Sen. Hillary Clinton came out publicly on Friday to support the short-lived candidacy of Tipper Gore for the open Senate seat in Tennessee, even though at first Hillary and her Capitol Hill staffers thought the whole Tipper-will-run idea was a lark. "We first saw the item on Drudge," says a Clinton staffer. "And we thought it was a joke or something. We e-mailed the link around and just kind of laughed about it. I think even Mrs. Clinton thought it was a hoax or someone at the DNC just floating a goofy idea."
But Hillary, who has not spoken much to Tipper since hubby Al's failed presidential run, is said by staffers to have made several phone calls to Democratic colleagues in the Senate, though not to Mrs. Gore herself, to confirm the notion that Tipper might be running. "Mrs. Clinton confirmed it, then put out the release that she was supportive of it," the first staffer says. "What else could she do?"
Still, the Clinton staffer adds, Hillary thought it amusing that "the Gores are trying to imitate the Clintons in almost every way."
Sen. John Edwards spent last week showing off art in his office to North Carolina newspaper reporters in an attempt to send a message home that he was serious about running for president. At one time, Edwards had pictures of Ben Franklin and George Washington hanging on the walls. But that décor is out. Now, Edwards has the visages of Andrew Jackson, James Polk, and Andrew Johnson looking down on him. "They are huge portraits," says a reporter for the Charlotte Observer. "You can't miss them and he won't let you miss the significance."
As Edwards will tell you, all three men hailed from North Carolina and all were elected president. Never mind that Andrew Jackson made his mark in what's now Al Gore's state, or that Polk was a one-termer, or that Johnson was impeached. As far as Edwards is concerned, they were all as good as trial lawyers. Will Edwards go a step further and hang a picture of himself on his walls? "He's not that full of himself," says an Edwards staffer, who adds, "yet."
In response to the Senate Judiciary Committee's defeat of Judge Charles Pickering's nomination to a federal appeals court, Senate Minority Leader Trent Lott moved to block the nomination of Jonathan Adelstein to the Federal Communications Commission. Adelstein is an aide to Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle, and the move is seen as a payback to Daschle for killing any chance of a floor vote on Pickering.
Daschle had recommended Adelstein to the Bush White House and received favorable responses. In doing so, ironically, Daschle was following a process established by then majority leader Lott during the Clinton years, to allow the Senate Majority Leader a key say in dealings with the White House on nominations to federal committees and commissions. "Lott realizes now that his getting into bed with Clinton to move nominations during the nineties is burning him now," says a Republican Senate leadership aide. "Now Daschle has the power, and he's using it. It will be interesting to see how Lott adapts."
Apparently not very well. Instead of trying to simply kill off a couple Democratic friendly nominations, Lott announced last Friday that he will also attempt to kill legislation in the Senate that would appropriate a little more than $1 million for Senate hearings into how federal law enforcement has operated since the 9/11 attacks.
"He's trying to kill legislation the Bush administration wants," says another GOP Senate leadership aide. "Lott is angry over Pickering, who's a friend, but he's just not thinking clearly on this stuff. Why hurt Republicans?"
Lott's seeming errors in judgment are compounded by the fact that many Republicans and Democrats alike blame Pickering's defeat on Lott's failure to do solid advance work with his colleagues before the nomination hearings took place. "Senator Lott did nothing for Pickering leading up to the hearings," says a Democratic Judiciary Committee staffer. "Maybe he assumed the White House was doing more, but Lott could have done more to curry favor with our people. He had to know the NAACP and others were working us hard."
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