- The Washington Times - Wednesday, June 11, 2003

Support for Estrada

Sen. George Allen, Virginia Republican, released a poll yesterday showing overwhelming support in the Hispanic community for Miguel Estrada, President Bush’s nominee to the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia.

The poll, funded by the conservative group Committee for Justice, shows 88 percent of the country’s Hispanics supporting a final vote on Mr. Estrada, whom Democrats have filibustered for more than four months.

“It fortifies our resolve — our resolve as Republican senators — to keep fighting … for a highly qualified nominee,” said Mr. Allen, chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee.

He also said newspaper editorial writers support a vote, citing 180 editorials in 100 newspapers in 35 states urging a final vote on Mr. Estrada.

However, Mr. Allen said there have been 25 editorials against giving Mr. Estrada a vote — “most of those coming from the New York Times, the paper that is read by those who are good at crossword puzzles and like to read a little fiction.”

Springer’s test site

Television talk-show host Jerry Springer launched a Web site yesterday to test voter support for a possible U.S. Senate campaign.

T-shirts, autographed photos and CDs of Mr. Springer playing a guitar and singing country songs will be sold on the site, said Mike Ford, his political adviser.

The 59-year-old host of “The Jerry Springer Show” and former Cincinnati mayor wants to reach people who don’t normally vote and who would be willing to make small contributions on his behalf, Mr. Ford said at a news conference at Ohio Democratic Party headquarters in Columbus.

Response to the www.runjerryrun.com Web site will help Mr. Springer decide whether to run, the Associated Press reports.

“A lot of people are left out of the political system and they’re not supposed to be,” Mr. Ford said Tuesday. “We’re going to activate them.”

The Democratic candidate will take on incumbent Republican Sen. George V. Voinovich.

Republican vs. Republican

In an intraparty spat, one Republican Pennsylvania lawmaker is demanding that another return more than $450,000 in campaign contributions rather than use it to challenge four-term Sen. Arlen Specter in next year’s Republican primary.

“I strongly urge you to do the right thing,” Rep. Phil English wrote Rep. Patrick J. Toomey on June 10.

The letter, which Mr. Toomey received yesterday, criticizes the congressman for padding his Senate campaign’s bank account with more than $100,000 that he collected from Republican lawmakers during the 2001-02 election cycle.

Moreover, Mr. English argues, Republican campaign committees in Washington and Harrisburg, Pa., pumped about $350,000 in issue advertising and direct mail into the 15th Congressional District to help Mr. Toomey defeat Democratic challenger Ed O’Brien in November.

That money, Mr. English’s letter notes, could have been used to defeat other Democrats — and was never intended to help Mr. Toomey unseat a fellow Republican such as Mr. Specter, who is seeking re-election.

Toomey campaign manager Morrie Pulley called the demand “silly” but avoided criticizing Mr. English, who has endorsed Mr. Specter, the Associated Press reports.

‘Partial reversal’

Attorney General John Ashcroft was set to allow homosexual Justice Department employees to hold an annual gathering at department headquarters if they foot the bill.

Officials with the group DOJ Pride said last week that they were told the awards ceremony could not be held in the department’s Great Hall. The event was planned for yesterday.

But agency spokesman Mark Corallo said the intention was not to block the group from holding the event, only to make it clear it would not be officially sponsored by the department. That means the group’s members must pay any costs themselves, the Associated Press reports.

“They will not be officially sponsored this year, just like every other group,” Mr. Corallo said. “They took that to mean they couldn’t have the event.”

Allison Nichol, vice president of DOJ Pride, disputed that. She said the organization was told clearly last week it could not hold the event in the Great Hall, the Justice Department courtyard or a conference room — even if the group paid for it.

Still, Miss Nichol said the group welcomed the change as a “partial reversal” of the previous ban, while hoping that “they would be willing to sponsor this event.” She also said other employee groups have in the past had their events sponsored.

Reports of the denial prompted outrage among homosexual groups and from Sen. Frank R. Lautenberg, New Jersey Democrat, who wrote an angry letter to Mr. Ashcroft questioning the Justice Department’s commitment to fairness.

Meanwhile, Mr. Lautenberg issued a statement calling the new policy “the politics of a cover-up” and said he would urge hearings by the Senate Governmental Affairs Committee into violations of civil rights stemming from the incident.

Fat chance

A proposal to tax junk food, video games and television commercials to pay for an obesity-prevention program faces stiff opposition from New York state lawmakers and business groups.

Chances of the proposal passing before lawmakers go home for the summer June 19 looked slim after a spokesman for Republican Senate Majority Leader Joseph Bruno said he would not support the tax, the Associated Press reports.

The 1 percent tax increase proposed by Assemblyman Felix Ortiz would apply to junk food, video games and TV commercials, which Mr. Ortiz blames for New York’s growing obesity problem. Mr. Ortiz, a Democrat, did not rule out proposing tax increases on other things that he believes contribute to obesity.

Hearts and minds

Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton’s memoir may have pulled at some heartstrings or raised some sneers — depending on your political loyalties — but the book has done little to alter public opinion of the former first lady, Agence France-Presse reports.

A poll released yesterday by Quinnipiac University showed that three-quarters of Americans had either read or heard about “Living History,” which boasted first-day sales of 200,000 copies.

However, 67 percent of voters polled said publication of the memoir, which contains Mrs. Clinton’s first public comments on former President Bill Clinton’s affair with Monica Lewinsky, had done nothing to change their opinion of the author.

Only 8 percent said they viewed Mrs. Clinton more favorably for writing it, while 18 percent think less favorably.

Danny Thomas moment

“The Danny Thomas moment comes on page 465,” Karen Heller writes in her Philadelphia Inquirer review of Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton’s memoir, “Living History.”

“Danny Thomas, to use Hillaryese, was a popular television comic of the late 1950s and early ‘60s noted for spraying coffee from his mouth whenever an absurdity was uttered,” the reviewer said, before offering up this Hillary quote, from the night before she says her husband admitted the Monica Lewinsky affair to her: “My husband may have his faults, but he has never lied to me.”

Greg Pierce can be reached at 202/636-3285 or gpierce@washingtontimes.com.

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