D'Amato to pen advice column
March 9, 1999
NEW YORK (AllPolitics, March 9) -- Former New York Republican Sen. Alfonse D'Amato, who lost his Senate seat in last November's election, will now be serving up his special brew of political advice for a political magazine.
D'Amato will dispense advice in a column entitled "Ask Alfonse" in George magazine. The topics will be in response to reader questions sent via e-mail (firstname.lastname@example.org) or by U.S. mail to the magazine's New York City office.
D'Amato was introduced Tuesday as George's newest columnist by the magazine's editor-in-chief, John F. Kennedy Jr.
"The column will be a monthly opportunity for readers to send in their questions about politics and about life and learn from a man who brought a hurly-burly authenticity to a job that is too often obscured in artifice," Kennedy said of his new columnist.
"His politics always reflected just who he was -- real, tough and with no apologies. And as such we think he's uniquely suited to be George magazine's very own Dear Abby," Kennedy said.
D'Amato was first elected to the Senate in 1980. He earned the nickname "Senator Pothole" for aggressive constituent service and was known for his combative politics.
He was defeated in November 1998 by Rep. Chuck Schumer of Brooklyn in one of 1998's most high profile and nastiest races. It may have hit its low point late in the campaign when D'Amato called Schumer a "putzhead" in a private meeting with Jewish supporters. The senator later apologized.
"Putz" is Yiddish for penis and is used to deride someone as a fool. D'Amato is Roman Catholic, while Schumer is Jewish.
The nonpartisan George has a paid circulation of more than 400,000. It was co-founded by Kennedy four years ago and its premiere issue was published in September 1995.
In a sample of what may come in his column, D'Amato offered some unsolicited advice to first lady Hillary Clinton, who is deciding whether to run for New York's other Senate seat, which is being vacated by retiring Democratic Sen. Daniel Patrick Moynihan in 2000.
"If you're undertaking the challenge because you want to make a difference for the people of New York and if you feel you can make a difference, then I say, 'Run, Hillary, run,'" D'Amato said. "But running for Senate should not be about advancing your name for history."
D'Amato is not the first Washington insider to sign up with George. He joins former Clinton adviser Paul Begala and former Newt Gingrich spokesman Tony Blankley at the magazine.
D'Amato is also employed as a TV commentator for the Fox News Channel and has started his own consulting group, Strategic Planning Strategies.
He offered no advice for Republican presidential hopefuls, but conceded that Texas Gov. George W. Bush was the "overwhelming favorite."
"I think people are looking for the nonpolitician," D'Amato said. "I think that is the problem Al Gore is going to face."
Kennedy was asked about his own political ambitions, including the possibility of being New York City mayor, but Kennedy made it clear he had no desire for elected office at this time.
"Not today. Not while we have such an exciting roster of columnists," Kennedy said.
"If it changes into something else in a number of years, great, and if it doesn't, I have no complaints."
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