INSIDE THE BELTWAY: As Democrats and Republicans get in on the spin race, everyone’s a winner these days

The Washington version of PR, known as spin, kicked off last Saturday evening when the results from the Iowa Straw Poll became public, and the final gun won’t sound until the parties pick their candidates.

The Washington version of PR, known as spin, kicked off last Saturday evening when the results from the Iowa Straw Poll became public, and the final gun won’t sound until the parties pick their candidates.

The Washington version of PR, known as spin, kicked off last

Saturday evening when the results from the Iowa Straw Poll became

public, and the final gun won’t sound until the parties pick their

candidates.



And the spin - interpretation favorable to one’s client or candidate -

will not be confined to the GOP candidates. Democrats have a stake here,

as do a couple of candidates not yet in the field. Stand by: news will

never be more scarce, nor opinions more fervid and widespread.



The Washington elite - the insiders who report each other’s opinion

daily (hourly now with all-news cable ) - are in their element. The

candidates’ spin, of course, is going to be particular - that of the

local PR merchants will be general.



Thus, Gary Bauer is now being spun as the winner of the conservative

vote, because he led Pat Buchanan by 400 votes and perennial also-ran

Alan Keyes - this year’s Harold Stassen - by 1,000 votes. Elizabeth Dole

is claiming some kind of ’victory’ even though George W. Bush beat her

two-to-one, and Bush himself is exulting even though seven voters out of

10 voted for somebody else.



And Steve Forbes sees himself as a strong competitor, trailing Bush by a

3-2 margin and having spent dollars 400 per vote. At that rate, he would

have to spend dollars 19 billion to equal Bill Clinton’s winning (if

less than 50%) total in 1996. Even Forbes can’t afford that. So they

will all be spinning and - luckily for fall PR employment - hiring

spinners (well, maybe not Alexander and Quayle).



And the Establishment - the cable shouters, Calvin Trillin’s ’Sunday

Gasbags’ - will do the work of the Bush spinners. This vast picnic, with

the candidates paying for votes and vying for extravagance in food and

entertainment, we will be told, made George W. Bush the ’frontrunner’

and almost certainly the GOP nominee as the next president.



But there are a few clouds, all larger than a candidate’s hand. One is

the George Will question - will Americans see the choice in November as

between a boring college professor (Gore or Bradley) and a fraternity

boy? That question will remain until a debate, or at least a statement

of serious opinion by Bush.



And what of Pat Buchanan, whose would-be spinners seem to be hungrily

eyeing that dollars 12 million in public funds to which the Reform Party

will have access? If Buchanan could out-perform Ross Perot in 1996 (not

a difficult task), he would elect one of the boring college

professors.



’Spin on, O Ship of State. Spin on, O Union, strong and great!’



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