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web posted October 30, 2000

Jones defends Penthouse spread

Every woman has a right to change her mind, Paula Jones said October 24, explaining why she agreed to do a nude photo layout in Penthouse magazine after saying she would "never...never" pose naked for any men's magazine.

Paula Jones in PenthouseAppearing on CNN's Larry King Live, she said financial obligations as a single mother with a looming tax bill and two young sons were major considerations that led her to take the assignment with Penthouse. The magazine published the spread, titled Perils of Paula Jones, in its December issue.

She was not asked but did not answer how much she was paid for the shoot.

Was posing in scanty or no attire embarrassing?

"No, not really. I am an adult woman and made the choice to do so," Jones said.

"I thought it was the best thing to do for me and my children. Of course the money had something to do with it."

Jones, whose allegations of indecent advances by President Bill Clinton opened the saga that led to Clinton's impeachment, saw a videotape of Penthouse publisher Bob Guccione saying in May negotiations were under way for her to pose and a deal was almost cut. A second tape from a few days later showed her denial of Guccione's statement and her no-nudity vow.

"I meant it at the time but I changed my mind," she said.

"Any woman, anybody in the world, has a right to change her mind and I meant it then."

She said the magazine shoot "was an adventure, a once-in-a-lifetime thing...It was a point in time in my life that I needed to pay taxes. I'm a single mother now and need to support my two little boys."

"I need to send them to college."

Jones accepted an $870,000 settlement in November 1998 from Clinton, of which she was reported to have received $201,000. A few months earlier, she went to New York City for cosmetic surgery on her nose.

Her eight-year marriage to Steve Jones ended last year and she moved from California to Cabot, Ark., near her mother.

A female telephone caller to King's show asked Jones whether, considering she presented herself as a good woman who had been wounded by inappropriate advances by the president, her reputation is damaged by the photo spread.

Jones said she does not understand how "one thing has anything to do with the other thing. I made this decision as adult woman."

"How can that have anything to do with something that Bill Clinton did to me and I had no choice?"

She also attacked a characterization by a conservative commentator that she is a fraud.

"I don't see how it makes me an immoral person by doing something that will benefit my children," Jones said.

"I'm a single mother now. I haven't been able to do anything else."

"I haven't written any book like everybody else."

While she denied she bears ill will for Clinton, Jones implied she might take a chance to strike a blow at Clinton's vice-president, Democratic president candidate Al Gore.

She didn't say for sure she plans to vote but she noted: "I would vote for (Republican presidential candidate) George (W.) Bush."

Clinton's quiet signing of Lazio bill provokes loud reaction

The hotly contested campaign for a New York Senate seat took an unusual detour through the White House on October 24, as Republicans and Democrats argued over whether President Clinton was playing politics with the signing of a breast cancer bill.

Rep. Rick Lazio, R-N.Y., who is running for the Senate against Hillary Rodham Clinton, complained that the president was signing the bill privately rather than at a public ceremony to which Lazio, a co-sponsor, would have been invited.

"They don't want to give me any acknowledgment for any of the work that I've done," Lazio said while campaigning in Syracuse, N.Y.

Clinton signed the bill later that day, saying "I am proud to sign this bipartisan legislation into law."

The first lady said she was not consulted about how the bill would be handled. "Many bills are important that are not big, public, staged events," Mrs. Clinton said after a campaign stop at Onondaga Community College in Syracuse. She said she had been involved in helping win passage of the measure. The White House denied it was trying to slight Lazio.

The bill, the Breast and Cervical Cancer Prevention and Treatment Act, helps uninsured women who currently rely on the government for breast or cervical cancer screening but lack insurance for treatment. The measure gives states the option of providing Medicaid reimbursement for treatments.

Mrs. Clinton said the president "has been on a very busy travel schedule through the Middle East, he's had a lot of things he's been dealing with. They allocate his time."

Lazio spoke about the issue again during a visit to a breast cancer treatment facility in New Rochelle.

"I think it's a missed opportunity for the president," the congressman said. "I don't have to be there at the bill signing if he feels it's not a politically wise thing for him to do. But it is an opportunity for us to promote breast cancer awareness, cervical cancer awareness, especially this month."

The White House denied trying to keep Lazio out of the limelight.

"Sometimes we sign bills publicly, sometimes we sign them privately, depending on the president's schedule and our own judgment," said spokesman Jake Siewert. "This one we'll be signing in private."

He said there was no attempt to deny Lazio credit. "He is certainly free to -- I think he is today -- spend some time talking about his role in putting together this bill," Siewert said.

Sixty-one Republican House members sent President Clinton a letter urging him to change his plans. "A public signing ceremony for this law would be an extremely effective vehicle for disseminating and publicizing this vital information," the lawmakers said. "Mr. President, the core matter here is not a question of political credit."

Clinton strongly supported the bill and devoted two of his weekly radio addresses to it. Given his interest, it would not have been unusual for the president to have taken time out for a signing ceremony, as he did the day before for a bill setting a national blood alcohol content standard for drunken driving.

Clinton will face another question soon on a Lazio bill signing.

The same day Congress sent to the White House a Lazio-sponsored bill requiring the government to publish information on injustices perpetrated against Italian-Americans during World War II.

The legislation, which passed the House by voice, requires the attorney general to report in a year the names of all Italian-Americans who were arrested, interned, relocated or subjected to curfews and other restrictions during the war.

More than 600,000 Italian-Americans were branded "enemy aliens" because the United States was at war with Italy. Thousands were arrested, hundreds went to detention camps and many had their property seized.

Gore wounds self in "fuzzy math'' battle

Democratic presidential nominee Al Gore gave himself a self-inflicted wound in his ''fuzzy math'' campaign battle with Republican rival George W. Bush on October 25, appearing to misstate the size of a trillion.

Criticizing Bush's Social Security privatization plan at a rally in Tennessee, Gore said, "He is proposing to privatize a big part of Social Security and he's proposing to take $1 trillion, a million billion dollars out of the Social Security trust fund and give it as a tax incentive to young workers.''

A trillion is one thousand billion, not a million billion.

Gore said Bush had committed to use the same $1 trillion to guarantee benefits for Social Security recipients.

"I know that one and one equals two, but how do you give the same one trillion to two different groups of people. It doesn't add up unless you're using fuzzy math,'' he said.

Bush, who has had his own problems on the stump misstating trillions and billions, opened the "fuzzy math'' battle with an attack on Gore in their first presidential debate, but the phrase has taken on a life of its own and both sides now use it to say their opponent's positions do not add up.

Asked about the vice president's slip, Gore campaign spokesman Julia Payne said, "George Bush's numbers still don't add up.''

Alberta judges uphold decision allowing unlimited third-party election spending

The spending taps will stay fully open for third-party groups who want to get their message out during Canada's federal election campaign. The Alberta Court of Appeal on October 25 upheld a lower-court decision to suspend a section of the Canada Elections Act that limits third-party spending.

The three-member appeal panel said it could find no flaw in the ruling earlier last week by Justice Robert Cairns of Court of Queen's Bench.

The panel's decision was necessitated by an appeal by federal lawyers of Cairns's ruling on October 23 which suspended the spending limits at the request of the National Citizens' Coalition.

Federal lawyer Thomas Wakeling immediately asked the appeal court to set aside its ruling to give him time to seek to appeal to the Supreme Court of Canada.

But he withdrew that request shortly afterward when the justices said they could not meet with him about his request until late this week.

Coalition president Stephen Harper, a former Reform MP, said he was outraged by what he called the federal government's attempt to play "legal games.

"This is an indication of a government that simply doesn't respect individual freedoms, has no fear of wasting taxpayer dollars and is ultimately trying to enforce a law . . . that will restrict what people can lawfully do in this election campaign," he said.

Wakeling said Ottawa is taking the same legal recourse everyone else in the country has the right to.

"The attorney general is pursuing remedies that are available to any ordinary citizen involved in litigation," he said.

The coalition was also appealing another aspect of Cairns's decision - the one upholding the section of the Elections Act requiring citizens or groups who want to spend more than $500 on advertising to register with Elections Canada.

The appeal court judges supported Cairns's ruling.

The Calgary-based conservative lobby group is challenging the constitutionality of the limits and asked they be suspended for the Nov. 27 election while a constitutional challenge winds its way through the courts.

Cairns agreed. He said the limits posed a risk of "irreparable harm" to freedom of speech.

Under changes to the Elections Act that took effect in May, individuals and groups wanting to promote their political views during an election campaign were limited to spending $152,550 nationally, with a maximum of $3,051 in any single constituency.

The federal government's position has been that the limits are needed to prevent third parties or single-issue groups from dominating the political agenda by the sheer weight of spending.

Wakeling reiterated those arguments and asked the higher court to quash the injunction until the constitutional challenge is completed.

He argued the Supreme Court of Canada has emphasized that public confidence in the fairness of the electoral process "is enhanced by limits in public spending."

"But even the Supreme Court of Canada changes its mind - especially when you're dealing with new legislation," replied Chief Justice Catherine Fraser.

"Times change. Circumstances change."

Hunter argued it's not a bad thing for other views to be presented during political election campaigns.

"Is that mischief to have a view and try to affect the election of our governors?" he asked.

The judges also wondered what $3,000 would buy. That brought smiles to the faces of lawyers for the coalition.

A full-page display ad in the Globe and Mail costs $36,000.

Earlier in the day, Harper criticized the government for spending $2.5 billion the week before the campaign started and then suggesting it is concerned about the influence of money on an election.

Wakeling noted during his arguments that even parties and candidates are limited as to what they may spend during an election. He said a candidate's maximum is $62,000 and about half goes toward advertising.

Harper has argued that advocacy groups enrich election campaigns by focusing on issues politicians may not be addressing.

Some groups, including the Law-abiding Unregistered Firearms Association, say they would take advantage of unfettered spending to target some Liberal cabinet ministers.

There has been little third-party advertising or independent debate since Prime Minister Jean Chretien called the current election.

The citizens' coalition, which claims a membership of 40,000, has used the courts four times in the last 17 years to overturn similar legislation.

Harper has said his group will be advertising during the current election campaign but wouldn't say how much.

Nader backers pull ads

With a tightened presidential race in California, Ralph Nader supporters pulled ads promoting him in California newspapers out of concern that votes for him could cost Al Gore the state.

And Gore faced renewed pressure from Republicans, as three GOP governors stumped there last week on behalf of George W. Bush. California Democratic Gov. Gray Davis was countering by touting Gore in a series of interviews.

Greg MacArthur, a New York businessman paying for full-page advertisements to boost support for Green Party candidate Nader, decided October 24 to pull those that were to run in California's largest newspapers last week.

The ads said "a vote for Nader is not a vote for Bush" and were aimed at Nader backers worried they could tip the election to Republicans.

MacArthur, a businessman and documentary filmmaker, had spent about $320,000 for the ads to appear in states where either Bush or Gore has a solid lead.

He said the goal was to help Nader win at least 5 percent of the popular vote on Nov. 7 to qualify the Green Party for federal campaign money in 2004.

But MacArthur was pulling the ads from the Los Angeles Times, the San Francisco Chronicle and the San Francisco Examiner. They ran as planned in weekly newspapers, the Los Angeles Weekly and the San Francisco Bay Guardian.

MacArthur's decision came a day after a Public Policy Institute of California poll showed Bush trailing Gore by 5 percentage points, down from 9 points last month, and a day before the Los Angeles Times reported that Gore leads Bush in its poll by 7 points, 48-41.

California didn't appear to be "the obvious slam-dunk that these other states were," he said.

California's 54 electoral votes are an important part of Gore's strategy to win the election.

"I still think Gore is going to win California, but if the perception is such that it's a tight race, then that's the wrong market for me to be advertising in," MacArthur said.

MacArthur said he would spend the $121,000 from the California ads on additional spots in The New York Times and possibly the Houston Chronicle.

Gore has not visited California since September 20, and has no visits scheduled for the last two weeks of the campaign.

Bush attacks Gore's character

Texas Gov. George W. Bush unleashed a stinging critique at Vice President Al Gore's credibility and character on October 26, as both presidential candidates stumped across the battlegrounds of the upper Midwest and mid-Atlantic states.

Bush has tried to make his leadership qualities the outstanding issue during much of the campaign. Flanked by decorated war heroes at a veterans' museum in Pittsburgh, he delivered a scathing condemnation of Gore and his eight years in the Clinton administration -- the Texas governor's most pointed attack to date.

Tom Ridge, Colin Powell and George W. BushBush lashed out at Gore's reputation for honesty and his explanations of his role in the fund-raising probes stemming from President Clinton's 1996 re-election bid.

"In my administration, we will ask not only what is legal but what is right," Bush said. "...Not just what the lawyers allow, but what the public deserves. In my administration, we'll make it clear there is a controlling legal authority of conscience."

Despite the sharpness of the speech, Bush said he would set "a tone of civility and bipartisanship that gets things done."

"In recent years," he said, "There's been too much argument in Washington and not enough discussion -- too many standoffs and showdowns and shutdowns."

Bush touted his ability to lead on issues such as education and Social Security and blasted Gore as a candidate of the status quo. He accused Gore of following momentary changes in public opinion rather than acting on core beliefs, lacing his address with references to changes in Gore's image and promising "a climate of honesty and integrity."

"My opponent's campaign is a fitting close to the Clinton-Gore years," he said. "They're going out as they came in -- their guide, the nightly polls; their goal, the morning headlines; their legacy, the fruitless search for a legacy."

Bush said his leadership was marked by four clear principles: Government should be limited and efficient; local communities should have as much control as possible in their affairs; law and public policies should support strong families; and individuals should be held responsible for their actions.

Bush was joined by retired Gen. Colin Powell, who served as chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff during the 1989-93 administration of Bush's father. The Texas governor again hinted that he would ask Powell to serve in his Cabinet if elected.

Bush maintains 7-point lead over Gore

GOP presidential candidate Texas Gov. George W. Bush continued to maintain an advantage over Democratic Vice President Al Gore in a CNN/USA Today/Gallup tracking poll released October 29.

Forty-nine percent of respondents said they supported Bush while 42 percent said they would vote for Gore, no change at all from a poll from the day before.

Support for Green Party candidate Ralph Nader and Reform Party candidate Patrick Buchanan also remained unchanged at 3 percent and 1 percent respectively.

The poll results are not predictions, but instead are merely snapshots of who likely voters currently favor.

In the past, the poll has shown Bush with at least 48 percent of support for five consecutive days, and Gore with no more than 43 percent during that same length of time.

That stability indicates that Bush has built a solid advantage over his rival in the post-debate phase of the campaign.

As always, the key question is whether Bush can hold that advantage, since neither candidate has been able to permanently take control of the race since Labor Day.

In addition, the poll -- conducted from interviews with likely voters from October 26 through 29 -- suggests that likely voters currently prefer the Republican congressional candidate in their district over the Democratic candidate by a narrow 4-percentage point margin, 49 percent to 45 percent.

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