Political News Summary: Feb. 11

"[L]obbying for their allegiance stepped up this weekend. The National Right to Life Committee, which opposes the Shays-Meehan bill, sent a letter to members of Congress detailing its objections."

Here's the Ambinder news analysis: ( http://www.abcnews.go.com/sections/politics/DailyNews/cfr_020208.html )

Common Cause is the latest DC-based interest group to join the legion of outsiders trying to influence the South Dakota Senate race. Interestingly enough, the group is criticizing Republican challenger John Thune for his alleged lackluster commitment to campaign finance reform — campaign finance reform that would, among other things, restrict the ability of groups like, say, Common Cause to, well, criticize Thune for his alleged lackluster commitment to campaign finance reform.

Which is a point not lost on the Thune campaign. Common Cause notes that Thune didn't sign the discharge petition that forced campaign finance reform to a vote in the House, but Thune spokespeople have noted to us that he voted for the bill previously, and are telling the local press that he simply preferred not to use a "trick" to bring a bill to the floor. ( http://www.argusleader.com/news/Mondayarticle1.shtml )

That full-page USA Today ad mentioned in the Roll Call story above — which urges those House members wavering on CFR to stiffen their spines, under the guise of thanking them for voting for it in the past — is being paid for by a group called Americans for Reform, an umbrella organization for all the groups lobbying in favor of Shays-Meehan. Common Cause's chief flack and a former top McCain flack are the spokespeople for the group.

The Economy

Those Blue Chip folks now predict a growth rate of 1.5 percent in 2002.

Enron

Although we'll wait for someone to vet this poll, the headline cannot be welcome news at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, from the Orlando Sentinel: "Floridians Uneasy About President Bush's Ties to Enron." ( http://www.orlandosentinel.com/news/local/orl-asecpoll11021102feb11.story )?coll=orl%2Dhome%2Dheadlines )

Time does a page on 43's relationship with Ken Lay, complete with the closest thing yet to a picture of the two of them together (separated by 41, and along with Jeb from 1997). The main new ground broken by the story is the clarification of the The Wall Street Journal 's and other reports saying that George W. Bush used an Enron jet for some of his campaign flights. The story says that campaign staff and Bush family members rented from the Enron fleet, but the candidate himself never flew on one of them planes.

The New York Times checks in on those funds for ex-Enron employees to which politicians are re-gifting their contributions from former Enron executives. ( http://www.nytimes.com/2002/02/11/business/11CHAR.html )

The New York Times takes a long look at Bob Rubin's duel life as private-sector businessman and public-sector dabbler, with a hard enough edge that Republicans might not even see a Bernie Goldberg double standard (but, to be frank, not quite the way the paper would probably treat a similarly situated Republican who was, say, advising Trent Lott as opposed to Tom Daschle). ( http://www.nytimes.com/2002/02/11/business/11RUBI.html )

History likely will record that it is the most negative story ever written about Rubin in a major paper — and on the front page of his hometown daily, no less.

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