THEY SAID IT: Ever-loquacious former California Gov. Edmund G. (Jerry) Brown Jr., when asked in a TV interview this week if the opposition of Catholic bishops will hurt President Clinton's campaign in California, responded: "If you just want to talk on the mere political level, no. . . . " Then he added, sans prompting: "I do want to say I think Clinton is a liar. There's no question about that in my mind." Also this week, author and conservative pundit Arianna Huffington said on the Judy Jarvis radio show in Hartford, Conn.: "Increasingly, there are people talking about 'How can we convince Bob Dole to withdraw?' What would it take to have . . . the leaders of this party go to Bob Dole and say, 'Listen, for the sake of our party, for the sake of keeping our majorities in the House and Senate, we need to find an excuse--health, whatever--and bring somebody else on.' "
HONEST ENOUGH: Among a clutch of revealing tidbits in national polls this week is the finding that a bloc of Americans apparently does not expect its president to be Honest Abe. When Time/CNN pollsters asked registered voters if Clinton is honest and trustworthy, 44% said yes and 46% said no. Asked, however, if Clinton is honest and trustworthy "enough to be president," 50% said yes and 41% said no. Dole's numbers were slightly better, but the trend was the same. Fifty percent found Dole absolutely honest, and 54% said he was honest enough to be chief executive. A CBS/New York Times poll found that Ross Perot is the champion of bad impressions, with 45% of registered voters saying they had an "unfavorable" view of him. Second place was a tie at 38% between Dole and Hillary Rodham Clinton. And, finally, which character on the national political landscape reminds us most of a dog that barks too much? Hands down, it's Newt Gingrich. The Time/CNN poll found that 45% of respondents said Gingrich is the "most annoying" among leading political figures, followed by Mrs. Clinton at 22% and Perot at 17%.
WOOING WOMEN: With Republicans fretting over the yawning gender gap between their candidates and Democrats, the House Republican Conference held a members-only klatch Wednesday to discuss "issues that resonate with women," said a conference official who asked not to be named. Jeff Dobrozsi, press secretary for House Republican Conference Chairman John A. Boehner (R-Ohio), ventured that Republicans are concerned because women "have been listening only to the liberal Democrats lately. This is a members-only briefing to reach out to women voters because people need to think for themselves . . . let them know it's not the white country club party." Those descriptions, which suggest a measure of alarm among Republicans, didn't set right with the office of America's most annoying politician. Asked if the session were intended to help Republicans appeal to women, Gingrich's deputy press secretary Laura Simms said: "That's silly. As far as Newt's concerned, this is a meeting to inform Republican members on why Republican policies work for the American family. That's good for both men and women."
BUSMAN'S HOLIDAY: If Clinton followed tradition, he'd go on vacation the week of Aug. 11 when the Republicans hold their convention in San Diego, to give the GOP its moment in the sun. Not this president. White House aides say the first family is still debating whether to take that week off--or stay home and run a "rapid response" operation to counter the Republicans. Other possibilities: a combined campaign/vacation trip to northern Michigan's lake country in the vote-rich Midwest, or an "in your face" trip to the other end of California--San Francisco and Lake Tahoe. Key decision-maker: Hillary Rodham Clinton.