Dispatches > The Buzz

Flash Traffic

Political buzz from Washington

Issue: "Illegal siblings project," Feb. 2, 2002

Fueled by new speculation that Somalia could become the next U.S. target in the war on terror, Black Hawk Down-No. 1 at the box office after raking in $33.5 million during the opening weekend-is the most buzzed-about movie in Washington. President Bush and chief strategist Karl Rove received a private screening. Defense Secretary Don Rumsfeld attended the invitation-only D.C. premiere. Rush Limbaugh's cochlear implant surgery was successful and the nation's leading talk radio broadcaster says he can hear again. "I was sitting in the lobby of the Willard hotel in Washington, D.C., and I get a call and it's Rush and he goes, 'David! David!'" Rush's brother, David Limbaugh, told WABC-AM radio host John Gambling in New York. "I was too dumbfounded to answer. I hadn't spoken to him for months! He told me to talk slow. He had no problem. He heard everything I said." Since President Bush was unlikely to report this data in his State of the Union address, here is WORLD's quick snapshot of the Political State of the Union. Public opinion:

  • If the elections for Congress were held today, which party's candidate would you vote for in your congressional district? Forty-nine percent told Gallup they'd vote Republican, 42 percent Democratic.
  • Fifty-four percent of Republicans said they planned to vote in the November elections, 42 percent of Democrats (Gallup).
  • Do you favor the Republican approach to tax cuts, or the Democratic approach? Fifty percent favored the GOP tax plan, 40 percent the Democratic plan (Gallup).

The war chest:

  • Republican National Committee money raised in 2001: $82 million (a new record; up $23 million from 1995); $29 million cash-on-hand. National Republican Congressional Committee cash raised in 2001: $69 million; debt: $0.
  • Democratic National Committee cash raised in 2001: $46.5 million; $0 cash-on-hand. Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee cash raised in 2001: $34 million; debt: $1.5 million.

The lay of the land:

  • Current GOP lead in the House: 11 seats; current Democratic lead in the Senate: 1 seat.

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Abortion will be "a crucial issue in 2002," says National Abortion Rights Action League's Kate Michelman, who is targeting six key Senate races.
Colorado: Attacking vulnerable incumbent Republican Sen. Wayne Allard in favor of Democrat Tom Strickland, a former U.S. attorney.
Georgia: Defending incumbent Democrat Sen. Max Cleland from a tough challenge by likely GOP nominee, Rep. Saxby Chambliss.
Iowa: Fighting a challenge by Republican Rep. Greg Ganske, who seeks to unseat incumbent liberal Democrat Sen. Tom Harkin.
Minnesota: Supporting incumbent liberal Sen. Paul Wellstone against a strong challenge by Republican St. Paul Mayor Norm Coleman.
Missouri: Protecting freshman Democrat Sen. Jean Carnahan against a challenge by conservative Republican former Rep. Jim Talent.
New Hampshire: Promoting liberal Democrat Gov. Jeanne Shaheen in her bid to oust incumbent conservative Republican Sen. Bob Smith (or Rep. John Sununu, if Smith loses the primary). New signs Sen. Joe Lieberman, the Connecticut Democrat, is considering a run for president: Fresh home from a tour of Afghanistan and Central Asia with Sen. John McCain, Lieberman urged the administration to strike Iraq: "The unique threat to American security by Saddam Hussein's regime is so real, grave, and imminent that, even if no other nation were to stand with us, we must be prepared to act alone," Lieberman told an audience at Georgetown University. "Our general aim should be to build up the Iraqi opposition's capabilities day by day as we systematically break down Saddam's power, piece by piece.... I hope the White House, Pentagon, State Department, and intelligence services have begun to draw up plans and options for changing the regime in Baghdad." Breaking with previous comments, former President Bill Clinton now blames Yasser Arafat for the current spate of violence in Israel. "Last year, I believe Chairman Arafat missed a golden opportunity to make [a peace] agreement," Clinton said in a speech in Israel, before an audience that included Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and Foreign Minister Shimon Peres. Clinton was at Tel Aviv University to receive an honorary degree and establish the new Clinton Center of American Studies.

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Joel C. Rosenberg
Joel C. Rosenberg

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