Howard Fineman

Stories by Howard Fineman

  • Get Ready To Rumble

    THE MEETING WAS ROUTINE, BUT the subject was not. When Newt Gingrich and his lieutenants paid their regular visit to Bob Dole's headquarters last week, NEWSWEEK has learned, they came to plot a novel piece of strategy: the Dick Morris subpoena. The story of Bill Clinton's fallen consultant had seemed too weird and "off message" to be of much use. But then the tabloids published more excerpts from the diary of Morris's alleged call girl. In them Morris is said to have blamed Hillary Rodham Clinton for the mass requisitioning of Republican FBI files. Suddenly it was Macarena time at Dole HQ. "The FBI-files issue cuts," enthused a top Dole aide. So it was agreed: Rep. William Clinger's Government Reform and Oversight Committee would invite Morris to explain-- under subpoena if necessary. ...
  • Standing Tall, For Now

    IT WAS THE KIND OF summer night on which Bill Clinton could see the joys--and the perils--of his job. A week ago Sunday he was home in Little Rock, speaking to a large crowd outside Arkansas's Old State House. He was happy, he said, to "begin the last campaign of my life" in such a comfortable spot. But he didn't linger. There was business to conduct. He ducked into a back room; waiting for him was Anthony Lake, his national-security adviser, and Gen. Pete Pace, intelligence aide to the Joint Chiefs of Staff. They had maps and charts. It was time for a burdensome ritual of the presidency: figuring out what to do about Saddam Hussein. ...
  • Up And Away

    THE ITINERARY WAS PART MARK TWAIN, all Bill Clinton. Launching the last nine weeks of his last campaign, the president stowed his sax but reached for the familiar: a bus trip through Mississippi River towns -- Cape Girardeau, Cairo, Paducah. Ribs and R&B in Memphis. A nostalgic visit back home to Little Rock. The Democratic convention -- high moments and low -- was history. ""We're where we wanted to be,'' claimed White House aide Harold Ickes. ...
  • Bring On The Baby Boomers

    IF BOB DOLE HAD ONLY KNOWN. LAST THURSDAY night he was onstage at the Republican convention in San Diego, a proud World War II veteran denouncing the Clinton administration as a soft, baby-boomer ""corps of the elite who never grew up, never did anything real, never suffered and never learned.'' And where was President Bill Clinton on that night? He was in Jackson Hole in Wyoming, at someone else's plush summer home, celebrating his 50th birthday by singing Beatles songs. ...
  • Just The Ticket?

    Jack Kemp hadn't wanted to go to San Diego. Why bother? They hadn't even asked him to speak to the Republican convention that would crown Bob Dole, his longtime antagonist. Kemp had infuriated Dole by endorsing Steve Forbes late in the primary season. Now he had to live with the consequences. Three weeks ago, NEWSWEEK has learned, Kemp told his closest friends that his time had come and gone in politics. At a retreat in Aspen, Colo., with Bill Bennett and Lamar Alexander, he said he was comfortable with his destiny. He told them he was reading a book about Hubert Humphrey, who had defied his own party in 1948 by championing civil rights. Principle over politics, that's what mattered, Kemp said. If faith in supply- side economics had ended his career, so be it. He'd go to San Diego, but only because his wife, Joanne, insisted. ""The Dole campaign won't even return my calls,'' he said with a laugh. ...
  • Not In Kansas Anymore

    IN THE WINTER OF 1972, BOB DOLE WAS famous, embattled -- and utterly alone. He was chairman of the Republican National Committee, getting ink and air time everywhere, logging thousands of air miles a week for GOP candidates. But Richard Nixon's White House minions were wary of his prominence, and were busy undermining him in the press. When he would return to Washington, haggard and sleepless, ""home'' was a barren suite at the Sheraton Park Hotel -- the refuge he'd taken after suddenly divorcing his wife of 23 years. Back in Kansas, the marital news hadn't gone down well. His beloved mother grieved. ...
  • How To Grab The Voters

    BOB DOLE NEEDS ALL THE HELP HE can get. His putative allies in Congress just took one of his most potent issues -- welfare reform -- out of his arsenal. The jury in Little Rock didn't help, refusing to buy the Whitewater prosecutors' case against Bill Clinton's Arkansas bank cronies. With the convention looming and the poll numbers lagging, what's a poor Republican presidential candidate to do? Answer: offer to cut taxes. ...
  • A Brawl On Tobacco Road

    BOB DOLE BLINDSIDED IS NOT A pretty sight. When he and his wife, Elizabeth, showed up in New York to tape the ""Today'' show last week, they expected perky little questions about their joint autobiography. Instead, NBC's Katie Couric asked about tobacco. What about former surgeon general C. Everett Koop? He was a Republican. A Reagan appointee, no less. Yet he had just blasted Dole for expressing doubts about whether smoking is addictive. Dole's visage darkened. The calm, tanned Bal Harbour retiree vanished. Koop, Dole snapped, ""watches the liberal media and he probably got carried away.'' Couric pounced. ""He's brainwashed?'' she asked dryly. Dole tried to retreat, but too late. ""Probably, a little bit,'' he said lamely.Dole left the NBC studio fuming -- and his fellow Republicans puzzling over his performance. He seemed testy, the ""mean'' hatchet man of old. He looked out of touch, quarreling with the medical consensus that nicotine is addictive. He came across as a politician...
  • How Hillary Keeps Going

    IF YOU WATCH THE PEDESTRIAN TRAFfic on Wisconsin Avenue, you might see her. Wearing a scarf and dark glasses, she will be hard to recognize: just another Washington mom out for a walk after dropping her teenager off at school. She'll be coming south from Sidwell Friends School, walking along the busy thoroughfare from Mount St. Alban and the National Cathedral, down the corridor of funky shops in Georgetown, turning east to Pennsylvania Avenue on her way home. No entourage. No press. Secret Service following at a respectful yet watchful distance. It'll be Hillary Rodham Clinton, looking for peace.For her, it's always been a difficult search. In her enemies' eyes, all the ""-gates'' of scandal lead to her. To them she is Haldeman, Erhlichman and Mitchell rolled into one -- and Republicans hope she may one day have the court dates to prove it. To her admirers, she is Margaret Mead, Eleanor Roosevelt and Joan of Arc rolled into one -- and she already has the scars of political...
  • Two Men, One Choice

    AS THE PRESIDENTIAL CAMPAIGN BEGAN, BILL CLINton felt persecuted, Bob Woodward reports in his new book, ""The Choice.'' The president complained that Washington insiders were out to get him, that leaders always were ""brutalized'' by the press. He took to quoting Machiavelli about the inevitable clash between a ""reformer'' and the ""old order.'' But though he sulked and fumed, he also saw that he would have to discipline himself, transcend his emotions and focus on the task at hand: winning. He assembled a team of veterans from outside the White House, and soon was overseeing a huge advertising campaign that raised his poll numbers -- and his confidence.While Clinton steeled himself and set to work, Bob Dole was beset by doubts. In early 1995, Woodward writes, Dole wasn't sure he was going to run at all. As Dole prepared to file a ""statement of candidacy,'' he drafted a second letter that would leave him a legal way out. He asked himself: was he running out of habit, on mere...
  • Family Feuds

    BOB DOLE WASN'T FOLLOWING the script. Weeks ago, his campaign had privately settled on a strategy for handling abortion. The Republican platform would keep its strong pro-life plank but would add a ""preamble'' expressing tolerance for divergent views. Dole's aides had planned to announce the formula late this week, after Dole ended his first post-Senate ""heartland tour'' of the Midwest and South. ...
  • 'Grenades Will Land'

    IT WAS THE KIND OF ROAD trip Bill Clinton usually savors. Jet down to New Orleans for a speech to 10,000 African-American churchwomen. ""The president is a man who was just born white,'' a bishop from the Church of God in Christ told the cheering women in their huge designer hats. ""But on the inside, he's a brother!'' Crawfish lunch near the French Quarter. A quick ride up to Baton Rouge to speak to the legislature of the only Deep South state (other than Arkansas) he won in 1992. In the state capitol he was greeted with cousinly backslaps and gifts of Cajun sauces. But throughout the long day, the president seemed preoccupied. There was no spice in his speeches, no blue-eyed soul in his smile. Bill Clinton's mind was elsewhere -- not on the present but on his past, and what it may mean for his future. ...
  • Dulling A Sharp Edge

    QUIETLY, THE WORD WENT OUT FROM THE WHITE HOUSE WEEKS AGO: WE CAN'T be with you on this one. Bill Clinton's decision to support a ban on single-sex marriage wasn't a surprise to gay-rights leaders inside the Beltway. The Clintonites had been warily watching Bob Dole. Once the senator announced his support for a bill outlawing gay marriage, top Clinton aides passed the word to Rep. Barney Frank and leaders of the Human Rights Campaign that the president would have to follow suit. "They've known for weeks that the president would say he'll sign the bill if it ever reaches him," Clinton aide George Stephanopoulos told NEWSWEEK. Though the president legitimately noted that he has long opposed gay marriage, there was something else at work. In the argot of politics, he was blunting a wedge issue. ...
  • Dress-Down Dole

    BOB DOLE PREFERS to go to bed early. "Can't beat that sleep," he likes to say. But last Wednesday night he was too keyed up to turn in. A few hours earlier he had astonished Washington: he was quitting his beloved Senate to devote full time to his presidential campaign. "I will seek the presidency," Dole told a throng on Capitol Hill, "with nothing to fall back on but the judgment of the people, and nowhere to go but the White House or home." ...
  • The Fight Inside The Tent

    NASSAU COUNTY, ON NEW York's Long Island, seemed a perfect place for Sen. Bob Dole to fire up a big crowd. It's the old suburban sod of Sen. Al D'Amato, Dole's boon companion. More important, it's a well-kept bastion of cultur-al conservatism: an antitax, antiwelfare, heavily Roman Catholic haven for families who long ago fled New York City. And Al D'Amato not only knows how to build a party, he knows how to throw one. ...
  • Redrawing The Color Lines

    IT'S NOT JUST THAT THE mayor is black; it's that her civil-rights credentials are so in order. Sharon Sayles Belton grew up in an integrated Minneapolis neighborhood. After Macalester College (where Hubert Humphrey once taught), she went south to register Mississippi voters. Back home she became a Democratic city councilwoman, championing inner-city jobs programs, drug control and civilian review of the police. Now she's in the office once held by Humphrey, who led a brave, lonely--and successful--crusade to write a civil-rights plank into Harry Truman's 1948 platform. ...
  • It's Dole Inc. Vs. Clinton Inc.

    They've raised more cash more quickly than any other nominees in history. Now these corporate candidates must prove they're more than the sum of their special interests. ..MR0- ...
  • The Phony War

    BILL CLINTON AND BOB Dole were glad to be back home in the neighborhood, comfortably doing what they like to do. After jetting 15,000 miles on a two-day trek to the Middle East, the president late last week took a trip just a block across Lafayette Park: from the White House to the plush quiet of the Hay-Adams Hotel. There Clinton regaled the Democratic Party's highest high-rolling contributors with stories of his peacemaking efforts and with cheery spin about his re-election prospects. Dole, meanwhile, spent quality time in his favorite place, a sunny veranda outside his Capitol office. There he enjoyed the sweeping view of the Mall, worked the phones and drew up plans to do what he loves most: "move legislation." Having locked up the Republican nomination, he cut his own campaign schedule in California-to one day. Instead, he will use the Senate this week to pass bills he hopes will define him as a responsible conservative. ...
  • Hunting The Angry Voter

    HERE'S HOW YOU KNOW BOB DOLE'S in a new phase of the campaign: Washingtonians want to know the whereabouts -- both physical and political -- of Ross Perot and Colin Powell. ...
  • The Last Insider

    AS BOB DOLE SEES IT, HE should have won it all by now. He should be busy "unifying the party." He's experienced, a leader, a veteran insider--and proud of it. But in his life and now in the Republican campaign, a pattern repeats itself: first the bad luck, then the pain, then the agonizing recovery. When he lost the New Hampshire primary, he was devastated. Steve Forbes had softened him up with negative ads; Pat Buchanan then shredded him with sound bites. To Dole it was an outrage: low-blow sucker punches from faux outsiders who'd never suffered and never served. ...
  • The Ground War

    For Bob Dole, 1996 has come to this: heading off Steve Forbes and his millions means playing to a religious right that has long distrusted the senator -- and will certainly keep score. ...
  • Last Call

    From the window of a chartered jet, the Great Plains looked so vast, so quiet, so much like home: square, snow-covered fields where they raise livestock, corn and hard red wheat. Not like Washington, D.C., where they only raise doubts. Bob Dole was in farm country, looking for votes last week in Iowa and South Dakota as he pursued- for the third time-the Republican presidential nomination. In Pierre, the smallest state capital, he was greeted like a brother. The national press corps had not followed him. He could relax. In the ornate Statehouse, addressing legislators at their oak desks, he was per-feet: the lanky Kansan who knows about planting wheat and passing laws. "He's just like us," said GOP Gov. William Janlkow, as if nothing more need be said about who should lead America. Dole joked that he wanted to get to work. He glanced at the electronic board behind the rostrum. "I see you have HR 1265 up," he said. "Want me to dispose of this bill first?" Pause. "Might be something I...
  • The Sum Of Dole's Fears

    He began as a joke, then became A curiosity: a man with a Faberge egg collection in the hardball of presidential politics. But now there's incontrovertible proof that Steve Forbes has made The Bigs. Ledby Bob Dole, the GOP field is attacking him. After seeing private polls showing Forbes within 10 points of him in Iowa, Dole approved a tough new TV ad, full of ominous music and black-and-white, slow-motion pictures. Launched in Iowa last Friday, the spot depicts Forbes as a fake conservative-soft on illegal immigration, crime and a balanced budget. Once Dole struck, his colleagues followed in a TV debate last Saturday in Des Moines. One by one, they ridiculed Forbes's "pure flat tax" proposal and needled him for his inherited wealth. "It was time to plug him," said Scott Reed, Dole's campaign manager. "I'm glad we started a trend." ...
  • Explaining Everything

    IF YOU'RE STEVE FORBES AND YOU need to get around Iowa fast, you rent a jet. In a sleek, eight-seat Citation (with trays of crudites and cookies on board), he swooped down to Dubuque last week to make a point: even in a rural Mississippi River town, a few miles from where they filmed "Field of Dreams," a high-tech, entrepreneurial future beckons. At fast-growing Eagle Point Software, young staffers nod reverently as he sketches his upbeat vision. Individualism triumphs, "unleashed" by a flat tax, hands-off government, worldwide free trade and a stable dollar tied to gold. He is candidate, sales manager, preacher. "Yes, ordinary people can do extraordinary things," he says, "when given freedom and responsibility to try.' ...
  • The Dole World

    Bob and Liddy Dole are consummate insiders in a capital most voters hate. This is their Washington life--the one you won t see in Dole's campaign ads. It's just before Christmas and Bob Dole is having his favorite kind of Sunday in Washington, the kind he thinks ears lead to contentment, salvation -- and maybe a budget deal. The sun's out, which is good; he hates cold weather. He is chipper and well rested. "Did my treadmill last night and went to bed early," he brags. His wife, Elizabeth, is home from a long campaign swing. She's even had time to get her hair done. So they'll do their favorite Sunday thing: brunch at a downtown hotel. ...
  • Flat Tax, Cold Cash

    Pat Buchanan was enjoying a hefty breakfast at a diner in Laconia -- two eggs sunny side up, link sausage, home fries smothered in ketchup -- when he was approached by a retiree straight out of New Hampshire central casting: wool shirt, hiked-up pants, painstaking delivery. "I'm for you, Pat," the old man said reverently. Buchanan smiled appreciatively. "But one thing: what do you think about the flat tax Steve Forbes talks about in all those TV ads?" ...
  • A Passionless Start

    She was the kind of republican matron you see at important party [events: hair like Barbara Bush, good but not flashy jewelry, an amused but unawed regard for power. Riding back to her hotel from the Orlando Convention Center in a "Dole for President" bus, Maxine Streiffert of Ft. Lauderdale was reminiscing. In Orlando in 1979, Ronald Reagan had won an upset victory in a straw poll--and set course for the White House. "There was so much excitement," she recalled. "It seemed like the start of something important." This time she was for Bob Dole because . . . well, just because. He was leaderly, deserving. And who else was there? "The emotion is missing," she allowed. ...
  • The Usual Suspects

    WHEN COLIN POWELL GRACEfully took his leave in a hotel ballroom last Wednesday, he evoked dreams of a campaign that might have been. But the reality of the 1996 race was elsewhere: in Bob Dole's Capitol suite last Friday night. No cameras, no media hordes, all cold business in the carpeted warren of high-ceilinged rooms a few paces from the Senate' floor. The GOP's "Mr. Leader" had just canceled a trip to Iowa. He had to stay in Washington for a budget confrontation with President Clinton. "Working hard," Dole grumbled with a thin smile. Now he was on the phone, trying to pacify right-to-lifers upset that he would not make Des Moines. ("Phil Gramm is going to be there!" one staffer warned Dole's aides.) ...
  • Moment Of Truth

    To understand Colin Powell's moment of consider the simultaneous events that took place on opposite sides of the Potomac River last Thursday. At the National Press Building in downtown Washington, a hit squad from the Republican Party's fight wing was attacking the retired general with mock sorrow and savage intensity. The professional "antis" were assembled: anti-tax, anti-abortion, anti-establishment. One by one, they warned him not to run for the GOP nomination, told him he could never win it and vowed political mayhem-a GOP civil war- if he tried. ...