leads with its latest South Carolina polling, which has George W. Bush slightly ahead of John McCain. The paper credits Bush's post-New Hampshire aggressiveness for the upsurge. The Washington Post lead details that aggressiveness, reporting that Bush and outside conservative groups supporting him are blitzing South Carolina's airwaves, mailboxes, and telephone lines with ads questioning McCain's conservative bona fides, especially regarding abortion. The Los Angeles Times, alone among the majors in not fronting the S.C. primary, leads with the agreement Monday of key congressional Republicans and President Clinton on the idea of dropping the Social Security benefits penalty currently incurred by seniors age 65-69 who continue to work. The late metro edition of the New York Times goes with the testimony of two of the four white police officers on trial for the murder of an unarmed West African immigrant, which is also fronted by the LAT. Their account: They identified themselves and told the man to show his hands, but he dug in his pocket and came out with what they thought was a gun. But after 41 shots fired, it was seen to be a wallet. Both papers front a picture of one of the cops in the witness box, crying. Everybody fronts pictures of the devastation wrought by Georgia tornadoes that killed at least 22 people. Nobody fronts oil's rise to above $30 a barrel for the first time since the Gulf War.
The WP lead enumerates some of the ingredients in what it calls Bush's "anti-McCain onslaught": a taped telephone message from Rep. Henry Hyde lauding Bush's pro-life record and implicitly criticizing McCain for recommending changes in the Republican anti-abortion plank; a similarly themed mass mailing from the National Right to Life Committee; and radio ads from the National Smokers Alliance dissing McCain for voting to raise cigarette prices. Incidentally, the Wall Street Journal reports that some tobacco farmers, dissatisfied with their treatment by the big tobacco concerns, are now, in a sort of the-enemy-of-my-enemy-is-my-friend strategy, supporting McCain.
"McCAIN EMBRACES THE PRESS AND OPEN CAMPAIGNS OF OLD" headlines a NYT front pager, which embraces right back, crediting McCain with uncontrolled access that is "a counterpoint to both Mr. Reagan and President Clinton," and saying that regardless of the South Carolina outcome, McCain can "say that he has had some measure of success in changing politics."
The Times inside notes that George W. Bush has threatened to fire any staff member involved with push polls and yet, the paper reports, in 1996, Karl Rove, Bush's top adviser, helped draft a push poll, paid for by tobacco companies, that was used to thwart a planned state lawsuit against the firms. The Times says that a copy of the poll survey it's seen had more than a dozen negative statements about the then-state attorney general. The story notes that the firm that did the push poll has another client nowadays--John McCain--but doesn't trouble itself to ask what that firm is doing for him and if it includes push polling. More of the reciprocal embrace?
The WSJ "Work Week" column says that a just-conducted survey of employees indicates that the top profession for office hanky-panky is ... entertainment and media. In an unrelated (Today's Papers thinks) item, the column says only 6 percent of large companies offer "lactation programs." Is this term really so widely understood that the Journal didn't need to explain it?
The LAT lead says that the contemplated Social Security change could provide the red-hot economy with a fresh influx of workers. Many of them would within a few years come from the baby boom generation, a concept the paper feels the need to explain, which it does by proffering the following list of members (and yes, this is the entire list): Clinton, Cher, Reggie Jackson, Donald Trump, and Pat Sajak.