Dispatches > The Buzz

Flash Traffic

Political buzz from Washington

Issue: "Elaine Chao: Unlikely star," Nov. 3, 2001

Hillary for president in 2004? Mrs. Clinton fueled speculation by telling a French TV interviewer she hopes America elects a female president. "We would very much like the opportunity in this century to vote for a woman." Asked directly whether she was referring to herself, Mrs. Clinton demurred, calling the presidency both "an awful job" and an "awe-inspiring job." She added, "I have so many things that I'm interested in doing in my life right now, that that is something I've said I'm not going to do." Even Friend of Hillary Bernadette Chirac, wife of French President Jacques Chirac, wasn't buying it: "It's the response she gives today." Although Mrs. Clinton was recently booed at a VH1 concert at Madison Square Garden, pollster John Zogby believes Hillary would be a strong contender to take on a weak Al Gore for the Democratic nomination. If the economy remains sour, she could also mount a powerful challenge to President Bush, just as she and her husband did against Bush's father after the Gulf War in 1992. Mr. Zogby notes New York would be a phenomenal base from which to run. The nation has overwhelming affection for the Empire State after the 9/11 terrorist attacks, and as a U.S. senator, Mrs. Clinton is right at the epicenter of the news cycle. Meanwhile, Clinton pals Harry Thomason and wife Linda Bloodworth-Thomason are at work rewriting history. They are producing a $2 million to $3 million pro-Clinton documentary that will attack media coverage of the Clintons from 1992 to 2000. Titled The Hunting of the President, the show will be based on the book by Clinton apologists Joe Conason and Gene Lyons. With passage of financial assistance for New York, the airlines, unemployed workers, and a major anti-terrorism package, congressional job-approval ratings have rarely been higher. A new Harris poll finds two-thirds of Americans approve of both the Republicans' and the Democrats' performance in office. Expected soon: passage of 13 budget appropriations bills and a Trade Promotion Authority bill for the president before the next round of world trade talks in Doha, Qatar, this month. Congress may be riding high, but Rep. Gary Condit (D-Calif.) could be running for his political life. Condit has not yet formally announced whether he will run for reelection. But if he does, he now faces two fellow California Democrats-Assemblyman Dennis Cardoza and Tom Ciccarelli, the director of a Modesto charity-who are mounting primary challenges. Both question the actions and judgment of the 53-year-old Condit, who was caught up this summer in a scandal involving still-missing Washington intern Chandra Levy. Cardoza says bluntly: "I don't think [Condit] can win." Ciccarelli says he's "disgusted" by Condit's affair with Levy: "It really does matter who our leadership in Washington is. We need people who are committed to values." The tide is turning in Florida. After former Attorney General Janet Reno announced she would take on Jeb Bush for governor in 2002, she quickly zoomed in the polls. By May, Bush was struggling at just 49 percent, while Reno had hit 43 percent. But now a new poll for the Florida Education Association, conducted by Schroth & Associates-a Democratic political strategy firm-finds Bush soaring to 60 percent while Reno has plunged to 26 percent. With the U.S. economy in serious trouble, taxes are Topic "A" in the final days of the campaigns for governor in New Jersey and Virginia. Aides say Jersey Republican Bret Schundler and Virginia Republican Mark Earley-both gaining in the polls-will continue pounding away at their Democratic opponents for supporting tax increases. But while Earley says almost nothing about cutting taxes, Schundler talks about little else. Schundler is advocating a pro-growth tax-cut package far more dramatic than Washington Republicans have put forward: The four-year, $3.3 billion plan would cut property taxes 15 percent, abolish capital-gains taxes on property investments in urban areas, end tolls on the Garden State Parkway, ban Internet access taxes, and add a $500 education tax credit. Schundler expects economic growth from the cuts to yield a surplus of $5.5 billion over the same period.

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Joel C. Rosenberg
Joel C. Rosenberg

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