The Library That All the Candidates Want to Check Out

* What could possibly induce dozens of presidential candidates past and present--notably Republican hopeful Patrick J. Buchanan, former Democratic nominee Michael Dukakis and current contender Vice President Gore--to headline a fund-raising dinner for a tiny library hardly anyone has ever heard of and even fewer have ever seen? The answer lies in the name of this facility: the Library and Archives of New Hampshire's Political Tradition.

The Concord-based collection of books, videos, campaign buttons and such--which no politician with any hope of a future can risk offending--was the bright idea of former Granite State governor Hugh Gregg. Gregg, who raised $600,000 two years ago and hopes to net an additional $250,000 from the $500-a-plate Washington dinner, conceived his library to safeguard New Hampshire's position as the nation's first-primary state--which it's been since 1952.

Dinner organizers say Texas Gov. George W. Bush and former New Jersey senator Bill Bradley, Gore's rival for the Democratic nomination, are trying to work out scheduling conflicts to attend the June 30 event at the Ronald Reagan Building here. New Hampshire's Democratic Gov. Jeanne Shaheen, another attendee--who in due course will bestow her presidential endorsement--eagerly supports the "effort to preserve our historical role--and we are certainly happy with the response," she tells us. So is the dinner New Hampshire's way of shaking down defenseless candidates at its moment of maximum leverage? "We never shake anybody down in New Hampshire," Shaheen demurs.

Deep Throat Redux? So Who Talked This Time?

* Legal eagles and President Clinton's pals are buzzing about Bob Woodward's detailed account of super-lawyer Bob Bennett's private dealings with the First Client during the Monica Lewinsky scandal. Folks are wondering who blabbed and whether attorney-client privilege was violated. "I can't imagine how Woodward acquired such detailed information short of getting it from Bennett, which I think is unlikely because that would be a breach of professional ethics," says Georgetown University law professor Paul Rothstein. "Unless the president gave Bennett permission to talk."

Phoning in yesterday from a previously scheduled fishing trip out of town, Bennett told The Source: "I have never breached the attorney-client privilege in my entire life and I do not know who Woodward's sources are--period." White House press secretary Joe Lockhart said: "Respecting the 'common-sense privilege,' I think I will have nothing to say about this."

Also, Please Call Him 'Your Majesty'

He's not even an announced candidate yet and the first GOP primary is seven months away, but Texas Gov. George W. Bush is rapidly acquiring White House trappings. Starting this Saturday, says an advisory from his presidential exploratory committee, reporters must bring credentials and photo IDs "to gain access at Governor Bush's news availabilities. The only media credential acceptable is the one issued by the Gov. Bush Exploratory Committee." Can you say "Rose Garden photo op"?

Bush, who's traveling with a security detail financed by Texas taxpayers, won't be eligible for Secret Service protection until he's formally declared his candidacy, filed in 10 primaries and qualified for $100,000 in federal matching funds (of course, that last one is no problema). Bush spokeswoman Mindy Tucker told us the Texas Department of Public Safety recommended the special credentials "and we have complied."

THIS JUST IN . . .

* Convicted parent-killer Erik Menendez has married a mystery bride in a California prison, the Associated Press reports.

The 28-year-old Menendez, whose wife is unidentified, is serving a life sentence, along with brother Lyle, for the 1989 shooting deaths of Jose and Kitty Menendez in their Beverly Hills mansion.

* Washington novelist Christopher Buckley, emceeing a Steve Forbes fund-raiser in New York tonight, offers "The Top Ten Reasons to Vote for Forbes," among them: No. 8: White House Easter Faberge egg roll; No. 5: Would look good in G-7 photo ops; and No. 2: Didn't give up drinking at age 40--unlike a certain Texas governor.

CAPTION: New Hampshire Gov. Jeanne Shaheen, booking it to D.C.

CAPTION: It wasn't me, says Clinton's lawyer Bob Bennett.