By Betsy Rothstein - 01/18/06 12:00 AM EST
Candidate hopes to get money from The Donald
Raj Peter Bhakta may be a Republican candidate in Pennsylvania’s 13th Congressional District, but he is better known for his eight-week stint on the second season of NBC’s “The Apprentice” in 2004.
Last week, Bhakta, a real-estate developer, reported that he has raised more than $110,000 just weeks after creating his exploratory committee.
But, of course, he wants to raise more money, and he hopes to tap into the potential benefits, financial and otherwise, of knowing Donald Trump from the show. “He still keeps in regular contact with him, maybe about once a month,” said Bhakta spokesman Chris Brennan, who was the Pennsylvania political director for President Bush’s campaign in 2004.
So far it is not clear whether The Donald will donate. “I don’t want to rule that in or out,” said Brennan. “I know Raj has a very friendly personal relationship with Mr. Trump. I would love for him to donate to the campaign.”
A review of Trump’s donations shows that he contributes to both sides of the aisle.
Bhakta, who is 30 and single, is looking to unseat first-termer Allyson Schwartz (D).
He doesn’t necessarily try to play up his role from the popular TV show, but he can’t help the attention from it because he’s often noticed because of the show. His press team tries to downplay it.
“He’s the kind of guy where he had a good time on the show, but he’s a businessman and he has a lot of ideas on where he thinks the country should be,” Brennan said. “I view him as a businessman who was on a TV show running for Congress as opposed to a TV star running for Congress. You know what I mean?”
Nelly’s new rap song dogs the Clintons
As close as former President Bill Clinton is to African-Americans — Toni Morrison called him “the first black president” — you’d think a rapper like Nelly would have some kind things to say about him and his wife, Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.).
But no, the rapper has a new song out, “Grillz,” and its lyrics about the Clintons could be, well, construed as vulgar — too vulgar for this newspaper. Of course, the vulgarity adds a certain rhythm — a hustle and flow, you might say — to the song.
Ruminating on his “grill,” i.e., his mouth jewelry, Nelly notes he has quite a few gold fillings. “Where I got ’em you can spot them,” he chimes. “On da top, in da bottom.” He then mentions Bill Clinton and his wife.
The only other celebrity mentioned in the song is boxing great George Foreman in the line, “Call me George Foreman cuz I’m sellin’ ever’body grillz.”
Nelly isn’t the first rapper to use a politician in his lyrics. Rapper 50 Cent once mentioned former Sen. Lloyd Bentsen (D-Texas) in a song. Eminem has knocked Lynne Cheney and Tipper Gore in his music. On tracks of the White Album, he accused them, the Bush administration and the Federal Communications Commission or trying to muzzle him with censorship. He raps about “pissing on the lawn of the White House” and uses the f-word toward Cheney and Gore.
Asked for reaction on the lyrics, Philippe Reines, spokesman for Sen. Clinton, had no comment on the matter.
New luxury building wants to lure political clientele
Turnberry Tower in Arlington, Va., seems to be the idyllic choice of condominium complexes for a politician, lobbyist or aide. The complex has a view of the water and offers amenities that powerful Washington political types would appreciate, such as private elevators that run directly into your apartment and cannot go to any other without a special key.
And so far, a few members of Congress, aides and lobbyists have previewed the model condo. Construction begins in the late summer. All condos will be ready for delivery in 2008 but can be purchased now.
“We’ve actually had a few known lawmakers, nothing we can disclose,” said Jim Cohen, vice president of sales for Turnberry Ltd., based in Aventura, Fla.
Condos range in price from $700,000 to $5 million. Cohen says the condos appeal to a “certain caliber” of person and someone who enjoys his or her privacy. “It all ties into how people want to live today, without being exposed,” he said. “As we know, everyone likes their privacy.
On the website www.turnberrytowerarlington.com, the introduction bills the complex as a “beautifully bipartisan high-rise residence with a wonderfully low-key attitude. A luxury condominium so endowed with relaxing amenities, the daily stresses of politics and commerce can be left at the entrance.”
The “ultra-liberal” list of amenities includes a fitness center and a group of valets, concierges and security personnel — in a sense, it says, a “Washington lobby” that is “at your beck and call.”
Strange bedfellows: Al Gore and Bob Barr
You are going to give a speech, and you need someone to introduce you. So why choose someone who has delivered some of the most scathing political attacks against you?
On Jan. 16, former Vice President Al Gore delivered a speech about privacy issues at Constitution Hall. He was suppossed to be introduced by former Rep. Bob Barr (R-Ga.), before technical problems prevented it from happening. Barr spent much of his career criticizing the Clinton-Gore administration.
“It’s sort of a fun scenario for us,” said a source involved in the organization of the event. “These guys have never really worked on the same side of an issue.”
The source joked, however, about the potential awkwardness of the introduction: ‘“Thanks for introducing me today,’” she said, imitating what Gore could say. “‘Thanks for impeaching my boss!’”
The two men may have more in common than people know. Barr is as concerned as Gore on the issues of domestic surveillance and abuse of executive power, which is why Barr, an impeachment manager during the Monica Lewinsky scandal, was asked.
The organizations that sponsored the event were the American Constitution Society, a group of progressive lawyers, and the Liberty Coalition, a “transpartisan” organization that brings together various ideological groups to preserve the Bill of Rights. Barr is a member.
While it was not Gore’s idea to have Barr introduce him — the Liberty Coalition’s executive director, Michael Ostrolenk, came up with the plan — Gore agreed to it.
Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-La.) was spotted Sunday having brunch at Caf