Campaign Countdown 2000
November 1, 1999

Bradley defends health care plan against Gore attack

(Des Moines, IA) Presidential candidate Bill Bradley Monday dismissed criticism of his health care reform plan, criticism that came last week from Vice President Al Gore, his rival for the Democrat party's presidential nomination.

Last week Gore said Bradley's plan to provide health care coverage to nearly all Americans was not "credible" and was "fiscally irresponsible" because it would eat up the entire federal budget surplus.

Bradley, a former New Jersey Senator, said the study Gore cited is not credible.

"It turns out to be a study that was done by a Clinton/Gore staffer who as late as October listed in a press release himself as an advisor to the Vice President," Bradley said during a news conference in Des Moines.

Bradley said responding to Gore's accusations was not a high campaign priority.

"I'm going to save my outrage for things I don't want to have happen in the country. Children in poverty...Many people without health insurance," Bradley said. "I'm going to try to keep my ingenuity for trying to convince people this is the way we have to go in this country."

Bradley spoke Monday morning with members of the Iowa Nurses Association. He went door knocking in Ames on Sunday.

October 28, 1999

Gore blasts Bradley, Bush for money plans

(Dubuque, IA) Vice President Al Gore Thursday said Bill Bradley, his rival for the Democratic party's presidential nomination, and GOP frontrunner George W. Bush are offering unrealistic promises to voters.

During a news conference with reporters, Gore touted a study that concluded Bradley's health care reform plan would cost over $1 Trillion over the next decade, completely eating up the federal budget surplus. Gore said his own plans to right the Medicare and Medicaid systems to ensure coverage for uninsured, as well as prescription drug coverage for the elderly, would cost $268 Billion.

"Senator Bradley's plan definitely puts the future of Medicare at risk and to say that you're going to fund the changes that are needed in Medicare with savings in paperwork is not a credible plan," Gore told reporters.

Gore also blasted the tax cut plans advanced by Bush.

"(The Bush campaign) cannot for the life of them figure out a way to match reality with rhetoric and still not spend all the surplus," Gore said.

Gore said Bush and Bradley have " had serious problems with fiscal responsibility."

Gore began a two-day Iowa campaign swing with a meeting at a Senior Center in Dubuque. He asked the 150 gathered in the hall if they had watched his debate with Bradley on Wednesday night.

"We had a great discussion last night and it was a lot of fun," Gore said, drawing laughter and nods from the crowd when he asked if they had watched the final game of the World Series instead.

October 16, 1999

Bradley dismisses Gore attack

(Des Moines, IA) Democrat presidential candidate Bill Bradley Saturday said he's a true blue democrat, despite having considered running as an independent in 1996.

"That was never seriously considered," Bradley said. "I said that, in part, because I was looking for a way to make our democracy more responsive."

Bradley's rival, Vice President Al Gore, has highlighted the issue, calling into question Bradley's commitment to the Democratic Party. During a question-and-answer session with reporters in Des Moines, Bradley dismissed the idea his flirtation with an independent party candidacy is an issue with his supporters, or potential Democrat voters.

"After a very short consideration, I realized that it was going to take place within the Democratic Party," Bradley said. "I've always been a democrat all my life and...that's where my convictions were."

Bradley left the United States Senate in 1996 and said he worked to ensure a Democrat succeeded him in the Senate.

"I then went out and campaigned for over 40 democrats up for election in 1996," Bradley said.

This time around, Bradley is working on his own behalf, raising over $7.4 million in July, August and September. According to campaign documents, Bradley has over $10.7 million cash on hand, putting his campaign in a competitive position with Gore.

Bradley and his wife, Ernestine, were in Des Moines Saturday to participate in the "Race for the Cure" which attracted about 8,000 runners and walkers, helping to raise money for breast cancer research. Ernestine Bradley was diagnosed with breast cancer in 1992.

The couple walked a mile, then helped hand out awards at a ceremony afterwards.

October 16, 1999

Buchanan Brigade takes over IA Reform Party

(Ames, IA) Supporters of perennial presidential candidate Pat Buchanan Saturday gained a toehold in the Iowa Reform Party.

After twice before running for the Republican party's presidential nomination, Buchanan is reportedly set to leave the GOP later this month to run as an independent candidate.

Over half of the 80 people who were seated Saturday as voters at the Iowa Reform Party's state convention were Buchanan supporters.

"Everybody's welcome, I don't think we're really going to have any serious problem," Jim Hennager, the Iowa Reform Party's 1998 Gubernatorial candidate, said of the "Buchanan Brigade's" rush on his party.

"We're kind of defensive not to be over-run and you know, try to be taken over because most of the people in here have been around since 1992, when Ross Perot first ran," Hennager admitted.

State Representative Mike Cormack, a republican, is among Buchanan's core supporters and he attended the Reform Party event, telling reporters Buchananites and Reform Party members have a "very similar make-up."

"If there is going to be a successful third party bid, the Buchanan people have got to find out if there's any sense of being welcomed, if there's any sense of working together," Cormack said. "I really think there will be. I think the make-up of the two groups is very similar on issues like NAFTA and political reform."

Party founder Ross Perot was a strident opponent of the North American Free Trade Agreement, saying Americans would hear a "giant sucking sound" from Mexico as American jobs were lost to cheaper labor in Mexico.

Buchanan has made NAFTA a cornerstone of his own candidacy, even linking the treaty to social ills like the illegal drug trade.

October 16, 1999

Forbes offers campaign deal to Bush

(Des Moines, IA) Republican president candidate Steve Forbes Saturday promised he'll use a different style of campaign advertising, if competitor George W. Bush agrees to a series of six, one-on-one debates.

"I've made the offer that if we have these debates, these series of in-depth debates, in my ads I'll only use material from those debates," Forbes told reporters in a news conference in Des Moines.

In 1996, Forbes used a barrage of pointed ads to criticize front-runner Bob Dole. Dole has said those Forbes ads damaged his chances against Bill Clinton. Bush's campaign has begun to prepare for a Forbes attack this time around.

"He has reason to be concerned (by) the fact that he hasn't put forth real proposals, or what he has put forth simply gives more power to Washington," Forbes said of those preparations.

So far this year, Forbes has run advertisements that tout his views on issues like social security and tax policy, as well as ads that feature his family.

"Those who fear this campaign must obviously fear substance," Forbes said. "I don't do personal attacks. I go for real issues and that's what the whole basis of my campaign is."

On Friday, Gary Bauer -- another GOP candidate -- said Forbes had "peaked" and couldn't buy any more votes than he has already. Bauer proclaimed himself the "conservative alternative" to Bush. Forbes brushed off the Bauer comments.

"We're gaining strength as we are speak," Forbes said, citing a recent National Federation of Republican Assemblies straw poll that he won. "So I have become the conservative alternative to the front-runner and look forward to the showdown early next year."

Forbes met with supporters and signed copies of his new book in Des Moines on Saturday before campaign appearances in three other Iowa cities.

October 15, 1999

Bauer declared himself "conservative alternative"

(Des Moines, IA) Republican presidential candidate Gary Bauer Friday declared himself the "conservative alternative" with the money muscle to compete against front-runner George W. Bush.

Bauer and rival candidate Malcolm "Steve" Forbes, Junior -- publisher of the family magazine "Forbes" -- have been contesting to win the votes of conservatives in the Republican Party.

"In the case of Mr. Forbes, he has spent $65 million dollars since 1996 up until now and he's basically in a dead heat with me in the polls, so I think he's already peaked out," Bauer said during a news conference at the Des Moines airport. "I don't think money can buy him any more support than it already has."

Bauer and Forbes are fighting the momentum Bush has acquired with that Bush bankroll of over $50 million in campaign cash. Bauer is third among the Republican field in fundraising.

"We're second in the total number of donors, 110,000," Bauer said. "We're first in the amount of matching funds due us because our donors ten to be average Americans rather than Wall Street types, so we are more than competitive financially."

Forbes is due in Iowa Saturday morning for a book signing tour.

October 15, 1999

Reform Party preparing for "raid"

(Des Moines, IA) Iowa Reform party members are concerned their state convention will be overrun by the "Buchanan Brigade" on Saturday.

"We have received word that a number of people that are related to the Pat Buchanan group are planning on coming Saturday," said Jim Hennager, the Iowa Reform Party's gubernatorial candidate in 1998.

Hennager said Buchanan supporters are welcome, as are supporters of other potential Reform Party nominees and party leaders. Minnesota's Lieutenant Governor will address the Iowa convention on behalf of Jesse Ventura, but Hennager said Donald Trump has no

representatives in the state yet.

"We have some concerns that the Pat Buchanan people have expressed an interest in basically raiding our Iowa reform group to get national delegates, so we're going to have a contest on that if that's their intention," Hennager said.

According to Hennager and other Iowa Reform party activists, the party's state constitution is written to prevent that sort of insurgent campaign. Only those who registered to vote as a member of the Reform Party can have a role in party decisions, according to Hennager.

"(Buchanan's supporters) are welcome to attend and we want to listen to whatever their issues are, but the Iowa constitution is written in such as way to prevent somebody just coming in en mass and raiding our group," he said.

Hennager expects lawyers to attend the meeting on Buchanan's behalf to challenge the Reform party rules.

About 1,500 Iowans voted for Reform Party candidates in the past election. The group's leaders are mulling the idea of a statewide meeting on January 24, 2000, the same day Republicans and Democrats in Iowa will stage their Caucuses, to give Reform Party members in Iowa a chance to cast strawpoll ballots for the presidential candidate of their choice.

October 14, 1999

Caucus Date moving

(Des Moines, IA) The Iowa Caucuses are being moved to January 24, 2000. Iowa Republican party chairman Kayne Robinson Thursday afternoon announced Republican caucuses will be held on that date rather than on January 31, which is the day after the recently re-scheduled New Hampshire primary.

Tomorrow, the chairman of the Iowa Democratic Party will ask the Democratic National Committee's rules and by-laws panel to approve moving the date for democratic caucuses to January 24, too.

"We hope to make an announcement tomorrow afternoon after that conference call and hopefully we'll have some good news to say that we've been officially able to move our date to the 24th," said Kim Warkentin, executive director of the Iowa Democratic Party.

Robinson, the Iowa Republican Party's chairman, said it was just unworkable to have Iowa and New Hampshire's presidential contests back-to-back. Robinson said there would be no chance for a candidate to capitalize on a good showing in Iowa, or to recover from a bad finish.

"If there is no time in between the two, essentially it becomes one event and that's probably not good for us. It's not good for New Hampshire and it's probably not good for America," Robinson said during a Thursday afternoon news conference at party headquarters in Des Moines. "I think the rest of the country needs to see how these candidates react to wins and losses and what they do and they get a chance to see it here in Iowa one way and a slightly different way in New Hampshire."

Secretary of State Chet Culver called reporters to his statehouse office to declare the party actions a "workable solution" to the chaos over when to hold the Iowa Caucuses.

"It is our hope that this will be the last press conference that we will have on the date of the Iowa Caucus," Culver told reporters.

This is the fourth date change for the 2000 Caucuses. Iowa's Caucuses have traditionally been the kick-off event of presidential campaigns since 1976.

 October 14, 1999

Dole criticized media coverage

(Shenandoah, IA) Republican presidential hopeful Elizabeth Dole Thursday said the media is focusing too much on the money being raised by candidates rather than the important issues of the campaign.

"There's so much concern, questions constantly about money, money, money," Dole said of her interaction with reporters on the campaign trail. "It's a horserace with regards to money and there's not the attention to bringing people into the process."

Media outlets have followed the fundraising prowess of Republican front-runner George W. Bush, who now has over $50 million in the bank, while questioning whether Dole's campaign can continue on a shoestring budget.

"It's constantly the money rather than your experience," Dole lamented during a telephone interview with Radio Iowa.

Dole dismissed recent rumors of her campaign's demise, pointing to her decision to formally announce her candidacy on November 7.

"I'm out here raising money and meeting people," Dole said.

Dole's campaign on Thursday touted their efforts to organize college students on Dole's behalf. Twenty-one students from colleges around the state have been tapped to lead campus recruiting.

"So many young people are turning out....I want to get people more involved in the democratic process and get those voting numbers up," Dole said.

Dole appeared at the World Food Prize ceremonies in Des Moines after holding three town hall meetings in western Iowa. She concluded her campaign day with a stop in Cedar Rapids.

 October 9, 1999

Speeches underscore candidates' styles

(Des Moines, IA) One candidate wore the traditional uniform (dark suit, white shirt) as well as his spectacles, those little half-glasses which rest mid-nose, and he stood behind the lectern, waving his large hands to punctuate the anecdotes and complex sentences he softly delivered into the microphone.

The other candidate looked tanned and ready for the cover of GQ, wearing a deep "French blue" shirt and olive-colored suit as he strode energetically around the front of the stage, wearing a microphone on his lapel, raising his voice often to prod the crowd to hoot for his familiar applause lines

The setting was the Iowa Democratic Party's annual fall banquet. Bill Bradley and Al Gore, the two candidates vying for the party's next presidential nomination, addressed about 3,000 party faithful gathered around round tables in a huge convention center in Des Moines.

Bradley's speech, which lasted about half an hour, sounded general themes (justice and truth bring hope) and the crowd politely applauded his talking points, delivered in the style of the Rhodes scholar he is

Gore's speech, which lasted 10 minutes longer, began with a verbal challenge to Bradley, than launched into a litany of democratic causes which drew his supporters (in greater number in the hall) to chant and wave campaign placards.

October 9, 1999

Gore blasts Bradley on eve of party event

(Des Moines, IA) Vice President Al Gore Saturday blasted competitor Bill Bradley for mulling an independent bid for the presidency in 1996, supporting "Reaganomics" and leaving the U.S. Senate shortly after Republicans took control of Congress.

"I think the second-most important, defining moment for democrats in the last 20 years has been what our reaction was when Newt Gingrich took over the Congress and tried to solidify the 'Reaganomics' approach, and each of us was called upon to either fight against it with everything we had or not, and he did not," Gore said in response to a reporter's question at a Saturday afternoon news conference in Des Moines.

The race between Gore and Bradley for the democratic party's next presidential nomination has tightened in recent weeks, with public opinion polls showing the two running neck-in-neck in states like New Hampshire and New York.

Gore was asked "what kind of democrat" would vote for former President Ronald Reagan's budget and leave the Senate after the so-called Gingrich revolution which saw Republicans wrest control of the U.S. House from democrats who had held the debate agenda for four decades.

"I see some hungry quotation marks, eager to be filled with a pungent quotation" Gore joked with the throng of reporters. "I don't know. Maybe the kind that would announce he was considering running as an Independent against President Clinton."

Bradley has in the past called Gore a creature of the Washington establishment who is "timid" when it comes to decisions. Gore responded to the barb.

"I didn't walk away from the fight when Newt Gingrich took over Congress. I didn't walk away from the fight when 'Reaganomics' was put up for a vote on the floor (of the United States Senate). I didn't walk away from the fight when farmers deficiency payments and conservation programs, so I guess that's in the eye of the beholder," Gore said.

Gore has called for frequent debates with Bradley over a wide variety of issues In the news conference with reporters on Saturday, Gore heightened the stakes.

"Last week I said I'd like to debate every two weeks, but I've changed that. I'd like to debate every week....and why not use this campaign as a way to elevate the election process to make it worthy of our democracy.

"With the Republican front-runner just blowing the caps off the money limits and jettisoning the reforms that were enacted after Watergate, democrats would be wise to re-write the history books in terms of grassroots participation and one of the problems with participation in the past has been people are turned off by the way campaigns have been run. And the best the way to elevate campaigns is to have debates and to focus on what's really significant and important," Gore told reporters.

Gore began his Saturday at a pancake breakfast for supporters in Fort Dodge, then met with about 300 supporters in Ames. On Saturday evening, he was the headliner -- alongside Bradley -- at the Iowa Democratic Party's annual fall fund-raiser. Bradley staged a separate banquet in downtown Des Moines for his supporters who could not get a ticket for the party event.

.October 8, 1999

Bradley proposes new federal farm aid program

(Carlisle, Iowa) Democratic presidential candidate Bill Bradley Friday proposed a new system of ensuring farmers' income during down cycles in the grain and livestock markets.

Bradley would have federal farm payments kick in when the price paid for grains and livestock dips below the cost of production. In addition, he would limit the amount of the checks and deny the income support to corporate farms.

Under present law, American farmers are being paid set amounts in what are called "transition payments." Each year the checks get smaller. Eventually, the federal government will no longer provide such general financial support for farmers, a key provision of the so-called "Freedom to Farm" Act.

"I'll be honest with you, when I began this journey I didn't know a lot about agriculture," Bradley said in a farm policy speech. "In New Jersey, the farms we have are fruits and vegetables, blueberries. I had no sense of what the farm economy was all about and I've learned and my teachers have been family farmers."

About 40 people gathered in a farm field to hear Bradley speak. With his white shirtsleeves rolled up to the elbows and an empty hog barn to his back, Bradley talked of the "rootedness" of the farm that has been owned by the same family for 130 years.

"If we ever lose that, we're going to lose something that is as deep in America as Thomas Jefferson, because that's where it all started," Bradley said. "Being here this afternoon is one of those moments that just reminds me of that rootedness and that longevity and this incredible beauty that's out here -- a productive beauty."

Bradley also outlined his idea of a "family farm" brand for grains and meats, as well as expansion of conservation programs that pay farmers to let marginal cropland sit idle.

The man who farms the land on which Bradley stood Friday afternoon wasn't wild about Bradley's idea of tying federal farm supports to a three-year rolling average calculating a farmers' cost of producing a crop -- and the price a farmer can get for that crop in the marketplace.

"I don't know if you've ever dealt with the government, but there is a lot of paperwork now and that is the thing we'd like to avoid," said Joe Dunn, who cultivates the 130-year-old family farm, along with another 1,000 surrounding acres which he rents.

Vice President Al Gore, during a telephone interview with Radio Iowa, said he welcomes Bradley's "brand new interest" in agriculture.

Gore questioned Bradley's recent reversal on federal ethanol policy. While he was a New Jersey Senator, Bradley opposed the federal tax break for ethanol. Earlier this summer as he campaigned in Iowa as a candidate for the presidency, Bradley announced he supports the corn-based fuel's tax advantage.

"I think it's well known that I've always supported ethanol," Gore said. "...This is not just something that I'm doing on the eve of the Iowa Caucuses. I have a consistent record of shoring up the farm safety net."

Bradley's farm policy speech fell on the eve of a major Iowa campaign event, the Iowa Democratic Party's Jefferson-Jackson Day dinner that will feature Saturday evening speeches from Bradley and Gore. It will mark the first time the candidates have appeared on the same stage.

October 4, 1999

Caucus-Date Chaos Continues

(Des Moines, IA) Iowa Governor Tom Vilsack Monday said it's now up to national party leaders and the New Hampshire legislature to resolve the chaos created by scheduling New Hampshire's primary the day after Iowa's Caucuses.

New Hampshire's Secretary of State is unwilling to back away from his decision to set February 1, 2000, as the date for New Hampshire's primary. Iowa's Caucuses are scheduled the day before, on January 31.

"You cannot have a maverick situation like this, in my view, it just creates a chaotic situation and that's one thing you don't need," Vilsack said at a news conference staged in his statehouse office.

Vilsack talked by phone Monday with New Hampshire Governor Jeanne Shaheen, and he said she expressed frustration about the situation, indicating New Hampshire's legislature may act this fall when it meets to discuss an unrelated issue.

"This unilateral decision by a single individual in New Hampshire threatens that opportunity for Iowa and New Hampshire to establish and to continue its first-in-the-nation status in the future," Vilsack said.

Iowa's Caucuses and New Hampshire's primary have been the kick-off, "first-in-the-nation" events in presidential campaigns for the past two decades. Vilsack said having the dates of the states' events back-to-back would create an additional burden for candidates who'll have to try to be in both states at once.

Reporters asked Vilsack if party leaders in Iowa would consider moving the date of Iowa's Caucuses to January 24 or before.

"I'm not even going to answer that question because as far as I'm concerned, we're January 31 and I don't even want to open up the distinct possibility that we'd even think about that because I think it has to be clearly stated to the folks in New Hampshire: 'We didn't create this problem. We're not moving. You created this problem. You solve it,'" Vilsack said.

Iowa's Secretary of State and the leaders of both the Iowa Republican and Democrat parties flew to New Hampshire over the weekend to try to resolve the date dilemma.

October 2, 1999

Bradley, buoyed by polls, touts med plan in Iowa

(Redfield, IA) Bill Bradley slumped forward in his chair, positioned in front of a bulletin board plastered with a flyer touting Redfield's Farmers Market and a list of 20 "Heart-healthy snacks" -- items for patients to read while waiting for medical attention in the small-town medical clinic where Bradley sits.

"How do you make up for those who are uninsured?" Bradley asks workers at the clinic, which has about 5,000 patients.

"It doesn't taste good, but we eat it," replied Libby Coyte, a physician's assistant who serves as the clinic's office manager.

About 15 percent of the small town clinic's 5,000 patients do not have health insurance. Thirty percent are covered by private insurance, while 55 percent are on government-run Medicare or Medicaid.

Bradley's staff has picked this clinic as the backdrop for the democratic presidential candidate's first stop in Iowa since he announced a 65 billion-dollar plan to provide health care coverage to uninsured Americans.

Moments later, Bradley is a few blocks away, talking to a larger group of Redfield residents who've gathered in the town's American Legion Hall for the weekly Saturday morning breakfast feed of pancakes, eggs, sausage, bacon, toast and coffee, all for $4.

"It's really great to see those men back in the kitchen," Bradley said as he took the microphone, to applause and a few catcalls from women in the crowd of about 65.

With an American flag at his back and a white "in loving memory" cross to his right, Bradley launched into a 15 minute speech, recalling his boyhood days in Missouri, his views on agriculture policy and his ideas for providing health care coverage to all Americans.

"I must say I have an interest in Bill Bradley and I enjoyed his comments," said Julius Little, chairman of the Dallas County Board of Supervisors -- and a Republican. "Rural health care in Iowa is in a kind of a crisis."

Democrat Joyce Schulte of Aubudon put on her Bill Bradley T-shirt and drove to Redfield to see Bradley speak.

"I've listened to both Bradley and Gore for quite awhile, and I hear more of what I would call solidness or realism (from) Bradley," Schulte said.

Polls show Bradley's popularity surging in states like New Hampshire and New York, to the point where the former New Jersey Senator is running neck-in-neck with Vice President Al Gore.

"People say we have momentum," Bradley told reporters. "I say we just have a little traction. You want momentum in January."

January 31, 2000 is the tentative date of the Iowa Caucuses, a campaign kick-off event in the race for the Democrat party's presidential nomination.

In the past quarter, Bradley raised more campaign cash than did Gore, "because we've been reaching new people. We're not going to people who've always contributed."

However, Bradley was quick to claim the role of underdog to Gore.

"If you have the President of the United States right by your side willing to help you every step of the way, you have entrenched power in the D.N.C. (Democratic National Committee), you arrive on Air Force II (the Vice President's plane), and you're still ahead nationally, to me that's the favorite," Bradley told reporters.

 September 30, 1999

Iowa's Caucus date not moved, yet

(Des Moines, IA) Officials from the major political parties in Iowa and New Hampshire conferred by phone Thursday as they struggle to set the dates of campaign events that have traditionally been the opening electoral tests for presidential candidates.

At issue is a decision by New Hampshire's Secretary of State to set the date of next year's New Hampshire Primary for February 1. Iowa Republican party officials just two weeks ago set January 31 as the date for their Caucuses.

Such a one-two punch as the opening of the presidential sweepstakes would be impractical, according to Iowa Democratic Party chairman Rob Tully, a participant in Thursday's private talk among party leaders.

"We're just going to continue to keep working to try to resolve this," Tully said.

Democratic National Committee rules require eight days of separation between the Iowa Caucuses and the New Hampshire primary, but the Republican National Committee allows states to set the dates of their primaries and caucuses on their own. That has unleashed a series of moves by states to schedule their electoral contests earlier in the year.

The latest furor was caused by Delaware's Republican Party chairman who hinted at moving the date for that state's primary for February 15 to February 8. February 8 is the date New Hampshire officials had planned on, so to ward off the possibility of tandem contests in New Hampshire and Delaware, New Hampshire's Secretary of State has certified February 1 as the date for his state's contest.

"There's no such thing as finality, except in death," Tully, the Iowa Democrat Party chairman, said of the calendar showdown.

Tully said over the next three days party officials hope to convince Delaware to back down and New Hampshire to backtrack to February 8, thereby preserving Iowa's Caucus date of January 31.

September 30, 1999

Mrs. Bush says Bush's keep their clothes on

(Des Moines, IA) Former First Lady Barbara Bush Thursday said the Bush family has "kept their clothes on" for 25 years and she's unconcerned about questions raised about her son's personal life and rumored but unconfirmed illegal drug use.

"Because there's nothing wrong with his personal life at all, so it doesn't bother me," Mrs. Bush said of her son, George W. Bush, the front-runner for the Republican party's next presidential nomination.

Mrs. Bush spoke over the noon-hour at a luncheon which raised $100,000 for her son's campaign.

"If his father and I had had crowds like this, life would have been considerably easier," Mrs. Bush joked, referring to her husband's failure to win a second term as President.

During her remarks, Mrs. Bush recounted a recent family trip to Italy, where they stumbled across a nude beach.

"Now, thank heavens you of the news media were nowhere around. You probably would have managed to turn that into some kind of scandal. Now, for the record, all people named Bush kept their clothes on and have going back at least 25 years," Mrs. Bush said, to applause.

Mrs. Bush said she and her husband are especially proud of their political sons who are the Governors of Florida and Texas.

"Did you know that one out of every eight Americans is governed by a Bush and with your help, we'll make that all Americans," she told the crowd of 250 which paid $100 each to attend the luncheon. The price tag for an earlier reception with Mrs. Bush was $1000 per person.

Mrs. Bush described the campaign as "overwhelming," "tough but very exciting" and when asked beforehand by reporters if she enjoyed campaigning on her son's behalf she said it was "o.k. I love the candidate."

Her son's campaign announced Thursday it has raised $56 million dollars this year from over 135,000 individuals.

September 18, 1999

Date of Iowa Caucuses moved

(Des Moines, IA) Iowa Republican Party leaders voted Saturday to change the date of the Iowa Caucuses, an opening test in the presidential campaign, to January 31, 2000, in order to remain ahead of the pack of states holding primaries and caucuses early next year.

The action is the latest in a series of calendar-board moves made by state officials around the country vying to capture the attention of campaigning candidates. South Carolina recently moved its contest from March 7 (called Super Tuesday since other major states like California will hold primaries that day) to February 19. In response, officials in the nation's first primary state -- New Hampshire -- are prepared to move the New Hampshire contest to February 8.

Iowa's Republicans had planned to hold caucuses on the previous day, February 7, so the Iowa Republican State Central Committee Saturday opted to schedule their event a week sooner.

"The 31st was picked because if you go back further into January, you start running into debates (featuring the candidates)...and obviously, we don't want to do it on the third, which is the first weekday after the Y-2-K business, whatever that will be," Iowa Republican Party chairman Kayne Robinson said Saturday afternoon.

Robinson said if other states continue the pressure to hold election contests earlier in the election cycle, the caucuses and primaries will begin to look "silly" in campaign year 2004 if the Iowa Caucuses are scheduled in December, 2003.

"I think at some point it starts to look ridiculous to the American people that, my goodness, the campaign is literally never going to stop and I think you'd see some fall off in interest from that," Robinson said of the prospect.

Iowa Democrat Party chairman Rob Tully expects to move his party's caucuses to January 31, too. Iowa Democrats have traditionally held their caucuses on the same night as Republicans, but the Democrat party's national committee is the body that sets the dates for presidential election contests. Tully will discuss the date change at Democratic National Committee rules meetings this coming week.

Most of the presidential campaigns expected January 31 to be the date for the Iowa Caucuses, so Saturday's action will have little effect on candidates' plans. Just the past week, two candidates announced organizational milestones in the state of Iowa. Republican candidates Steve Forbes and Elizabeth Dole released lists of individuals who have agreed to serve as vote captains in each of Iowa's 99 counties.

"Iowa has 2,142 precincts and those are all separate meetings," said Monte Shaw, Dole's Iowa campaign manager. "We need to have point people in all the counties who help us get point people in all the precincts so we can be a presence in the Iowa Caucuses."

September 11, 1999

Bradley: 3/7 is "breakout day"

(Johnston, IA) Democrat Bill Bradley on Saturday said March 7, 2000 would be a "take-off day" for his bid to become his party's pick for president. March 7 is the date set for California's primary, as well as contests in other states, including Washington and New York.

"The take-off point is March 7th, when over 50 percent of the delegates (to the democratic national convention) will be selected," Bradley said.

During an interview on Iowa Public Television, Bradley said he doesn't have to beat rival Al Gore but must do better than expected in the campaign's first contests -- Iowa's Caucuses and New Hampshire's Primary -- to build steam for the big day.

"I'm up against establishment power. I'm up against tremendous resources and all I have is reaching out to people, which I really feel is succeeding, but it still is a long fight," Bradley, the former NBA star, said of his campaign game plan.

Bradley just this week formally kicked off his president campaign in his hometown of Crystal City, Missouri. The campaign caravan traveled to Iowa next, where Gore has been courting and receiving the endorsements of prominent labor groups, most notably the local American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Union, a major force in helping to elect a

democrat Governor in Iowa in 1998, the first time that's happened in 30 years.

Bradley said he'll appeal to the rank-and-file members of unions, particularly though a soon-to-be-announced plan which would offer universal health care coverage for all Americans.

"Whatever (union) leaders decide, I'm going after the votes of working families and I'm going after the votes of working families with a very direct approach, " Bradley said.

Bradley said he would not "shy away" from courting factions within the democrat party, such as the union vote, but instead plans a more person-to-person appeal.

"You can conceive of the democratic party as a sequence of interest groups, which is interest group politics, or you can conceive of the democratic party as composed of individuals who are seeking change and want a clear direction for the future," Bradley said.

Bradley spoke Friday night in Des Moines before STAR-PAC, the "Stop The Arms Race" Political Action Committee of local peace activists. At mid-day Saturday, Bradley spoke with supporters in Ames, a college town, then traveled across the state to Spencer for a visit to the Clay County Fair, which draws 300,000 during its nine-day run.

September 9, 1999

Bauer: voucher now, not later

(Johnston, IA) Republican presidential candidate Gary Bauer on Wednesday criticized competitor George W. Bush's education plan.

Bush would deny federal funds to schools that are failing with students. The money would be sent to the states and made available to parents in the form of "vouchers' for private education or tutoring.

"He put a halfway proposal on the table," Bauer said of the plan, which gives schools three years to clean up their act before the voucher system would kick in. "He suggested that when it comes to educational choice, that what we need to do is allow government to decide whether a school is working or not and if the government decides the school's not working, then he would be willing to give a voucher to the parent."

Bauer supports vouchers, immediately. Bauer said vouchers will let parents band together to press for improvements in their local public school.

"Either get your act together, get these reading scores up or the 40 or us are going to take our vouchers and we're going to go someplace else and so I think it's likely all the students will find improving schools when we create more of a marketplace and more of a leverage situation for these families," Bauer said.

Bauer, an undersecretary of education in the Reagan Administration, will unveil his own detailed education plan within the next eight weeks.