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Trail Mix

Occasional morsels from Campaign 2000

March 11, 2000

We matter, goshdarnit!

Proving that the heartland can spin with the best in the Beltway, Iowa Republicans gloated Friday that John McCain was forced to "suspend" his campaign because he all but ignored the state's caucus in January. "Withdrawal Enhances Iowa's Position" was the headline on a Friday news release from the Iowa Republican Party.

"Had McCain been exposed to the rigors of Iowa's person-to-person campaign format, his inability to connect with Republican voters would have been exposed much earlier," said party Chairman Kayne Robinson. "The failure of McCain's campaign proves presidential candidates cannot bypass the Iowa caucus." Most political analysts praised McCain for skipping Iowa to campaign in New Hampshire, whose primary he handily won eight days later.

Poll positions

Two new polls show that, at least for now, there really is a race for the White House. In a Wall Street Journal poll of registered voters, Al Gore leads George W. Bush, 43% to 40%, well within the survey's margin of error. Bush had led Gore by 10 to 20 percentage points for most of 1999.

A Time/CNN poll of registered voters also found the two contenders in a virtual tie. Gore was ahead with 48%, versus 46% for Bush, with a margin of error of 2.8 percentage points. At the beginning of this year, Bush was leading Gore, 56% to 39%.

Dr. Saturday Night?

Live from New York, it's Alan Keyes? Keyes' campaign was negotiating Friday with "Saturday Night Live" to put the conservative candidate on tonight's show. Keyes has final approval of the script, which may feature the former diplomat in a sketch with an SNL player impersonating him or delivering a commentary on "Weekend Update."

Keyes, who constantly criticizes America's moral depravity, seems a particularly incongruous guest for tonight's show: Heartthrob Joshua Jackson of "Dawson's Creek" is hosting, and guy group 'N Sync is the musical guest.

An ad meant to subtract

Those pranksters at the Republican National Committee have extended their lease on a billboard directly across from Al Gore's Nashville headquarters and put up a new message. The ad, paired with a photo of Gore winking, quotes erstwhile Gore opponent Bill Bradley:

"Why should we believe you will tell the truth as president if you don't tell the truth as a candidate?"

In their less congenial days, before Bradley dropped out and endorsed Gore, the former New Jersey senator asked that of the vice president when the two debated Jan. 26 in New Hampshire.

White House odds

Forget polls. A London oddsmaker favors Al Gore to beat George W. Bush in the November election.

The odds on Gore winning are now 8 to 11, while it's even money on Bush, said a spokesman for Ladbroke, a British firm. That means an $11 bet on Gore winning would pay $19, a net profit of $8, while an $11 bet on Bush winning would pay $22.

Bush had been the favorite, but that changed after Gore swept all the Democratic primaries and caucuses Tuesday.

By the numbers

241--Number of days until election day (Nov. 7).

Quote file

"Nobody cares."

--Election judge Clayton Hurst, talking about Friday's Utah primary. At Hurst's Salt Lake City polling place, only five people cast ballots during the first hour and 45 minutes.

Compiled by Massie Ritsch from Times staff and wire reports

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