An item in the Oct. 26 Politics column misidentified the home state of John D. Altevogt, who runs the Council for Better Government. It is Kansas. (Published 10/28/02)
Florida Gov. Jeb Bush (R) and Tampa lawyer Bill McBride this week are learning the truth of an old saying: Be careful what you say, because your own words can come back to haunt you.
Back in 1999, Bush had no way of knowing that McBride, who had never run for public office, would be his Democratic challenger in this year's hotly contested Florida gubernatorial election. So Bush agreed to videotape a tribute for use at a ceremony at which McBride was honored for his service to the law firm of Holland & Knight, where he was managing partner.
McBride, Bush said in the videotape of his future opponent, "really is one of the great Floridians of our time."
The McBride campaign has known about the videotape for some time, and yesterday began using it in a television commercial assailing Bush for running negative ads attacking the Democrat. Apparently no longer "one of the great Floridians of our time," McBride has been pounded as a "reckless corporate lawyer" in Bush's commercials.
McBride's latest commercial includes an excerpt from the videotape showing Bush praising his opponent and asks, "Does Jeb Bush believe his own negative ads? You be the judge."
The Bush campaign was not caught completely off guard. It apparently learned of McBride's plans to use the videotape and was ready yesterday with a retort in the form of a Nov. 15, 1999, report in the St. Petersburg Times on a trade mission that Bush led to Israel. Among those who accompanied Bush on the trip was McBride, who is quoted as saying, "There is gravity and substance to this governor. He knows how to do the right thing."
This was probably not the last word from either candidate.
New Ads on Abortion
The Council for Better Government, a organization run by a Missouri Republican, is airing ads on selected black radio stations across the country, accusing the Democratic Party of backing abortion policies that are "decimating" the African American community.
The ad declares that "one-third of African American pregnancies end in abortion, one-third the rate of white babies." It says that schools, under federal law, "can counsel scared kids to abort their babies without even consulting their parents."
With the sound of a baby crying in the background, a woman's voice declares: "The Democratic Party supports the liberal abortion laws that are decimating our people, but the individual's right to life is protected in the Republican platform. Democrats say they want our votes. Why don't they want our lives?" Then a man's voice comes on: "Don't buy the Democrat line. Killing unborn babies is not the way to help those in poverty."
The Council for Better Government is run by John D. Altevogt, a former chairman of the Wyandotte County Republican Party, which covers Kansas City. The group also has been running a barrage of pro-GOP ads on black radio stations across the country. Altevogt declined to identify his sources of financial support.
Staff writer Thomas B. Edsall contributed to this report.