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National Perspective

Washington Insight

January 21, 1998|From The Times Washington Bureau

TALKING POLITICS: GOP consultant Ralph Reed dropped in on Texas Gov. George W. Bush at the governor's mansion Monday, where the two men "sat outside and had a Coke and visited," Bush spokesman Ray Sullivan confirmed Tuesday. It was not the first such meeting for Bush, a potential GOP presidential candidate in 2000, and the former head of the Christian Coalition, who is being courted by a passel of would-be Republican contenders. Sullivan said the two, who "have been friends for years," did talk politics Monday but insisted their conversation probably focused on Bush's upcoming reelection campaign.

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QUOTABLE: Upon learning that Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-Huntington Beach) has declined to talk with The Times for more than two years, an aide to Rep. Howard P. "Buck" McKeon (R-Santa Clarita) called to offer condolences. "Buck McKeon is more than happy to talk to you, at any time, about anything," said press secretary David Foy. Rohrabacher refused comment.

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NEWT FACTOR? House Republican Whip Tom DeLay of Texas, a leader of last year's aborted coup against Speaker Newt Gingrich (R-Ga.), may still be at it. Although he stayed publicly neutral in the Republican contest for the nomination to succeed the late Democratic Rep. Walter H. Capps in representing Santa Barbara, DeLay "steered as much as $30,000" in campaign funds to conservative Tom Bordonaro, according to Roll Call, a Capitol Hill newspaper. Bordonaro, who defeated Gingrich-backed Assemblyman Brooks Firestone and now faces Democrat Lois Capps in the general election, vows that if elected he will vote against Gingrich for speaker. The funds for Bordonaro were channeled through Rep. John T. Doolittle (R-Rocklin), another conservative involved in the unsuccessful attempt to oust Gingrich. An aide says DeLay's behind-the-scenes role for Bordonaro had nothing to do with his feud with Gingrich.

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AD BLITZ: Armed with a $1-million-plus advertising campaign to fight proposals to regulate managed care, employers and managed-care companies are entering the ring for a knockdown fight with consumer groups, health professionals and President Clinton. The employers, led by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the National Federation of Independent Business and the Business Roundtable, will argue in TV commercials that federal regulations (requiring, for example, that patients be allowed to appeal health plan decisions) would raise the cost of health insurance or force employers to drop coverage for their workers. The strategy is a reprise of the "Harry and Louise" commercials sponsored by the insurance industry, which were credited with helping to sink Clinton's proposals for universal health insurance.

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A PRICELESS MOMENT: Estonia's President Lennart Meri is one of Europe's unusual heads of state--a philosopher-leader with Bohemian instincts. He translated the works of Alexander Solzhenitsyn from Russian and William Shakespeare from English into his native Estonian and spends much of his time dressed casually, contemplating great issues in the solitude of his lakeside retreat. But he was easily the best-dressed of the four heads of state at last week's White House signing ceremony of a U.S.-Baltic charter as Meri sat proudly with President Clinton and the presidents of Latvia and Lithuania sporting a spiffy three-piece blue suit with matching silk tie and handkerchief--and a white price tag peeking from the sole of his new shoes.

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