By Alex Distefano
By Scott Snowden
By Anna Merlan
By Steve Almond
By Jena Ardell
By Jon Campbell
By Alan Scherstuhl
By Tessa Stuart
WASHINGTON, October 19Judicial Watch, the right-wing advocacy group that has pestered the Clinton administration with lawsuits, press conferences, and damaging reports, is now trying to drive Al Gore nuts by roping the Democratic presidential candidate into a debate on election-year ethics.
The event is scheduled for Friday, October 20, at 8 p.m. in the Reagan Office Building. Judicial Watch leaders are aiming for coverage on C-SPAN, which would give them a chance to show off their big clients, like Clinton's old girlfriend Gennifer Flowers and Kathleen Willey, the aide who accused the president of fondling her in a White House corridor.
Larry Klayman, who heads Judicial Watch, hopes Gore will show up, but a Gore spokesman says the vice president "has no plans to attend." Klayman says Gore promised to be there, now he and his colleagues "are trying to hold him to that promise."
"It's like fishing," he says. "You can have a fish on the hook, but you still have to get him in the bucket."
Judicial Watch acknowledges that Gore's rival, George W. Bush, isn't likely to show up, either.
And Green candidate Ralph Nader, who was locked out of the three rhetorical contests between Bush and Gore, says he won't go if they don't. Yesterday, in a last-ditch effort to get Nader to attend, Judicial Watch sent an emissary to Nader's campaign headquarters to, as the Nader people put it, "beg us" to come.
The absence of Nader, Bush, and Gore still leaves four minor candidates to debate.
Pat Buchanan, Reform Party: In 1992, the first time the Reform Party took part in the presidential election, candidate Ross Perot drew 20 percent of the vote, and in 1996 he got around 10 percent. This year his successor, Buchanan, is a mere blip in the polls. Buchanan runs on a hard-line America First platform that includes a staunch pro-life position and strict immigration controls. Rumors are that Buchanan is trying to wiggle out of the debate too.
Harry Browne, Libertarian Party: Buchanan's platform is anathema to Browne, who wants an unfettered labor force that can crisscross national borders. Browne supports abortion rights and essentially believes in a laissez-faire approach to international trade. On the bottom line, he is a right-wing anarchist. In a handful of battleground states, Browne has been pulling 3 to 4 percent and conceivably could affect the outcome of the election, possibly by stealing support from Bush. But that's a long shot.
Howard Phillips, Constitution Party: Phillips is a founder of the New Right who broke with the conservative wing of the GOP to found the Constitution Party. The group's main aim is to abolish the income tax. Phillips is strongly pro-life.
John Hagelin, Natural Law Party: These folks want to replace the income tax with a low flat tax. Led by Hagelin, a physicist, the group stresses the need to make people more intelligent through education. It believes transcendental meditation can decrease inflation and unemployment.