- The Washington Times - Monday, June 7, 2004

Campaign ‘firebreak’

“When President Bush paid tribute to Ronald Reagan early [Sunday] in Paris, the words he used echoed his own re-election ads. Bush spoke of ‘the confidence that comes with conviction, the strength that comes with character,’” the Boston Globe reports

“So strongly does Bush emulate Reagan — from his conservative ideology, to his intense loyalty to political allies, to the Western ranch to which he retreats — that political analysts say there is little doubt that the 43d president will be at the center of a week of ceremonies commemorating the 40th. Remembrance and mourning for Reagan not only emphasizes the links between Bush and Reagan, but it also creates a firebreak in a campaign that has seen Bush’s popularity plummeting, the public questioning his war in Iraq, and criticism spring up from his fellow conservatives,” reporter Glen Johnson writes.

“Ceremonies in California and Washington this week will offer Bush a worldwide stage to highlight Reagan’s political and personal qualities, and to receive whatever sympathy traditionally accrues to a president at a time of national tragedy.

“By contrast, Democratic challenger John F. Kerry will be pushed off the stage.

“He has canceled all campaign events, including two star-studded fund-raisers scheduled for [today] and Thursday in Los Angeles and New York, and will play a secondary role during the events for Reagan.”

Gore vs. Penelas

Al Gore has harshly criticized U.S. Senate hopeful Alex Penelas, saying his fellow Democrat was “the single most treacherous and dishonest person” he dealt with during the disputed 2000 presidential campaign.

The former presidential candidate’s comments came in response to questions from the Miami Herald about the the Aug. 31 Democratic primary. The comments were published in the Herald’s Sunday editions, the Associated Press reports.

Although a Democrat, Mr. Penelas is mayor of a largely Republican county.

Fellow Democrats attacked him for not aggressively supporting Mr. Gore during the campaign and especially during the controversial recounts in many counties — including in Miami-Dade — that led to George W. Bush’s victory after narrowly winning Florida.

“One of the other candidates in this race became in 2000 the single most treacherous and dishonest person I dealt with during the campaign anywhere in America,” Mr. Gore told the newspaper after praising Mr. Penelas’ opponent, U.S. Rep. Peter Deutsch.

Mr. Penelas is not mentioned by name in the statement. But a Gore aide confirmed Sunday he was not referring to Betty Castor, former state education commissioner, who is considered the only other viable Democratic candidate.

“Not all who claim to have been supportive and loyal truly were,” Mr. Gore said.

Mr. Penelas has long maintained that he supported Mr. Gore’s campaign.

“I’ve been a faithful and loyal Democrat for many years. … I was proud to support Gore,” he told the Associated Press. “We delivered Miami-Dade for Al Gore.”

Al Jazeera dissed

Condoleezza Rice, national securityadviser, played favorites with the Arab media yesterday, calling Al Jazeera “purely inaccurate” during a Group of Eight press briefing, then promoting the Bush administration’s plan for Iraqi sovereignty on competitor Al Arabiya.

“They do these interviews with the aim of getting the message across. She’s talking to us,” said Talal Al-Haj, U.S. bureau chief for Al Arabiya, an independent network based in Dubai. President Bush last month granted an interview to the same network, trying to soothe the controversy in the Middle East over the Abu Ghraib prison abuse.

According to Cox News Service, Mohammed Alami, chief Washington correspondent for Al Jazeera, the state-financed network in Qatar, later asked Miss Rice during a press conference whether the United States intended to shut down his network.

“I don’t think anybody has suggested the shutting down of Al Jazeera,” Miss Rice responded. “I do think people have suggested that it would be a good thing if the reporting were accurate on Al Jazeera, and if it were not slanted in ways that appears to be, at times, just purely inaccurate.”

Mr. Alami angrily dismissed the charge, saying administration figures “just don’t like our reporting.”

“They don’t like our content. I’m sure we make mistakes, but we don’t deserve this level of bashing,” he said.

GOP loses

Colorado Republicans lost a U.S. Supreme Court appeal yesterday over whether a congressional map favorable to Democrats is in force until after the next census in 2010.

A fractured court refused to consider replacing that map with a Republican-drafted redistricting plan, the Associated Press reports.

The Colorado Supreme Court had ruled in December that Republicans violated the state constitution by pushing a new map through the legislature just a year after a judge had redrawn the boundaries. District drawing may be done only once a decade, the court decided.

Justices refused yesterday to consider an appeal of that decision. Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist and Justices Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas wrote separately to say the court was wrong not to hear the case.

States must redraw congressional districts every 10 years to reflect population shifts. Colorado’s redistricting after the 2000 census was handled by a judge because lawmakers were unable to agree on new boundaries.

Book lovers

New Yorkers waited hours yesterday to reserve a copy of Bill Clinton’s memoirs, although some fans said they were unlikely to read all 957 pages of the former president’s book.

The line of buyers stretched down the sidewalk outside the Hue-Man Bookstore, just blocks from Mr. Clinton’s Harlem office, where scores of people arrived as early as dawn to reserve a $35 copy of “My Life,” to be published June 22.

The former president will sign the pre-ordered copies at the bookstore on the evening of the release date.

Most waiting Monday were fans who simply want a signed copy of the book about his life and his scandal-plagued presidency, Reuters news agency reports.

Schoolteacher Yvonne Carr said she hopes Mr. Clinton addresses his affair with White House intern Monica Lewinsky.

“That’s what he’s going to be remembered for,” she said.

Connecticut ruling

A Connecticut judge ruled yesterday that Gov. John G. Rowland must testify before a legislative panel investigating whether he should be impeached for accepting gifts from friends, employees and state contractors.

The Republican governor’s attorneys immediately asked the judge to delay his decision while they appeal to the state Supreme Court.

If Mr. Rowland is forced to testify, it would be the first time in U.S. history that a sitting chief executive was ordered to testify before a legislative body, attorneys for both sides said.

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

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