Fwd: Radio Hosts Descend on White House
- 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
a stream of top officials as President Bush's final sprint to Election
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
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
Six days before the election that will decide control of Congress,
Day,'' a 13 1/2-hour talkfest, was but one event that the White House
to showcase its agenda on issues dear to swing voters (the sputtering
economy) and the Republican Party's conservative activists (the
woes of Bush's judicial nominees).
In an office building across the driveway, White House budget director
Daniels announced plans to push more government contracts to small
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
that has kept several of his conservative judicial picks from
the Democrat-controlled Senate. He proposed unenforceable deadlines -
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.
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
Rove, Bush's chief political operative.
Rove said he was on-air only to share the administration's
message. ``People are smart enough to make up their own minds,'' he
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
North told White House communications director Dan Bartlett that ``some
the Democratic Party think this is an unfair political advantage six
before the election.''
Replied Bartlett: ``I think they have a lot to beef about because
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
and, among the 50 talk shows and news programs welcomed to the North
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
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
long in the making and designed to give access to those in the media who
not normally have access to the White House.
Wednesday marked the end of Bush's two-day break from the campaign
With a trip Thursday to South Dakota, Indiana and West Virginia, he will
on the road through Tuesday's vote.
Bush is heavily invested in the outcome, having raised a record $140
this year for Republican candidates and logged scores of personal
appearances or recorded telephone endorsements for dozens in the GOP.
Bush aims to defy history with midterm gains that deliver him full
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
front door, were all too happy to help.
``I don't hide the fact that I vote straight Republican ticket,'' John
said on his way back to North Carolina. An extra boon to the White
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
the crew is conservative and pulled some punches in its eight or so
interviews with everyone from communications deputy Jim Wilkinson to
Secretary Don Evans.
``When you're in somebody else's house, you act like a gentleman,''
For their trouble, including a pre-dawn arrival in a cold and windy
John Boy Isley and Billy James were rewarded with souvenir golf balls
10/30/02 18:56 EST