- The Washington Times - Tuesday, June 17, 2003

Dean and Graham

Presidential candidate Howard Dean said he regrets calling Democratic rival Bob Graham “not one of the top-tier candidates” seeking the party’s nomination.

Speaking at a luncheon for New Hampshire business leaders Monday, the former Vermont governor made the remark that angered the Graham campaign, the Associated Press reports. Mr. Dean was asked about the approach he would take, if elected president, in appointing justices to the Supreme Court.

“I’m actually the only major candidate who’s appointed a judge, and I do not believe in litmus tests, although I do believe in upholding the Constitution,” Mr. Dean said.

When a listener pointed out that Mr. Graham, during his years as governor of Florida, also appointed judges, Mr. Dean said, “Bob Graham is a wonderful, decent human being, but at this time, he’s in single digits in all the states you can’t be in single digits in. I have enormous respect for Bob Graham, but at this point, he’s not one of the top-tier candidates. I think that’s widely recognized.”

He added, “That’s not to say he couldn’t get to be one.”

Later in the day, in a telephone call to the Associated Press, Mr. Dean said, “I regret having made the remark, and I regard Bob Graham a good friend. My remark was not intended to be dismissive of his chances.”

‘Jane Roe’ returns

The former plaintiff known as “Jane Roe” in the landmark 1973 Supreme Court abortion case sought to have the ruling overturned in a motion filed yesterday that asks the court to consider new evidence that abortion hurts women.

Norma McCorvey, who joined the pro-life fight nearly 10 years ago and says she regrets her role in Roe v. Wade, said the Supreme Court’s decision giving women the constitutional right to an abortion is no longer valid because scientific and anecdotal evidence that has come to light in the last 30 years has shown the negative effects of abortion.

“We’re getting our babies back,” a jubilant Miss McCorvey said at a news conference in Dallas while flanked by about 60 women, some who sobbed and held signs that read “I regret my abortion.”

“I feel like the weight of the world has just been lifted off my shoulders,” said Miss McCorvey, 55.

Allen Parker Jr., Miss McCorvey’s attorney, said he could not remember any other landmark case in which the plaintiff has asked to have it overturned.

“I think the new evidence will show the court what they thought was good will turn out to be an instrument of wrong,” said Mr. Parker, who is with the San Antonio-based Texas Justice Foundation.

Miss McCorvey filed the motion with the federal district court in Dallas. The Texas Attorney General’s Office and Dallas district attorney each have 20 days to respond to the motion.

Debating the debates

Former third-party presidential candidates who were excluded from debates in 2000 asked election officials yesterday to block the Commission on Presidential Debates from sponsoring next year’s forums.

The complaint to the Federal Election Commission said the debate commission is a partisan organization that lets only Democratic and Republican candidates participate in the debates it organizes. The complaint also said election law requires that an organization staging such debates be nonprofit and nonpartisan.

Those filing the complaint included consumer advocate Ralph Nader, the Green Party’s presidential nominee in 2000; John Hagelin and Patrick Buchanan, Reform Party candidates; and Howard Phillips, a Constitution Party candidate, the Associated Press reports. In the complaint, Mr. Hagelin described himself as a Natural Law Party candidate.

The commission, founded by the Democratic and Republican parties, only allows candidates with at least 15 percent support in national polls to participate in its debates. None of the third-party candidates qualified.

Frankenstein imagery

Democrats are using the image of the Frankenstein’s monster to stir up fear about President Bush’s potential nominees to the Supreme Court.

In an animated cartoon on its Web site, the Democratic National Committee shows characters Mr. Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney building a Supreme Court justice, dubbed “Bushenstein,” and described as a “right-wing extremist the likes of which have never been seen before.”

“My justice will have the vision of Charles Pickering, the teeth of Priscilla Owen, the secrets of Miguel Estrada, the arms of Clarence Thomas and the brain of Antonin Scalia,” the Bush character says.

Democrats have opposed the nominations of Judge Pickering, Justice Owen and Mr. Estrada for seats on the federal bench. Justice Thomas and Justice Scalia are the more conservative justices on the high court.

“Boris Karloff only created fictional nightmares,” said Democratic National Committee Chairman Terry McAuliffe. “President Bush is trying to create some real-life fright nights.”

Republican Party officials criticized the Democrats for using scare tactics, the Associated Press reports.

“It is not the first e-mail sent out trying to destroy the character of a nominee that doesn’t even exist,” said Jim Dyke, spokesman for the Republican National Committee.”

Saving Bush

The Democratic-controlled Alabama Legislature has agreed to change a state election law that might have kept President Bush off the ballot in November 2004.

By a vote of 29-0, the Senate gave final approval to a bill that will push back the qualifying deadline for next year’s presidential nominees from Aug. 31 to Sept. 6.

The Republican National Convention will take place in August next year and the GOP won’t name its presidential nominee until Sept. 2. Without the change — which Republican Gov. Bob Riley is certain to sign — the president, the presumptive Republican nominee, would have had to get on the ballot through a write-in campaign.

The Democratic-controlled House had passed the measure 97-1, the Associated Press reports.

Honoring D’Amato

Long Island’s federal courthouse in Central Islip was named in honor of former Sen. Alfonse D’Amato at a ceremony that brought out friends, family and a fistful of old political enemies.

Sens. Hillary Rodham Clinton, Charles E. Schumer and Joseph R. Biden Jr., all Democrats, were present Monday to celebrate Mr. D’Amato’s 18 years in the Senate as New York’s pugnacious Republican representative, the Associated Press reports.

The former first lady and then-President Clinton were once the focus of a Senate committee investigation headed by Mr. D’Amato that looked into the Whitewater land deal.

“I have to confess that if a few years ago someone had in the same sentence said Al D’Amato, Hillary Clinton and courthouse, I don’t think this is what we would have had in mind,” Mrs. Clinton said to a roar of laughter. “But life is full of surprises.”

Also heaping praise was Mr. Schumer, who defeated Mr. D’Amato in 1998.

“Somebody said, ‘Well, it’s gracious of you to be here, senator.’ I said, ‘Absolutely not.’ It was gracious of Senator D’Amato to personally pick up the phone and invite me to come. That is true grace,” Mr. Schumer said.

Grandpa Thurmond

Former Sen. Strom Thurmond, South Carolina Republican, has become a grandfather for the first time at 100.

Martin Taylor Whitmer III was born Monday afternoon at Sibley Hospital in Washington. He’s the son of Julie Thurmond Whitmer and Martin Whitmer, the Associated Press reports. All are said to be doing well, according to U.S. Attorney (and proud uncle) Strom Thurmond Jr.

“We are overjoyed and grateful to God with the safe arrival of baby Tate,” the elder Mr. Thurmond and his wife, Nancy, said in a statement. Tate is the child’s nickname.

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

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