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UPI's Capital Comment for Oct. 30, 2002

By United Press International   |   Oct. 30, 2002 at 1:54 PM   |   Comments

WASHINGTON, Oct. 30 (UPI) -- Capital Comment -- Daily news notes, political rumors and important events that shape politics and public policy in Washington and the world from United Press International.

Going out as he came in -- Vice President Dick Cheney did not attend Tuesday night's memorial service for Sen. Paul Wellstone, D-Minn., his wife and six others who were killed in a plane crash last week. He stayed away at the request of the surviving members of the Wellstone family who, some reports say, did not want to subject the thousands of mourners to the security screening his presence would require.

White House spokesman Ari Fleischer said "The family was appreciative of the offer by the vice president to attend," but that it would not be appropriate to relate in detail the conversations that took place.

This may have been a good thing for Cheney. The service, attended by several thousand people, had more of the character of a political convention than a funeral service. The mourners repeatedly leapt to their feet to cheer the Democrat luminaries who came to praise Wellstone including former President Bill Clinton and Sen. Hillary Clinton, D-N.Y., former Vice President Al Gore and Tipper Gore, the Rev. Jesse Jackson, and former Vice President and Sen. Walter Mondale -- a group among which Cheney might have been a bit uncomfortable. Health and Human Services Secretary Tommy Thompson led the official White House delegation.


You're on your own -- Republican Party leaders in the state of Iowa have pulled their support from a candidate for state legislature after The Gazette, a Cedar Rapids, Iowa, newspaper, reported the Republican had raised questions about her opponent's ethnicity.

Republican Karen Balderston, says The Gazette, wrote an e-mail to a conservative political group in which she suggested her opponent, Democrat Swati Dandekar, could not represent the people of Iowa because she is from India.

"Without having had the growing-up experience in Iowa, complete with the intrinsic basics of Midwest American life, how is (Dandekar) adequately prepared to represent Midwest values and core beliefs, let alone understand and appreciate the constitutional rights guaranteed to us in writing by our Founding Fathers? (not her Founding Fathers)(sic)," Balderston wrote in the e-mail. Dandekar, an Iowa resident for the past 30 years, has declined comment.


U.S. to Europe: Butt out of our bank accounts -- The Bush administration has firmed up its opposition to a European Union proposal to require nations to collect and share private financial information on non-resident investors. Larry Lindsey, the president's senior economic adviser and director of the National Economic Council says the administration does not support the directive. "There is zero interest in it," Lindsey says.

U.S. opposition to the plan likely dooms it as the directive is explicitly predicated, according to some analysts, on the unanimous support of all 15 EU nations as well as six non-EU nations, one of which is the United States.

Opponents of the plan are pleased by the news. Dan Mitchell, senior fellow at the conservative, pro-free market Heritage Foundation, said, "The EU's information-sharing proposal would have enabled foreign governments to tax U.S. source income. And because the United States has attracted about $5 trillion of passive investment from overseas, the EU cartel would have harmed America's competitive advantage in the world economy. The administration is defending America's national interests and President Bush deserves thanks from everyone who supports fiscal competition and economic liberalization."


Stand up, keep fighting -- It is no secret that the Minnesota Senate contest between Democrat Paul Wellstone and Norm Coleman, the former GOP mayor of St. Paul, Minn., was close. The idea that former Vice President Walter Mondale will replace Wellstone on the ballot has already generated several polls showing the race where it was when Wellstone died. However, party tracking polls have the race much closer.

Republicans feel trapped, say party activists, between the need to run an aggressive campaign through the election and the desire not to seem insensitive to the tremendous loss suffered by the Wellstone family and the sense of loss experienced by voters in Minnesota, regardless of party.

Not so some Democrats, who are already pulling out all the stops. E-mail sent by the Working Families e-Activist Network on Tuesday, is encouraging increased voter participation in the race as a tribute to the late senator's legacy. "Last week the union movement -- and America -- lost a powerful leader in the fight for social and economic justice. Minnesota Sen. Paul Wellstone lost his life while working for the values he deeply hoped America and the world would embrace," the liberal pro-union group wrote.

"His life and death remind us that this election is worth fighting for -- and of the work we MUST do to get out the vote on Nov. 5, just one week from today. If somebody like Paul Wellstone was willing to give so much, can we not do a little, or even a lot?... CONTACT your union or connect with your local union movement online by clicking on the link below. Join precinct walks, phone banks and other election efforts. ... UNDERSTAND THE THREAT ... The AFL-CIO's BushWatch Web site has the facts behind George W. Bush's record on working family issues," it says.


A class learning environment -- Texas GOP Gov. Rick Perry, Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison, R-Texas, U.S. Rep. Gene Green, D-Texas, and Eli Broad, the founder of the philanthropic Broad Foundation, gathered in Houston Tuesday to celebrate the selection of the Houston Independent School District as America's top performing school district and winner of the inaugural Broad Prize for Urban Education. President George W. Bush, in a written statement read to the more than 1,000 people in attendance, congratulated the students, parents, teachers, administrators and community leaders. "Despite facing many challenges, HISD has shown all of us how innovative leadership, hard work, and high academic standards can help ensure that no child is left behind," the president wrote. The Broad Prize for Urban Education is an annual $1 million award to honor urban school districts that are making the greatest overall improvement in student achievement while at the same time closing achievement gaps across ethnic groups and between high and low income students. The $1 million cash award will fund scholarships for students to attend college or other post-secondary training.


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