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Trail Mix

Occasional morsels from Campaign 2000

March 10, 2000

Flack takes flak

Al Gore summoned a Japanese television crew and a pair of scissors--it was comeuppance time for the Gore campaign's prankster, er, press secretary, Chris Lehane.

Gore was down to the last two voter questions of his three-hour town meeting Wednesday at Wayne State University in Detroit when Lehane, waiting on a folding chair nearby, began to squirm. A news photographer had quietly fastened Lehane's belt loop to the chair with a thick plastic "zip tie."

Anything to liven things up on Day 65 of virtually nonstop travel.

Gore shook his head. "I was over there engaged in an open meeting and I come over here . . . ."

The immobile, deeply flushed and always quip-ready Lehane interrupted, "I'm very attached to the open meetings, sir."

Gore cajoled, even threatened, that the motorcade would leave without him, but Lehane would not stand with that chair affixed to his rear.

Gore called forward the Japanese TV crew, which has been following Lehane for a campaign documentary, and directed the cameraman's close-ups of Lehane's bottom. "OK," Gore pointed. "Are you getting this? Get this right here."

After clipping the stubborn tie with bandage scissors his medic had on hand, Gore saluted the culprit with a high-five.

It was Lehane, after all, who started the high jinks earlier that night, roping the belt loop of trip director David Morehouse's jeans to a stack of folding chairs.

Web withdrawals

Bill Bradley's Web site gave the news straight, telling visitors in big, bold letters that he had

withdrawn from the presidential race. And Bradley quickly e-mailed supporters to thank them for their hard work.

John McCain's site was subtler. The letters were smaller, but the message was the same. Gone was the pop-up window asking visitors to donate money for his effort.

As they ended their campaigns, both Bradley and McCain were quick to send the news out over cyberspace.

Still, both sites included opportunities to make contributions or to sign up as a volunteer.

Meanwhile, Al Gore's site no longer pointed surfers to his "Bradley Information Bureau," which criticized Bradley's positions. But it was still on the Gore site for those who knew the proper address. And Bradley's "more about Gore" site attacking the vice president was also still up, hours after Bradley threw Gore his support.

By the numbers

106,083--Number of unique visitors to John McCain's Web site during the week ending March 5, according to Nielsen//NetRatings.

3 minutes, 31 seconds--Average time each visitor spent on McCain's site.

72,273--Number of visitors to George W. Bush's Web site during the same week.

5 minutes, 31 seconds--Average time each visitor spent on Bush's site.

Quote file

"The turnout is going to decrease significantly. Most Floridians will feel like there's really no contest."

--State Republican Party Chairman Al Cardenas on Florida's primary, which will be March 14

Compiled by Massie Ritsch from Times staff and wire reports

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