Alcohol An Issue in Bush Campaigngreenspun.com : LUSENET : TB2K spinoff uncensored : One Thread
Friday November 3 6:40 PM ET
Alcohol An Issue in Bush Campaign
By LARRY MARGASAK, Associated Press Writer
WASHINGTON (AP) - For his entire campaign, George W. Bush (news - web sites) had deflected questions about drinking and drugs by admitting in general terms to past mistakes and a bit of a wild streak while young. Now, in the final days, he's had to use precious campaign time describing his arrest for driving under the influence 24 years ago.
``Most Americans are going to come to the conclusion that this is dirty politics. Last minute politics,'' Bush said Friday as he was peppered with questions about the incident only four days before the election.
Bush has had several opportunities to tell the story of his arrest.
He was asked in 1998 whether he had been arrested after 1968 for any reason. A reporter said Friday that he answered, ``No.''
In 1996, he was asked specifically about any drunken driving arrests. ``When I was young, I did a lot of foolish things,'' he responded.
In Maine on Friday, the secretary of state's office released notes from a hearing officer that included the handwritten words ``BAC .12,'' possibly indicating Bush's blood alcohol content after the Sept. 24, 1976, arrest.
The arresting officer told The Associated Press the level was .10 percent, which was the legal limit at the time. Bush's license was suspended from Oct. 26, 1976, to July 25, 1978, in Maine, the state where his parents have an oceanfront compound. Bush paid a $150 fine.
Bush said Thursday he chose to keep the incident private to protect his daughters. Tom Connolly, a Portland lawyer and Democratic activist who attended the party's national convention, said he was the source of the disclosure.
In Grand Rapids, Mich., on Friday, Bush referred to the incident in the indirect way he has throughout the campaign.
``It's become clear to America over the course of this campaign that I've made mistakes in my life. But I'm proud to tell you, I've learned from those mistakes,'' he said.
Throughout the campaign, Bush also has refused to answer specific questions about whether he used illegal drugs in the 1960s and early 1970s. He has said he quit drinking 14 years ago, when he turned 40.
At times, Bush has spoken of embarrassing incidents from his past.
Two of them happened during his Yale University days: a disorderly conduct arrest while ``borrowing'' a Christmas wreath in a fraternity prank; and a policeman's order to leave Princeton, N.J., by dusk after a rowdy end to a football game.
And there was the time in the early 1970s when a drunken Bush arrived at his parents' Washington home with a bang - smashing his car into a neighbor's trash can and dragging it down the street. During a confrontation with his father that night, he offered to go ``mano a mano'' outside.
The Dallas Morning News on Friday recalled the 1998 comment by Bush when asked if he had been arrested after 1968. ``No,'' the paper quoted Bush as responding.
Bush spokeswoman Karen Hughes said he did not recall that answer.
The Morning News reporter, Wayne Slater, told colleagues that the Texas governor attempted to say more at that point in the earlier questioning but Hughes abruptly ended the conversation.
In 1996, Bush was asked about drunken driving arrests after he was excused from serving as a juror in a drunken driving case.
``I do not have a perfect record as a youth,'' Bush responded. Asked if that meant ``yes'' or ``no,'' Bush would only say: ``When I was young, I did a lot of foolish things.''
In Texas as governor, Bush proposed, and the Legislature passed, a law lowering the blood alcohol threshold for drunken driving from .10 to .08.
Arrests of drunken drivers by state troopers jumped by 14 percent in the first nine months after the new law became effective Sept. 1, 1999.
Bush opponent Al Gore (news - web sites) declined to comment on the Republican's admission but said he never had been arrested for drunken driving.
``I've had speeding tickets, but no. Absolutely not,'' Gore said.
The vice president received a speeding ticket 32 years ago on Interstate 40 in Tennessee and paid $21.75 in fines and costs, Smith County records show.
Gore was given two tickets, one for speeding and a second for driving without a license. The second ticket was dropped when Gore appeared in court on Sept. 6, 1968.
-- shrub has (firstname.lastname@example.org), November 03, 2000
"And there was the time in the early 1970s when a drunken Bush arrived at his parents' Washington home with a bang - smashing his car into a neighbor's trash can and dragging it down the street. During a confrontation with his father that night, he offered to go ``mano a mano'' outside."
Whooooweeeee! I wish I could have been there to see that one! Must have been right after that chick he knocked up told him she was pregnant. LOL
-- (email@example.com), November 03, 2000.
When you say he had two embarrassing while at Yale, did you forget about his masturbating in a coffin while reciting his sexual exploits to his fellow members of the Skull and Bones Club? Or maybe dubya didn't consider that embarrassing..
What do you supose dubya meant by "mano a mano?"
-- jumpoffjoe (firstname.lastname@example.org), November 04, 2000.