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Fwd: Radio Hosts Descend on White House

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  • Michael Novick
    Radio Hosts Descend on White House By SANDRA SOBIERAJ .c The Associated Press WASHINGTON (AP) - Under a big top set up on the rain-slicked White House
    Message 1 of 1 , Oct 31, 2002
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      Radio Hosts Descend on White House

      By SANDRA SOBIERAJ
      .c The Associated Press

      WASHINGTON (AP) - Under a big top set up on the rain-slicked White House

      driveway, conservative talk radio hosts opened their microphones
      Wednesday to
      a stream of top officials as President Bush's final sprint to Election
      Day
      took on a carnival feel - complete with prizes.

      Democrats said it was more like a circus.

      There, in a heated tent, was Homeland Security Director Tom Ridge
      chatting up
      the John Boy and Billy Show out of Charlotte, N.C. - but only after vice

      presidential counselor Mary Matalin yielded the on-air seat. Charlotte's

      Republican Rep. Sue Myrick, who is up for re-election on Tuesday, also
      had a
      turn.

      Six days before the election that will decide control of Congress,
      ``Radio
      Day,'' a 13 1/2-hour talkfest, was but one event that the White House
      staged
      to showcase its agenda on issues dear to swing voters (the sputtering
      economy) and the Republican Party's conservative activists (the
      confirmation
      woes of Bush's judicial nominees).

      In an office building across the driveway, White House budget director
      Mitch
      Daniels announced plans to push more government contracts to small
      businesses
      because, he said, ``We know where the jobs come from in this economy.''

      Bush took to the East Room to decry the ``poisoned and polarized
      atmosphere''
      that has kept several of his conservative judicial picks from
      confirmation by
      the Democrat-controlled Senate. He proposed unenforceable deadlines -
      what an
      aide described as a ``gentleperson's agreement'' - for selecting and
      confirming future nominees to the federal bench.

      ``This is a campaign tactic, not a realistic proposal,'' scoffed Sen.
      Edward
      M. Kennedy, D-Mass.

      Democratic Party spokeswoman Jennifer Palmieri called the whole shebang
      ``Appease the Right Wing Day at the White House'' and accused the
      administration of inappropriately mixing the official and political.

      True? Phil Valentine of WLAC in Nashville, Tenn., put the question to
      Karl
      Rove, Bush's chief political operative.

      Rove said he was on-air only to share the administration's
      ``unfiltered''
      message. ``People are smart enough to make up their own minds,'' he
      said.
      Rove dodged the questions of regular White House correspondents with a
      preoccupied, ``On to my next! Where to next?''

      One canvas-covered folding table away, syndicated conservative host
      Oliver
      North told White House communications director Dan Bartlett that ``some
      in
      the Democratic Party think this is an unfair political advantage six
      days
      before the election.''

      Replied Bartlett: ``I think they have a lot to beef about because
      they're
      worried about the fact that Republicans and the administration have a
      positive message for America and they're just lashing out.''

      North also pointed out that a liberal radio host was at work two seats
      down
      and, among the 50 talk shows and news programs welcomed to the North
      Lawn,
      the White House ``didn't invite just right-wing goons like me.''

      Gab ranged from issues to the inane.

      The Salem Radio Network's Mike Gallagher asked Defense Secretary Donald
      H.
      Rumsfeld, ``Have you ever wept in the White House?''

      ``I can't remember doing that,'' Rumsfeld responded.

      Taylor Gross, the press office staffer who organized Radio Day, said it
      was
      long in the making and designed to give access to those in the media who
      do
      not normally have access to the White House.

      Wednesday marked the end of Bush's two-day break from the campaign
      trail.
      With a trip Thursday to South Dakota, Indiana and West Virginia, he will
      be
      on the road through Tuesday's vote.

      Bush is heavily invested in the outcome, having raised a record $140
      million
      this year for Republican candidates and logged scores of personal
      campaign
      appearances or recorded telephone endorsements for dozens in the GOP.

      Bush aims to defy history with midterm gains that deliver him full
      control of
      Congress, erasing Democratic roadblocks to his tax, homeland security,
      judicial and health care policies.

      John Boy and Billy, in their folding chairs just steps from the White
      House's
      front door, were all too happy to help.

      ``I don't hide the fact that I vote straight Republican ticket,'' John
      Boy
      said on his way back to North Carolina. An extra boon to the White
      House,
      John Boy and Billy are heard on stations in 24 states.

      Billy was impressed by the busy officials' willingness to gab. ``Nobody
      seemed to be in a real big hurry to get back to work,'' he said.

      The morning show's resident curmudgeon, Robert D. Raiford, acknowledged
      that
      the crew is conservative and pulled some punches in its eight or so
      interviews with everyone from communications deputy Jim Wilkinson to
      Commerce
      Secretary Don Evans.

      ``When you're in somebody else's house, you act like a gentleman,''
      Raiford
      said.

      For their trouble, including a pre-dawn arrival in a cold and windy
      downpour,
      John Boy Isley and Billy James were rewarded with souvenir golf balls
      and
      presidential cufflinks.



      10/30/02 18:56 EST
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