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Flash Traffic | Political Buzz from Washington

Issue: "Tools of a tyrant," Aug. 10, 2002

Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-N.Y.) drew wild cheers at a Democratic Leadership Council conference for comparing the Bush economic record (unfavorably) to that of the Clinton-Gore years.
That's just the beginning. Watch for Democrats to reclaim their "It's the economy, stupid," mantra as the Labor Day kickoff to the fall elections arrives.
Republican prospects for holding the House and retaking the Senate are increasingly endangered by a sluggish economy and the rash of corporate scandals rattling Wall Street. Pollster John Zogby is privately telling GOP leaders that "corporate scandals are driving the day" and reshaping the fall elections.
It's still early, but "it's hard for me to see a GOP Senate pickup." Mr. Zogby adds that he expects "a one- or two-seat Democrat gain" in the Senate. Mr. Zogby notes that President Bush's approval ratings have dropped to 62 percent and that almost one in three Americans now feels worse off financially than two years ago.
Gallup's David Moore echoes the Zogby analysis. Mr. Moore notes only one in four Americans believes congressional Republicans seek to protect ordinary Americans; a whopping 65 percent see the GOP as defender of large corporations. By sharp contrast, one in two Americans says Democrats side with ordinary Americans while only 36 percent believe they side with big business.
This could explain why only 42 percent of Americans now plan to vote GOP for Congress, down from 49 percent last month, while 48 percent plan to vote Democratic, up from 44 percent last month.
Mr. Moore is quick to add, however, that the unsettled electorate is likely to stay that way "for the next several weeks, as many voters have yet to focus on the issues that will dominate the election."
Most at risk, Mr. Zogby warns, is Republican Senate candidate Elizabeth Dole, who is running in North Carolina. She "could be the Geraldine Ferraro of 2002," a high-profile female candidate who loses despite fawning national media attention. "She's got to address the issues more," particularly the economy, says Mr. Zogby. He also believes Democrats have a serious shot at picking up Phil Gramm's GOP Senate seat in Texas.

A new poll finds GOP businessman Bill Simon in a dead heat with incumbent Democrat Gov. Gray Davis in the white-hot battle to be the next chief executive of California. Gov. Davis has already spent some $8 million in attacks ads, yet now trails Mr. Simon ever so slightly, 47 percent to 45 percent, according to an exclusive poll taken for San Francisco's CBS affiliate, KPIX Channel 5.
Still, Mr. Simon faces a daunting uphill battle. He's raised just $10 million since the primaries, compared to Gov. Davis's stunning $50 million. Worse for Simon: Gov. Davis has a $31 million, ready-to-spend political war chest; Mr. Simon has a sixth of that.

Two former Senate rivals are teaming up for a good cause. Bob Dole and John Glenn appear in a new TV public service announcement encouraging adults to mentor children, unveiled on July 30 at a White House ceremony.
The ads, sponsored by President Bush's USA Freedom Corps, end with the line "Mentoring Kids, Everyone Can Do Something" and the address of the group's website, www.usafreedomcorps.gov. Since the president began promoting more volunteerism after 9/11, applications to join the Freedom Corps are up 90 percent.

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President Bush is coming to a theater near you: This summer brings the first two films to feature spoofs of Mr. Bush. Former Saturday Night Live comic Dana Carvey impersonates "W" in his new film, The Master of Disguise. A dead-ringer for Mr. Carvey plays the president in The Crocodile Hunter: Collision Course, the spirited new kids' movie starring Steve Irwin of Discovery Channel fame. The real president has yet to see either film, but he has taken in a screening of Mike Myers's newest Austin Powers film in the White House movie theater instead.

Joel C. Rosenberg
Joel C. Rosenberg

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