Silicon Valley is making its presence felt in the 2000 presidential contest-and not just on behalf of that computer-chip-off-the-old-block, Al Gore.
Timed for Gore's California trip this week, 50 prominent high-tech executives took out an ad in the San Jose Mercury News urging George W. Bush to run for President. Partial text from the ad, signed by Republican members of the bipartisan Technology Network Political Action Committee, reads: "As New Economy leaders, we understand the need to thrive in a competitive environment-not just in business, but also in politics. We are a diverse constituency, and no single candidate or party embodies the industry. We need visionary leaders who understand the New Economy. We, the undersigned, therefore, encourage Texas Governor George W. Bush to formally declare his candidacy for President." (San Jose Mercury News, 4/5)
And the centrist Republican Leadership Council launched a two-day television ad buy in San Francisco and San Jose poking fun at Gore's claim that he took "the initiative in creating the Internet." But the Gore forces aren't shying away from returning volleys. Gore aides, according to the Los Angeles Times' Ronald Brownstein, "portrayed the twin GOP initiatives as a sign of anxiety" among Republicans about his potential appeal in California. Gore spokesman Chris Lehane: "What it reflects is just how concerned Republicans are about how well Al Gore's views and issues match up with California's issues: high technology, education reform, and the environment." (Los Angeles Times, 4/5)
Will the political appeals-or any political appeal-reach receptive ears in Silicon Valley? The Mercury News' Mary Anne Ostrom seemed to think so. "In a place that once shunned politicians, the doors are being flung wide open, and not just for Al Gore," Ostrom wrote. "The PalmPilots of GOP activists are crammed full of meet-and-greet sessions as Republican contenders crisscross the valley. They come in search of not only money but also the cachet of being associated with the place that has become synonymous with the nation's future." (San Jose Mercury News, 4/3)
Brownstein noted "an increasingly spirited competition for the allegiance" of the high-tech entrepreneurs of Silicon Valley-"a group that until recently had been famously averse to politics." (Los Angeles Times, 4/5) USA Today's Jill Lawrence summed it up this way: "Just in time for the 2000 election, high-tech activism is coming of age." (USA Today, 4/5)
The experts agree. Wade Randlett, a Democratic consultant to the Technology Network, a bipartisan fund-raising and lobbying group: "It's become self-evident that Silicon Valley is one of the top three places in the country to understand, visit, and receive support from. It's a bipartisan truth." Floyd Kvamme, a partner at the venture capital firm Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers: "What Bill Clinton did was ingenious. This valley has been so nonpolitical, and he proved an old law of physics: Nature abhors a vacuum." Holly Bailey, who analyzes high technology's role in politics for the Center for Responsive Politics, said Silicon Valley "will be one of the big players in the 2000 presidential race because it's perceived to be the race for the future." (San Jose Mercury News, 4/3)
The moment NATO began air strikes against Yugoslavia, the media began calling Republican John McCain, the Arizona Senator, GOP presidential hopeful, and much-decorated Navy hero of the Vietnam War.
USA Today's Jill Lawrence noted, "News media outlets have shown a seemingly insatiable appetite for McCain's message." McCain's aides "are fully aware of the political benefits their candidate-ranking in single digits in most polls-may reap as a result of his moment at center stage." McCain Campaign Manager Rick Davis: "From what I've seen in the press and heard from around the country, there could actually be a stature gap between him and the rest of the field at this point over Kosovo. So that stature gap, I hope, would show up eventually in the polls." (USA Today, 4/6)
More media frenzy:
- New York Daily News columnist Lars-Erik Nelson: "McCain has clearly established himself as the top alternative in the GOP." (4/4)
- San Diego Union-Tribune columnist Robert J. Caldwell: McCain "has proved himself a patriot first. He's put partisanship and his misgivings on the Administration's Kosovo policy aside to support the commander in chief." (4/4)
- Baltimore Sun columnists Jack Germond and Jules Witcover: "We have learned something about John McCain that perhaps we should have known long ago. He marches to his own drummer." (4/5)
- The Wall Street Journal's Al Hunt: John McCain "may propel himself into the ranks of a front-runner." (Capital Gang, CNN, 4/3)
- The Weekly Standard's Fred Barnes: "You know what people like about John McCain? They like a leader who actually leads-he doesn't follow public opinion. Public opinion follows him." (The Beltway Boys, Fox News Channel, 4/3)
- In its "Winners & Losers" column, Time magazine called McCain a "winner": "Former POW looks like a man with a plan. Does neat impersonation of a commander in chief." (4/12)
"Pick a service. Pick a challenge. Set yourself apart." The old military recruiting jingle is still snappy today, and with the Yugoslav conflict as background, it's a great place to start examining the military records of presidential wanna-bes. That's what the Chicago Tribune's Ellen Warren and Teresa Wiltz did. Here are their takes:
- Bill Bradley: "Air Force Reserve from 1967 to 1978. No active duty."
- Al Gore: "Active duty in Vietnam-as an Army journalist. No combat duty." Served "even though he opposed the war and considered refusing military service."
- Gary L. Bauer: "College and law school deferments. No military service."
- Pat Buchanan: "Classified 4F because of rheumatoid arthritis."
- George W. Bush: "Pilot in Texas Air National Guard in the Vietnam era. No active or overseas duty."
- Elizabeth Dole: "Couldn't have served in combat if she had wanted to. Women were not drafted."
- Steve Forbes: "Active duty for about six months in the New Jersey National Guard in 1970. No combat."
- John R. Kasich: "High draft number. Never called."
- John McCain: "The only genuine war hero in the group. A Navy pilot, he was shot down over North Vietnam and spent five and a half years as a prisoner of war."
- Dan Quayle: "Avoided combat with a coveted slot in the Indiana National Guard."
- Sen. Robert C. Smith, R-N.H.: "One year of Vietnam duty for the Navy and served in the Naval Reserve. No combat duty." (Chicago Tribune, 4/2)
Putting the `Dan' in Gdansk
Knight Ridder's Lori Montgomery traveled to Gdansk, Poland, to profile Lech Walesa, former president of Poland and Nobel Peace Prize winner. The article included this shot at Dan Quayle:
"Ten years after Walesa led Poland to become the first Soviet Bloc country to throw off the shackles of communism, sparking a revolution that led to the fall of the Berlin Wall and later culminated in the collapse of the Soviet Union itself, he is an object of contempt among his countrymen, a Polish Dan Quayle, the butt of a thousand jokes." (The Buffalo News, 4/4)
Rot Back to Ya
Former White House Special Counsel Lanny J. Davis will soon be the next Clinton official to publish a confessional book. The New York Daily News's George Rush and Joanna Molloy got an early peek at Truth to Tell, scheduled to be published next month. Davis "includes himself with the pols, journalists, and lawyers who have 'combined to produce rot, horrible rot' " in politics: "There are no entirely clean hands here. Certainly not mine." And he "admits that his own son wouldn't buy his dad's song-and-dance routine." After Davis made a Nightline appearance "insisting that visits to the Lincoln Bedroom were about friendship and not money, young Seth cracked, 'Dad, even I know that you know you are full of crap.' " (4/6)
Keeping Us in Suspenders
CNN talk-show host Larry King touted the Michigan Senate race in his USA Today column: "Look for Congresswoman Debbie Stabenow to be the Democratic nominee against incumbent Republican Spencer Abraham in what should be a dogfight. This will be one of those races watched long into the night come November 2000." (4/5)
The Dallas Morning News' Wayne Slater, on George W. Bush's focus on completing the work of the Texas Legislature: "In trying to avoid conversations about anything else, including foreign policy, the Governor has tried to not make any waves, but he's failed." (The O'Reilly Factor, Fox News Channel, 4/5)
Steve Forbes on being rich: "I don't have to take contributions from the Chinese." (The Armstrong Williams Show, America's Voice, 4/5)
Dan Quayle pollster Kellyanne Fitzpatrick explained to The New York Times Magazine's Melinda Henneberger why she had her pick of presidential candidates: "A lot of Republicans want to make sure there's a girl on the team. As if that's going to matter to women voters." Why Quayle? "I don't deal with nonserious men in my personal or professional life. Maybe that's why I'm not married." (4/4)
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