POLITICAL NOTEBOOK: Cigarette Protester is Butt of GOP Jokes
MANCHESTER, N.H. (AP) _ Republicans have a new strategy for countering ``Buttman,″ the human cigarette who’s been showing up at Bob Dole events. They’ve started sending in their own activists to poke fun at him.
Democratic demonstrators dressed as giant cigarettes have been dogging the Republican presidential contender ever since Dole’s controversial suggestion last month that smoking wasn’t necessarily addictive.
So it was nothing new to see a ``Buttman″ along with about a dozen demonstrators with ``Clinton-Gore″ signs outside a plant here Wednesday where Dole was giving a speech.
The new twist: standing on either side of ``Buttman″ were two individuals holding signs. One sign said ``Clinton’s Next National Security Adviser,″ with an arrow pointing toward Buttman.
The other, with an arrow pointing at him from the other side, said, ``The Next Craig Livingstone,″ referring to the former Clinton White House security chief whose collection of FBI files on Republicans is the center of new inquiries in Washington.
At first the Democratic protesters and Buttman didn’t seem to notice the two infiltrators among their ranks.
When they did, the Buttman character started running to get away from his two sign-bearing hecklers. But each time he moved, they did too, with their arrow signs.
Others in the pro-Clinton group chanted ``Four more years.″
``Four more years? That must refer to the average remaining time on the sentences of former White House officials who are serving time,″ offered Dole press secretary Nelson Warfield, uncharitably.
Warfield allowed that the ones with the signs poking fun at Buttman were not necessarily unknown to local Republican officials.
Bob Dole returned Wednesday to the state that in the past has only held political disappointment for him. He predicted that, although he lost New Hampshire’s GOP primary three times, he would carry the state in November.
``I’m still trying to get them to have a recount up there. I think some of our ballots got lost in the snow,″ Dole joked.
He told a Manchester audience that he would be victorious over Clinton on Election Day, Nov. 5. ``I will finally crack the granite in the Granite State,″ he said.
When Dole arrived in New York, a skywriter was writing what Dole aides said was supposed to spell ``Dole.″ An aide pointed skyward and Dole looked up, a little perplexed.
All that was in the sky over LaGuardia Airport was a DOL ... But the first ``D″ had turned into an ``O″ so it looked like a ``OOL.″ Dole looked confused.
``Let’s get out of here before we see what the second word might say,″ said one Dole aide.
Dole spent about three hours Wednesday night in New York at a private dinner with CBS’ Dan Rather. They ate at posh restaurant on West 64th Street.
As they ate, a group of protesters formed outside _ protesting U.S. policy on Bosnia. The protesters were actually shouting support for Dole and criticism of Clinton administration policy _ which Dole aides were quick to point out.
Dole, who was wrapping up a three-day East Coast swing today, planned to have breakfast with conservative talk show host Rush Limbaugh and then appear on the talk show of radio personality Don Imus.