- The Washington Times - Monday, June 20, 2005

Biden’s hat in ring

Sen. Joseph R. Biden Jr., Delaware Democrat, said yesterday that he intends to run for president in 2008.

“My intention now is to seek the nomination,” Mr. Biden said on CBS’ “Face the Nation.” He said he would explore his support and decide by the end of this year — a sign that the race might get off to an early and competitive start, Reuters news agency reports.

“If, in fact, I think I have a clear shot at winning the nomination, by this November or December, then I’m going to seek the nomination,” he said.

Mr. Biden is the senior Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, where he has become a leading opponent of John R. Bolton’s nomination to become ambassador to the United Nations.

Mr. Biden campaigned for the 1988 Democratic nomination but withdrew early in the race amid charges that he plagiarized parts of a speech by British Labor Party leader Neil Kinnock and exaggerated his academic record.

Family feud

Hillary Rodham Clinton is expert in the art of appearing publicly oblivious to family tensions. The skill came in handy last week at a Teamsters union fundraiser in Washington for Jennifer Granholm, the Democratic governor of Michigan,” Newsweek’s Howard Fineman writes.

“Earlier that day, the Teamsters and four other unions had threatened to bolt the AFL-CIO and spark a civil war in the beleaguered labor movement — the grass-roots bulwark of the Democratic Party. But the funder had been planned long before, and Granholm is well-liked. So officials from the opposing camps trouped to a top-floor terrace of the Teamsters headquarters, overlooking the Capitol, to listen to speeches, smile icy smiles and shoot dagger glances at each other. No one alluded to possible unpleasantness, especially the junior senator from New York. Framed by a phalanx of beefy union guys, Hillary all but cooed. ‘I feel so protected,’ she said.

“But even Senator Clinton can’t ignore this: the House of Labor is divided against itself, and it’s not clear it can stand. For reasons of philosophy, money and ego — the Potomac power mix — the slice of America that used to be called ‘Big Labor’ may soon collapse. A breakup would have broad implications in the workplace, pitting one set of unions, and one vision of unionism, against another. In politics, it would create competing spheres with one of them — the renegades — more willing to work with Republicans and more focused on organizing drives than on electoral politics.

“‘In terms of Democratic politics, it’s a disaster,’ says Rick Sloan, the Machinists communications director. ‘It would eviscerate our ground capabilities in ways Karl Rove and Tom DeLay will try to exploit.’”

Hagel vs. Bush

Sen. Chuck Hagel, Nebraska Republican, thinks President Bush’s Iraq policy is “disconnected from reality,” U.S. News and World Report reports.

Mr. Hagel, who is thought to have presidential aspirations, said in an interview with the magazine that U.S. troops are “losing” the Iraq war and that “things aren’t getting better; they’re getting worse.”

Mr. Hagel added, “The White House is completely disconnected from reality. It’s like they’re just making it up as they go along. The reality is that we’re losing in Iraq” and that fellow Republicans are coming to share his view.

“More and more of my colleagues up here are concerned,” he said.

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, in an interview yesterday, rejected Mr. Hagel’s assessment of events in Iraq, Agence France-Presse reports.

“If you’re looking at what is happening politically in Iraq, these people are moving toward a different kind of future than Saddam Hussein could ever have given them,” she told CNN.

“The insurgency is losing the Iraqi people, because the Iraqi people have a different kind of future in mind. That’s why we’re getting more intelligence. That’s why people continue to volunteer for the Iraqi security services.”

“South Carolina Democrats will be holding their breath next week when their embattled national chairman arrives in town to have a few beers with the grass roots and raise money for the state party,” writes Lee Bandy, a columnist for the State newspaper.

“Please, Howard Dean, don’t say anything that will embarrass us or subject us to ridicule, the party faithful pray.

“Dean still is smarting from his remark that Republicans are ‘pretty much a white, Christian party.’ Several congressional Democrats have called him on the carpet and ordered him to halt his divisive comments,” the columnist noted.

“With the most recent controversy still fresh in the minds of folks, Dean couldn’t be coming to South Carolina at a worse time, says Larry Sabato, a political scientist at the University of Virginia.

“‘If I were in South Carolina, I’d have him visit under the cover of night,’ he says.”

Buddy-buddy

“Republican mutterings over former President George H.W. Bush’s budding friendship with one-time archrival Bill Clinton are growing,” Paul Bedardwrites in the Washington Whispers column of U.S. News & World Report.

“What started when President Bush put the two foes on the tsunami-relief parade has some GOP-ers worried that the old man and wife Barbara have fallen for Bubba. And now this: Clinton’s staying at Bush’s Kennebunkport, Maine, summer home during a book tour this month. Why care? Republicans fret that the ties might prompt the Bushes to pull punches against Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton if she runs in 2008.”

California candidate

California Controller Steve Westly used the Internet to kick off his campaign for governor Saturday, becoming the second Democrat to enter the race in hopes of unseating Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger if the Republican seeks re-election next year.

The former Silicon Valley executive announced his candidacy during an online chat and conference call with supporters, pledging to create an innovative government to return prosperity to the state, the Associated Press reports.

“Today that dream is fading,” he said. “I’m running for governor to restore that dream.”

Mr. Westly, 47, joins the race for the Democratic nomination against Treasurer Phil Angelides, who announced he was running in March. The governor has not announced whether he will seek re-election.

A bad rap

Bob Geldof, who is organizing a series of concerts to pressure wealthy nations into forgiving African debt, says President Bush has been getting a bad rap in some quarters.

“America doesn’t have a lack of empathy. They just don’t know the issues as well,” Mr. Geldof tells Time magazine.

“Actually, today I had to defend the Bush administration in France again. They refuse to accept, because of their political ideology, that he has actually done more than any American president for Africa. But it’s empirically so.”

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

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