UPI Political Roundup

By AL SWANSON, United Press International  |  Oct. 8, 2002 at 5:33 PM
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Lautenberg itching for debates

Hours after the U.S. Supreme Court refused to intervene in a GOP battle to keep former New Jersey Sen. Frank Lautenberg from replacing Sen. Robert Torricelli as the Democratic candidate on the Nov. 5 ballot, Lautenberg was out looking for a fight.

The 78-year-old Lautenberg, who retired in 2000, called for debates with Republican Senate nominee Douglas Forrester.

"I want to get face-to-face with Forrester, provided he wants to talk about the issues," Lautenberg said at the Wilmington Community Center Monday afternoon. "If he wants to talk about the process, he can continue doing that all by himself."

Forrester had accused Lautenberg of backing away from an agreement for an ambitious schedule of 21 debates before Election Day.

While early polls showed Lautenberg with a slight lead in the U.S. Senate race, a new Star Ledger/Eagleton-Rutgers poll of 801 likely voters, taken Oct. 3-6, showed the candidates tied with 44 percent apiece.

Record spending in Texas governor's race

Democrat Tony Sanchez has spent nearly $58 million in his bid to unseat Republican Gov. Rick Perry and at that pace their combined spending could reach $100 million by Election Day, according to one observer.

Sanchez, a wealthy Laredo businessman, spent $26 million in the last three-month reporting period, more than twice the $10.5 million spent by Perry, according to figures released Monday. Perry has spent just $16.3 million on his campaign so far.

Sanchez, who is largely financing his own campaign, could surpass Jon Corzine who spent $60 million in 2000 to win a U.S. Senate seat in New Jersey, and approach the $70 million Michael Bloomberg spent in the New York mayor's race.

Cal Jillson, a political science professor at Southern Methodist University, estimated that at his current pace Sanchez could spend another $10 million to $12 million before the election, which could make the race one of the most expensive in U.S. history.

The $74 million already spent by Sanchez and Perry surpassed the previous record for a Texas governor's race -- $53 million spent when Democrat Ann Richards defeated Republican Clayton Williams in 1990.

"I knew JFK and ..."

Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, D-Mass., chastised President Bush for invoking the resolve President John F. Kennedy showed during the Cuban crisis 40 years ago when the United States was threatened by Russian ballistic missiles.

In a speech Tuesday night, Bush made the case for military action against Iraq, warning Americans of the dangers of delay.

"Facing clear evidence of peril, we cannot wait for the final proof -- the smoking gun -- that could come in the form of a mushroom cloud," he said.

"As President Kennedy said in October of 1962: 'Neither the United States of America nor the world community of nations can tolerate deliberate deception and offensive threats on the part of any nation, large or small.' We no longer live in a world where only the actual firing of weapons represents a sufficient challenge to a nation's security to constitute maximum peril."

Sen. Kennedy argued the most valuable lesson from the 14-day Cuban missile crisis was the great restraint his slain brother showed in not launching a pre-emptive strike. Many military officers urged President Kennedy to approve a preventive attack, Kennedy said.

"Robert Kennedy ... felt that this kind of first strike was not consistent with American values. He said a proposed surprise first strike against Cuba would be a "Pearl Harbor in reverse,'" recalled the senator. Hours before Bush's speech, Kennedy took to the Senate floor to deliver a sharp rebuke to the president's Iraq policy.

"We can deal with Iraq without resorting to this extreme,'' Kennedy said. "Might does not make right. It is unilateralism run amok.''

Bush was the third U.S. president to speak at Cincinnati's historic Union Terminal. President Harry S. Truman spoke at art deco station twice during whistlestop campaigns in 1948 and President Franklin D. Roosevelt came through the terminal in 1936 when it was 3 years old.

Mayor joins marchers

Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak joined more than 500 people outside the federal courthouse Monday hours before the Bush speech on Iraq. As the marchers chanted "No blood for oil," and other slogans, Rybak said he was there a private citizen.

"I didn't get elected mayor for my foreign policy," he told the St. Paul Pioneer Press. "But I'm here to support people who are trying to keep our country's priorities straight."

In Detroit, Nation of Islam leader Minister Louis Farrakhan called President Bush a greater threat to world peace than Saddam Hussein.

Farrakhan, in town to keynote three days of anti-war activities, acknowledged most Americans would agree with the president's "sober, brilliant and appealing" arguments for waging war on Iraq. But added that people should question the facts the administration is presenting in support of its case.

Farrakhan is scheduled to address the City Council on Wednesday.

Former senator urged to repudiate write-in vote

With New Hampshire seen as one of three to five critical races for control of the U.S. Senate, outgoing Republican Sen. Bob Smith -- beaten in a bitter primary battle by former Reagan White House staffer John Sununu -- is being pressured to repudiate any write-in vote for him in November.

President Bush said over the weekend, "I need John Sununu in the United States Senate."

Write-in support for Smith could siphon votes away from Sununu, and might cost him the election. Recent polls had Sununu in a statistical dead heat with the Democratic nominee, Gov. Jeanne Shaheen. Smith failed to attend a weekend political fund-raiser for Sununu, upsetting some Republicans who want Smith to repudiate any write-in effort on his behalf. The White House had made plans for Smith to be there, according to the Union Leader of Manchester.

State Sen. Robert Boyce of Alton, who backed Smith in the primary, wore a "Sununu" sticker and said Smith should do more to quell the write-in movement.

Fear Factor

Viewers who watched Bush's speech on Chicago's WMAQ-TV Monday night got a surprise when the feed abruptly changed to NBC's "Fear Factor" about 20 minutes into the 29-minute address from Cincinnati.

For a surreal few seconds the "Fear Factor" logo remained on the screen before three contestants, who took turns being covered with live bees, came on. The feed then switched back to Bush talking about Saddam Hussein's weapons of mass destruction.

A spokeswoman at Chicago station said the programming department had 77 messages on its viewer comment line Tuesday morning, but she hadn't listened to them all.

"It was a feed and sometimes things happen in a feed," she said. "It was out of New York and not NBC5 Chicago."

ABC, NBC and CBS did not carry the address in which Bush outlined reasons for U.S. military intervention in Iraq. In fact, the CBS comedy "The King of Queens" won the ratings from 8 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.

Fox interrupted the National League baseball division playoff pre-game show to carry Bush live, but didn't have to delay the first pitch in Atlanta.

The White House did not formally request national airtime from the networks.

Hawaiian House race not a luau

Hawaii state Rep. Ed Case has entered the race for Congress, filing nomination papers on Maui, the home island of the late Democratic Rep. Patsy Mink, whose seat Case seeks.

Mink, a fierce liberal who co-authored landmark gender-equity legislation, is expected to win posthumously over her still-breathing Republican opponent, state Rep. Bob McDermott.

She died Sept. 28 after being treated for viral pneumonia, a complication of chickenpox. Mink was 74.

Her name remains on the ballot since under state law she died three days after the deadline for changes. Hawaii's attorney general has asked the state's supreme court to allow her name to be replaced, and remove the need for a special election in January to fill her seat.

(Phil Magers in Dallas, Dave Haskell in Boston and Chris Sieroty in Washington contributed to this report)

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