- The Washington Times - Wednesday, June 23, 2004

Bush moves ahead

In a two-week stretch that included more positive economic news and mixed reports from the troubled Middle East, President Bush continued to improve his standing among Americans in key states, wresting the lead in the race for the White House from Democratic challenger Sen. John Kerry of Massachusetts, the latest Zogby Interactive poll shows.

The poll, conducted June 14-19, shows Mr. Bush would win 285 Electoral College votes, compared to 253 for Mr. Kerry.

It marks the first time in the three polling periods conducted so far that Mr. Bush has taken the lead in the race, gaining 43 electoral votes in the last two weeks and 67 in the last month. But races in many states are still so close as to leave the result unclear, the polling firm said.

Help from friends

The company distributing filmmaker Michael Moore’s Bush-bashing movie “Fahrenheit 9/11” says it won’t reject an offer of help from Middle East terrorist organization Hezbollah, WorldNetDaily.com reports.

The Web site had reported earlier that terrorists affiliated with the Iran-backed network last week offered to help promote the film in the United Arab Emirates.

The movie industry publication Screen Daily reported, “In terms of marketing the film, [distributor] Front Row is getting a boost from organizations related to Hezbollah, which have rung up from Lebanon to ask if there’s anything they can do to support the film.”

The story then quotes Front Row Managing Director Gianluca Chacra: “We can’t go against these organizations, as they could strongly boycott the film in Lebanon and Syria.”

Terror-war supporting organization Move America Forward publicized the Chacra quote and reacted strongly against it, WorldNetDaily said.

“Michael Moore dismisses Americans who are upset with his film and the impact it has in undermining support for the war against terrorism,” said Melanie Morgan, vice chairman of Move America Forward. “At the same time, his distribution companies are concerned about offending the sensibilities of terrorists. That certainly gives rise to asking the question: Whose side are you on?”

DeMint tops Beasley

Three-term Rep. Jim DeMint of South Carolina easily beat former Gov. David Beasley yesterday to win a Republican primary runoff in the race for a U.S. Senate seat.

With 97 percent of precincts reporting, the Associated Press reported that Mr. DeMint had 59 percent, or 147,807 votes, while Mr. Beasley had 41 percent, or 102,782 votes.

“It’s amazing what a boring guy can do with a little help from his friends,” Mr. DeMint said. “We’re in the finals now.”

The DeMint victory ends a comeback bid by Mr. Beasley, who was bounced from the governor’s office in 1998 after reversing himself and calling for lowering the Confederate flag from atop the Statehouse.

The 52-year-old House member will face Democratic state Education Superintendent Inez Tenenbaum this fall to replace Ernest F. Hollings, a Democrat, as senator from the increasingly Republican state.

Ryan’s vow

Republican Jack Ryan vowed to stay in the race for a U.S. Senate seat from Illinois despite embarrassing charges that he tried to pressure his former wife to perform sex acts in clubs while others watched.

“My intention is to stay in the race,” Mr. Ryan said Monday after a California judge unsealed records of his divorce from Jeri Lynn Ryan, the actress best known for roles on TV’s “Boston Public” and “Star Trek: Voyager.”

Mr. Ryan denied the accusations, the Associated Press reports, and said he felt bad for their son, now 9, that she would falsely accuse him.

“I think this is a new low for politics,” Mr. Ryan said Tuesday on Chicago’s WLS-AM. “It seems to me it’s just a new standard, and I don’t think it’s healthy for our democracy.”

Procedural review

The House ethics committee said yesterday it will review a complaint from a Texas congressman that accuses House Majority Leader Tom DeLay, a fellow Texan, of “serious criminal acts.”

The committee said Democratic Rep. Chris Bell met House rules for filing such a complaint. The decision is largely procedural and is not based on the merits of the charges, the Associated Press reports.

Mr. DeLay, a Republican, has called the complaint filed last week the product of a disgruntled lawmaker. Mr. Bell, a freshman, lost his re-election bid in Texas’ March primaries after Republicans redrew his Houston district.

After a 45-day review, the House Committee on Standards of Official Conduct can choose among three steps: establish an investigative subcommittee, extend the review another 45 days, or recommend dismissal.

Illegal mailings?

A pro-Democratic group that opposes President Bush in its fund-raising solicitations is the target of a complaint by campaign-finance watchdogs who argue the organization is spending illegally on its mailings.

America Coming Together (ACT) should be using limited “hard money” donations, not unlimited contributions known as “soft money,” to pay for the fund-raising letters, the three groups said in the complaint filed yesterday with the Federal Election Commission (FEC).

The groups are Democracy 21, the Center for Responsive Politics and the Campaign Legal Center, the Associated Press reports.

ACT has financed the mailings — possibly up to $1 million worth through March — with soft money, the groups say. Such unlimited donations can come from any source, including unions and corporations, but aren’t supposed to be used for federal election activities.

ACT spokesman Jim Jordan said the organization has done nothing improper. “It is, we believe, completely without merit,” Mr. Jordan said of the complaint.

The FEC is unlikely to act before the November election.

Drafting Bruce

A New York concert promoter has mounted an online campaign to “draft” Bruce Springsteen to headline a rock ‘n’ roll show to upstage the Republican National Convention on the night it nominates President Bush to run for another term.

The “Concert for Change” would be held Sept. 1 at Giants Stadium, across the Hudson River from the Republicans’ meeting at Madison Square Garden, said promoter and Democratic activist Andrew Rasiej, who has reserved the date at Mr. Springsteen’s New Jersey home venue that he routinely sells out when he tours.

“This is a simple idea that captures the imagination of Americans opposed to George Bush,” Mr. Rasiej told Reuters news agency.

Top negotiator

Washington power broker Vernon E. Jordan Jr. will be the lead negotiator for Democrat Sen. John Kerry on the presidential debates.

Mr. Jordan, a lawyer, lobbyist and one-time aide to former President Bill Clinton, will represent the Kerry campaign in negotiations with the Bush-Cheney campaign on the terms of this fall’s three presidential debates, the Associated Press reports.

The first debate is set for Sept. 30 at the University of Miami in Coral Gables, Fla.

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

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