An item in Saturday's Politics column incorrectly reported the membership of the National Organization for Women. The group has 500,000 members. (Published 10/29/1999)
The National Organization for Women, alarmed that Vice President Gore's anti-poverty program may fund right-wing, "father's rights" groups, has sent an alert to its 12,000 members urging them to lobby against the proposal.
On Wednesday, Gore presented his plan for combating child poverty with a heavy emphasis on fatherhood and cracking down on "deadbeat dads." Aides said many of his ideas mirror proposals in a House bill dubbed "The Fathers Count Act."
But NOW, in its e-mail, warns that the measure is "bad for women and children" largely because it funnels money away from custodial parents (usually mothers) to the absent parent. According to NOW, the legislation would give $150 million in grants to organizations that promote marriage, successful parenting and keeping families off welfare.
Gore's chief policy adviser Elaine Kamarck said the group may be misreading his proposal. She said Gore aims to shift money from state governments into parents' hands as a way of helping attack poverty. "This proposal would only be a plus for custodial parents," she said.
Gore, Bradley Call on Capitol Hill
Both Democratic presidential candidates were working Capitol Hill yesterday--Bill Bradley in person and Gore via the telephone.
Bradley, in a visit to the House Progressive Caucus, picked up the endorsement of Rep. Diana DeGette (D-Colo.) who praised his stands on gun control, health care and abortion rights. "I have always believed that those in public life have to reach, take risks and care deeply about big ideas," she said.
Gore, who has dozens more congressional endorsements than his rival, held a conference call with lawmakers, civil rights activists and religious leaders to rap Sen. Jesse Helms (R-N.C.) for holding up the nomination of former Illinois senator Carol Moseley-Braun to be U.S. ambassador to New Zealand.
Gore said it is "outrageous and wrong" that Helms would "exact partisan revenge" on the African American woman because she had tangled with him over a design patent for a Confederate flag insignia. Noting that the Senate has stalled a number of judicial appointments of women and minorities, Gore charged: "This Republican Congress is caving in to the extreme right wing, putting raw ideology first."
Web Site to Track Candidates' Stands
Presidential candidates often develop the habit of saying different--and occasionally contradictory--things to different audiences. Campaigning in Iowa? Bring on the ethanol subsidies. Have to talk to a seniors? Tout your commitment to Medicare and Social Security. Dinner with fat cat CEOs? Tax cuts, tax cuts.
For voters, it can be a confusing and difficult process nailing down where a candidate stands on an issue. A new effort by the nonprofit group Project Vote Smart attempts to demystify things.
Visitors to the group's Web site (www.vote-smart.org) can now search all presidential candidates' speeches and public statements. Type in a topic and the search engine will spit out each instance when the candidates said anything about it. Soon, voters using the site will be able to click on an issue and get the candidates' positions.
"There is this perception that candidates tailor their message depending on who they are speaking to," says Vote Smart's Adelaide Elm. "This gives voters the chance to see for themselves."
Staff researcher Ben White contributed to this report.