Skip to comments.Chris Lehane: DWI Story Cost Bush Popular Vote
Posted on 06/19/2002 9:46:05 AM PDT by Jean S
The eleventh hour campaign revelation that then-GOP presidential candidate George W. Bush had been arrested in Maine in 1976 for driving under the influence of alcohol gave then-Vice President Al Gore the boost he needed to win the popular vote in the 2000 presidential election, Gore's former campaign spokesman Chris Lehane admitted late Tuesday.
"Obviously, I think it did have an impact on the election," Lehane told WABC Radio's John Batchelor and Paul Alexander.
"It was a very close election. All of our internal polls show that it was literally a dead heat," the former top Goreman added. "I think there was a small percentage but a critical percentage of people who were literally themselves up in the air until the last 24 hours."
"And when the DWI story broke, for a lot of people who were on the fence trying to figure out which way to go, that sort of pushed them to towards Gore. They had real reservations about Bush's judgment and whether he was up to the job."
Lehane's comments underscored the importance of the all but forgotten DWI story, which many suspected was a Democrat dirty trick designed to throw Bush off balance during the final days of the campaign.
Instead, "Beer-gate," as media dubbed the Bush DWI story, undoubtedly caused Bush's slim nationwide lead to evaporate overnight and precipitated the 37-day Florida recount fiasco that still has Democrats grousing Gore was robbed.
As NewsMax reported at the time, there was ample reason to believe that the "Beer-gate" bombshell was a strategically timed leak that had Gore campaign fingerprints all over it.
Clearly somebody was pushing very hard to get the 24-year-old DWI story on the big media's radar screen; a story which had already been passed up by the Associated Press and had received glancing coverage by PBS weeks earlier.
"There is something of a mystery that has unfolded since we broke the story," reported Fox News Channel's Carl Cameron just four days before the election.
"And that is that part of the arrest record and the state of Maine's documentation of George Bush's driving record and arrest record in Maine was faxed to news agencies all over the country after we were on the air with it at 6 o'clock Eastern time."
Cameron said he had no idea who was behind the Bush DWI blast fax, but former Wyoming Senator Alan Simpson didn't have any doubts.
"If anybody doesn't believe that this came right out of Gore headquarters, you ought to sprinkle some Peter Pan twinkle dust on them," he told CNBC's Chris Matthews.
Newsweek's Howard Finemen said Democrats appeared ready to pounce on the Bush DWI report, with a prepared strategy to revive allegations about his involvement in "other drug related incidents." (See: Bush DUI Info Blast-Faxed Around the Country; Dems Ready to Pounce)
The next day Tom Connolly, a Bush-hating Gore delegate from Maine, told reporters that he had tried to fax court records of the DWI arrest to Gore campaign headquarters a week earlier.
But he claimed he gave up after just one try because the line was busy.
Instead, Connolly said, he gave his DWI documentation to Fox News Portland Maine affiliate WPXT, where reporter Erin Fehlau broke the news locally.
There it remained until someone blast faxed the Bush court documents into every newsroom in America. (See: Beer-gate Alibi Unravels for Gore Dirty Trickster)
The question of who was behind the blast fax effort remains a mystery, but whoever it was succeeded in turning the 2000 election into a Constitutional crisis
Now that Chris Lehane has acknowledged that "Beer-gate" was key to Gore winning the popular vote, perhaps it's time for GOP to start crying, "We was robbed!"
You'll pardon me for being so testy, but I've read all your posts, and some of them don't seem very conservative and/or informative.
Good grief. You're embarassing yourself.
Well, now, there's the rub, isn't it?
GW Bush has a DWI from 3 decades ago and bottom feeders blast fax it? Maybe someone ought to blast fax a few Democrat issues?