- The Washington Times - Wednesday, May 4, 2005

Robertson’s shocker

“In the mental chess game pundits and power brokers play in the run-up to 2008, one complicating factor has been accepted as conventional wisdom: Rudolph Giuliani, the leader of most Republican polls, is too centrist to be accepted by the religious right’s rank and file,” John Avlon writes at www.RealClearPolitics.com.

“That’s why a comment by the founder of the Christian Coalition, the Rev. Pat Robertson, on ABC News’ ‘This Week’ with George Stephanopoulos this past Sunday should send shock waves through the Republican Party establishment and may signal the beginning of a healthy realignment in American politics,” said Mr. Avlon, a columnist for the New York Sun.

“In response to a question about whether religious conservatives would split off from the Republican Party if a moderate like Mayor Giuliani were nominated for president, Rev. Robertson quickly said, ‘I don’t think so. Rudy is a very good friend of mine, and he did a super job running the city of New York. And I think he’d make a good president. I like him a lot. Although he doesn’t share all of my particular points of view on social issues, he’s a very dedicated Catholic. And he’s a great guy.’

“This character endorsement is an important green light to a possible presidential run that some social-conservative political operatives were overconfidently whispering was dead on arrival.

“It is also a generous and timely reinforcement of Ronald Reagan’s principle of the ‘big tent’ by someone associated with the far right of the party. With even tacit support and an established comfort level with leaders of the Christian Coalition, the broad popular support for a Giuliani presidential campaign that already exists among Republicans and independents could be unstoppable. He could be the first Republican candidate since Ronald Reagan to win both New York and California on the way to winning the White House.”

Patience, patience

“Conventional wisdom suggests that President Bush has overreached on Social Security and that obstructionism is serving the Democrats well. USA Today has new poll numbers that lead us to question this assumption,” James Taranto writes at www.OpinionJournal.com.

“According to the poll, ‘Americans agree major changes are needed in Social Security: 45 percent say they should be made in the next year or two; 36 percent say within the decade.’ What’s more, the poll ‘finds both parties viewed skeptically on the issue, though. Sixty-two percent worry that Republicans will “go too far” in changing Social Security; 61 percent worry that Democrats “will not go far enough.”’

“It’s possible that standpattism is giving the Democrats a tactical advantage, but if this poll is to be believed, there is a strong consensus for change within the next decade, with 81 percent of Americans in agreement. If we don’t get Social Security reform this year, a little patience may yet pay off,” Mr. Taranto said.

Hill drama

A woman accused Pennsylvania Rep. Don Sherwood of trying to choke her during an encounter at the congressman’s Capitol Hill apartment last fall, but police found insufficient evidence to file charges.

According to the police report, the incident involving Mr. Sherwood, 64, a married four-term Republican congressman, and Cynthia Ore, 29, of Rockville, occurred on the afternoon of Sept. 15. The officer responding to the call did not arrest anyone, “based on interviews with both parties and no physical evidence of injury” to Miss Ore.

But the officer also noted that “both parties have left out significant information or are not willing to discuss in detail what actually happened,” the Associated Press reports.

Miss Ore’s complaint against Mr. Sherwood was first reported Saturday by the Wilkes-Barre (Pa.) Times Leader.

The Times Leader said Mr. Sherwood described Miss Ore as “an acquaintance.” He did not elaborate on why Miss Ore was in his apartment.

In a telephone interview yesterday, Miss Ore said she met Mr. Sherwood at a Young Republicans meeting in 1999 and that they had a relationship that lasted over the years.

A Bible for Bush

Five bishops from President Bush’s own denomination met with the president for 15 minutes yesterday at the Old Executive Office Building to present him with a leather-bound Bible, an informal translation known as “The Message.”

The Bible was signed by more than 100 United Methodist bishops from around the world. The practice of giving Bibles to U.S. presidents began in 1789 with President George Washington. This is the first time in five years the bishops have been able to arrange such a meeting with the president.

The bishops, who were in town for their annual Council of Bishops meeting, talked with the president about the church’s work with AIDS patients in Africa, among other topics.

“He was very engaged,” said Methodist Bishop John R. Schol, who oversees 700 churches in the District, most of Maryland and a portion of West Virginia. “You can’t come away without having an impression of the president being quite clear about his own faith journey, how God’s grace has worked in his life and how God helped him turn around some things in his life.”

Other bishops at the meeting were Boston Bishop Peter D. Weaver,Bishop Janice Huie of the Houston area, Bishop Ernest S. Lyght of West Virginia and Bishop Charlene Kammerer of the Richmond area.

Bombs away

A veteran Republican operative started an anti-Hillary Rodham Clinton Web site yesterday —http://stophillarypac.com/ — complete with an unflattering photo and a warning that she and her husband are trying to “pull the wool over America’s eyes once again.”

Meanwhile, Mrs. Clinton was out with a fundraising letter claiming Arthur Finkelstein’s “Stop Her Now” effort is part of a growing mound of evidence that Republicans “are prepared to do anything to defeat me.”

Mrs. Clinton is seeking re-election next year to the U.S. Senate seat from New York she won in 2000. She is widely expected to run for president in 2008.

Mr. Finkelstein’s Web site appeals for donations. On Friday, Finkelstein aide William Black said the “Stop Her Now” effort was hoping to raise $10 million this year.

>Battling obesity

Bill Clinton has announced a 10-year initiative to combat childhood obesity, saying “We’ve got to change the eating habits of America’s young people.”

Joined by Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, who also has battled a weight problem, Mr. Clinton said he became concerned about the issue after undergoing heart-bypass surgery last year.

“The truth is that children are consuming more sugar and fatty foods than ever before. We want to reverse the growth in childhood obesity,” Mr. Clinton told students and teachers at a Harlem school.

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

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