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National Perspective | WASHINGTON INSIGHT

November 28, 1996|From The Times Washington Bureau

GIVE AND GO: Hoping the scandal over large, foreign-linked donations will vanish soon, the Democratic National Committee has returned about $1.5 million in illegal or questionable contributions. But this week DNC officials found themselves running down yet another suspect donation. Joseph Douze, a Florida chiropractor who once ran for president in Haiti, attended a $10,000-per-couple Miami fund-raiser last December featuring Vice President Al Gore. At the time, Douze had been indicted on federal mail fraud and conspiracy charges. He has since fled to his native Haiti and is now a federal fugitive. The same month of the fund-raiser, a federal judge denied Douze's request to go to Washington for a White House Christmas party. DNC officials say that Douze attended the Gore event with his brother, Claude, also a chiropractor. But the Democratic Party won't be returning the $10,000 check. It bounced.

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PENTAGON BLUES: The nation's top military leaders are anxious about the departure of Defense Secretary William J. Perry early next year. Although senior military officers never have been fully comfortable with the Clinton administration, most have viewed Perry as an exception--a no-nonsense sort who has been good at listening to all sides and making quick decisions. But the list of those Clinton is considering to replace Perry isn't going over well with military brass. While outgoing Sens. William S. Cohen (R-Maine) and Sam Nunn (D-Ga.) are considered knowledgeable about some defense issues, neither man has been a manager--a crucial skill in a bureaucracy the size of the Pentagon's. CIA Director John M. Deutch has never been one to shrink from a decision, but he is regarded in some circles as arrogant and aggressive. "Without Perry, this place could go downhill fast," one onlooker says.

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THE OTHER DOLE: It's not been a month since election day and GOP activists are calling for Dole in 2000. But the name on their lips isn't Bob, it's Elizabeth. Despite her demurrers, many party leaders say she ranks among the best and brightest for the next presidential election. Elizabeth Hanford Dole is "pretty high up the list of potential candidates for 2000," says Linda DiVall, a pollster and party activist. "And anybody who dismisses her would be seriously underestimating her appeal, particularly among women and older voters." The ex-Cabinet secretary under Reagan and Bush drew top reviews for her performance on the campaign trail. So what if she's not currently interested in being on the 2000 ticket? That could change, especially if a "Draft Liddy" campaign catches fire. "Who knows?" says Rep. Tillie Fowler (R-Fla.), a longtime friend of Mrs. Dole's. "2000 is a long time from now, and she would be fabulous. She might be convinced."

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HILLARY, TAKE TWO: Although First Lady Hillary Rodham Clinton was halfway around the world this week, she sent ripples through Washington with remarks she made to Time magazine about seeking a "formal role" in the administration's welfare reform policy. It just sounded too much like the assertive, activist Hillary who led the White House's health care reforms to a dead end in 1994, and gave new rise to speculation that she had restrained herself during the election campaign but would exercise her elbows during a second term. "I intend to speak out about it and write about it," she told the magazine. By Monday, the White House was downplaying the remarks, and Republicans were chattering. "If Hillary Clinton does as well with welfare reform as she did with health care reform, we have no problem," House Majority Whip Tom DeLay (R-Texas) said with a grin.

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