Texas Gov. George W. Bush yesterday defended a decision by his campaign to recruit Washington lobbyists and trade association representatives to help organize support for him in an August straw poll in Iowa.
Bush's comment came in the wake of the release of a memo from one of Bush's Iowa campaign aides to corporate lobbyists in Washington laying out the goal of having 50 friendly Washington-based lobbyists to recruit 15 Iowans each to attend the Aug. 14 straw poll in Ames.
The straw poll is a nonbinding -- but critical -- demonstration of support for presidential candidates sponsored by the Iowa GOP. Bush announced 10 days ago that he not only would participate but also intended to win. His rivals hope to use the event to slow his front-runner campaign.
His decision to use Washington lobbyists for an Iowa event drew criticism from rivals who suggest that far from being a candidate who would shake up the status quo in Washington, he would be a tool of the establishment. "I think it's going to be a hard label to pin on me, but I am sure somebody may try," Bush said last night after a fund-raiser in Philadelphia.
He said the memo was news to him. "What I'm trying to do is do well in Ames," Bush said. "It's going to be hard because we've just been in existence for six weeks. I know expectations are high, so we are trying to get everybody in Iowa who is interested in me to show up." Bush added that the Texas Farm Bureau is helping to turn out Iowans and that Sen. Ben Nighthorse Campbell (R-Colo.) is organizing motorcyclists in Iowa to participate.
The memo identified a long list of Washington lobbyists. Among the corporations and associations were the National Mining Association, Blue Cross Blue Shield, Bell South, United Airlines and the Bond Market Association. Bush press secretary Karen Hughes said the list was "preliminary," and after consultation a number of names were removed, including an official of the Republican National Committee, whose staff is supposed to be neutral in nomination fights. Hughes said any such help would be treated as in-kind contributions.
Hillary Clinton to Road-Test Upstate New York
First lady Hillary Rodham Clinton is planning an extensive get-acquainted tour in New York State next month that will focus heavily on wooing the upstate voters who may be most skeptical of her outsider's campaign for the Senate.
Clinton, who has never lived in New York but has been urged by Empire State Democrats to launch a candidacy there, will soon form an exploratory committee -- most likely, an adviser said yesterday, July 5 or July 6. That will be followed by a three-day road trip that will start at the rural retreat (outside Oneonta) of the Democrat she hopes to succeed, Sen. Daniel Patrick Moynihan.
That kickoff tour will be followed by other trips that will have the first lady in New York for about 10 days in July. Her travels will take her to a July 16 fund-raiser in Rochester for Rep. Louise M. Slaughter, who is originally from Kentucky and is telling Clinton not to worry about the carpetbagger charge. "They say it's difficult for a Democrat to win upstate, but I do -- and I have a different accent," she said.
Clinton's eagerness to explore New York, however, might not extend to the first family's August vacation plans. The New York Daily News reported yesterday that a vacation in New York by a family known to favor Martha's Vineyard, Mass., might look like a campaign stunt. "For them to go to the fly-infested Adirondack Park would be a mistake," an adviser told the Daily News. "People would see right through it as purely politics."
Staff writer John F. Harris contributed to this report.