Washington Prowler

Unity Diners

Who hugged whom? Who stiffed whom? Plus: Playing Dean for a fool.

By 3.28.04

Apparently attendees at the Democratic Unity Dinner in Washington last Thursday night got a look at another version of Al Gore Unleashed.

This Gore updated model is a vindictive and bitter, washed-up candidate who acts like a teen-age girl trying to impress the cool kids. For example, upon seeing the Rev. Jesse Jackson on stage, Gore made a beeline toward him and, while casting his gaze across the stage at his former running mate, Sen. Joe Lieberman, wrapped Jackson in a big hug.

"Jackson looked mortified," says an onlooker. "That kind of affection wasn't something he was looking for."

Gore then turned and walked toward Lieberman … and simply patted him on the back. "They don't get along, for obvious reasons," says a former Lieberman campaign staffer. "Gore has never apologized for his betrayal."

But one good turn deserves another, and Gore got the stiff himself when he attempted to reach out to his former boss, Bill Clinton. Clinton, refused to step up to Gore, instead putting current presidential candidate Sen. John Kerry between him and Gore. So much for unity.

Down in the audience, similar behavior was unfolding. Sen. Tom Daschle had one of his staffer complain to DNC organizers about his seating, which placed him about three rows back in the audience during dinner. His table was not as good as the one set aside for some of Kerry's campaign staffers, including uber consultant Bob Shrum.

A month ago, AFSCME president Gerald McEntee was saying that his ex-golden boy, former Vermont Gov. Howie Dean, was insane. Now McEntee is getting back in bed with his nutty pal.

According to former Dean campaign sources, McEntee has committed funds in the "seven figure range" to Dean's new grassroots program. The money from AFSCME will be used to strengthen the commitment of Dean's young voting block to the Democrats and not to independents or third-party candidates in 2004.

"It's all about [Ralph] Nader," says a former Dean staffer, who is mulling an offer to rejoin Dean's operation. "There is real concern about young-voter flight to Nader or elsewhere now that Dean is gone. McEntee's money would try to shore up that support."

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