Daschle to Dean
In yet another sign of momentum for the presidential campaign of Howard Dean (D), Jay Carson is leaving the office of Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle (D-S.D.) to become spokesman for the former Vermont governor.
Carson is moving to Burlington, Vt., and will handle day-to-day press duties. Tricia Enright, a former aide to Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa), will continue as communications director to handle the broader message development.
Carson, one of the most respected communicators on Capitol Hill, has spent three years with the Senator dealing with cataclysmic events: the various power switches in the chamber, fallout from the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks and the anthrax attack on Daschle’s office.
Nearly as dramatic is that a top aide to one of the establishment leaders of the minority party is bolting to take a senior role with the campaign of the candidate who’s worked hardest to be seen as anti-D.C. establishment.
For his part, Carson joked, “I’m looking forward to living in Burlington. Sioux Falls, South Dakota, just wasn’t cold enough for me.”
Dean could probably use a bit of help with his press releases these days: He sent one out Wednesday that slammed Rush Limbaugh for controversial comments about “Philadelphia Jets” quarterback Donovan McNabb, who actually plays for the Eagles. It was quickly corrected.
No Senator Left Behind. Sen. Judd Gregg (R-N.H.), chairman of the chamber’s education panel, apparently failed to do his homework before delivering a blistering speech on school vouchers Tuesday.
Gregg chastised Democrats for filibustering the D.C. appropriations bill, which includes a provision allowing experimentation with vouchers in Washington, calling the obstruction an “incredibly cynical act.”
He railed that 40 Senators “on the other side of the aisle [are] saying to 7,500 kids, ‘Tough luck, we’ve got a good life in the Senate, you’ve got no life, no chance to participate in the American dream. You certainly have no chance to become a United States Senator because we are going to consign you to a school system’” that’s in shambles.
Hello? The fact that boys and girls growing up in D.C. have “no chance” of becoming a U.S. Senator has nothing to do with a weak education. (Former Sen. Phil Gramm (R-Texas) used to boast that he failed three different grades but still made it to the chamber.)
D.C. has no representation in the Senate because Republican leaders — like Gregg — have refused to give that right to the District. Regardless of their educational background, D.C. kids can only grow up to become a Senator if they move out of the city and put down roots in an actual state somewhere in the nation.
“Maybe Senator Gregg and/or his staff needs remedial education — or a civics lesson — as provided for under the No Child Left Behind Act,” cracked one Senate Democratic aide.
Gregg spokeswoman Erin Rath countered that Democrats are the ones who need a refresher course.
“U.S. Senator, Vice President and presidential wannabe Al Gore was born in the District of Columbia,” Rath said. “We wonder which D.C. public school he attended on his way to becoming a United States Senator.”
She added for good measure: “Senator Gregg just held a hearing on the dumbing down of history and civics in our public schools. We’re more than a little surprised that our friends across the aisle seem to forget that freedom of movement is a staple in American society, but it renews our interest in making sure history and civics are well-taught in school.”
Rummy Gins Up Support For Torie. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld tells HOH he’s glad that Torie Clarke, his former chief spokeswoman, chose to sign a contract with CNN — despite the fact that more administration-friendly networks were courting her.
There’s probably little point in having Clarke preach to the choir and provide commentary on Fox News Channel. In fact, Rummy wishes she had signed up with a media shop that’s even farther off the reservation — in the vain hope that maybe she’d change the editorial tenor of some of those networks.
“I’d prefer Al-Jazeera or CNN International — or the BBC!” the secretary said with a wide grin Wednesday.
For her part, Clarke told HOH she was wowed by conversations she had with CNN’s Paula Zahn and network execs about the planned direction of the anchor’s new evening program. “They’re trying to advance and elevate the public discourse,” she said. “I really liked what I heard.”
It might seem curious that Clarke chose that network, however, given the fact that she recently had a high-profile dustup with CNN’s Christiane Amanpour. The correspondent charged that the Bush administration was guilty of spreading “disinformation” during Clarke’s time there — a charge vehemently denied by the former flack — and that CNN “was intimidated” by the administration and Fox News, which sparked a “climate of fear and self-censorship.”
Clarke insisted she will not have any problem working at Amanpour’s network. “It is a very big organization,” she said. “My working relationship is primarily with [CNN senior executive producer] Jim Miller and Paula Zahn.”
She added, “My God, there were 25,000 people in the Pentagon and I didn’t agree with all of them.”
Bush vs. Boehner. President Bush just couldn’t stop needling House Education and the Workforce Chairman John Boehner (R-Ohio) — or anyone else — on the golf course this past weekend. But Boehner had the last laugh.
The competitive Bush is known for slyly urging fellow golfers not to worry about an impending water hazard or a group of television cameras waiting on the next green, eager to plant a negative seed.
Bush headed out to his beloved course at Andrews Air Force Base on Sunday along with Boehner, Sen. Don Nickles (R-Okla.) and his chief Congressional liaison David Hobbs. The match — which pitted the two Members against the two White House guys — undoubtedly gave Bush a chance to lobby Nickles not to retire.
“I’m not sure whether he asked Senator Nickles for another six years or another 18 holes,” joked Nickles spokeswoman Gayle Osterberg, whose boss has a very low handicap.
But most of the round was spent tweaking others, according to well-placed sources and the official White House pool report on the round of golf.
With rain falling on Sunday, Bush cracked to the reporters, “Who lucked out and got to come?” He added, “Wet? Real wet out there?”
According to the pool report filed by Finlay Lewis of Copley News Service, Bush teed off on the first tee and saw his drive land “somewhat wide right and in the rough.”
While Nickles loosened up for his first drive, Bush joked, “Play as many [balls] as you want. Let your conscience be your guide.”
Bush kindly went somewhat easy on Hobbs, who was playing with POTUS for the first time and appeared to be a bit nervous. But no such luck for Boehner.
“Lotta pressure on Boehner,” Bush said. “Boehner doesn’t handle pressure” well.
After having that read back to him, however, Boehner told HOH with a smile, “You should have had that report at the end of the round.”
Indeed, Bush had a bit of trouble with his putting stroke on the 18th green and finished somewhere in the mid-80’s. Boehner fired a 41 on the front nine and a 34 on the back nine, outpacing the big guy by about 10 strokes.
Let’s Go Cubs, er, Yankees! Ever since she doffed a New York Yankees cap on the eve of her first campaign, despite being a devoted fan of the Chicago Cubs in her childhood, Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.) has been dogged by her questions about where her real sports loyalties lie.
With both teams now in the baseball playoffs, Mike Dorning of the Chicago Tribune staked out the Senator on Tuesday and asked which team she would root for if the Cubbies and Yankees faced off in the World Series. Perhaps not wanting to snub her original home state any further — or maybe keeping an eye on those electoral votes in Illinois — Clinton wouldn’t take sides.
“I’m not commenting on anything until it happens,” she said in Wednesday’s edition of the Trib. “It’s like a no-hit game. You don’t talk about it.”
But start spreading the news — Clinton’s office is singing a much different tune in the Big Apple. In Wednesday’s edition of the New York Daily News, the paper blared that the Senator “turned her back on her hometown” by declaring she would root for the Yanks if they faced the Cubs in the World Series.
“She is rooting for the Yankees,” Clinton spokeswoman Jennifer Hanley told the (current) hometown paper.
Pressed to clear things up, Hanley told HOH, “Senator Clinton has urged us to not to talk about this anymore, lest we jinx it.”
“Silent Sam” Sadness. Martha Gibbons, the wife of former Ways and Means Chairman Sam Gibbons (D-Fla.), died Wednesday.
“Sam and Martha have been good friends to many of us and her death is a huge loss to the Tampa Bay area,” Rep. Jim Davis (D-Fla.) wrote Wednesday in a “Dear Colleague” letter. “I hope that you all will keep the Gibbons family in your thoughts and prayers.”
Services will take place on Friday in Tampa, which the former Congressman represented for 34 years in the House. In lieu of flowers, the family has asked that contributions be made to either the Sam and Martha Gibbons Alumni Center at the University of South Florida or to the H. Lee Moffitt Cancer Center at the University of South Florida in Tampa.