths and weaknesses of the presidential campaigns.
    "Here's my view.  I think we not only ought to go to compete, I think we oughta win the Ames strawpoll," he said, to applause.
    During an interview with Radio Iowa, Bush reflected on his father's experiences in Iowa and how he intends to conduct his own race. "W" is no stranger to Iowa politics.  He watched and helped his dad campaign here.
    "I've seen victory and I've seen defeat.  I was here both times. The victory night was a lot better than the defeat night," he said, with a smile and a laugh.
    The new Bush in boots is armored with charm and wit, delivered with that Texas drawl which mangles words like "mirror" and drops the final consonants from words like "running" and "winning.".
    "I know what I need to do and first and foremost is share my heart, and talk about why I'm runnin' and talk about my beliefs and shake as many hands as I can and look people in the eye and say, 'What's on your mind?" Bush said, repeating the phrases he's been greeting questioners with for months..
    At the end of his campaign day, Bush repeated the speech he delivered in Amana, only this time the crowd was over 2,000.  The setting was a huge exhibit hall on the Iowa State Fairgrounds.  His
backdrop was a huge American flag.  The music was country.  The crowd was casual and he ventured out in it, surrounded by the national media and followed by the lens a campaign video camera which broadcast a picture of Bush and entourage on two, big screens flanking the stage.
    "It's been quite a day here in Iowa and I'm really glad I came," Bush declared before boarding his plane, Great Expectations, and heading for his dad's birthday party in Kennebunkport, Maine and more campaigning in New Hampshire.

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June 12, 1999

Hayden Fry throws support to Bush

(Des Moines, IA)  The retired University of Iowa football coach who earlier this year said he had no intention of becoming a politician himself was front-and-center on the political stage this weekend at a Republican party fund-raiser.
    Hayden Fry received a standing ovation from the crowd of over 2,000 who gathered in a building on the Iowa State Fairgrounds for a fund-raiser featuring republican presidential hopeful George W. Bush.
    "Doesn't take you folks long to straighten out your shorts, does it?" Fry joked as the crowd stood to give him a standing ovation.
    "I've gotta keep my remarks short tonight.  You didn't come here to hear me, but I want to tell you something personal.  I probably recognize at least half of you fine people here tonight and the other
half, I recognize your voices," Fry said in reference to the Iowa/Iowa State rivalry which exists in the state.
    Fry quickly and succinctly threw his support to the front-runner in the race for the G.O.P. presidential nomination.
    "Any of you know what the W. stands for in George W. Bush?   It's capitol W-I-N-N-E-R.  Winner!" Fry said as the crowd rolling to its feet again with applause.
    Bush, the Texas Governor who's the son of former President George Bush, later described for the crowd the Bush family's long-term relationship with Fry.
    "When I was two years old, my dad and my mother moved to Odessa, Texas and rumor has it they stayed kinda close to Hayden Fry.  You see, he was an Odessa football star when I grew up in west Texas.  His legend was big in Texas.   His legend is obviously huge in Iowa and I'm thrilled
to have his support for running for President of the United States.  I appreciate you, buddy," Bush said.
    Fry was the coach of the Iowa Hawkeyes for 20 years.  At age 69, Fry announced his retirement last November after leading the Hawks to 14 bowl games and three Big Ten titles.  Before he came to Iowa City, the University of Iowa football team had suffered through 17 consecutive losing seasons.
    Fry coached at North Texas and Southern Methodist, too, compiling 232 victories in his head coaching career.

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June 11, 1999

Dole calls herself "courageous conservative."

(Des Moines, IA)  Republican presidential hopeful Elizabeth Dole on Friday evening added a new phrase to her campaign mantra, calling herself a "courageous conservative" -- a pointed contrast to the Texas brand "compassionate conservatism" Governor George W. Bush has been peddling.
    "It means that I'm willing to say what I believe, not to wait to put my finger up to the wind and see which way the wind is blowing and then decide what my position's going to be on an issue, and having the courage of your convictions to say what you believe even if some people may not agree with it," Dole told reporters.
    Dole has distinguished herself from her competitors in the republican presidential race by advocating gun restrictions and she has angered some in the pro-life movement by her moderating statements on abortion.  Dole has also sided with internationalists in her party by backing NATO-led intervention in Kosovo.
    "I think people really are tired, especially of foreign policy being made by, you know, polls and what people want to hear and I think they want us to really say it like it is and really be consistent," Dole said.
    Dole's first use of the "courageous conservative" phrase came late Friday as she addressed about 75 supporters who'd gathered at the Des Moines airport to watch her plane land.
    "I believe that Iowans want straight talk on issues.  They want you to tell it like it is.  They want to know who you are, what you believe in and they want people who have the courage of their convictions and that's what I bring to Iowa.  I call it courageous conservatism," she said, to the crowd's applause.   "I believe that that courageous conservatism is gonna take us all the way to victory."
    After her speech, Dole was asked by a reporter to contrast her idea with Bush's "compassionate conservatism."

    "That's someone else's phrase," Dole said.   "I know what I believe which is that courageous conservatism means you're willing to speak your mind and have the courage of your convictions."
    Dole, Bush, former Tennessee Governor Lamar Alexander and Ohio Congressman John Kasich will all be campaigning in Iowa on Saturday.

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June 11, 1999

Kasich pledges affordable health care. (6/11/99)

(Des Moines, IA)  Republican candidate John Kasich on Friday became the first to sign a Catholic Health Association pledge to "make  accessible and affordable health care for all a priority goal" if he's elected president, but Kasich said details of his health reform plan will come in a few weeks.
    During a news conference at Mercy Hospital in Des Moines, Kasich said the working poor after often forced to decide to use their insurance payments for other necessities.
    "The tragedy now is it's the very people who are doing the most to try to pull themselves up who many times find themselves in the most difficult position," Kasich said.
    According to the Catholic Health Association (CHA), 44 million Americans do not have health care insurance, a mass of people roughly equal to the population of Iowa and its nine surrounding states.   The CHA lists 532 Catholic hospitals, 319 long-term care facilities and 62 health care systems as members and claims to be the largest single group of not-for-profit healthcare facilities in the U.S.
    The group's president, Father Michael Place, said it's a "national tragedy" that so many Americans, particularly children, live without health insurance coverage.
    "In a sense, our nation cannot and will not be complete as long as we leave 44 million Americans without health insurance," Place said.
    Place said health care coverage should be as much a right as a
public education.
    "We argue that healthcare in this nation should be considered an essential building block for a free society," said Place.
    For his part, Kasich argued the best approach to providing a health care "safety net" for Americans who "find themselves up against a wall" is through a "market-oriented" approach.
    "It is a difficult, complicated issue and one that requires a little bit of guts to talk about," Kasich said.
    Kasich promised the small crowd of Iowa hospital executives he'll soon release a detailed plan which proposes changes in Medicare, the government-run health care system for America's elderly, as well as major insurance reform.
    The health care crisis "will not be resolved in a piecemeal way. They need to be solved comprehensively," Kasich said.  "I do not believe that the answer to this lies in more government, in fact I think that a top-down financing by government has in fact aggravated this problem but it will require us to have an honest conversation about a comprehensive plan."
    Kasich is an Ohio Congressman who's presently the chairman of the
House Budget Committee.

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June 11, 1999

Bauer calls Bush "unclear" on major issues

( Johnston, Iowa) Presidential hopeful Gary Bauer on Friday said George W. Bush is an "unusual frontrunner" in the race for the Republican party's presidential nomination because he's been "unclear" about his stands on major issues.

"We're looking forward in kind of getting out there and sort of pinning him down. I think people in Iowa and around the country deserve specificity about ideas and issues and what we all intend to do about these problems," Bauer said during taping of the Iowa Public Television program, "Iowa Press."

Bauer, on a leave of absence from his role as president of the conservative "Family Policy Council," was a deputy in the U.S. Department of Education and a domestic policy advisor in the Reagan
Administration.

"I think there's been a big vacuum left in American politics ever since Ronald Reagan left the stage and quite frankly, I think my party is suffering by forgetting what he taught us about how to be the
governing party of the United States...and I think once this debate gets going and we're all going to be able to get out there and mix it up, I think people are going to find my ideas and my approaches to be
preferable to some of the others," Bauer said.

Bauer's comments come on the eve of Texas Governor Bush's first campaign visit to the state. While conceding Bush as the 'frontrunner' in the race, Bauer refused to concede the son of the former President has a any sort of lock on the nomination.

"There's nothing inevitable about this and I think it's an insult to the voters of Iowa if my party's establishment tries to deliver the nomination to one candidate before the voters...have had a chance to really deal with the issues," Bauer said.

Bauer said critical to the campaign debate will be fleshing out Bush's "real governing ideas."

"He came out in just the last week and disclosed that he thought the Senate should have impeached (President Clinton). Well, my goodness, Governor, that debate's now four months ago. That's not leadership. We need to know if the person we're going to anoint has real governing ideas and I think the Governor is going to run into some problems."

Bauer has opposed U.S./NATO intervention in Kosovo; he opposes granting "Most Favored Nation" status to China as a trading partner; he opposes abortion and proposes a modified "flat tax" on income.

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June 9, 1999

Alexander, Buchanan jab at Bush

(Des Moines, IA) Two of George W. Bush's competitors for the Republican party's next presidential nomination on Tuesday lashed out at the Texas Governor, suggesting he's unprepared for higher office.

"We do not want to let the political elite pick a nominee six or eight months before the people have a say and then find out in October of 2000 that we've nominated someone...who is not ready to be president," said Lamar Alexander, the former Tennessee Governor, Nixon aide and U.S. Education secretary who is running for president a second time.

Three-time candidate Patrick Buchanan, a political commentator and former Nixon speechwriter, renewed his rivalry with a George Bush, only this time it's George W. -- the Texas Governor -- and not the ex-President, whom Buchanan challenged in 1992 and again in 1996. "We challenged King George, as we called him in '92, and we think we're going to go up against the prince of Wales in 2000," Buchanan joked with supporters at the official opening of his Iowa campaign office.

Buchanan said it's too early to put "the crown" of the Republican presidential nomination on George W. Bush's head.

"He is being endorsed by people who've never met him and don't have the foggiest notion of where he stands on the issues," Buchanan said. Both Buchanan and Alexander, the seasoned candidates running at a distance behind Bush in public opinion polls, said Bush was at a disadvantage in never before having run a nationwide campaign. And both aimed their fire at the "political elite" considered to be backing Bush.

"This is the same old crowd that has led us down the road to defeat before. We need to say to them, 'Stop the parade. Let's have an election,'" Alexander said.

Buchanan said no one, even the Washington media elite he's left for the campaign trail, should be "anointing" Bush, yet.

The Bush attack came four days before the Texas Governor launches his out-of-Texas campaigning with a swing through Iowa and New Hampshire, complete with over 100 reporters and a stop at the Bush family home in Kennebunkport, Maine.

"It's my view we don't have any idea if he's ready to be president. He's a popular, one-term Governor and the woods is full of popular one-term Governors....We don't know a thing about him. I mean, most voters in Iowa couldn't pick him out of a line-up," Alexander quipped.

Alexander suggested the presidency is "too important to be bought, shouldn't be inherited and ought to be earned." Alexander announced Tuesday he has lined up campaign chairmen in each of Iowa's 99 counties and plans to visit 60 counties before the August 14th Iowa Republican Party straw poll which will indicate campaign readiness.

Buchanan officially opened his Iowa campaign headquarters on Tuesday morning with about three dozen supporters on hand.

"This time we start with a lot of good will out here and I think we've got a base out there that we did not have last time," Buchanan said.

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June 9, 1999

Buchanan opens Iowa campaign headquarters

(Des Moines, IA) Wearing his trademark French cuffs and gold cuff links, Nixon speechwriter turned television commentator Patrick Buchanan stood with his back to the crowd seating themselves on chairs. He was watching a t-v screen -- watching himself speaking in a campaign videotape.

Turning to face a cluster of microphones and his Iowa campaign organizer, Drew Ivers, Buchanan asked "O.K. now, what do we do here, Drew?"

"We're going to give you an opportunity to make another statement..." Ivers replied.

"To the folks or to the press or..." Buchanan asked. "Mostly, both," Ivers said.

Standing in a mostly barren office (the receptionist near the front door is stationed behind a folding table), Buchanan marks the "official" opening of his Iowa campaign headquarters. Iowa is where Buchanan made a surprising, second-place finish just three percentage points behind Bob Dole in Iowa's 1996 Caucuses. Buchanan's 1992 bid for the White House did not start until after Iowa's Caucuses.

This third Buchanan crusade finds some familiar faces gone to other campaigns. Veteran Iowa political organizer Loren Schulte is working for Gary Bauer. Greg Mueller, a Buchanan aide in 1996, now runs "Creative Response Concepts" which has Steve Forbes as a client. K.B. Forbes, also a Buchanan staffer in '96, is the traveling press secretary for the magazine publisher's second bid for the presidency, a bid in which Forbes is positioning himself as a conservative.

"They're individuals who I've got alot of respect for, but I think I will emerge as the first choice of the party conservatives and traditionalists," Buchanan said in a one-on-one interview. "I don't think they're working for Steve Forbes because he's the new conservative. I think they're working for Steve Forbes because the pay grade is a good deal higher over there than it is here."

Buchanan's Iowa office, recently vacated by the unsuccessful republican gubernatorial candidate in Iowa, on Tuesday served as a reception area for supporters who munched cookies and posed for pictures with Buchanan..

"There's alot of great candidates running, but my two main issues are trade and immigration," said Ed Kasner of Des Moines. "He's the only one who's speaking out on those."

Cathie Robey of Des Moines brought her two children to the event "because I just like him. He means what he says and he says what he means. I like every issue he stands for and he's never backed down." Frank Brown of Des Moines supports Buchanan because of his opposition to the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) and the "unconstitutional" war in Kosovo.

"The very things I stand for, he seems to be for, and he seems to have the energy to do something about it, too," Brown said. One man, Karl Aschim, drove four and a half hours from Decorah, Iowa
to Des Moines to see Buchanan..

"The country needs him. He's a real good republican and he's also got his head screwed on straight," Aschim said.

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June 5, 1999

Bush campaign office opens in Iowa.

     (Clive, IA)  The George W. Bush Exploratory Committee campaign office in Iowa officially opened Friday -- eight days before the Texas Governor is scheduled to make his first campaign tour of the state.
    "Isn't it great to be a republican," Wisconsin Governor Tommy Thompson said to the crowd of over 100, including 35 Wisconsonites who rode a bus to the event.
    Thompson served as the main draw for the gathering and he gave a 15 minute stump speech.
    "People ask me why are you supporting George W. Bush?'  I support George W. Bush because he is the best candidate.  He is the candidate who's going to deliver," Thompson said to applause.
    Thomson said Bush has a record of success as Texas Governor, including giving Texans nearly $3 Billion worth of tax cuts.
    "You talk to people all over this country, they're thirsting for leadership.  They want somebody to go to Washington and restore the values of this democracy.  They want somebody to go to Washington that's gonna lead and be able to develop the economy, improve the educational system, bring us all together, inclusively, all as Americans," Thompason said.
    Friday's event featured free hot dogs, chips, cookies and drinks for volunteers and on-lookers, but the barbeque was moved from an outdoor parking lot to an empty room in the campaign office as a downpour, complete with lightning, erupted shortly before noon.
    During the main speech, Thompson's biggest applause getter was a taut at President Clinton.
    "(Bush)'s charismata.  He's got a wonderful mother and father and he's able to tell the truth, you know, something a little basic like that," Thompson said.
    Thompson characterized the democratic party's front-runner, Al Gore, as "a big yawn."
    In advance of Thompson's "pro-Bush" visit, staff in other republican campaigns and from the Democratic National Committee circulated a quote from Thompson in which the Wisconsin Governor reportedly said of Bush "he hasn't really done much as Governor in regards of doing anything
new or innovative."
    "Maybe someone could ask (Thompson) if he can name something new or innovative that Bush will bring to the White House!" said Lamar Alexander's Iowa campaign manager, David Kochel, in an e-mail message.

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June 5, 1999

Abortion rights group launches offensive against Governor Bush.

(Des Moines, IA)  The National Abortion and Reproductive Rights Action League (NARAL) has launched a new offensive against the front-runner in the republican presidential sweepstakes, a week before Texas Governor George W. Bush is set to make his first campaign trip to Iowa.
    NARAL President Kate Michelman is in Iowa this weekend, meeting with supporters of abortion rights in hopes of organizing that block of voters.  In addition, the group has put up a dozen billboards and is running a new slate of radio ads which criticize Bush, the presumptive favorite in the race for the Republican party's presidential nomination.
    "He has been attempting to downplay both the importance of a woman's right to choose as a national issue in the upcoming elections and to downplay his own anti-choice views and positions," Michelman said during an interview with Radio Iowa.
    Bush opposes abortion except in cases of rape, incest or when a woman's health is endangered by her pregnancy.  He has, however, said "America is not ready to ban abortions."  That statement is drawing fire from both abortion opponents and NARAL.
    "Candidates like George Bush, you have to think carefully, not in the abstract, but carefully about what his policy positions would result in.  He believes that abortion should be made illegal, the majority of abortions," said Michelman.
    Michelman said while Bush has been Governor of Texas, he signed into law at least 13 abortion restrictions.
    If Bush is elected, "we would be living in a country that, by and large, would have a policy of forced childbearing," according to Michelman.
    Michelman hopes to get abortion rights supporters to focus on their issue as the next President may decide the fate of Roe v. Wade (the decision which legalized abortion on demand) as the next President will probably appoint at least two new justices to the U.S. Supreme Court.
    Michelman admits voters who share her views are "less zealous" than opponents of abortion who've been vocal in Republican party politics, but Michelman points to Bill Clinton's victories in '92 and '96 in which a "gender gap" could partially be attributed to the abortion issue.
    Earlier this year, NARAL ran television commercials in Iowa, New Hampshire and California -- the first three, major states in the presidential sweepstakes -- which criticized both Bush and republican
presidential candidate Elizabeth Dole for "moderating" statements on the abortion issue.