Dismissing as "senseless chatter" the notion that Vice President Gore is trying to distance himself from President Clinton in the 2000 presidential election, the White House announced yesterday that the president will play host to five fund-raisers for Gore in the next two months, one in Little Rock and four in Washington.
The president's campaign efforts for Gore have become a touchy issue after reports portrayed the vice president as deliberately seeking to distance himself from the taint of presidential sex scandals and Clinton as expressing private anger in turn.
Asked by reporters if Gore wants independence from Clinton but must rely on the president's fund-raising prowess, White House spokesman Joe Lockhart shot back: "Your question acknowledges all of the senseless chatter that's going on in this town. . . . We have had a plan to help the vice president as far as fund-raising and in other areas. We're going to follow that plan."
Bono Not Receptive to Scientologists
Since her election to the House, Rep. Mary Bono (R-Calif.) has gotten two visits from emissaries of the Church of Scientology, including one from well-known church adherent John Travolta.
The California Republican's late husband was a devotee of Scientology, but church officials did not find a receptive audience in Mary Bono. Bono tells George magazine that Sonny Bono ultimately became disenchanted with the church. "Sonny did try to break away at one point, and they made it very difficult for him," the congresswoman says.
Bono says she told the Scientologists who visited her House office that she will deal with any "legitimate concern" they have. A church official denied to the magazine that there had been any estrangement with Sonny Bono.
Bono also complains that her support for President Clinton's impeachment has opened her own personal life to media scrutiny. Brushing off a tabloid report of rumors that she was romantic with a former House speaker, Bono says: "If I had had an affair with Newt Gingrich, I would have ended up on the Ways and Means [Committee]."
Democratic Group Has Raised $17 Million
The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee raised $17 million during the first six months of 1999, a 150 percent increase over the same period in 1997.
The National Republican Congressional Committee recently announced it garnered $26 million during the first half of this year.
DCCC Chairman Patrick J. Kennedy (D-R.I.) emphasized that while the group trailed in total fund-raising, it posted more cash on hand, $10.6 million, than the NRCC's $9.3 million.
NRCC spokeswoman Jill Schroeder, however, questioned Kennedy's analysis.
"We've outraised them, we've outrecruited them, we're outpolling them and it seems that they're grasping at straws," Schroeder said.
Staff writers Howard Kurtz and Juliet Eilperin contributed to this report.