Bush: Business casual
The 2,500 or so people invited to see President George W. Bush at the Charlotte Coliseum Thursday were advised to wear business casual.
According to the Charlotte Observer that meant no coat and tie for men and no suits for women. Bush, however, was all business on his sixth trip to North Carolina, exhorting the invitation-only GOP rally to get out the vote for Republican U.S. Senate candidate Elizabeth Dole and three House candidates.
The White House said Bush will be on the stump nearly every day until Nov. 5., putting the power and prestige of his office on the campaign trail to work for Republican candidates nationwide in an effort to retake the Senate and hold on to the House in midterm elections.
Dole is in a tight race with Democrat Erskine Bowles, who was Bill Clinton's White House chief of staff, to succeed Republican Jesse Helms. Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney have both appeared at Dole fund-raisers.
Scare tactics or politics?
Independence Party gubernatorial candidate Tim Penny and Democrat Roger Moe appeared minutes apart at the state Capitol in St. Paul, Minn., Wednesday to denounce Republican Tim Pawlenty's new 30-second television ad warning of terrorists in Minnesota.
Both candidates said the commercial exploited fears of Sept. 11 for political gain.
The spot, which hit the airwaves Monday, two weeks before the election, paints all foreigners, including legal immigrants, as potential terrorists. It opens with a statement superimposed over a map of Minnesota about the alleged 20th hijacker, Zacarias Moussaoui, attending flight school in the state. A narrator then says, "Terrorists are here."
Pawlenty appears and promises to print visa expiration dates on driver's licenses issued to non-citizens.
Penny, who is backed by outgoing Gov. Jesse Ventura, said the ad was "an irresponsible scare tactic" aimed at sensationalizing terror to divide majority and minority communities in the state.
Moe likened the Pawlenty ad to former President George H.W. Bush's 1988 Willie Horton ad during his race with Democrat Michael Dukakis. That infamous spot about violent crime showed a revolving door of black inmates and was accused of courting racial bigots.
The Pawlenty campaign said most Minnesotans would not find putting visa information on licenses unreasonable. In fact, the policy is already in effect.
The St. Paul Pioneer Press said state Public Safety Commissioner Charlie Weaver administratively ordered visa expiration data put on licenses this spring after lawmakers failed to approve a bill to give non-resident visitors temporary, color-coded licenses.
The Minnesota chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union is challenging the policy in court.
Soft money financing anti-Shaheen ads
Two groups from Washington, D.C., reportedly have spent more than $1 million on a negative ad campaign against Democratic Gov. Jeanne Shaheen in the U.S. Senate race in New Hampshire.
The Concord Monitor reports the ads would run through election day.
According to a Shaheen aide, Shaheen's Republican rival, U.S. Rep. John E. Sununu, is indirectly responsible for those ads because he has ties to Dave Carney, a veteran Republican operative and consultant for one of the groups.
"It's a clear and obvious example of funneling money into negative ads to get around campaign finance laws," said Colin Van Ostern, Shaheen's campaign press secretary.
Sununu's campaign spokeswoman, Julie Teer, said that while Carney is a close friend of the Sununu family, he has never worked on the campaign. "He's not on our payroll, so whatever information you've been given is absolutely wrong," she said.
Carney, however, does work as a national consultant for the pro-business Americans for Job Security that is paying for many of the anti-Shaheen ads, the group's president, Mike Dubke, told the Monitor. The groups paying for the anti-Shaheen ads, the United Seniors Association and Dubke's Americans for Job Security, have declined to discuss their funding or their membership.
Mass. gov race tightens
Republican Mitt Romney has pulled into a statistical dead heat with Democrat Shannon O'Brien in the gubernatorial race in Massachusetts, according to a new poll of likely voters released Thursday.
The Suffolk University-WHDH-TV poll of 400 likely voters showed Romney rallied from a 12 percent deficit to pull even with O'Brien. Romney had 37.2 percent while O'Brien had 36.7 percent. Two minor party candidates polled just over 3 percent, while 22 percent were still undecided. The poll was conducted from Oct. 20-22, and has a margin of error of 4.9 percent.
"This race is so close that one mistake, one slip-up, one untimely glare caught by a debate camera could make the difference in who wins or loses," said Suffolk University adjunct professor David Paleologos, a veteran pollster and author.
"Since March, the lead has switched four times between O'Brien and Romney and there is still time for more lead changes." Romney and O'Brien continue a series of debates Thursday night.
Former governor embarrassed by political ads
Former Michigan Gov. William Milliken is embarrassed by some of the materials released on behalf of Republican Lt. Gov. Dick Posthumus.
Milliken, who served as governor from 1969 to 1982, told the Detroit News that television ads pitting Detroit against the rest of the state were race-baiting, "not to mention some gross distortion of facts."
The ads paid for by the state Republican Party said Granholm supports slave reparations and would give Detroit a "blank check." Granholm said in several debates that she does not support direct monetary payments to descendants of African-American slaves but would support programs to help minorities and the poor.
Milliken called the ads "morally wrong and politically stupid."
Ted Nugent ready to run
If Democrat Jennifer Granholm is elected Michigan's next governor she may have to face rocker Ted Nugent in the 2006 election.
The pony-tailed 53-year-old rock n' roll star, who spends much of his time bow hunting in his home state, said he'd run against Granholm if she defeats Republican Lt. Gov. Dick Posthumus, who is backed by the gun lobby.
"I'm very active politically," Nugent told the News Press in Fort Myers, Fla. "A lot of people have asked me to run." Nugent said Florida Gov. Jeb Bush had asked for his help in his re-election campaign "but it interferes with hunting season."
Nugent's son attends school in Naples, Fla., and the rocker was there Wednesday to speak to middle and high school students about the dangers of drugs and alcohol.
Nugent recently released his first studio CD in seven years and is author of the "Kill It and Grill It" cookbook.
Clintons campaign for McCall
Disappointed that the national Democratic Party has given his campaign for New York governor only $250,000, Democrat H. Carl McCall is planning on campaigning with one of the Clintons for the next 10 days.
Former President Bill and Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton appeared at two fundraisers for the New York state Democratic Party, which raised $1 million, according to the New York Post.
The former president said McCall could tighten the race in the next 10 days and then the national Democratic committee "would take notice."
Clinton was videotaped with McCall in what is believed to be his first political commercial since leaving the White House.
Meanwhile, Republican Gov. George Pataki attended a fundraiser of his own at the new home of former New York Mayor Rudolph Giuliani and Judith Nathan, raising about $300,000.
He also won the endorsements of the New York City police and firefighter unions as well as the weekly Jewish Press and Hoy (Today), a Spanish-language newspaper.
Wisconsin Republicans are accusing Democratic candidate for governor Jim Doyle of exploiting the mentally ill.
The campaign to elect Republican Gov. Scott McCallum jumped on the issue after WTMJ-Channel 4 in Milwaukee Tuesday night broadcast a videotape of a Columbus Day bingo party in the dining hall at the Dayton Residential Care Facility in Kenosha. The report said mentally ill residents were asked to fill out absentee ballots after winning quarters and getting free refreshments.
McCallum's campaign director said the prizes, soft drinks and Danish pastries were bribes "to buy the votes of mentally disturbed people."
Kenosha County District Attorney Robert Jambois, who has endorsed Doyle, launched an investigation and said a decision on whether to file charges would be made by week's end. Jambois said the Racine County prosecutor would review the evidence to remove any conflict of interest.
A Doyle volunteer who organized the bingo games said he was not aware of anyone being asked to fill out an absentee ballot and the facilities' director said the center provided the soft drinks.
The state Democratic Party said Doyle's campaign did nothing illegal.
Wisconsin state law bars providing anything worth more than $1 to solicit a person's vote.
(Thanks to Dave Haskell in Boston and Alex Cukan in Albany, N.Y.)