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News Briefs

Bush Shows Willingness To Compromise on Debate Schedule


George W. Bush embarked Thursday on an effort to retool his campaign by showing new willingness to compromise on the presidential debate schedule and indicating that he will work more aggressively to connect with voters.

Bush told reporters that he would negotiate with Gore over the debate schedule -- a stark reversal of his earlier effort to impose a plan that the vice president deemed unacceptable. He said he would begin conducting the town hall meetings he abandoned at the end of the primary season and suggested he would borrow a tactic from Gore, visiting the homes of voters who would benefit from his tax cut proposal.

The Bush campaign also sought to seize the edge in the perpetual public relations war over the meaning of new polls -- most of which show a much closer race than a few weeks ago -- by rolling out a new theme: Bush as the underdog.

“I am the underdog -- I sure am,” Bush declared to reporters clustered around him on a airport tarmac here. “But I was underdog when I first started. Nothing’s changed about underdog status. ... A challenger is somebody who, you know, generally comes from the pack and wins, if you’re going to win, and that’s where I’m coming from.”

House Fails to Override Clinton Veto on Estate Tax Repeal


The House on Thursday failed to override President Clinton’s veto of legislation to repeal the estate tax as GOP leaders conceded that their two-year-long drive to enact major tax relief had all but collapsed.

By a 274 to 157 vote, the House fell 14 votes short of the necessary two-thirds majority of those voting to override Clinton’s veto. The bill would have gradually phased out the estate tax over the coming decade, at a cost to the Treasury of $105 billion over 10 years.

Republicans contend the tax levied on an estate after a person dies is a burden on small businesses and family farms, forcing heirs to sell off land and close down companies to cover the tax bill. Clinton vetoed the bill a week ago, charging that Republicans were favoring the wealthy and would squander the nation’s budget surplus.

Republicans vowed Thursday to hammer the Democrats in the fall campaign over their opposition to the estate tax as well as another bill vetoed by the president providing major tax cuts for married couples.

Both Israelis and Palestinians Agree That Time Is Running Out


Israeli and Palestinian leaders found something to agree upon Thursday: Their once promising peace process is on its last legs and may be over within weeks.

Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak told a news conference at the U.N. Millennium Summit in New York that Israeli-Palestinian negotiations may have no more than “a couple of weeks” in which to avoid a long-term deadlock that could have dangerous implications throughout the volatile region.

Barak’s gloomy assessment followed by a day President Clinton’s separate meetings with the Israeli prime minister and Palestinian Authority President Yasser Arafat.

Later Thursday, U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine K. Albright insisted that U.S. officials will continue to push for agreement but conceded that the time is short.