Forbes, Gore claim Internet firsts

hmortman@njdc.com

Steve Forbes made campaign history at 8 a.m. on March 16 when he announced his presidential intentions on the World Wide Web. Forbes posted this message, with accompanying video, on his Web site: "I'm going to run the first full-scale presidential campaign in American history on the Internet. . . . Stay tuned to our online campaign headquarters--Forbes2000.Com--for daily updates and news of our formal campaign announcement coming up in a few months."

Will Forbes' Internet campaign work? The San Francisco Chronicle's Marc Sandalow seemed skeptical. He wrote that "it may be harder" for Forbes "to assume the mantle of darling of the high-tech community" than for other candidates. Texas GOP Gov. George W. Bush "already has the support of many" Silicon Valley Republicans, and Vice President Al Gore "is counting on high-tech Democrats to help finance his campaign." Every major presidential candidate boasts a Web site, Sandalow noted, "although their value has been largely confined to providing information to volunteers, curiosity seekers, and news reporters." (San Francisco Chronicle, 3/16)

But Forbes told the Chicago Tribune's Michael Tackett that he will create an "electronic version of precinct politics. You can put together networks in virtually every state of the union, political versions of chat rooms, and have [voters] involved." (Chicago Tribune, 3/16)

Father of Invention

Forbes wasn't the only presidential candidate to make Internet news. While Al Gore completed his first official campaign swings through Iowa and New Hampshire, Republican presidential candidates were having a field day with his earlier recollection on CNN that "I took the initiative in creating the Internet."

A sampling: Dan Quayle: "If Gore invented the Internet, I invented spell-check." (San Francisco Chronicle, 3/16)

Steve Forbes: "I hereby reveal that I'm really Christopher Columbus. I discovered America and wrote the Declaration of Independence." (The Washington Times, 3/16)

Stand-up comics were also weighing in. Jay Leno: "Al Gore made a rather odd statement the other day. He said he is the father of the Internet. . . . And this really riled President Clinton. He chewed Al Gore out. He told him, `What are you doing? You always deny you're the father, no matter what it is.' " (Tonight Show, 3/15)

The Mush Pit

New Hampshire has many homegrown traditions for presidential candidates to, well, endure. One is the World Championship Sled Dog Derby, the country's "oldest championship sled dog derby, and one of its most prestigious." Bob Dole was drawn to it when he ran in the presidential primary there four years ago.

This time, Rep. John R. Kasich, R-Ohio, journeyed to Laconia, N.H., and "mushed for the first time." Kasich said sled dog racing is a "family-oriented" sport "that teaches valuable lessons like teamwork and discipline." Not only that, it was fun. Kasich: "When I got off the sled, my heart was pounding. Those dogs really move." (Concord [N.H.] Monitor, 3/15)

Back to Reality

But it's not all fun and games for the Republican presidential wanna-bes. The perennial divisive issue of abortion is back in the GOP primary.

Gov. George E. Pataki of New York, who openly harbors national ambitions, fired the latest salvo by telling the Associated Press's Marc Humbert that the GOP should get rid of the national platform's anti-abortion plank. Pataki: "Where there are differences, such as on the question of abortion, I think we should just recognize . . . the existence of a diversity of opinion, tolerate that diversity of opinion, and have a big-tent type of philosophy." (Associated Press, 3/13)

That didn't sit well with conservatives running for the Republican presidential nomination. Gary L. Bauer quickly released this response to Pataki: "When the next Republican platform is being drafted in 2000, the last thing we should be doing is changing our status as a categorically pro-life party. The majority of the people in the grass roots of the Republican Party are pro-life and would not want to shift into the murky territory of `diverse opinions.' "

On NBC's Meet the Press, Pat Buchanan said this about the GOP's abortion plank: "It has been a pro-life party thoroughly since Ronald Reagan inserted that platform there. . . . In '92 and '96, we fought and kept this party pro-life. We will do so in the year 2000, and as Joe Namath said, `I guarantee it.' . . . Not one of the 10 or 11 candidates now running is running on the proposition that we should tear the soul out of that party." (Meet the Press, 3/14)

Lamar Alexander detailed his pro-life stance on Fox News Channel's The Beltway Boys: "My way of getting there is to get the federal government out of supporting abortion and to move state by state to change the laws and the culture so there will be fewer abortions. I do not support a constitutional amendment that would overturn Roe vs. Wade." (Beltway Boys, 3/13) And James Dobson, founder and president of Focus on the Family, a "powerful media ministry that reaches 600 million people worldwide," challenged Gov. George W. Bush of Texas: "Don't give us double-talk. Tell us if you'll support pro-life judges. Tell us if you'll oppose giving money to Planned Parenthood International." (San Francisco Chronicle, 3/13)

Gore's Shuddering Now

Here's one for the when-lightning-strikes file. Kevin Landrigan of The (Nashua, N.H.) Telegraph reported that Democratic "gadfly" Tom Chimento "vows to be back" in the Democratic presidential primary in New Hampshire in 2000. Chimento, the Brookline, N.H., town chairman, said: "I strongly believe that my last entry into the Democratic primary pushed President Clinton more to the center, whether he admits it or not. So I think I did some good." Then Chimento assured us all: "I am not a Don Quixote and will only run in New Hampshire, unless there is a national draft, which is highly unlikely." (The Telegraph, 3/14)

Chicken Soup in Every Pot

Comedian Al Franken keynoted a Democratic fund-raiser in Southington, Conn., on March 11. But he was "almost trumped" in the laughs department by Sen. Joseph I. Lieberman, D-Conn., according to the review by Robert Pollack of the Record-Journal in Meriden, Conn. Lieberman served up a series of remarks about Franken's latest book, Why Not Me? in which Franken is elected President and Lieberman is his Vice President. Lieberman introduced Franken by saying that as part of the nation's first all-Jewish Administration, his theme would be "Malice toward none, guilt toward everyone." (Record-Journal, 3/15)

What About Arkansas?

In his USA Today column, CNN talk show host Larry King tried to get a handle on the chatter about Hillary Rodham Clinton's running for the Senate from New York. King wrote: "His close Hollywood friends tell me that Bill Clinton and Hillary Rodham Clinton will definitely move to New York at the end of his presidency. Clinton tells intimates that `Hillary loves New York' and `whether she runs for the Senate or not, she wants to live there.' . . . It's still 50-50 whether she'll run, but New Yorkers can add two new residents as of January 2001."

King also had to get this off his chest in his column: "I have a new pet annoyance: hospital answering machines. You call a hospital, and you don't get a human being. You get a machine with 11 options. While you're waiting to hear all the options, you could pass away. Whatever happened to the human being?" (USA Today, 3/15)

A Doctor in the House

Rep. Greg Ganske, R-Iowa, is running TV ads that call for "political healing" in the wake of the impeachment trial of President Clinton. Ganske, who voted for impeachment, is using campaign money to pay for 320 showings of the ad on network and cable stations in Des Moines, Iowa, and Omaha, Neb. Ganske, in the ad: "Before I became your congressman, I was a doctor. So let us talk about healing--political healing. . . . Where we disagree, let's at least be civil. But there is much to agree on. And working together is the right prescription." (The Des Moines Register, 3/14)

The Men From Ankle

Dan Quayle, asked by Wolf Blitzer on CNN's Late Edition about getting tough questions on the campaign trail: "You never know exactly how you are going to do on national stage until you get there. I was first put on national stage back in August of 1988 in New Orleans. You were down there. You saw the scrutiny. They just, basically, took me by my ankles, turned me upside down, and shook and shook and shook, and a couple pennies rolled out, and they jumped on those couple of pennies, and you know the rest." (Late Edition, 3/14)

Ex-Clinton adviser Dick Morris, on George Stephanopoulos' spicy insidery book: "The thing that I found most interesting about George's book is that he really comes across to me as the ankle bracelet they put on Bill Clinton to keep him liberal. I mean, he was--he kind of comes across as his monitor, not his staffer. I thought that was weird." (FOX News Sunday, 3/14)

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