Washington Prowler

Stepping Down and Up

Bush official to resign over Enron? Is Al ready to play ball again?

By 3.12.02

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WHITE OUT
A senior Pentagon official tells The Prowler that Army Secretary Thomas White will be stepping down "within the next seven to ten days." White is currently the only Bush administration official caught up in the Enron collapse. White, a former Enron executive is being criticized for not divesting his Enron investments in a prompt manner after his confirmation to the Army post. The Enron holdings can't have been that great for him. According to the Washington Post, White and his wife have put up several homes on the real estate market, and now it appears there will be no need for any property in the Washington area.

"The Enron thing hasn't touched the administration to any extent," says the Pentagon official. "Inasmuch as White is a member of the administration, that's where the potential for damage would appear to lie. I don't see how he can weather it."

Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld has not formally asked for White's resignation, says the source. "But that probably won't be necessary. I can't believe White would sit by and watch [White House press secretary] Ari Fleischer bat down questions about him for much longer."

Democrats have been frustrated at their inability to make the collapse of Enron a sticker subject for Republicans. "We've polled the hell out of this and no one cares," says a Democratic pollster with a contract from the Democratic Senate campaign committee. "In fact, anecdotally, when we ask respondents about Enron, they think it's a Clinton scandal."

Another reason Enron isn't sticking is that Republicans have smartly refused to pin the collapse of telecom failure Global Crossing on Democrats. Global Crossing was a large donor to the Clinton campaign, his library fund and other Democrats. "If we don't paint Democrats with that, it's hard for them to attack on Enron," says a Republican National Committee policy adviser.

READY AND RESTLESS
Florida loser Al Gore took a pass on running for the Tennessee Senate seat being vacated by Republican Fred Thompson, but several former aides say that Gore is increasingly sounding like a man ready to run for President again. Over the past month, Gore has been holding informal lunches and dinners in New York and Washington with former campaign aides and White House staffers. "He's been reaching out, talking to us, letting us know that he's still thinking about running," says a former senior campaign worker. "He's not committed, but the fact he's asking us not to commit to others is telling."

Both Sen. John Kerry and Sen. John Edwards have been making runs at senior Gore 2000 campaign fundraisers and strategists, and have met with rejections. "We're waiting for Gore," says a former DNC fundraiser who has done work for Gore going back to Gore's Senate days.

While Gore hasn't set a hard date for a decision to run or not to run, insiders say that June is apparently the magic month for him. "He'll have to make a decision no later than July 1, would be my thinking," says a current DNC fundraiser.

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