Wednesday, September 1, 2010

All The President's Remaining Men

Rick Lazio probably wishes he didn't have Nixon to kick him around anymore.

The conservative ex-congressman (shown at right), who had the unenviable job of running against Hillary Clinton for U.S. Senate in 2000, wants to be this year's GOP nominee for governor of New York. He fought Nixon War I in the late spring against the state party chairman, Nixon son-in-law Ed Cox, who had backed a more moderate candidate, Steve Levy, after going to the trouble of helping persuade him to convert from Democratism. Cox (below) has also been accused of trying to set the stage for a Senate run by his and Tricia's son, Christopher, who's aiming for the altar and the House this year.

At the June GOP convention, Lazio handily beat back the Cox-Levy challenge. But now he has to contend with yet another Nixonite, Roger Stone, who pops up in the paper today as the key strategist for an insurgent with Tea Party bona fides, real estate tycoon Carl Paladino. The primary's Sept. 14, and while Lazio's still ahead, according to the New York Times, Paladino is picking up strength.

Stone (that's he, with his idol) was one of Nixon's closest political friends when Kathy and I were working for the ex-president in New York and New Jersey in the 1980s. He'd done dirty tricks in the 1972 Nixon campaign and was a key Reagan strategist in 1984.  Nixon and Stone spent countless hours talking politics, and some of Nixon's White House-era aides resented it. During one of Roger's not-infrequent brushes with notoriety, one of the president's older men, who had already complained that Roger used Nixon's name too freely around Washington (which is precisely what Nixon wanted him to do), told me, "I knew he was no good. It couldn't happen to a better guy."

Be that as it may have been, he's back, yet again, as implacably resilient as the president himself. Meanwhile, assuming Lazio can beat back his second Nixon challenge in one year and make it all the way to November, we can assume he won't be playing 37 in the Lotto.

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