To hear Bob Dole tell it, Sen. Elizabeth Dole (R-N.C.) woke up in the wee hours of Tuesday morning with visions in her head about the best way to start off her 67th birthday: craft some legislation.
The former Senate Majority Leader’s misses awoke suddenly with a bright idea that the ideal manner of honoring Bob Hope, who passed away on Sunday at the age of 100,
would be to arrange to have him buried at Arlington National Cemetery because of his long service to U.S. military personnel around the world.
“She told me and I said, ‘Elizabeth this is a great idea,’” Mr. Dole told HOH in a telephone interview. “He was made an honorary veteran by an act of Congress. If the family is interested, it could be made to happen — let’s put it that way.
“Bob Hope’s wife asked him where he wanted to be buried. And remember that he said, ‘Surprise me.’ So it all sort of fits.”
It figures that even on a special occasion, legislative thoughts dominate the conversation for the power couple of the freshman Senator and the former Kansas Republican Senator-turned-lobbyist.
While Mrs. Dole arrived at the office urging her staff to get to work on the Hope idea, her hubby was busy putting the final touches on what was supposed to be a “surprise” party during the lunch hour. “It’s hard to surprise anybody in this town,” he said. “So I said, ‘You can act surprised, but let me tell you what we’re doing.’”
The lunch was catered by Red Hot & Blue, the GOP barbeque joint, and the lawmaker received two paintings from her husband. The works by North Carolina artist Robert Timberlake included a patriotic item titled “Uncle Sam” while “In Flight” commemorates the Wright brothers’ first flight at Kitty Hawk, N.C.
The kicker came when Clay Aiken, the runner-up from “American Idol” who hails from North Carolina, serenaded the Senator with a rousing version of “Happy Birthday.” And then the singer faced a grilling about the “do” that sparked so many comments on the Fox reality show.
“I said, ‘Clay, your hair is messed up,’” recalled Mr. Dole, who’s probably not a regular viewer of the show. “You know, I don’t know these things.”
And the former Senator, in the spirit of celebrating Hope’s life, couldn’t resist passing on one joke about the travails of a California Democrat who’s facing a recall vote.
“He’s going to need some Grecian Formula,” he said of the aptly-named Gov. Gray Davis. “I use it myself. But you’ve got to get used to the taste.”
On the Hope matter, Mrs. Dole said that although the comedian didn’t serve in a branch of the military, “he certainly served his country and is a true American hero. For this reason, if his family wishes, I hope it can be arranged to make Arlington National Cemetery his final resting place.”
Her husband, a highly decorated veteran himself, has been enlisted to sell the idea to former colleagues. He rattled off the names of Sens. Daniel Inouye (D-Hawaii), Ted Stevens (R-Alaska), Bill Frist (R-Tenn.) and Tom Daschle (D-S.D.) as some of the folks who might jump on board.
“Any of these guys would be happy to carry the ball on this,” he said. “I think it would catch on like wildfire. I’ll go up there and lobby on it as a volunteer.”
Getting Hammered. House Majority Leader Tom DeLay (Texas) must have gotten such a rousing ovation from his speech to the College Republicans on Friday that his office got a little overzealous about promoting the remarks on his official leadership Web site.
Despite the ban on using official Member sites for campaign work, DeLay’s staff posted his entire speech — which included four paragraphs urging the youngsters to join STOMP — on the Majority Leader’s official site. That’s the Strategic Task Force for the Organization and Mobilization of People that DeLay created to get out the Republican vote.
“Every Republican Member of Congress is recruiting these specialized volunteers to make the difference in the Congressional and presidential elections in every district in the country next year,” DeLay told the students.
Democrats, as they tend to with anything involving DeLay, got all hot and bothered over the miscue. “This is more evidence that in Tom DeLay’s House, all’s fair that furthers his political power,” cracked one Democratic aide. “Posting a direct campaign appeal on a government Web site is pretty outrageous — even by DeLay’s standards. What’s next? Are House pages going to be forced to join the College Republicans?”
DeLay spokesman Jonathan Grella, who fessed up that the posting was an “inadvertent oversight” that would be fixed quickly, used the controversy as an advertisement for The Hammer’s various Web offerings.
“We will remove that small — but sweet — paragraph from our awesome Web site, majorityleader.gov,” said Grella. “Since the Dems sweat us so much, it is incumbent upon us to be extra careful about what we post on our awesome Web site, majorityleader.gov.
“It is clear that the best place for folks to get more info about STOMP is at stomp4victory.org,” he added. “That’s one to grow on.”
This may explain why DeLay tried to downplay expectations at the beginning of his speech to the College Republicans on Friday. “I’m sure you’ve already heard a good many speakers today and will hear a bunch more after I’m done,” DeLay began. “So you’ll probably judge my speech more on its brevity than its persuasiveness.
“But that’s okay, because as you may have heard, we Republicans from Texas aren’t known for our eloquacity.”
The Final Countdown? Some Hill staffers found it a little jarring when the regular weekly e-mail from the Senate Chaplain’s office arrived Monday with the following subject line: “Welcome to the final week!”
As one Senate staffer opined, “Considering the source was the Senate Chaplain’s office, for a split second the subject ‘welcome to the final week’ sounded pretty darn ominous.”
But it turned out that the office was just trying to get Senate staffers to reflect on their lives heading into the maddening final week of work before the August recess.
“Pause for a moment and think about what kind of person you are to others: your family, friends, colleagues and neighbors,” said the e-mail sent out by Meg Saunders, director of communications for the Chaplain’s office. “What an awesome thought to think that as God blesses us (and He does each day!) we have the opportunity to influence others by the way we represent Him. Let’s go for it this week, and rather than beginning the week in dread, let’s begin it in opportunity!”
In reference to the choice of words in the subject line, Saunders stressed to HOH, “No pun intended.”
He Reports, You Decide. Expect Carl Cameron, chief political correspondent for Fox News Channel, to be a fixture in the Capitol for some time to come after signing a multi-year contract with his network last week.
In addition to covering politics on the Hill, Cameron also roams the presidential campaign trail and dips into gubernatorial races from time to time.
Cameron told HOH that he’s likely to take a look down the road at either becoming a White House correspondent or moving into an anchor’s chair. At this point, though, he has “no designs on anchoring” because he needs his reporting fix.
“Right now I’m just such a junkie. I can’t be off the campaign trail for more than two weeks a month,” he said. “I get stir crazy for Waffle Houses and Ramada Inns.”
Despite the perception among the party out of power that Fox tilts to the right, Cameron said it’s not difficult to get cooperation from the Democratic presidential campaigns.
“I’m an equal opportunity assassin,” he said. “I’ll whack President Bush just as hard as any Democrat.”
The Boston PR Party. Leaving some big shoes to fill in the press shop of Sen. Edward Kennedy (D-Mass.), staffer Stephanie Cutter is leaving the chamber to become communications director of the 2004 Democratic National Convention in Boston.
Prior to forming a dream team with Kennedy spokesman Jim Manley, Cutter was a deputy communications director in the Clinton White House. She also worked in the press operation at the last three Democratic conventions in Los Angeles, Chicago and New York.
“I’m looking forward to moving from a city full of Bush Republicans to one full of Kennedy Democrats,” she told HOH. “Hopefully, by the time I come back to Washington, we’ll have changed those demographics.”
Convention organizers, meanwhile, have also signed up Lina Garcia, formerly of the U.S. Conference of Mayors, to serve as press secretary. Gail Jackson, a public relations specialist from Boston, will serve as director of outreach. And Cameron Moody, a logistics veteran of the past two conventions, will be director of operations.
Call Her Anytime. HOH misspelled the name of Amy Call, new spokeswoman for Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-Tenn.), in Monday’s column.