Convention Watch: AP 'Kills' Ford

The Associated Press “killed” former President Gerald Ford Wednesday night.

Not literally, of course, but in print.

The wire service mistakenly ran a story about the impact of Ford’s death on the Republican National Convention in Philadelphia.

“The death of the former President Gerald Ford dampened spirits slightly at an otherwise jubilant GOP celebration, where he had been saluted just a day earlier.”

Twenty-seven minutes later the AP issued an urgent bulletin to kill the story when it realized the errant copy had been sent out to thousands of media subscribers. Although Ford was in serious condition at the time, resulting from at least one minor stroke he suffered Tuesday night, his condition was actually improving when the copy was filed.

“Former President Ford is not dead. A kill is mandatory. A sub will be filed shortly,” read the alert.

The substitute that followed moments later correctly stated, “Former President Gerald Ford’s hospitalization dampened spirits slightly … .”

No word yet on how the feisty former president feels about the AP’s description of spirits only being “slightly” dampened when word of his presumed demise spread.


Team Cheney

Now that it’s official, newly minted vice-presidential nominee Dick Cheney set to the task of naming a staff today. For his closest advisers he chose two people who, like himself, left politics for the lucrative private sector.

Kathleen Shanahan will take over as deputy campaign manager for vice-presidential operations. She comes to the campaign from investment firm Paine Webber, where she has served as the senior vice president for public affairs and government relations since 1996.

Over the next few months, expect to hear the name Dirk J. Vande Beek (not to be confused with James Van Der Beek of Dawson’s Creek fame) often. Cheney has chosen him to serve as his spokesman and press secretary. Most recently, Vande Beek served as spokesman for Halliburton Company, the Houston-based energy services company Cheney has headed since 1995.

“I am pleased Kathleen and Dirk have joined the team,” Cheney said. “Thanks to their experience, knowledge and perseverance we have a solid foundation for our vice-presidential operation.”

Prior to her private sector position, Shanahan spent most of her career in politics. She started as a staff assistant for the National Security Council, and worked for Republican nominee George W. Bush’s father when he was the vice president. Additionally, she served as deputy campaign manager for the 1992 Bush-Qualye ticket and the 1994 re-election campaign of Calif. Gov. Pete Wilson.

Vande Beek also comes to the Bush-Cheney campaign with vast political experience. Prior to his job at Halliburton, he worked at the Federal Emergency Agency, and served as a consultant speechwriter to former Labor Secretary Ann McLaughlin. He is also quite familiar with the home turf of Bush’s Democratic opponent, Vice President Al Gore. Vande Beek worked on two, unsuccessful, congressional campaigns in Tennessee in the 1980s.

“Together, I know we will be able to convey Gov. Bush’s vision of improving our schools, saving and strengthening Social Security, lowering taxes, and rebuilding the military,” Cheney said of his new team.


Fashion Emergency

The summer humidity that often hits the Northeast during the summer may be a bane to some convention delegates, but it’s been a boon for the city’s hair salons.

Many salons have extended their hours to accommodate the crowds of Republican men and women who have come in search of tamer tresses, manicures, pedicures and even massages.

Santa Mendoza, a delegate from Hartford, Conn., was appearing in an interview on C-SPAN and worried about what the humidity was doing to her shoulder-length, black hair.

“This requires professional help,” said Mendoza, who was getting her hair done at the Wyndham Franklin Plaza Hair Salon.

Thanks to a hair- and nail-emergency hotline set up by Pierre & Carlo Salon & Spa at the Belleview, Susan Weddington, the chairwoman of the Texas delegation was able to find a quick cure for a chipped middle fingernail.

“It happened at 10 o’clock last night,” Weddington said Wednesday, displaying her broken nail.

“We’re just kind of natural women in Texas,” Weddington said. “We’re not too pretentious, but we do like to have our nails done. It looks good when we wave.”

Many well-known clients have also taken advantage of the city’s stylists.

Lynne Cheney, wife of GOP vice-presidential nominee Dick Cheney, has had her nails and hair done at her suite at the Wyndham. And former first lady Barbara Bush has had her hair done every morning in her room by the stylists at Adolf Biecker Salon and Spa at the Rittenhouse.

But Laura Bush, the wife of Republican presidential nominee George W. Bush, prefers to do things the old-fashioned way.

According to her spokeswoman, Mrs. Bush blows dry her own hair each morning and paints her own nails with clear polish. — The Associated Press