A CLEAN PEOPLE’S HOUSE
Republicans on Capitol Hill and White House staffers still in Washington breathed a deep sigh of relief when the so-called “watchdog group” Center for Responsive Politics released the list of guests who’ve slept over at the White House in the Bush Administration.
“There wasn’t a thing embarrassing about that list,” said a White House staffer. “This president and first lady made sure they operated above board. You can’t use the ‘Lincoln Bedroom’ scandal on the campaign trail and then turn around and do it yourself. We don’t operate that way.”
In fact, according to another White House source, several prominent Republican fundraisers were on an a list for possible overnight guests but ultimately were nixed because there wasn’t enough of a personal connection between them and the Bushes. “You can’t believe how careful they are about those kinds of things,” says the source.
Whereas the Clintons handed out anything with a presidential seal on it — from cufflinks to belt buckles to candy — to just about anyone who asked, the Bushes rarely run up a tab on freebies, and that includes overnight stays.
While Vice President Dick Cheney wouldn’t set foot close to Republican gubernatorial candidate Bill Simon on the campaign trail in California (Cheney went so far as to avoid meeting for any length of time with Simon at a private cocktail party in Burlingame when they were in the same room ten days ago), President Bush will be out front with Simon this week in California.
Bush is looking to calm the gale-force, potentially catastrophic winds of controversy that are buffeting Simon’s campaign. In just the last week, Simon has been embarrassed by news that he laid off several dozen salaried staff due to conserve cash in what is likely to be a record-breaking California governor’s race for spending.
“We may not win it, but the White House is doing everything it can to help us,” says a Simon fundraiser. “Too bad the White House’s people out here weren’t willing to do the same.”
At this stage, those in the Simon campaign believe the hand-picked crew running the state GOP are going their own way, ignoring advice from Karl Rove and company in Washington to fundraise and help the Simon campaign in the final three months of the race. “They [the White House] say they have asked the state party to help out, but we get nothing,” says the fundraiser.
Bush is expected to appear with Simon on at least two campaign stops and appear at one fundraiser. The cash pulled in from Bush’s visit should help cover some TV and radio buys the Simon campaign badly needs to hit back at negative ads Democrat Gray Davis has been running over the airwaves.