Sure sign Bush expects Tuesday loss in Bay State: He's not spending here

By Globe Staff, 3/5/2000

acing polls that show George W. Bush trailing Arizona Senator John McCain by 45 points in the Bay State, the Texas governor's operatives in Massachusetts sent word to the national headquarters in Austin: Save the $200,000 budgeted for the primary here and use it where it can help.

Local GOP aides involved in the Bush campaign said late last week that they are resigned to the fact that McCain is going to win the state primary on Tuesday and, with Massachusetts' winner-take-all rules, there is no point in wasting the money.

''We saw the writing on the wall and told the Bush people there is no sense spending the $200,000 just to close it 10 points and never get a delegate,'' said one GOP source.

Here in Massachusetts, the Bush campaign will use out-of-state phone banks to deliver taped messages to GOP presidential primary voters.

Let's stick to foreign policy, please

Speaking of Bush, Lieutenant Governor Jane Swift was supposed to be representing the Texas governor at a GOP debate Wednesday. But Swift told the crowd so many times that she differed with Bush on certain topics, we stopped counting.

''I don't agree with Governor Bush on every issue,'' said Swift, who stood in for Bush in the debate against Jean Inman, a surrogate for Arizona Senator John McCain.

Swift and her boss, Governor Paul Cellucci, have climbed way out on a limb in their support for Bush, who appears about to be trounced by McCain in Massachusetts.

So it seemed Swift, knowing there's little she can do to help Bush at this point, did not want to squander her own political capital in the roomful of moderate Republicans.

''Both Governor Bush and Senator McCain have voting records that don't match ours on gay rights and abortion,'' Swift said during the hourlong forum at Club Cafe in the South End, which was sponsored by the Republican Pro-Choice Coalition and Log Cabin Republicans, a gay GOP group.

Though Swift is a quick study, she may not have had much time to cram before the forum. Asked a foreign policy question, she recited Bush's Web site address, backslashes and all.

Then, when asked whether Bush supports adoption and foster care for gays and lesbians, Swift answered: ''Can I have another foreign policy question?''

If security chief leaves City Hall job,

he can find work as McCain's double

There's a lot of chatter about Massachusetts Democrats voting for John McCain, but is staunch liberal Mayor Thomas M. Menino one of them? That's been the buzz in recent weeks as repeated Boston City Hall sightings of the Arizona senator have been reported. Alas, it's not McCain but Harry Deltufo, director of City Hall security, who bears a striking resemblance to him. Deltufo said he was on a detail at Faneuil Hall for a visiting dignitary the other day, when a woman passed by and announced that she was voting for him.

Buckingham shows Democratic roots

Massport Director Virginia Buckingham, who owes her career to two Republican governors, showed her Democratic roots last week at an awards ceremony held to recognize Massport and the Army Corps of Engineers for saving taxpayers $1.5 million while dredging the Cape Cod Canal and helping to clean Boston Harbor. Buckingham, the daughter of working-class Connecticut Democrats, introduced US Senator Edward M. Kennedy and had this to say about the state's leading liberal. ''Last night I told my parents I'd be introducing you and I know they've never been as excited about anything I've done in my career.''

Some advice to Massport director:

Just say, `thanks but no thanks'

That was nice, but tension heightened when a second awards presenter, US Representative Joseph Moakley, took the podium and glanced toward Buckingham. Moakley last year blasted Governor Cellucci after he named Buckingham to the Massport post for putting, as he said, ''some girl'' in charge of the operation. And he has clashed with Cellucci over Massport's plans to build a new runway at Logan Airport, a project Buckingham is overseeing. But Moakley was gracious, saying Buckingham has ''done a good job,'' before going on to congratulate her staff for its work on Boston Harbor. ''You've made us all very happy,'' Moakley said. ''Your next assignment is the Big Dig.''

In politics, timing is everything

The Clinton administration may have pulled another fast one on Boston. Two weeks ago, US Labor Secretary Alexis Herman set up an elaborate conference call for reporters and mayors from Boston, Brockton, and Buffalo, during which she ''announced'' $223 million in Youth Opportunity Grants to pay for education and job training for at-risk youths. Turns out the news was stale. The money had been appropriated back in November, though the grants had not yet been awarded to cities. Republican National Committee spokesman Mike Collins blasted the administration's timing - three weeks before the Super Tuesday primary - as calculated to bolster Vice President Al Gore's presidential bid. It reminded some of Gore's release of emergency aid to New England fisheries last September - money that Senator John Kerry had secured the prior year.

Globe Staffers Frank Phillips, Tina Cassidy, Anthony Flint, Stephanie Ebbert, and Michael Rezendes contributed to this report.