Rick: Get Off Of The Fence On Pollard
New York Post - September 6, 2000
Gregg Birnbaum and Robert Hardt Jr.
Rick Lazio called on President Clinton yesterday to quickly announce a decision about clemency for convicted spy Jonathan Pollard - and not to drop an "October surprise" on the Senate race.
Lazio charged Clinton has dragged his feet for more than a year and a half on the politically sensitive case, raising the possibility the president may try to give his wife's campaign a boost with releasing Pollard in the next few weeks.
The president's delay in acting creates "this specter of some type of October surprise' for the purposes of having some influence" on the Senate contest, Lazio said in a meeting with The Post's editorial board.
In the wide-ranging, hour-long session, Lazio also vowed to campaign harder, predicted opponent Hillary Rodham Clinton would be ineffective if she wins, and backed greater school choice for parents.
On Pollard, President Clinton asked his lawyers and national security advisers to review the case by January 1999 and make a recommendation to him on clemency.
"The president owes it to America to announce if he is going to make an announcement or not make an announcement," Lazio said.
"The president, having made this commitment, ought to abide by this commitment - now 600 days late."
White House spokesman Jake Siewert responded: "The congressman clearly has a very limited understanding of how this process works ... This decision will be made on the merits, without regard to politics."
Neither Lazio nor Mrs. Clinton has taken a position on freeing Pollard, who is serving a life sentence in federal prison in North Carolina for passing military secrets to Israel.
The Post reported last week that the first lady intervened to keep prison officials from moving Pollard to a more dangerous unit and that Pollard's wife, Esther, wrote to her seeking a meeting to discuss clemency.
In the Post editorial board meeting, Lazio also:
- Admitted his campaigning has been hamstrung because of fund-raising,
congressional duties and building a political organization - but he
pledged now to run harder.
- Said the first lady wouldn't be effective in the Senate.
"Mrs. Clinton has a record of partisanship, of being closed to other ideas, of not working well with others. I don't think there's a person in the Senate who would give two hoots about what her name is," he said.
- Predicted Mrs. Clinton would never support tax cuts.
"I guarantee you with Mrs. Clinton, if she would ever be elected - and she will not be elected - she will never vote for tax relief "
- Backed school choice, saying:
"Vouchers, scholarships, whatever you want to call them ... so that parents don't feel trapped in failing schools or unsafe schools, that is the difference between myself and my opponent."
Justice4JP Note on Rick Lazio:
To date, the only position that Rick Lazio has clearly expressed on the Pollard case is a concern for how his election chances may be harmed by the release of Jonathan Pollard. For a more detailed examination of Lazio's position on Jonathan Pollard, equal justice and due process, readers are invited to viewWhere Does Rick Lazio Stand?