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Jewish World Review March 22, 2000 / 15 Adar II, 5760

Chris Matthews

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Consumer Reports



`We're suckers for underdogs' -- LIKE MANY CHOICES in life, the presidential election of 2000 has become binary. Yes or no. True or false. Gore or Bush.

The best hope for an exciting multiple choice this November lies with Jesse "The Governor" Ventura of Minnesota. The first man elected to high office by the Reform Party, the former pro wrestler now enjoys the extra credit of having broken with the party's founding father, Ross Perot. This man wants no part of a political movement that would wish Pat Buchanan on the American presidency.

What Ventura wants is a third option that excites his "heart and mind." What he grasps, and the Legacy Twins don't, is the David-vs.-Goliath romance that elevated the surprising early success -- and big voter turn-out -- of long-shot John McCain.

"He's the kind of renegade outlaw that is being despised by his own party, shoved away by his own party." "Also, we're a sucker for underdogs. We love in the United States to cheer on Rocky Balboa, you know, who isn't given a chance to win. We like to prove this is America. You can win here."

Before a crowd a college students here last week, I asked the Minnesota governor about a Newsweek poll that shows McCain winning 32 percent as an independent presidential candidate against Bush with 35 percent and Gore with 28 percent.

"I would say this, that McCain will win. They don't poll the factor of the non-registered voters who will come out of the woodwork for a third party, centrist candidate. The day before (my) election, I was polling 28. What happened? I got 37.

"There's a 9 or 10 percent in there that's not factored in. If McCain is getting those kinds of numbers right now, that shows he could win the whole thing."

Ventura speaks with open interest of backing -- or even joining -- a national ticket led by McCain or Colin Powell. "I've been to Washington and I like the VP house a whole lot better," he disguises his humility. "It doesn't get the traffic. You've got a little bit of peace and quiet." The one certainty, Ventura assures us, is that he will not back either Bush or Gore (whom he once wrote was "as exciting as watching paint dry").

"You're going to see both candidates bring (campaign-finance reform) to the forefront, make it a big issue. They're going to talk about it all the way till November. They're going to tell you everything they're going to do about it. And then as soon as the election's over, that's all you'll hear about it. It'll disappear until four years from now because it is the lifeblood to both of these parties."

Is the American voter so jaded that he or she will stand for this two-party double-talk?

"Yeah," Jesse answers. "You have to remember, somebody shook their finger at us and said they `didn't have sex with that woman,' too."

JWR contributor Chris Matthews is the author of Hardball. and hosts a CNBC show of the same name. Send your comments to him by clicking here.


03/20/00: Bush's California dream vs. reality
03/06/00: Scary Gore vs. hopeful Bush
03/06/00: McCain's appeal to 'Reagan Democrats'
03/01/00: John McCain fits a hero's profile
02/28/00: Grading the American presidents
02/25/00: Clinton remains No. 1 issue
02/23/00: Will Ross Perot aid POW McCain?
02/18/00: McCain faces fury of GOP establishment
02/17/00: Citizen Springer
02/14/00: McCainia and the frisky independents
02/07/00: A prime-time primary for California
02/02/00: Clinton's final campaign: Take the blame
01/31/00: Which GOPer is willing to pay for his positions?
01/27/00: John McCain's gay radar
01/25/00: This time, candidates get 'authenticity' check
01/18/00: AIDS dooms 1 in 4 in tiny Swaziland
01/13/00: Complacency might be the campaign key
01/10/00: A choice, not an echo
01/06/00: The role of a lifetime
01/03/00: Dangers in Gore's dirty war
12/30/99: Churchill's fighting words saved the century
12/28/99: Candidate Gore's separation anxiety
12/17/99: Catch 22: Leading candidates don't lead
12/17/99: New Democratic leader on the horizon
12/15/99: Is Hillary clueless?
12/08/99: Taking Buchananism to the streets
12/03/99: Why are we so obsessed with 'spin'?
12/01/99: Donald Trump, 'Sinatra of Steel'
11/29/99: Why AlGore will be our next president
11/23/99: After the fall
11/17/99: Our conveniently forgetful president
11/15/99: Next president: Male, WASP, self-selected
11/10/99: Backroom Bill
11/08/99: Please don't feed the 'pander bears'
11/03/99: Battle of the Bubba clones
11/01/99: Pat Buchanan, kamikaze candidate
10/27/99: The year of the woman... voter
10/25/99: The Curse of the Bubba
10/21/99: GOP gives Clinton his finest hour
10/18/99: Clinton's last hurrah
10/13/99: Rough seas for Capt. Ventura
10/11/99: Gore targets Bradley's strength
10/06/99: Bradley's got the right Rx
10/04/99: Buchanan, Churchill and Hitler
09/30/99: Who'll spin political gold in Golden State Gore or Bradley?
09/27/99: Here's a millennial checklist for candidates
09/22/99: The biography battle
09/20/99: Buchanan's new book is a must-read
09/15/99: Don't rule out Beatty
09/13/99: The man with the sun on his face
09/08/99: W. vs. Jr. on dope and the draft
The FALN: Hillary's Willie Horton
08/26/99: Bill's guilt fuels Hill's race
08/25/99: The seemingly inexhaustible strength of America's free enterprise
08/23/99: GOP candidates are weak also-rans
08/16/99: Bubba on Bubba
08/11/99: Hillary's agonizing attempts to understand
08/09/99: With warm regards, Richard Nixon
08/04/99: Weicker: real third party is on the Left
08/02/99: Dubyah's last hangover
07/27/99: Ho, Ho, Ho Chi Minh; capitalism is gonna win

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