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Wombled, Wimbled and Squirmed?

July 15, 1992

NEW YORK (AP) _ Bill Bradley must have sounded like Dorothy in ″The Wizard of Oz″ reciting ″lions and tigers and bears, oh my 3/8″

The New Jersey senator was polishing his keynote address to the Democratic National Convention and wanted to give his jabs at President Bush more sting. He told reporters Tuesday he had wanted some alliteration.

He tried ″wavered and wiggled and squirmed,″ to describe Bush’s responses to major problems, but that didn’t sound right.

He linked ″wavered and wiggled″ with ″wimbled,″ which turns out to be the past tense of an obsolete word for boring holes.

He tried ″wombled,″ but that’s not even a word.

Then he got it: ″waffled and wiggled and wavered.″

He used the phrase five times Monday night.


Definition of a New York minute: the amount of time it took natives to grab every $19.92 lunch reservation this week at Manhattan’s priciest restaurants.

Quicker than you can say ″Al Gore,″ there were no seats left at the city’s primo eateries. Le Cirque? Le sold-out. Bouley? Boo-hoo. The Quilted Giraffe? Quit calling.

Last week’s announcement of the prix fixe special, designed to give conventioneers a taste of the good life, set off a phone frenzy for reservations unlike anything city-hardened restaurateurs had ever seen.

The Quilted Giraffe fielded six calls a minute for five hours. Le Cirque, booked solid in an hour, was taking 5,000 calls a day. Disappointed callers to Bouley wanted $19.92 meals to go.

″People are telling us they needed operator assistance to get through,″ said Danny Meyer of the sold-out Union Square Cafe. ″Can you imagine what the guy says when the operator asks, ‘Is this an emergency?’ ‘Yeah,’ the guy answers, ’I’ve got to make a lunch reservation.‴


America Samoa’s delegates traveled 30 hours, seven times zones and a cultural divide to show their support for the Democratic Party at the convention.

″It’s like coming from paradise, to the hustle and bustle of New York,″ said delegation leader Daniel Langkilde in Madison Square Garden on Tuesday. ″We’re tired.″

He wore a kuikui-nut necklace, a red print shirt saying ″Samoa,″ sandals and the traditional skirt-like lavalava.

Next to him, Eni Faleomaveaga, the territory’s member of Congress, wrote a sign saying, ″Talofa Clinton, Tofa Bush″ - or, ″Hello Clinton, Goodbye Bush.″


Twelve-year-old Sean Donahue of Boston got what the professional reporters all around him couldn’t - an interview with Nebraska Sen. Bob Kerrey.

Tape recorder and microphone in hand, the youth slipped by his taller rivals and buttonholed Kerrey on Tuesday night as the former presidential candidate was leaving Madison Square Garden.

Sean, a reporter for Children’s Express, a children’s newspaper covering the convention, quizzed Kerrey for 10 minutes about the Democratic ticket’s chances and any role he might play in a prospective Clinton administration.

Kerrey asked Sean what he would do to improve schools and what he thought was wrong with politicians. ″Too old,″ Donahue answered.

Kerrey seemed impressed.

″I think the voting age should be lowered,″ he told one of the reporters left in Sean’s dust.


Convention Street Scenes. Within the length of a football field were:

-Three young people wearing fake whiskers and cat’s ears, and handing out fake $1,000 bills. Their costumes represented ″fat cats″ and their cause was elections financed by public funds.

-Three different Bible-waving street preachers. All spoke with Southern drawls, and one was arguing with a young man in a hip-hop haircut about whether Genesis could be interpreted literally.

-A slender, bespectacled young man who looked like he’d just gotten off a train from the 1960s, hawking books and other items relating to marijuana. ″All that cannabis has gone to your brain,″ one of the street preachers told him.

-An abortion rights group, holding up signs.

-An anti-abortion group, holding up signs.


Candidate Larry Agran came to the convention to meet his delegates. But first he had to stop by Bronx Criminal Court.

″I’m probably the first presidential candidate to qualify for 40 ballots, matching funds and still get arrested by New York City police for trying to get into a debate,″ he said Tuesday night.

Agran, former mayor of Irvine, Calif., tried without success to be included in the major presidential debates during the campaign. Before the New York primary, he crashed a TV debate in the Bronx and was forcibly removed.

Agran said he was arraigned on charges of trespassing, disorderly conduct and resisting arrest. He said the charges have ″just about been dismissed″ but not quite.

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