Omarosa for Congress?

Posted March 12, 2004 at 5:38pm

Omarosa Manigault- Stallworth, just recently fired by Donald Trump on NBC’s “The Apprentice,” tells HOH that she’s already thinking about runs for Congress and the White House.

But there could be a little problem that might complicate matters: Former associates say Manigault-Stallworth’s time in the Clinton administration was a bit rockier than has been sug-

gested. In fact, the reality TV star apparently faced about as much back-biting during her time as a political appointee as she did on the reality show.

“She was not well-liked,” said one senior Democrat who worked with Manigault-Stallworth in the office of then-Vice President Al Gore. “She was well-portrayed [in ‘The Apprentice’]. I would like to see the outtakes that they didn’t use.”

Manigault-Stallworth first served as a junior-level scheduler for Gore, before moving on to the presidential personnel office in the White House. Then trouble developed in 2000 when she applied for a relatively senior position in a technology office at the Commerce Department.

A Commerce official called Gore’s top administrator, Mary Margaret Overby, to verify some information about Manigault-Stallworth. Overby grew upset when she was told that Manigault-Stallworth claimed she had been a senior adviser to Gore at a “vastly inflated” salary, according to a top official, so Commerce and the staffer parted ways.

In an e-mail response to HOH last week, the now-retired Overby wrote: “You know the thing that bothers me the most about this is that we had a marvelous, committed, hard-working staff at the White House, and particularly in the VP’s office. Now, because of that stupid TV show, who is the American public going to remember as having been on that staff? Omarosa, who was neither committed nor hard-working, and certainly not marvelous.”

In two cellphone calls last week, Manigault-Stallworth responded that Overby “was a great person” who “kept everything straight” in the Gore operation. But she added that it was “ridiculous” for any former colleague to suggest that the information she submitted to Commerce was wrong.

“I’m glad all of this stuff is coming out before I run for office,” Manigault-Stallworth said half in jest. “I really am glad that we can resolve all of this now so I can get on with my life.”

Manigault-Stallworth asserted that Commerce officials were unhappy that she had been sent to the department by the White House because they had someone else in mind for the job. As a result, one official in particular “tried to make my time at Commerce a tortuous process.”

She sharply denied that she was pushed out. “I actually went to the White House and said, ‘I can’t take the torture anymore,’” she recalled.

Sound a little like her time duking it out with other women on the Trump show? “No,” she responded coolly. “One is entertainment, one is politics.”

The 30-year-old Manigault-Stallworth said she’s hard at work on the entertainment piece these days as she takes a look at acting options and tries to pitch herself as the host of a talk show. But she is also helping to raise money for the Democratic National Committee’s African-American Leadership Council and is thinking about a run for Congress in a few years. She’s even given thought to a bid for the White House down the road.

“My ambition is to run for Congress and then eventually maybe run for the ultimate office in the land,” she said, adding that she already knows where she will seek a House seat. “I’m an Ohio girl through and through.”

As for the back-biting, she said with a laugh, “It’s just so interesting that the same people who are calling you with this horrible stuff are probably the same people calling and asking me for contacts in the Trump organization. It’s the same old Washington stuff.”

Ground Chuck. The presidential campaign of Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) has decided to tap Senate aide Phil Singer to help serve in its beefed-up “rapid response” team.

When asked why he robbed banks, Willie Sutton used to say, “That’s where the money is.” And that same principle may explain why the Kerry campaign — which has been in search of a super-aggressive press operative for its ramped-up rapid-response team — has turned to the office of Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) for help.

Singer has spent the past several years spinning for Schumer, who’s known for being particularly adept at grabbing headlines, and firing back quickly at opponents big and small, in the cutthroat New York media market.

“It has been a tremendous privilege to work for Senator Chuck Schumer,” Singer told HOH. “He’s been a great friend and mentor to me and I’ll be forever grateful for everything he’s taught me.”

Some insiders felt that Singer’s e-mail asking colleagues for help in finding a replacement for his current post was a little over the top in its self-congratulatory praise of how adept the Schumer operation is at getting attention. But on the other hand, the e-mail’s mention of the fact that the job applicant must be able to work on Sundays — which is when Schumer does some of his best work by holding press conferences that are bound to get covered in the thin Monday newspapers — is a sign that the Kerry folks may have made a smart move.

Hefty Lefty. With Republicans insisting they want to keep the presidential campaign focused on weighty matters, HOH assumed that meant they would stick to the issues.

But apparently Rep. Jack Kingston (R-Ga.), chairman of the GOP Theme Team, has other ideas.

At a press briefing with fellow GOP leaders last Thursday, Kingston declared that voters in his Southern state believe Kerry’s voting record is too liberal.

“We see John Kerry as Ted Kennedy [D-Mass.] on the South Beach Diet,” cracked Kingston.

In fairness to the liberal lion, however, the New York Daily News recently noted that a slimmed-down Kennedy has been hitting the trail for Kerry. Kennedy is looking fitter because he “guzzles diet shakes for lunch,” according to the Daily News, and skips personal faves like chocolate chip cookies.

Back at the Helm-s. A new lecture series to honor former Senate Foreign Relations Chairman Jesse Helms’ (R-N.C.) efforts to improve America’s relationship with the United Nations will be launched tonight by the Better World Campaign.

The first lecture will be delivered by Undersecretary of State Paula Drobiansky. Her remarks at 6:15 p.m. in the Amphitheater of the Ronald Reagan International Trade Building will be followed by a reception.

Helms will not be able to attend, but he is sending videotaped remarks. On the tape, Helms appears to be a bit thin and his speech has slowed a little in retirement, but he’s still as sharp as ever.

The conservative icon noted the unlikeliness of him getting together with liberal Ted Turner, Clinton Secretary of State Madeleine Albright and Sen. Joseph Biden (D-Del.) to broker the landmark 1999 legislation that committed a U.S. payment of nearly $1 billion in arrears to the United Nations in exchange for institutional reforms.

Helms also recalled that his wife used to pick up the newspaper first thing in the morning, notice the prominent photos of Helms and Albright walking arm-in-arm and crack, “Jesse, are you sure you and Madeleine don’t have anything going?”