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Campaign Notebook

Thu., Feb. 15, 1996

Wednesday’s developments on the presidential campaign trail:

And the gloves come off

Sen. Bob Dole took point-blank aim Wednesday at Patrick J. Buchanan, his fast-rising rival in the GOP presidential primary, unleashing a new television ad that assails his foe as a denigrator of women and a dangerous isolationist “too extreme” for the country.

The new 30-second Dole spot, which starts with the question, “President Pat Buchanan?” says Buchanan is “too extreme, and he can’t beat Bill Clinton.”

The Dole ad quotes Buchanan as saying in a 1983 anti-feminist column that “women are simply not endowed by nature with the measure of singleminded ambition and the will to succeed …”

As the GOP race turned increasingly vitriolic, Buchanan fired back with relish. Castigating Dole as “Mr. NAFTA, Mr. GATT, Mr. Mexican Bailout” - referring to foreign trade and aid agreements Dole has supported - the former commentator accused the Kansas senator of striking deals with big corporations and with Clinton.

“My friend Bob Dole … has put the interests of the big banks ahead of the interests of American workers,” said Buchanan.

Et tu, Newt?

Previously undisclosed tape recordings of House Speaker Newt Gingrich in candid discussions with his political allies reveal a series of sharply negative comments about Dole, the Senate majority leader and GOP presidential front-runner, according to copies obtained by the Los Angeles Times.

On the tapes, recorded during 1989 and 1990, Gingrich and his cadre of conservative activists scorned Dole for shunning their crusade to plot the so-called “Republican revolution.” At one point, Gingrich described Dole as one of a “significant number of fairly senior Republicans who are committed to a minority values system in which being pleasant and being invited to the right dinner is more important than winning.”

Gingrich said through a spokesman Wednesday that his comments were “private musings” at a time when he didn’t know Dole that well.

The price of egg on his face

That folksy guy in the red-and-black flannel shirt doesn’t know what groceries cost.

Lamar Alexander, who is a millionaire but boasts about being an “outsider,” got blown away by a reporter’s question Wednesday: What does it cost to buy a gallon of milk and a dozen eggs? The former Tennessee governor at first ignored the question, then pulled an aide aside and demanded he get the correct answer - “I need to know right now,” he said.

For the record, a gallon of milk costs $2.49 at the local Cumberland Farms store, and a dozen eggs goes for $1.29.

Other candidates

Steve Forbes: Said he would stop attacking his opponents in television ads and return to a positive message anchored on his plan for a flat tax. “It’s just important you learn from your mistakes.”

Dick Lugar: Blamed negative ads, in part, for driving people away from the political system. He said if the negative ads continue, they will weaken the Republican nominee who eventually faces Clinton. “Clinton came to Iowa last weekend … and gave speeches about unity, vigor, education and youth. And everybody looks over and says, ‘Look at all those nasty Republicans,”’ Lugar said.

News of Note

When he was president of the University of Tennessee, Lamar Alexander ran afoul of contract rules by steering $100,000 of state work to a political associate and a company partly owned by his wife.

In an audit, the Tennessee state comptroller concluded in 1992 that Alexander violated university rules designed to avoid conflicts of interest.

At issue: $35,400 in consulting work that Alexander routed to his former political lieutenant and another $64,000 in business directed to an inn-restaurant partly owned by his wife, Honey.

Alexander failed to tell the university of his wife’s interest, about 50 shares worth $8,000, in the inn and funneled the consulting money through a third party in an “attempt to avoid the appearance of a potential conflict,” the audit concluded.

Quote of the Day

“When the voter speaks, I listen, especially when the voter is saying someone else’s name.”

-Sen. Phil Gramm

From wire reports

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