Wolf role elicits howls from pro-Gore women
By Karen Tumulty/Washington
November 8, 1999
Web posted at: 1:21 p.m. EST (1821 GMT)
So whose idea was it to keep controversial feminist author NAOMI
WOLF's role as adviser to AL GORE's struggling presidential
campaign under wraps? Hers, according to the account she offered
in the New York Times. But that was news to some Gore campaign
officials, who said Wolf had been agitating for a more public
profile. She finally blew her own cover with her ostentatious
presence at Gore's New Hampshire forum with BILL BRADLEY two
weeks ago, where she ignored suggestions to stay away from
reporters, say Gore advisers.
Wooing the women's vote was a big reason that Wolf was hired. But
ironically, few were more surprised--or angrier--to learn that
Gore's campaign was paying bigger bucks for Wolf's advice than
the Vice President's allies among women political activists.
For months, they have been urging the Veep's campaign to do more
nuts-and-bolts politicking among women, to hire someone to
oversee women's outreach, to put together a network of grassroots
female opinion leaders. And for months, they have been told there
was no money for it, or that the timing simply wasn't right.
After one splashy luncheon with 1,200 women in Washington last
September, the campaign's effort to mobilize women largely
fizzled. Meanwhile, polls kept showing Gore trailing GEORGE W.
BUSH among crucial female voters. "I understand the frustration,"
a Gore adviser conceded. "It happens all the time."
Now Gore's women allies of the more conventional stripe have
learned what the campaign has been doing with some of the money
they have been denied: paying Wolf $15,000 a month. That amount
was reduced to $5,000 only when campaign manager DONNA BRAZILE
found out about it. "Some of the people who were most concerned
were those who were working hardest for the campaign," says a
White House official, who was drafted by the campaign to call
around and soothe injured feelings.
One way the campaign is hoping to mend fences is to bring back
pollster CELINDA LAKE. A specialist on the women's vote and a
favorite of many Democratic activists, Lake was hired with great
fanfare months ago, then promptly sidelined. She is expected to
be taking a larger role, working in tandem with lead pollster
HARRISON HICKMAN. Gore also plans to meet with two dozen or so
influential Democratic women to talk strategy and policy.
--By Karen Tumulty/Washington
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Cover Date: November 15, 1999